Big Zuu, O2 Islington, October 2018.
The rise of grime in the last 18 months has seen it come into the mainstream forum, with the likes of Stormzy and Giggs becoming almost household names. This has given younger MCs the platform to show their talent – and Big Zuu is doing exactly that.
His first studio album, Content with Content, allowed the artist to show the real length and breadth of his vision and capabilities. His sold-out show at the O2 in Islington was evidence of this as the crowd waited in anticipation for the young MC to come out and light up the show.
For someone who has been on the periphery for a few years, it is no surprise that it would take a little while to settle in amongst the bright lights of a big stage and this was clear in his first few songs. However, once comfort ensued and Zuu settled into his role, it was clear that he was meant to be there.
It’s rare to see a Grime MC – or any rapper for that matter – perform with a live band. Kano is really the only one who springs to mind. But Zuu rose to the occasion as he and his DJ were accompanied by a drummer and pianist. Trying to wheel up a live band is no easy feat, but marks for effort from the rapper and his band. This is not a traditional Grime MC, his album is a mix of songs – some bring the energy and others a slow melodic tune. The crowd loved every bit of it and the affection felt for the Londoner was clear.
A surprisingly heart-warming element was that while it was obvious that he is meant for the stage, it seemed Zuu had not realised it yet. The big smile, element of nerves and constant thanking of his fans showed this. With his family watching on from the front – seeing how proud his mother was of him was probably the best gratification he could receive.
But it’s also clear that he is respected in the industry. It’s rare that JME and P-Money perform live – when they do you know it’s because they rate the artist who’s bringing them out. Naturally the crowd went mad for the two but Zuu didn’t get lost in this and maintained his larger-than-life presence on stage.
When some gigs can finish on a kind of anti-climax, Zuu kept things high. The rapper brought his family and friends on stage to share the mic, creating scenes reminiscient of an old school grime rave. It was a masterstroke in ending his performance.
Big Zuu might be in the infancy of his music career but with his sold out show, full length album and his new residency on BBC 1Xtra, there is no doubt that his talent is slowly pushing him toward the forefront of UK music.