Soulful hip hop
Marlon Roudette - Live at Madame JoJos', London

As one half of reggae inspired rap duo, Mattafix, Marlon Roudette gained a niche UK (and international) following and since stepping out as a solo artist in 2010, he’s enjoyed commercial success across Europe. But despite going platinum in Germany, the London-born singer is still relatively unknown in his home town.

So when Roudette takes centre stage at Soho’s Madame JoJo’s on Monday night for his headlining gig, the crowd is a mixture a of old followers, as well as general revellers who are out to see a “new” artist.

Dressed in all black and his personalised guitar draped around his neck, the singer-songwriter is accompanied by a full set band, as he’s warmly welcomed by an attentive, yet slightly mellow crowd.

Opening with the guitar led ‘Storyline’, the tone is immediately set – upbeat, yet chilled – and his reggae influenced soulful vocals exude a cosy aura, at the already intimate central London venue. ‘Brotherhood of the Broken’ continues the laid back theme, but when Roudette hops on the Steel pan drums, the mood immediately switches, as a vibrant carnival vibe erupts.

After moving to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as a youngster until the sage of 18, the Caribbean sounds are very influential in Roudettes music, as he fuses soulful reggae, with a London-style of hip-hop – a trait that gives the Warner Bros artist a distinctive unique sound.

With the crowd finally at ease and swaying to and fro, Roudette’s firmly in his stride, as he emotionally speaks to the crowd, explaining his journey and thanking fans for all their support over the years.

‘New Age’ (which recently spent eight weeks on top of the German charts) is greeted with great applause, but it’s the 2005 Mattafix hit ‘Big City Life’ which garners the heaviest reaction – proving that in the UK at least, he’s still yet to fully distance himself from his previous group. But with the recent release of his ‘Riding Home’ EP gaining critical acclaim and recent live performances showcasing his versatility, Roudette’s quickly establishing himself in the UK and carving a solid identity as a solo artist.

Current single ‘Riding Home’ is the finale of the night. “From the West Indies to the wend end” – the song is a perfect combination of Roudette’s cultural backgrounds fused together and is a fitting encore for the show.

Words and photos by Vanessa Laker

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