From LDN to NCL, UK rap legend Giggs brought an all-star cast from the capital to Newcastle on the first UK date of his Hollowman tour at O2 Academy Newcastle. Tiny Boost, Ms Banks, Ambush, Sneakbo and the legendary Charlie Sloth all had the pleasure of warming up the stage for the man himself. This stacked line-up gave the show a sense of occasion, Giggs was determined to make it a special one.
Introduced by the DJ as ‘The Future’, Peckham rapper Tiny Boost’s set left a lot to be desired. Boost didn’t seem to be up to the task of opening the show with a bang. His vocals were incoherent, his energy low and he even fumbled his own lyrics more than once, needing the DJ to reload the start of one song twice in a real choke moment. Tiny Boost was a Big Flop.
As soon as Ms Banks appeared there was an instant spike in energy. The South London spitter had a natural stage presence and charisma that quickly captivated the crowd, Banks’ brought some much needed fun to the stage. Rising North London star Ambush followed in Banks’ footsteps, managing to keep that same energy. Switching from drill to club worthy afroswing then straight up rap, Ambush kept things interesting whilst proving he’s a dynamic talent worth keeping an eye on. Both Ms Banks and Ambush’s sets were like much needed defibrillator hits after an initial flatline. The night was back on track and Giggs’ variety show set-up seemed to be paying off.
Things were only about to take off further when it was time for Sneakbo to rock the stage. An underrated hero of the UK hip-hop scene, Sneakbo unleashed an arsenal of his club bangers. The party had really been started by Sneak, it felt like he had condensed what could have been a headline set into one, no punches pulled, half an hour hit fest – “Ain’t On Nuttin’” was a personal highlight for me. Having only seen Charlie Sloth be a bit irritating and pressing his soundboard WAY too many times during Fire In The Booth sessions, I was a bit nervous that his name was only on the poster to bring more clout to the line-up. I wasn’t convinced that he’d actually contribute anything to the night. Charlie, I apologise, I was wrong. Thankfully he refrained from hammering any sound effects and just focused on putting on a slick DJ set with some of the biggest bangers in the UK, all mixed to perfection. Bravo Mr.Sloth.
Finally, it was time for the Hollowman himself to appear. Surrounded by Piccadilly Lights style adverts parodying famous brands, Giggs was hellbent on making his Newcastle date feel as special as a hometown London show would be. The most respected rapper in the UK was about to give us Newcastle fans the respect we deserve with an absolutely flawless set. The veteran emcee hopped around the stage with his huge medallion chain swinging left to right, attacking his performance with the hunger of a newbie. Giggs really made it look easy, every punchline he hit seemed to rock the room, the way he flows with such precision having as much impact live as it does on record. From utter greeze and grit to mellow stoner tracks and club bangers, it was truly a UK rap masterclass. If you’re talking the hardest Giggs STILL better pop up in your thoughts as THE artist.
Words: Johno Ramsay
Photos: Shutter Productions (Jay Dawson)