Jazz Cafe, LondonWhen a concert ends with the performer hopping down from the stage to dance with their fans, you know it’s been a big night. And this week has been particularly big for rising wordsmith, Kojey Radical. The poet and rapper received two MOBO Awards nominations, and his celebratory spirit was overflowing at his sold-out Jazz Café show.
The 23-year-old Londoner got his start in spoken word, but, since the release of his debut EP, Dear Daisy: Opium, he has been spreading his conscious verses even further thanks to a fearless command of language over a wide breadth of musical styles, from Afrobeat to rock. That control, and not to mention energy, was on display when Kojey performed ‘Footsteps’, with Tom Grennan, a piercing collision of melancholy downtempo and unhinged rap. His white, woollen blazer hanging open, chest bared, left arm raised high, screaming “I’ve been losing weight trying to find the way or find the answers”.
The night’s concert is a blowout celebration for Kojey and his collective. ‘Footsteps’, taken from his latest EP, 23Winters, encapsulates one part of the poet’s raw, unapologetic expression. But there was so much more to enjoy that night. Kojey, and his half-dozen specials guests – including Zulu, Ray Blk, Bobii Lewis and J Warner – lit up the place with their infectious energy: there was heart-stopping infatuation (‘Love Intervention’), biblical frustration (‘Preacher, Preacher’) and hip-shaking goodness to boot (‘Got 2’). A surprise appearance by Maverick Sabre midway through helped push the show to a soulful peak with ‘I Need’.
Kojey drank, skanked and beamed his way through his headline performance – memories and footage of which is likely to convert more listeners into believers in the months and years to come. “Next show, I’m gonna need a bigger boat, a bigger venue, a bigger everything,” he hollered, elated as he was, surround by family, friends and supporters. Like Raury, Kojey Radical takes his live performances to a different level. Call it poetry, call it rap, call it the emancipation of the young and voiceless, call it whatever you like. Kojey Radical is a relentless creative, and if he keeps up his pace, he’s only just getting started.
Footsteps (feat. Tom Grennan)
Gallons (feat. PW)
Can I Speak
Come Fly Away – Maverick Sabre (Interval)
I Need – Maverick Sabre (Interval)
Love Interlude (feat. Zulu)
Love Intervention (feat. Ray Blk)
Selfish (feat. Bobii Lewis)
Got 2 (feat. J Warner)
Preacher, Preacher (feat. Zulu)
Image: Aaron Lee