Timberland and UD teamed up to bring UD’s monthly Open Mic to Village Underground in Shoreditch, London. A change of scenery, free flowing drinks and a lineup full of talent, what more could you want on a Thursday evening?
DJ Shaxx, CEO of One Three Records, kicked off the night with some Afrobeats before the host, Max Mckenzie, took to the stage to welcome everyone. He’s a cheeky comedian with charisma and charm, throughout the night he made the guests feel appreciated and encouraged the crowd to cheer them on. He’d even drop a little freestyle here and there. Bars for days.
Humble Shaun performed two pieces of spoken word, ‘Young & Black’ and ‘Return To The Stage’. His words were so well crafted and the upbeat live band playing in the background breathed new life into spoken poetry.
Essex-based songbird Molly Elizabeth sang her song ‘Second Chances’, which is about looking for the one while being very selective (and coming to the conclusion that the one who ticks all the boxes might not actually exist). Then she sung ‘Feels Like Home’, a slower ballad. Malaika sung her latest single, ‘Growing Pains’. Her voice was soft and calming as the acoustic guitar strummed in the background.
Scuti got the crowd going with ‘Eating’, the audience definitely vibing with her energy and the live band giving the song new depth. She then performed ‘Smoke Some More’, which had a bit of a darker, grungier atmosphere to it.
With fast-paced flows over an abstract piano rap instrumental, J2 shelled it. The bounce in his rap combined with his lyricism really proves he’s an up and comer to keep your eye on.
Emiko gave us the joy of listening to his rich, soulful voice; ‘Old School Lovin’ felt warm, the same way old love songs do. There was a brief intermission while music played and drinks continued to pour before everyone gathered by the stage again, eager to continue listening.
Upon return, Josh-Alexander blessed the audience with his spoken word piece ‘Cocoa Butter’ which champions melanin over a soothing instrumental.
NuAloe performed their track ‘Rain’, versatility prevalent as they switch between singing and rapping with ease. A beautiful vocal range was displayed as the band helped elevate the song.
D Wills started off with some alternative rap energy with ‘Affirmation Pages’ before he took his jacket off for ‘I Belong’, getting the crowd moving as he rapped and jumped from one side of the stage to the other.
The sweet sound of Arinola‘s voice flew over a drum and bass instrumental as she encouraged the crowd to skank in the crowd.
Saiming started his performance off with an acapella rap of an unreleased tune before the band joined him for chill rap song, aptly named ‘Chillas’, that had a really mellow ambience to it.
Ariez Baby got the crowd hype again with drill track ‘Risk’, everyone in the crowd participating as she says, “I love take risk” as we shouted back, “Risk love me!“
Nayana, who we all know and love from previous UD open mics (as a host as well as a performer), performed ‘Journey’ and ‘Daisy’. ‘Journey’ is about her progress as an artist, full of soul, and it easily captivated the audience. ‘Daisy’ is definitely a crowd favourite, the whole crowd spelling out the name of the song in a sing-a-long. Nayana also largely curated tonights line-up (as part of her new staff role with UD) so big love and respect there too.
Dan Dannah, no stranger to UD Open Mics, finished off the show. Coming through with the wickedest flow, the crowd was buzzing as the night was ending on a massive high. The band continued to play as members of the audience hopped on the mic and rode the rhythm like a rap cypher.
The night was such a success and to witness talent after talent truly felt cinematic. Timberland and UD’s common goal of building and strengthening community was definitely achieved. Celebrating young talent on the rise is so important, so make sure you come along to UD’s next Open Mic on 3rd November at Talent House. If you want to join the mailing list, hit up firstname.lastname@example.org.
Words: Kat Friar. Kat is a freelance journalist, DJ and photographer with a passion for music. She likes to cover all bases regarding music so whether it’s a new album, a rising artist or a gig, she’ll be writing about it.