Live Review: UK trap kings D-Block Europe shutdown O2 Academy, Newcastle | 12/12/19

Trap music has dominated both the hip-hop world and the pop charts for virtually all of the 2010’s. Artists like Future, Migos and Lil Uzi Vert have undeniably became some of the biggest names in the game off the back of this sound that’s now hip-hop’s most popular sub-genre.

Despite trap’s popularity in the US, the sound hasn’t had as much impact on the UK’s output as you might expect. Drill is the sound that’s taken over the UK underground, with grime pioneers like Stormzy and Skepta evolving into mainstream pop stars. However, there is one duo out of the UK that’s managed to put their own spin on trap and made it connect in a big way. D-Block Europe.

Young Adz and Dritbike LB smashed their way onto the scene with their debut solo DBE mixtape ‘Home Alone’ in February 2019, hitting number 6 on the UK album chart. They followed that up with mixtape number 2 ‘PTSD’ in September after signing with Universal. Come December they’ve sold out every show on a 15 date UK tour promoting the mixtape in what’s been a meteoric year-long rise to fame.

The PTSD tour concluded in Newcastle at the O2 Academy, despite being the slowest city to sell out the atmosphere was palpable if a bit edgy. A small scuffle broke out before the show started, but as support act Hex took to the stage he quickly turned the attention back to music.

The Nottingham producer turned pop-trap crooner has been bubbling under the surface for a few years now, building a cult following tipping him to blow. With earworm melodies and easy to catch hooks, Hex had the charged up Newcastle crowd in the palm of his hands. The braided haired, flashy dressed up and comer has a real star presence on stage, with big tunes to match the image. Definitely one to keep an eye on in 2020.

Greeted by a sea of phone lights and screams, the DBE boys strutted on stage ready to end their tour with a bang. By taking that auto-tuned trap sound popularised by American superstars like Future and adding a little bit of UK hood grit, DBE has managed to capitalise on the scene’s want for hyper-hedonistic lyrics whilst keeping the vibe party friendly. Imagine Future and Lil Uzi Vert if they were brought up in Lewisham and spoke a little clearer, that’s DBE.

From start to finish the duo had the venue moving, despite being relatively subdued on stage themselves. They didn’t need to give any hype speeches between songs or be clowns on stage to keep the energy up, their music did the job with ease. The formula they’ve cooked up seems to be a cheat code for making banger after banger, plus they’re the only artists from the UK really making it happen in this lane.

Finishing with the oh-so misogynistic yet impossibly catchy “Home Pussy”, DBE killed the show just like they’ve killed the rest of 2019. You get the feeling D Block’s phenomenal rise to fame is only the beginning of what this duo are capable of. If the appetite for trap music stays strong in 2020, then D-Block Europe are going to continue their reign as kings of the UK scene.

Photography: Matt Pearson // Words: Johno Ramsay