Openers Conscious Route and Oyakhire both trade in a brand of ’90s boom bap, the former originally hailing from London and now based in the latter’s hometown of Edinburgh. The beats are uniformly smooth, with plenty of soul samples, and it’s a great start to the night as the punters roll in. ‘Weight’, the first single from Oyakhire’s mixtape ‘Feet On The Ground’, is so good he plays it twice, getting a bit of movement from the crowd and presaging the trajectory of the night.
Subjxct 5, DJ for both Wiki and Papo2004, follows by getting the now-packed house going with a selection of modern and classic hip hop, with generous dollops of bass and plenty of ad-libs. Papo2004 arrives shortly after full of infectious energy, rapping frenetically over the New Jersey bounce beats. From seemingly nowhere, things have now turned practically into a rave, and half the crowd were absolutely prepared for this.
Subjxct 5 keeps things rolling by playing a bunch of trance until Wiki nonchalantly takes the stage to a rapturous reaction. His gravelly voice crackles perfectly – you can comfortably make out every word as it crests atop the beats, which haven’t been in any way diluted. The crispness of the music is frankly astonishing given how many venues struggle to cater to rap. It’s testament to Sneaky’s that they manage such a great sound.
Most of the set is taken from Wiki’s great ‘Half God’ from last year, including soon-to-be-classics like ‘Roof’, ‘Wik da God’ and the Earl Sweatshirt-featuring ‘All I Need’. There’s even a few unreleased gems in there, showcasing the prolific streak he’s been on for the last couple of years. The sweatbox nature of the venue soon takes its toll and during a snappy rendition of the killer verse from Oofie’s ‘Intro’, Wiki’s Burberry shirt comes off, so he ceases to resemble a cooler Mike Skinner circa 2003.
The hour he’s on flashes by, with more than a dozen songs played in full, as well as snippets of others. He learns early on, from the crowd, how to pronounce “Edinburgh” and proceeds to shout it out with genuine glee throughout the performance. There’s even time for some a capella rapping that showcases his skills – something that’s occasionally ignored in favour of his virtuoso lyricism.
As tours come to an end there can sometimes be a sense of fatigue, but there’s not a hint tonight: this feels like a classic performance from a big talent, and a delight to see in such a cosy venue.