Live Recap: Next Wave Live At Cafe KOKO

June's showcase featured sets from Mnelia, Bawo, FelixThe1st and Kwaku Asante...

Last month we made our monthly return to Cafe KOKO for our Next Wave Live event series.

The NW Live showcase is our opportunity to curate an intimate performance with Clash co-signed emerging artists. Across the years, we’ve opened our doors to some of the most anticipated talent across the land, from the likes of Ashnikko to J Hus, Masego, Knucks, Big Zuu, Sampa The Great and Greentea Peng.

June’s showcase featured sets from Mnelia, Kwaku Asante, FelixThe1st and Bawo, with Clash’s residents DJs entertaining the eager crowd with high-octane mixes.

First up was Mnelia, a voice situated at the very centre of the British R&B Renaissance. In May, the North West London talent released her most sonically coherent and elevated project to date, ‘Closure Tapes’. Through sensory mid-tempo grooves that evoke the best of 90s soul, these adult contemporary tales soundtrack Mnelia’s true-to-life transitions. A flawless performance from start to finish, Mnelia exudes a star quality like no other.

Drawing from a retro-referential musical palette, Kwaku Asante‘s output is made for a live setting.  Fine-tuning a blend of gospel, neo-house, funk and Stateside rap, Asante’s music has a warming charm to it, echoing the influence of all-time greats. Readying the release of 9-track project ‘Blue Solstice Volume 2’ dropping this September, the crooner performed a set that reached for vintage, pop-leaning euphony – the highlight being new single ‘Strawberry Skies’. 

West London’s FelixThe1st is a performance artist, his moniker a reference to his off-beat creative instincts, malleability and love of theatrics. Since the astronomical rise of ‘Own Brand Freestyle’, an early collaboration with Dréya Mac and Finch Fetti, that’s racked up over 100 million streams and nabbed ‘Song Of The Year’ at last year’s MOBOs, much has changed for the riser. Felix is gearing up to release his debut body of work this year. Peep the project name reveal in the accompanying video…

Fresh off the back of his 7-track project ‘Legitimate Cause’, Bawo is a key commanding force in UK Rap. Since making his debut in 2019, the West London native has finessed a confessional flow that is uniquely his. The rhymer taps into next-gen angst and the pressures of achieving viral fame, his lyricism full of wry observation and candour. We catch Bawo at the zenith of his career thus far.

Amie Blu, Rio Rainz, Twyce and Zino Vinci headlined July’s Next Wave Live showcase, stay tuned for the live recap.

Words: Ana Lamond

Photo Credit: Sam Rockman

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