REVIEW: Loyle Carner at Engine Rooms, Southampton

Loyle Carner. Picture by Ken Kaban
Loyle Carner. Picture by Ken Kaban
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By the amount of airplay Loyle Carner is getting on Radio 1 – it’s clear that big things are expected of him.

The 22-year-old hip-hop star from South London is currently on the rise and on tour, making a name for himself and promoting his debut album Yesterday’s Gone.

He played at the Engine Rooms in Southampton – an interesting warehouse-unit venue tucked away on an industrial estate - to a sold out crowd on Wednesday.

His sound has something a bit more to it than other British hip-hop acts, there’s a story to it. And at the risk of sounding like a cliched X Factor judge, that story shows through.

Tracks like Isle of Arran and BFG – well received by the crowd – both heavily reference his grief at losing his dad.

Other tracks reference his relationship with his mother and Florence sees him rap about how his desire to have a little sister.

Of course the album has other topics, Stars and Shards looks at drug dealing, No CD is about being broke and Ain’t Nothing Changed is a rather frustrated look at society.

At the end of the set, Loyle explains why he’s been performing with a T-shirt slung over his shoulder – It’s his dad’s football shirt – and as he says that his dad was also a musician so it’s his way of sharing the stage with him, the crowd’s heart melts. Then a video plays of his mum.

Loyle Carner is more than the aggressive repetitive hip-hop that have flooded the scene. With his emotion, mixed with melodic chords and nods to ’90s acts like A Tribe Called Quest, he might just have what it takes to break – and stay – in the mainstream.