Remi Kolawole graced a sold out stage at The Corner Hotel on Friday evening along with DUTCH and SENSIBLE J – who navigate drums, beats, Djiing and production both live as well as on the artist’s first and only album to date, Raw X Infinity. They opened to a cheering and rather inebriated crowd. Early in the show, Kolawole informed patrons that he still calls Melbourne home, excitedly mentioning his home city as one of his most anticipated pit stops on the ‘Raw X Infinity’ tour.
Infusing hip-hop with soul and a steady flow of rhythmic compilations, the show began. As can be expected sometimes with live hip-hop performances, the lyrics were difficult to actually distinguish – depending on a committed fan base to be already familiar with the songs to promote audience participation. The words seemed to blur into each other, which is perhaps more a reflection on the volume of the audience and sound quality than the strength of the performance.
Remi’s stage presence was full to the brim – in fact it was like a cup that water was being poured into long after it had beenfilled, and the water was spilling all over the floor. His vibrance and energy was infectious, and the steady stream of audience participation was met with encouragement of more audience participation. In the song ‘LIVIN’, Kolawole moved around the stage with the kind of confidence and swagger that makes a successful hip-hop performance, discussing the arbitrary nature of making ends meet, with lyrics like ‘Maybe I’ve got it twisted, maybe there was a class on how to think, and I missed it’. The audience chanted along with the performer during the final lines, ‘Everyone’s got to make a living’.
Songs like ‘XTC Party ///H.O.B’ followed soon after; with the title ‘XTC’ being an obvious play on phonetics, and thus un-surprisingly containing a lyrical observation on drug use. The intensity of the song was disguised rather well with a tremendously laid back attitude that makes for the kind of ‘cool’ that everyone likes to think they have reached at some point in their lives, but probably haven’t even touched on. Once again the chorus brought with it a hookof some description, in the sense that there were lines that involved audience participation once again. This was a trend throughout most of the songs, and began to seem a bit repetitive, but inarguably effective in wooing the already infatuated fans even more.
REMI prefaced the song ‘Ode To Ignorance’ by claiming that he was a pretty chilled out guy, who tried not to take life too seriously, but some things need to be taken seriously and one of those things is racism. Which of course set the tone for the song by causing a slight hush through the crowd in order to heighten the chances of the lyrics being heard by all. The lyrics call out on many underlying issues regarding racism in Australia. Cleverly phrasing lyrics that make claims about the xenophobic trends that such prejudices create amongst people, while maintaining a relaxed beat and inspired energy.
Shortly after that tune, the three-piece performed the song ‘Aviation (Disco Weed)’, representing an antithesis to the previous tune, and paving the way towards the tail end of the show. As was to be expected, there was a catchy chorus that required people to haphazardly repeat a mantra, and this time involving the use of weed or dope or whatever the kids are calling it these days. But they most likely said ‘weed’ – as Remi himself is undoubtedly one of the freshest paint jobs in the business.
After a stellar encore with no less than two songs, the chiseled performer thanked the crowd for their support before he and his entourage left the stage with no shortage of screaming and wolf whistling. As the crowd simpered down, it begged for reflection how infrequent unique hip-hop artists and lyricists are around these parts, and how Melbourne is lucky to be home to such an up-and-coming talent.Watch out for the inevitable rise of this one, both doors and windows will be opening for Remi.