It’s a big ask to get people down to any new music showcase on a Monday night. A big ask. But even with the slight turnout, Tiggs Da Author, Alika, Mega, Lloyd Luther, and a handful of other new names turned up the energy on the final night of the 2017 MOBO UnSung tour.
This was the final leg of the tour in London, following stops at Manchester and Bristol earlier this month.
Here are the highlights and some thoughts on these talented up-and-comers who took the audience at Zigfrid von Underbelly to steamy love nests, brooding streets, and showy West End nightclubs with their music.
Tiggs Da Author
You’ve probably heard music by Tiggs Da Author in the last 24 months, even if you didn’t know it. His energetic single ‘Run (feat. Lady Leshurr)’ has been popping up on film and game soundtracks, sports coverage trials and product adverts.
In person, the 26-year-old transforms from softly-spoken storyteller in between songs to a soul-bearing singing machine who can’t help but let loose during them. “Baby! I’m feeling sexual!” he screamed, as he leaped forwards, eyes closed and hands raised in emphasis, on the chorus of the funk-charged, Rick James-tinged ‘Brand New’. That particular song is Tiggs’s entertaining advice not to forgot your wallet when you take a girl on a date – lest she pay the bill, cuts you off completely, and you end up writing a song about it (“You need a real one / A strong one / A brother that’s down the for long run”).
There’s bit of Cee-Lo Green, Marvin Gaye and Rick James about this young Tanzanian musician. An ability to turn one’s misfortune into catchy melodies that are heavy on the feel-good factor is something Tiggs is very good at. He performed his debut single ‘Georgia’, the dab-ready party track, ‘Swear Down’, and the infectious ‘Run’, all with only a guitarist and backing track to aid him. Cool-headed enough to laugh at himself, but equally ready to lay down the funk fire, it would be a crime if he doesn’t get a shot at the big time. And soon.
Winner of MOBO UnSung 2016, west Londoner Alika is a bold new talent. She raps, she sings, and she knows her way around a sound engineering desk.
Over the drip-drop hollows of her trap song, ‘Ray’, she rapped with spritely energy. ‘Wavey‘ by CilQ, which Alika performs vocals on, is a song ready-made for Friday night clubbing. You can practically picture the mass of bodies moving wildly to its assertive pulse. So, it was risky taking on this song with no backing dancers or crew to lend support on the tiny stage that night. But, Alika jumped straight in with no fear, striking poses during the verse with arms and legs, and rolling her hips as she sang, “Get high, get lit, get drunk, get wavey”. Her stage presence is strong and so is her drive to succeed.
London singer Mega sounds like she was born for the stage. Rich, wholesome soul music in the vein of India Arie and Whitney Houston is what you can expect. Her performances of ‘Black Girl in a White World’ (a reworked cover of Michael Kiwanuka’s ‘Black Man in a White World’) and ‘Garden’, an original song about finding your own sanctuary, saw her hit huge notes and got the whole place on their feet.
Spoken word artist Rae Leviné is unafraid to tackle the most sensitive subjects. In her music-backed spoken word poems, shared stories of unrequited love, mental health struggles, and a response to the effects of knife crime, to name just a few.
She had a challenging start getting the crowd to simmer down, but once she had attention she cast their minds to the horrors of gun violence, and why we should end it, with her powerful poem ‘The Gun Talks Too Much Part 2‘.
Lloyd Luther (fka UG) is a youth mentor and motivational speaker from Leicester. But he is also a multi-talented artist, writing and performing his songs, producing the music, and even designing the cover art.
His left-field hip hop productions bring the work of Doseone (Adam Drucker) and Ghostpoet to mind, while his rapping itself bears the cadence and ferocity of Akala. The stimulating ‘Power’ and the street-wise ‘Hiding in Plain Sight’ (“They’re hiding in plain sight / I was watching BBC late night… I was telling my mates, right: we should stick to together, ‘cause you know what today’s like”), both from a forthcoming 2018 project, were on point. Unfortunately, UK hip hop artists making conscious music that doesn’t neatly fit into the current trends in club and grime music face an uphill struggle. But that hasn’t stopped Essa or Ghostpoet, and it’s unlikely to stop Lloyd Luther either.
It’s not only his steamy R&B that makes Jay Alexzander a compelling young artist, it’s the fact that he can open a showcase on a chilly Monday night, and deliver his steamy R&B with the kind of suave confidence that encourages coupling and dangerously close intimacy.
Looking every bit like one of his contemporary R&B peers, in his gold-framed, circular specs and dark, patterned silk shirt, open at the collar, he performed a gorgeous ode to his love of making music, ‘Live Alone’. His cover of Miguel’s ‘Quickie’, meanwhile, oozed sex in every syllable, reaching out to some of the ladies in the crowd as he sang. Jay has three EPs to his name so far, including 2016’s The Prologue. On the strength of his performance last night, he is an artist that fans of Usher, The Weeknd and Miguel absolutely need to hear.
British-Nigerian music producer WildBoyAce was nervous about taking the stage, as he noted that, like many producers, he satisfied to “stay in the background”. Still, he performed a limey Afrobeat song to wind hips to with his rap cohorts, Big Toes and Jobey. He also said he’s working on songs with Skepta, Section Boyz and Abra Cadabra.
The MOBO UnSung tour was presented by iluvlive.
Images: Aaron Lee