Review: Jonwayne at Birthdays, London April 24 2014

In Hip Hop by Nick Russell

Review: Jonwayne at Birthdays, London April 24 2014

Thanks to the promoters Soundcrash music Californian hip hop producer and rapper Jonwayne played his first UK headline show in London, as the Stones Throw artist sold out the popular Dalston venue, ‘Birthdays’ on April 24. We invited guest writer Andreas Stylianou to drop a review of what went down on the night!

Photography: Arianna Lago


Jonwayne looks so casual, so unassuming, but when he enters the stage of Birthdays sweaty, sold-out downstairs bar, every person in there takes notice. Silently, he leans over the console and starts a decadent fuzz that eventually bleeds into some fly hip-hop shit, seemingly off the cuff, to the audience murmur of ’…Is this a DJ set?’

What then follows is a good ole’ fashioned instrumental session, with The Wayniac effortlessly flipping beats out of sixties pop, country , jingles, basically whatever, in a classic style, but updated, with the occasional trappy 808, or hyphy thump, and snippets from his excellent beat tap, Bowser.

I’m not mad at it, though. It’s like a throwback to the height of my Def Jux days, but in the best way possible. He clearly has a real love for this, and the kind of eclectic ear for samples that’s always enjoyable to hear.

Then, half an hour through what’s billed as a forty-five minute set, the sounds of Yeezy start to filter through, and jonwayne takes centre stage, mic-less, miming along flawlessly to the Kanye/Lil Wayne track ‘Barry Bonds’. It’s like he’s teasing us, repeatedly playing the opening ‘Yeah!’ before launching in to ‘Numbers on the Hoard’.

As good a beat maker as he is, to finally hear that chilled, but still intense flow is a real treat and the crowd obligingly goes nuts, especially for Scoop DeVille produced single ‘The Come-Up’.

It’s pretty unoriginal to call jonwayne the ‘indy Bronsilini’ I know, but there’s something in the delivery that is very similar to Action Bronson, especially when he cuts the beat in and out, spitting a capella in perfect timing. ‘It’s harder than it looks’, he says, and, after watching him sell out his first UK show like it was nothing, I believe he’s right.

Words: Andreas Stylianou