It’s 2017, and it’s amazing to look back on the journey of the now twenty-two-year-old South London rapper Benjamin Coyle Larner. After releasing his six track EP ‘A Little Late’ in 2014, his path to global fame began as a slow trickle, but now exists as a great rush of sell out shows with thousand-strong audiences. Best known now for his debut album ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ (2017), Loyle Carner doesn’t seem to tick any of the boxes that hip hop artists often fall into. He’s not rapping about wealth and fame, but about his family, his student flat and ex-girlfriends who broke his heart, but still retain a fond place in his memories. GIGsoup has had the pleasure of watching this home-grown talent flourish over the last two years; deservedly rising to the status of a household name.
The 6th of October was set to be the largest headline show for Carner to date. The O2 Academy Brixton is where big American rap acts (Chance the Rapper, Schoolboy Q to name a few) often come to preform to a huge multi-storeyed crowd. Comparing the sheer size of this venue to Carner’s intimate album launch party at Rough Trade East in January continues to show off his versatility and ability to adapt to any kind of venue or crowd size.
On the night, Carner brought back his tried and true stage design- a leather armchair, old photos and a giant Arsenal shirt all set the scene of Loyle’s family focused lyrical waxings. Bounding out onto the stage to the tune of ‘Isle of Arran’, the rousing choir sample that the track hangs off of lit up the room. Much like Carner himself, the show bounced along at a speedy pace, cramming a large amount of his back catalogue into just over an hour.
With the help of long-time friend, DJ and fellow rapper Rebel Kleff, Carner sprinted through a set that featured the kind of breaks, turns and 808 bounce that have become a common feature in his production. With his signature fast flow, he waxed lyrical about his family; his loving mother, the little sister he never had and the step-father that he lost but a few years previously. ‘BFG’, which dedicated to him, never fails to raise a tear to the eye;
“Everyone says I’m fucking sad/of course I’m fucking sad I miss my fucking dad.”
Plain as day and holding nothing back, lyrically is where Loyle Carner shines.
The 6th of October also happened to be the rapper’s birthday, and he was presented with a birthday cake by his Mum Jean. Hugging her and pulling her off stage, it’s clear that this very young star has captured the hearts of his fans with his authenticity. It will be interesting to see how his new-found fame will change him. Will money and recognition make its way into his lyrics? Only time will tell.