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Loyle Carner's rise towards rap royalty (The Downs Festival)

   On embarking on my first trip to Bristol, I sat on a budget bus; filled with anticipation. This wasn’t due to the city’s inspirational street art, impeccable attractions or impressive night life, it was down to the event that induced the trip: The Downs Festival. The festival boasted a line up of Ms. Lauryn Hill as the headline act, along with this years festival royalty in IDLES and rapid up and comers in Fontaines D.C, just to name a few. Needless to say my expectations were high. However, on the day, the act I was most captivated and impressed with was eloquent rapper Loyle Carner.

  Benjamin Coyle-Larner (a.k.a Loyle Carner) is a British rapper with guyanese decent who’s first album produced a mercury prize nominee and saw him become winner of NME’s British Solo Artist of the Year award. Don’t get me wrong I was excited see Loyle Carner in action but in the end I was blown away. As someone who often attends high energy, hard hitting punk and rock gigs in London, I didn’t think the show could stick in my head as fondly. I often found that rappers with a laidback and conversational style of rap were unable to make it work and connect with such a large crowd.On this case, I was wrong. 

   The performance was: raw and relatable, sensitive without sop and poignant yet profound.
On his more low-key records he swayed across the stage spitting with an emotional stream of consciousness. His clarity of pronunciation and tone of voice really allows the audience to feel every word, much alike a hero of his in rapper turned activist: Common. He was able to bring you in with tunes such as ‘Florence’ and “Ottolenghi” and then make you erupt with songs such as “The Isle of Arran” and ‘Ain’t Nothing Changed. It was tantalising.  He finished hard with “NO CD”, leaving the crowd buzzing and despite Lauryn Hill’s set being on the cusp of lift off I struggled to accept that I couldn’t indulge in more of the rappers compelling performance.

With his latest album “Not Waving but Drowning” generating big hype and him performing at some big festivals this summer, if he continues to rock shows like he has thus far, I’m sure this is his rise towards rap royalty.

Words: James Watson


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