“This is our city and these are our streets in a state of emergency”, intones Gaika above the heavy kicks and rattling snares of 3D, the 2016 single released earlier this year.
As one of the latest additions to Warp records, Brixton’s Gaika has been lurking on the underground scene for just over a year, however in 2016 he has taken centre stage. A combination of dancehall, trap and grime dripped in a coating of gothic jet black, Gaika’s tracks provided the perfect setting for the Halloween weekend. Hot off the Warp released Spaghetto E.P, the Brixton-born artist’s performance unveiled not only his latest, but also some older gems. Tracks such as ‘GKZ’ and ‘Buta’ from Security on Dre Skull’s Mixpak label and ‘Heco’ from the self-released MACHINE appeared complete with live electronics.
In an interview with the Guardian in March 2016, Gaika himself stated “if I’ve got one aim musically it’s to shift where normal is”. His music is certainly shape-shifting: his performance lurched from aggressive pounding bass to moments of raw emotion. Gaika clearly has a message.
This was made obvious in his electrifying performance of B’lasphemer’, a standout track in which politically charged lyrics combine with a gritty sub bass and warbling synths. Gaika flits between the laid-back reggae influence on ‘The Deal’, before descending into the body shaking trap of ‘Glad We Found It’. A performance to remember from an artist on the cusp of glory.
Following the strobe-heavy intensity of Gaika, audience members were treated to a performance from headliners Babyfather: the new project of the elusive Dean Blunt.
Far from his 2014 album Black Metal, which features guitar heavy instrumentation from Micachu, Blunt’s experimental hip-hop and noise group Babyfather brought an eclectic performance to Bristol’s Black Swan. Engulfed in smoke, the group’s DJ Escrow (host of their debut album BBF released earlier this year on Hyperdub records) opened with nothing but pure trap and drill from Atlanta’s finest – Future; perhaps a nod to the album’s satire on mixtape culture.
DJ Escrow, is surely a pun on Future’s producer DJ ‘Esco’. Babyfather’s hyped up DJ consistently ad-libbed throughout the performance as he does on the album, with the audience always aware that “this next one’s an exclusive”. At one point even an introductory “Mayback Music” was heard, dragging listeners to the depths of a Rick Ross mixtape in the far corners of HotNewHipHop.com.
Fortunately the trap bangers came to an end before BBF’s ‘Stealth Intro’ and ‘Greezebloc’ kicked in. Blunt then delivered his subdued take on UK hip-hop. The group went on to showcase the Arca-produced single ‘Meditation’ also released on Hyperdub records before descending into complete white noise, police sirens and Escrow’s boisterous bluster. All these different strands underline the group’s diverse influences while Blunt’s effortless lyrics paint a vivid depiction of inner city life. Dean Blunt continues to play the elusive anti-hero of the music industry in another amalgamation of underground culture.
Along with Gaika, Babyfather will continue to turn heads in the near future.
Gaika plays at London’s Corsica Studio on November 20th, Spaghetto EP is out now on Warp Records. “BBF” hosted by DJ Escrow is out now on Hyperdub.