Over the past few years the youthful artist Bakar has been dipping into many scenes – rap, hip-hop, punk, and spoken word to name a few. But given that he’s still figuring it all out himself it’s impossible to define his style and genre in one article. In 2018 he released a full-length debut album, Bad Kid. This was sort of self-titled, Bad Kid being his alter-alter ego. His much shorter Will you be my yellow? was released earlier on this year, instigating several gigs both here and in the US. Thursday 5th December saw the last of this string of performances at Electric Brixton back home in London. This album was a lot softer than his previous, but also a lot more varied rather than just sticking to that punky angst that Bad Kid sported. He seems to be branching out in his style, seeing what he’s capable of, trying new things and figuring out what works well for him and his fans: a plurality that was personified in his live performance.
The previously unannounced support act Kasien burst onto the stage at 8.15pm on the dot. This grime-hip hop rapper was undeniably confident, conducting the crowd into different mosh pits and teasing them with unreleased music. Although he was leaning more to the trap side of things, he still had some of the softer elements of Bakar’s music, particularly in songs like ‘Heartbreak Kid’. In the meantime, the DJ duo New Found Form kept the crowd entertained between Kasien and the headliner with all things grime, hip-hop and trap.
As the band, formed of two guitarists, a drummer and another on the keys, slowly congregated on the stage, the crowd feverishly began to chant “B K”, another nickname of his, I guess? At 9.30 Bakar/Bad Kid/BK lumbered onto the stage last, his trademark woollen beanie pulled down over his face, almost completely covering his eyes. Throughout the night as the room got warmer, and he a little sweatier, the layers gradually came off, but the beanie stayed firmly on. He sings and raps with a thick, discordant London accent which is soulful and shapes his individuality, and in no way detracts from his style. The lack of an unrealistic perfection on his tracks means no expectations of vocal perfection on stage: just uniqueness and sincerity in his voice. After seeing pictures of him swinging from the rigging at previous gigs, I was intrigued to see how he would make the most of the Electric Brixton stage. Whilst the ceiling was regrettably out of reach, he made a point of climbing onto the large speakers to the right of the stage. After having a quick sit-down and getting a good look at the crowd, he quickly seemed to feel detached from the enthusiastic audience and clambered back down to get in amongst the energy. Despite the dynamics of his performance, I found myself at times getting distracted by the beautifully orchestrated nostalgic visuals of noughties night clubs and personal clips from Reading festival that were projected onto the back wall.
The fact that it was a school night didn’t stop this youthful crowd having a good time. Kids stumbling around with spaghetti legs making plenty of mosh pits made for an entertaining Thursday evening. This is such a nice point to go and see an artist in their career – everybody is in some way a mega fan given that they know most of the songs and are closely familiar with the artist through the mediums of Instagram and Twitter. Electric Brixton is the perfect venue too, small enough that no matter where you’re stand you feel close to the artist, but big enough so that there’s a lot of energy floating about. Always.
Bakar is getting support and interest from big names like Anderson .Paak and even Arsenal football club. He’s forming an integral part of that alternative, punk rap that is so uniquely British, much like what artists such as Slowthai and Kojaque (he’s Irish but I’ll allow it – editor) are bringing to the scene and the genre. The next decade will hopefully see more musical exploration for Bakar and could definitely be his for the taking.