I have fond memories of Village Underground. The last time I was here, the biggest rapper on the planet decided to leave the Brits and come to perform with mandem and the Section Boyz.
I remember the lights and the sound system were on point, so I was excited to get a chance to shoot there again. Fortunately, the entry into the venue wasn’t as long winded as last time and I even met Dumi Oburota, the co-founder of one of my favourite labels in the UK, Disturbing London.
The first sounds I heard as I stepped into the venue, turned out to be the final song from Tom Prior, I haven’t heard his music before but I heard enough to make a point to check him out. As I was reminded for the third time by security about the ‘3 song rule’, I made my way to the stage. The photo pit was crowded. Every inch covered with photographers and videographers ready to capture what was about to happen. As the lights dimmed, the crowd made a loud roar as the artist they had been waiting for jumped out on stage.
Yungen, dressed in all white, came out with energy, it was as if he’d been held back backstage and now he had finally got his moment to let loose and show his art to the receptive audience. With surprise performances from Wretch32 and Mo Stack, Yungen dropped witty punchlines and bars created for crowd participation, his music is entertaining and he can comfortably jump between providing a vibe for mandem as well as the ladies. He knows his audience.
Carving out a dedicated set directed to the female audience with a selection of songs played with is band, The Compozers, Yungen has always been very aware of his place in the scene. Some make jokes about comparisons to Drake but that’s the thing I like about Yungen, he is not out of place speaking about his feelings saying things like “putting pictures up on Insta, it ain’t nuttin’ to show it”. The selection of songs played with The Compozers demonstrates this very well. Live instrumentation coupled with singing from his fans proves that Yungen is able to make personal songs about his views on relationships and things that he’s gone through in his life and make it relatable. On his album, ‘Project Black & Red’, songs like ‘Too Real’ translated well into a performance that had everyone listening to Yungen tell stories about lost friends and how he feels about people’s views on him not being on the album with his fellow Play Dirty affiliates, Krept & Konan. The packed headline show was an indication that Yungen is fully capable of holding his own.
Being versatile allowed Yungen to jump straight into his own version of “1 Take” without missing a beat, reminding everyone about the quick fire Grime beef he had with grime artist Chip. His supporters were excited, screaming large parts of the two diss songs. To be honest, I was quite surprised that Yungen included the songs in his set, but to be fair, he made a good display of his love for the sport.
As I was gently nudged out of the photo pit, I joined the crowd for the rest of the show. ‘Comfy’ blasted through the speakers, as a sizable hole in the crowd formed and Yungen got hyped on stage. I’ve only seen Yungen as a special guest, but his concentrated energy on his own stage continued throughout the entire show. The finale was a great surprise. One of Yungen’s biggest songs ‘Ain’t On Nuttin’ was brought to life as the featured artists on the remix ran on the stage one by one. Angel and Stormzy both came and did their thing and even Bashy made an appearance and delivered his bars with a nostalgic feeling. I remember the ‘Chupa Chups’ mixtape so watching Bashy perform was great to see.
Yungen has been on the up and up recently. New single being played on radio, signed to a record label and now a successful headline show. 2016 is his moment to show what he is capable of and from the sound of the new song I heard featuring Angel, Yungen is pretty comfy making good music.