808INK occupy a strange place in the London music scene. Earlier in the year, Noisey commented that “with a British sound that isn’t grime, nor strictly hip-hop, they’re convinced the infrastructure isn’t there to accommodate them”. And they appear to be right. It’s difficult to create a completely unique sound, but the South London act seem to have managed it. With strange wavy flows and odd sounding synths, the group seems to live somewhere in the grey area of multiple genres and scenes. Truly, no one makes music quite like them.
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With all this in mind, it’s odd that 808INK haven’t gained more traction on the London circuit. They seem to be only truly recognized as a support act; some of their credits include opening for the lofty heights of Waka Flocka and fellow Londoner Jay Prince. Forever the bridesmaid, never the bride it seems.
Their top billing at KOKO’s new weekly Burst club night seems like a shadow of what they could be achieving. They have stage presence in spades, and even though the venue’s stage is vast, the crowds weren’t there in droves to watch them perform. The emphasis of the night was mainly on the DJ’s who performed either side of the two live acts, the other being WiDE AWAKE, who are described as the “rising trap stars” of the live circuit.
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It’s unclear how many people are in 808INK. Their Soundcloud suggests just two; VICE indicates that there are three core members: 808Charmer, Mumblez Black Ink and Pure Anubis. However, when they take to the stage, they bring a huge crew with them. Whoever the extra members are, they have serious energy, and give a sense of the groups collective and forward thinking spirit. Their mere thirty-minute performance raced through their more well-known tracks, including Suede Jaw and DSSY. Their sound is heavy, but not oppressive, and the slight crowd were rightfully moving and jumping along to their bassy warped boom-bap sounds.
WiDE AWAKE certainly didn’t disappoint either. But compared to 808INK, their music seemed to fall flat in its creativity. It seems a shame that their music isn’t appreciated more. Given a wider audience, 808INK could go shoot straight for the stratosphere. In the strange, almost black magic world of the music industry, they haven’t quite managed to catch the wave of fame that they deserve. Perhaps their time is yet to come and perhaps we are watching the rise of this small group of very forward thinking young men happen before our eyes.