Live Report: Meekz – O2 Academy Islington, London

"Growing up I never felt love, I felt anger and hate, that’s why so many people connect to my music..."

Ahead of Manchester United taking to Wembley for the Carabao Cup Final over the weekend, Manny took over London a couple of days early as Meekz gave an emphatic performance during a cameo-filled set at Islington Academy.

Meekz is one of the hottest talents to emerge in the UK in recent years but it still feels like the Manchester rapper is just getting started as he has so much potential to grow as an artist. 

He blew up to mainstream success in 2022 with huge collaborations from some of the biggest names in the industry like Dave and Central Cee but he’s much more than his big collaborations, his lyricism and wordplay sets him apart from many of his contemporaries as he takes influence from 90s hip-hop to spin personal stories about his pain, upbringing and motivations.

Speaking to the crowd, Meekz said: “Growing up I never felt love, I felt anger and hate, that’s why so many people connect to my music. I feel you and we can all relate in different ways and one way we are connecting tonight is through music and I think that’s so sick.”

He added: “I’ve never felt so much like myself until I hopped on these stages. It gives a Chance for Meekz to be Meekz.”

The Manchester rapper came on stage in his trademark balaclava to a huge roar and launched into ‘Scene Smasher’, ‘Hood’s Hottest’ and ‘6 Figures.’ 

With big arena shows, artists can sometimes hide behind special effects and visuals to enhance their performance but in these small venues like Islington Academy there is no place to hide, it is just the performer and the crowd with limited aid. Luckily Meekz has such confidence and infectious energy that it was inevitable that the atmosphere in the room was going to be electric. 

After each song in the opening section, Meekz went off stage for a quick change whilst a narration set up the next song – Drill’s answer to Grace Jones.

The concert was in full swing and the energy was right so Meekz had a special treat for the audience as he welcomed out NSG to perform the world premiere of their unreleased collaboration. It was a catchy song that combines the elements that make both so successful, the Afroswing vibes of NSG and the clever Drill bars of Meekz.

NSG then performed their huge hit ‘OT BOP’, which catapulted them to mainstream fame and was one of the hits of the Summer in 2019.

The DJ said that Meekz was going to take a quick five-minute breather but before he came back out there was another special guest ready to come out. East London rapper Unknown T came out to perform ‘Fresh Home’ and his huge hit ‘Homerton B’. 

After Unknown T left the stage, Meekz came back to perform his acclaimed Daily Duppy which dropped in November. He then started to rap ‘Say Less’ acapella before restarting with the beat, reminiscent of a Jay Electronica performance or old school hip-hop. 

For someone that describes himself as a “horrible fucker”, Meekz was incredibly humble throughout the show and regularly thanked his loyal fans which he called ‘soldiers.’ He also thanked the big names in the industry who have collaborated with him like Central Cee for ‘Don’t Like Drill’ and Dave for ‘Fresh Out the Bank.’

He said: “I’m so grateful to have some support from the biggest in the game and acknowledged by some of the biggest. I’ve had so much support from behind the scenes and it’s an amazing feeling to know others digging my art.”

The set ended up a flurry of the Manchester rapper’s most recent hits, including ‘More Money’, ‘Fresh Out The Bank’ and finishing with ‘Don’t Like Drill.’ The energy reached new levels as these are the songs that Meekz gained mainstream attention from and is best known for. 

Meekz and the crowd were in perfect synchronicity as each time the rapper raised his energy so did the crowd and vice versa. Therefore, during the final song, he jumped into the crowd and performed surrounded by his fans.

Meekz performed at the intimate 800-capacity Islington Academy but if he continues to release hit after hit, which the upcoming NSG collaboration suggests he will, then he will be performing at some of the biggest stages in the country in no time. 

Words: Adam Davidson

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