It’s time to give Kojey Radical his flowers.
One of the most potent creative talents at work in British music, his raw determination and cross-genre pollination combine with stellar lyricism to create a body of songwriting that truly stands apart from his peers. And yet there’s still a feeling in some quarters that broader success has been denied to him – contrasted with some of his Top 10 contemporaries, there’s a feeling that Kojey could – and indeed should – achieve more.
Onstage at London’s intimate Lafayette, he’s able to point to his ambitions, and find them almost within reach. New album ‘Reason To Smile’ is out in March, and the two singles so far released from the record feature prominently in tonight’s set, alongside fan favourites from 2019 project ‘Cashmere Tears’, and other aspects of his deep, probing catalogue.
Working with a full live band, Kojey seems to emphasise the musicality of his work. Musicians comfortable within UK garage or afrobeat or even aspects of house, it’s a display of toying flexibility. Recent single ‘Gangsta’ is punchy and incisive, moving with real alacrity and intent. ‘War Outside’ feels like a bold, bombastic statement, while something like ‘Can’t Go Back’ or ‘Feel About It’ are invigorating and renewed.
Perhaps UK rap’s most potent all-rounder, Kojey Radical is able to switch gears with aplomb. The moment has recalls a plea for help from a friend suffering with mental health difficulties is met with absolute, total silence; but equally, he’s able to shake a leg with the best of them, showcasing his dance moves to screams from the crowd.
An artist with so much left to achieve, Kojey Radical cuts the night short after an hour. Set to play O2 Academy Brixton later this year, he’s ever the salesman, and ever the showman. Agreeing to this intimate show as part of the National Lottery’s Revive Live tour, it’s clear that he wants to help – music is an eco-system, and he’s a part of this. A ruthlessly entertaining showcase from one of the finest voices in the UK, he leaves to the sound of fresh challenges, and new shows.
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Kojey Radical's new album 'Reason To Smile' will be released on March 4th.
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