Loyle first appeared on the scene back in 2014, with his debut EP ‘A Little Late’, which cemented him in the UK’s rap scene as one to watch. He followed that up in 2017 with his BRIT (Best Male, Best Newcomer) and Mercury Prize nominated, top 20 debut ‘Yesterday’s Gone’. The bedrock of honest and raw sentimentality that you hear on ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ has left an inextinguishable mark on music in general and UK Hip Hop in particular, standing out as an ageless, bulletproof debut.
Ah! It seems like only two years ago that Loyle Carner was playing the Lake Stage and I was saying how talented and brilliant he was and that it wouldn’t be long til he was on the main stage. Oh yeah, it was.
It obviously feels quite fast to him, judging by his regular looks of disbelieving bafflement, but I think that take itmuch slower and he wouldn’t be the exciting act that he is. There’s really quite a crowd here, despite the rain. The main arena is big, and there isn’t much space left. Quite the compliment!
This works because the retro beats are accessible and catchy. The bars are fast and often raw and angry, but over this backing Carner comes across as ridiculously likeable and un-threatening.
He also has a fantastic chemistry with his DJ, Rebel Clef, who occasionally joins in spitting lines of his own. It works well.
What Loyle Carner has in truckloads is authenticity. His voice is his own. UK hip-hop has long since jettisoned the mid-Atlantic accent, but that’s not what I mean. I mean that he has a way of writing and expressing himself that it’s easy to feel empathy for, and his bars speak of a real existence that almost anyone can identify with. And they do.
Every time the crowd sing along his absolute and utter joy lights up his face, and we all smile along. And smiling is what this gig was all about for me. Every year I come away from this festival surprised by something. And it’s always the same surprise; some act made me smile way more than I was expecting. I’ll be shocked (and pleased) if anyone else makes me smile like this this weekend.