Less of a performance, but more of a show

It’s less of a show, but more of a performance. See what we mean? You will.

When we arrive at the Village Underground a lengthy queue shambles along the road and round the corner. Gonjasufi has been allocated time for a soundcheck and – somewhat unsurprisingly – he’s run far over the slot afforded to him.

The crowd eventually push their way into the venue, shoving past bouncers who are clearly already on their toes. Support act Blue Daisy does his best to warm stubborn feet, with his set matching glitchy, Low End Theory style output to something of a more Golden Age bent. It’s all hip hop, after all.

Backed by only two DJs, Gonjasufi finally emerges with the clock ready to strike one. A famed desert mystic, it’s almost impossible to believe in him as a real, genuine person. Yet here he is, onstage in London and barking, coughing his way through a full set.

A conductor for spiritual energy, it’s perhaps a little much to expect Gonjasufi to stick to anything approaching a set list. Elements of his material filter through the speakers, with poor sound only serving to add to the confusion. A blur of limbs and dreads, the rapper’s dervish attitude to stagecraft only serves to whip the crowd up into a frenzy.

Joined by his manager, the sedate crowd come face to face with an act steeped in soundsystem culture. Now, more than ever, those comparisons to Tricky become apt: a stubborn, irascible soul, Gonjasufi’s music seems to take on the irradiated feel of bass confusion in the atmosphere of the Village Underground.

Continually barking at those around him, Gonjasufi proves to be every bit as unpredictable in the flesh as he is in mythology. Yet perhaps that’s the point: living in the moment, the rapper makes as many mistakes as he does colossal breakthroughs. Continually in progress, the show works as a hip hop gig – tracks from both his debut album and this year’s ‘MU.ZZ.LE’ sit prominently in a set list which is built with an overall structure in mind. Yet it’s not really a ‘show’ - at least, not in the standard sense. There’s no feeling that Gonjasufi is selling us something, that’s doing this for promotion. Rather, with his long dreads flailing around his open arms, the rapper resembles a rabid, demented preacher caught in the ecstasy of religious exploration, flailing against the incoming apocalypse. It’s less of a show, perhaps, but definitely more of a performance.

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