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The Elevation Meditation member graced Leeds’ swanky bar in a rapturous occasion t’up north.

Released on 4.20, Lord Apex’s third instalment of his Smoke Sessions mixtape series was another swag draped project; equally therapeutic and enthralling in nature; revelling in his gruff cadence and skilful wordplay. Even in light of his prolificness, it produced tracks that stood proudly among his dense discography, which has attracted growing amounts of material since the pandemic.

When tickets for the SSV3 tour dropped, copping was a no brainer. The rapper, who hails from West London, has released a cauldron of new collaborations and mixtapes recently, some of which is his most divisive and gig-worthy to date. UK Shit and the Westside Gunn featuring London Fog, taken off Supply and Demand, were particularly potent for a live setting.

The low ceilings of Headrow House’s event space create an unusually dingy and claustrophobic atmosphere for a venue that charges £6 per pint of Neck Oil. Nevertheless, upon entry, we were greeted by Apex’s Carhartt-heavy silhouette emerging onto the stage; receiving a thunder of claps, whistles and cheers as he clasped the mic and began his set.

Split into four quarters, the performance embodied both the sedated and explosive cuts across the White Chapel native's projects. His verses persistently hit three pointers as the sea of beanie wearing fans vibed to tracks like EM3 and Spliff In the Morning, the latter of which caused a few people to light up, and consequently, get kicked out by the hawk-eyed bouncers.

Lord Apex, in the company of his discography, already looks like an established performer. He possesses an affable swagger on stage; entertaining fans with humanistic chatter and off the cuff gags. It’s this personality driven authenticity that allows him, as much as the music, to sell out shows without record labels and music executives trying to dictate his moves.

As the night progressed, the setlist got more visceral. The nostalgic tones of Vintage Garms were soon replaced by the deliriousness of Like You Know, which on all my listens of SSV3 I really hadn’t connected with… until last Sunday. Mastering a rhapsodic energy, the Angus Luke produced tune is almost frivolous; forcing fans into a frenzy and beers to be lobbed carelessly through the air. Two unreleased tracks, on the trappier end of the hiphop spectrum, also made an appearance, and made us excited for forthcoming material.

As effective on record as he is live, Lord Apex has managed to carve a career with longevity in the scene. Now gigs are back on the horizon, it’s clear this won’t be our last time seeing him. For all you folk across from the British Isles, be sure to catch the wordsmith on his forthcoming European tour, where he'll be supporting Freddie Gibbs 🐰.

Words Liam Cattermole (@liam_cattermole)
Photos Harris Bourne (@purplecontrast)


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