The Warehouse Project strives to be eclectic. Their 2018 season so far has seen impressive names from pretty much every type of electronic music around take to the stages at Store Street, attracting thousands of electronic music fans into the now legendary venue over the past few months, but on Saturday it was hip hop-heads who were unlikely to be disappointed with the stacked line-up awaiting.
It’s interesting to see the variety of acts that The Warehouse Project curators consider appropriate for an event titled ‘Sounds of the Near Future’. Among the acts apparently corresponding to this label are Manchester’s own Children of Zeus, whose brand of slightly fuzzy, sorrowful soul has seen them win over a sizeable number of fans in 2018, and Flohio, the South London rapper whose distinctive style of abrasive, high-energy rap is turning her into one of the scene’s most hyped new talents.
Of all the artists performing, perhaps none could be more fittingly described as ‘Sounds of the Near Future’ than Slowthai. Few could dispute the Londoner’s status as one of 2018’s stand-out emerging UK rappers, and he channels every ounce of the snarly, confrontational intensity that he’s quickly become known for in his performance at The Warehouse Project. Slowthai’s popularity owes itself to the fact that there aren’t really any other rappers that sound like he does right now – and that’s an extraordinary feat considering the level of saturation of the current UK rap scene. There’s nothing disappointing about his delivery and stage presence live. From the beginning to the end of his set, the crowd doesn’t stop matching his energy for a second.
The night’s headliner is hip hop heavyweight Pusha T. Pusha has been making music for well over a decade, but is by no means past his best – his Kanye-produced album Daytona and Drake diss ‘The Story of Adidon’ have made him one of the most talked-about rappers of 2018. Expectations all around were surely extremely high for his performance on the night, but I’d be surprised if there were any people in the crowd who found their expectations weren’t met.
In a set largely consisting of Daytona material, which also contained some throwbacks including his feature on Kanye’s ‘Runaway’, Pusha truly did impress. It’s actually pretty rare to see a high profile rapper in an environment like The Warehouse Project, and regrettably so. It’s the kind of buzzed, excited, animated environment that hip hop was made for. Around halfway through his set, Pusha brags that Daytona is ‘the best album of the year’. He’s met with a cheer. In that moment, everyone is deliriously in agreement of the truth of his claim.
AJ Tracey takes to the stage towards the end of the night. Considering the level of excitement already in the room, the grime artist probably wouldn’t have needed to over-exert himself to keep his crowd happy, but nonetheless appears to put in full effort. Coming after Pusha T, he’s got a high bar to reach, but easily succeeds in keeping the crowd bouncing and singing along to his songs, further proving (if anyone was possibly still in doubt) that UK rappers can pack just as much punch as their American counterparts.
It’s sad to think that this night was one of the final chapters of The Warehouse Project at Store Street, but surely will go down as a memorable one for those who were there. To quote Pusha T on the explosive Daytona track that for many was surely the highlight of the entire night: “If you know you know.”