The bus pulled into Queen Of Hoxton on the evening of Sunday, April 10 to celebrate the launch of rapper AKS‘ debut EP, The Bus Stop courtesy of Less is More Music in association with Sistova.
An intimate, but sizeable crowd of family, friends, fans and artists (including Young Guru, the sound man behind some of Jay Z’s biggest records) came to support the night, hosted by MC and poet G.R.E.E.D.S.. A little before 9pm, the host took to the pink and blue illuminated stage, introduced himself and hyped the crowd, telling each member of the audience to look at the person next to them and express their happiness to be there which was a nice touch.
With four artists to warm, the first performance was from soulful singer Wilson who sang the hell out of three tracks – the stand out track for me was definitely “Stay With Me”, a bluesy track accompanied by beautiful vocals from the backing singers for the night. [If you love a sound like Dwele‘s, Wilson is one to watch. Dude can sing.]
After a short interlude, where DJ Vibes played cuts from Lauryn Hill and Nas, J The Ex (1/3 of Midas Touch) graced the stage and brought the energy up starting his set using Nas‘ “Hip Hop is Dead” and showcasing his singing talent too, with a freestyle acapella.
Singer Kay Young followed performing some tracks from her EP The Smell Of Winter Project, dedicating “Hunny I Made It” to everyone in the audience on their way to making it. Another cut off the EP “Miss Mondays” received a lot of love from the audience, with people singing along.
The last of the warm up performers Shakka kicked off his set with “Take Our Time” performed over the amazing J Dilla beat “So Far To Go” and ended his set with the up tempo, hype “I’m On This Ting”.
The man of the night, AKS graced the stage decked in baby blue hoodie and performed each cut from The Bus Stop, starting with the emotionally charged “The Monologue” then into “Worth Waiting For”, over Jay Z‘s “Encore”.
He performed each track with confidence, conviction and real emotion, shouting out to his girlfriend in the crowd. “House Called Home” got an almighty pullup after the first four bars “They say this is where I come from, coz I was born in South East London right. Nah, I’m living life like Scarface, stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
Literally everyone in the audience knew the words and felt the lyrics, rocking it out with him. AKS slowed it down with “Truth Be Told” and even showed off his own soulful vocals, featuring beautiful vocals from upcoming soulstress Kadija Kamara and talked through how the track came about and Kadija spoke of her admiration for AKS. He introduced each member of the amazing live band and backing vocalists who individually broke it all the way down – the guitarists riff brought on that good type of screwface!
To end his outstanding performance, he finished with the title track “Bus Stop” to a rapturous applause.
Although the night was dedicated to AKS, it was very much a celebration of the amazing, soulful talent the UK has to offer and how much love and support the scene has for each other and undoubtedly left everyone on a high. The fact that without major label backing, launch parties like these can happen is testament in itself. The levels tonight were definitely up there with the rest of the best.
AKS is a real performer, with an ability to paint a picture with his rhymes, conveying lyrical dexterity and passion and is one to watch. If you haven’t heard the EP I would encourage you to, too, to meet him at The Bus Stop, available at TheBusStopEP.com.
Photography by Jerry Barnett