Both Larry June and the Alchemist have established themselves as perennial respective forces within the global rap ecosystem. Whether it’s been the Alchemist’s recent collaborations with the likes of Benny the Butcher, Freddie Gibbs, or most notably Action Bronson, it’s been clear he’s always been concerned primarily with pushing both sonical and artistic boundaries. This sentiment was clear to see in his recent release with San Francisco hero Larry June, The Great Escape is an undeniable triumph in the space of slightly left-field, conscious but charismatic, US rap. As a result, it was only right they embarked on a tour together to celebrate the art they had created across the world, and that London was one of the first destinations.
On Sunday night we saw two artists in all their creative glory. The Alchemist delivered a mind-bending opening set and reminded everyone that it was Larry June and The Alchemist they were seeing; not just a Larry June show where we saw glimpses of the sometimes elusive man behind the boards. Playing from an exceptional catalogue of his own self-produced beats, the Alchemist chopped and changed with precision and swagger, blending sounds from throughout his esteemed discography.
The Alchemist had manoeuvred the London Bridge crowd with poise and marked the official start of what was set to be a great night for rap purists. However, Larry June ensured that new levels of energy continued to be set. Coming out to “89 Earthquake”, a fan favourite off the recent release The Great Escape, he had the crowd bouncing from the get-go. “Summer Reign”, another recent release off the collaboration tape with the Alchemist also had the people going, with the crowd hanging on to Larry’s every word and following his lead by waving from side to side to the rhythm. “Palisades, CA” was another standout performance and not only because Larry continued to deliver with his combination of infectious energy and vocal clarity. Gifting the mic to a lucky fan in the front to rap the Big Sean verse, the fan more than rose to the occasion, hyping up both the crowd and Larry June himself.
One question that fans were asking before the show was if there would be any special guests. There weren’t any obvious options, particularly as Larry doesn’t have any collaborations with British rappers. So when the opening notes of Knucks’ “Home” started playing, the crowd went into a frenzy as they were blessed with a surprise performance from one of South Kilburn’s finest. And it wasn’t just one song; Knucks then went on to perform “Los Pollos Hermanos” to an equally rapturous crowd. By the end of the two-song interlude there was no doubt that it was an inspired decision from Larry June, particularly as there seemed to be considerable crossover in the fanbases.
But there was still more to come. Proceeding to draw from some of his earlier projects, Larry June hit the crowd with “Green Juice in Dallas”, a cult favourite across his fan base that went down a treat. The night couldn’t be done though without the crowd seeing Larry June perform his classic “Smoothies in 1991”. Currently sitting at 16 million views on Youtube, it’s undoubtedly one of Larry’s biggest songs, and the crowd got completely behind him. With the entirety of the 350-capacity singing along, it was a fitting end to a historic night in the career of Larry June.