Music

Review: Hopsin at Manchester Academy 2

Our guest blogger Anthony Thorpe turned out to show love for Panorama City rapper Hopsin at his packed Academy 2 gig on Saturday night.

Most people know Hopsin from the Ill Mind of videos on YouTube, but there’s a wealth of other material he has to offer. Sounding somewhere between Slim Shady-era Eminem and Tech Nine, as soon as he came on stage he whipped the crowd up into a bouncing frenzy.

On Saturday he offered a run-through of old and new material. The proceedings were kicked off with Forever Ill, one of the first tracks from last year’s Pound Syndrome, which features solid verses and a chest-pounding bassline. It was the perfect way to start the show.

The crowd was treated to a fun, sweaty singalong night of some of the best bars that I’ve heard in years. With his freaky white contacts in, Hopsin knows just how to control the crowd – but then he’s been rapping since he was 14, so that’s no real surprise.

Pulling people up on stage and dropping classics like Sag My Pants, Ill Mind of Hopsin 5 and stalker anthem Ramona, he stoked the crowd, but the most powerful moment was reserved for Ill Mind of Hopsin 8, one of his most personal songs about financial disputes with Damien Ritter, his business partner and co-founder of the Funk Volume label. It’s clear that this is still a really raw issue for him, but it’s great to know that he has moved on to a new label with an album on the way.

Support came from Wolverhampton-based grime rapper Zeo Zeonardo, who has a different sound from the rest of the bill but proves that the UK can hold its own when going up against an American rapper. As an opener he had the crowd really getting into it early doors.

For me the surprise of the night came from the second support, Massachusetts native Token. It’s really hard to believe that this guy, at just 18, is as amazing as he is, and it was great to see him up there having fun and feeling the love of the packed room. He crowd surfs while dropping Happiness and No Sucka MCs, and if you treat him right he’ll even drop The Freestyle that he did for Sway. If you haven’t seen that one, go get on the internet – it’s pure gold.

The whole line-up for this tour boasts some of the best artists hip hop currently has to offer. It’s a night of classics and soon-to-be classics you’ll remember for years to come. Miss these UK shows and you really will have missed one of the best hip hop line-ups you’ll see this year.

Manchester and Glasgow were the first two stops on Hopsin’s five-show UK tour. You can still get tickets for his London, Birmingham and Bristol appearances at Ticketmaster.co.uk.

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