Live Report: K-Trap – KOKO, London

“I’ve come a long way man, it’s crazy...”

“We’re about to turn KOKO upside fucking down…” K-Trap is a force to be reckoned with, there’s no doubt about it. Bursting through the door with 2017’s debut single ‘David Blaine’, a lot has changed for the UK rap trailblazer. Perhaps more obviously speaking, Devonte Perkins has strayed away from the mystery that once surrounded his name, previously hailed as the masked rapper. Today, the 27-year-old stands in the open, facing his crowds straight-on, in the midst of an 11-date UK tour. The evening marks his second sold-out show in Camden’s legacy-spanning venue and, quite frankly, it’s a feat that K-Trap breezes over.

The room is filled to its absolute brim with bustling, youthful crowds. Some are peering over the balconies, others are centering themselves in the eponymous energy crew. One, is in fact FaceTiming a friend throughout, keen to bring them along to the night’s unfolding. Illustrative of today’s streaming era, the distance hardly poses an obstacle for the buzzing fan, delivering each bar word for word, start to finish. 

As the lights flicker, the crowds are pin-dropped in the rapper’s local area of Gipsy Hill, illuminating a Sainsbury Road sign by a park bench. The menacing production of latest mixtape opener ‘Spoilt’ whittles its way through, triggering a robust entrance from K-Trap. Self-assured in his delivery and cadence, he carries himself with a nonchalant swagger that, in many ways, captures much of K-Trap’s appeal from the get-go. Yet, that isn’t to say the rapper is indifferent to the potency of his supporters, admitting: “I’ve come a long way man, it’s crazy.”

Quick to take a sharp turn into his early material, the likes of ‘Paper Plans’ make for a celebratory highlight and demand instant reloads. The rapper seamlessly navigates a high-energy set list, taking a moment to savour the success of last year’s ‘Trapo’ mixtape that seems to uphold its command over the crowd. Yet, it’s a revisit to collaborative project ‘Joints’ that takes things up a notch, welcoming the one and only Blade Brown onstage. Bouncing off of one another’s performance, their tag-team relationship proves an exciting union that continues to bridge the generational gap in UK rap. 

This sentiment is equally prominent when Krept & Konan, or Youngs Teflon make their appearance, all demonstrating a very sincere admiration for K-Trap’s journey up til this point. That isn’t to detract from the arrival of Headie One for ‘Extra Sleeve’, sharing a magnetic energy that illustrates the pair’s mutual rise, both breaking past the obstacles faced by drill music in its formative years. “My brother K-Trap – been there from the jump!”

Placing importance on the more introspective cuts, the rapper takes a seat for the stripped-back ‘Intentions’ – a track that details Perkins’ struggles against a previous life of crime. It’s at this point where the rapper asks his crowd to take a minute of silence to reflect on the life of Chris Kaba, tragically lost to police brutality. 

The last leg of the evening caters to a different kind of fan, sprinkling down-tempo melodies like ‘Eloquent’ before accelerating into a crescendo. The sheer weight of a track like ‘Warm’ earns its final accolades, urging the room to recite its lyrics in their entirety, acapella. A glorious, viral conclusion. 

K-Trap’s second sold-out show at KOKO marks a milestone in his career. One that is now shaping the future for UK trap and drill, paying close attention to the role of an artist.

Words: Ana Lamond

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