Skepta The Hoxton, Toronto ON, August 3

Skepta The Hoxton, Toronto ON, August 3
Photo: Matt Forsythe
Only a few hours after performing at this year's OVO Fest, London MC and Drake's last new friend Skepta made his way across Toronto for his first headlining Canadian performance. While North America's relationship with grime over the years might be best characterized as fairweather, the show sold out handily, and the venue was packed with everyone from day one diehards to those made curious by his recent collaborations with more well-known rappers.
At 32 years old and with ten years of making music under his belt, Skepta's hardly a rookie, but he took to the stage with the vigour of an artist hungry to prove himself. Wasting little time on banter, he performed a lean but muscular set, heavy on recent material including "That's Not Me," "It Ain't Safe" and "Too Many Men." By the time he got to "Back Then," which cleverly interpolates Houston rapper Mike Jones' 2004 hit "Still Tippin'," there was frenzied moshing in the club. Saving the best for last, he played bruising anthem "Shutdown" (the crowd filling in as Drake's "Truss me daddi" intro wafted out of the speakers) not once but twice, while members of his Boy Better Know crew stormed the stage, spraying champagne.
In a recent FADER interview, he admitted he's not rushing the release of his heavily anticipated new album Konnichiwa, and he's content to play small venues to build connections with his fans. If last night's show and his current run of free singles and SoundCloud one-offs (including "Lukey World," a touching tribute to his late friend Lukey Maxwell) are any indication, his patience is only going to continue to be rewarded.