Meekz Manny has just embarked on his first UK tour, which might come as a surprise considering the millions of streams nearly all of his tracks have racked up thus far. The mysterious man from Gorton has accrued a cult following during the precious few years he’s been an active microphone controller. Good music aside, an air of mystery is certainly a prerequisite when it comes to growing a cult fan base, and Meekz has both in abundance. His fleeting appearances in the press and his masked persona, only further serve to fuel the fans demand to learn more about the man beneath the decorative balaclavas.
The 02 Islington Academy might have been an odd choice for the inaugural coming together of Meekz stans, but what the venue may of lacked in size, it certainly made up for in boundless energy from the audience. As is customary with any UK rap showcase, the DJ runs through a mix of bangers old and new, warming the crowd up as much as he is testing their knowledge of the music they profess to love. The 800 die hard Meekz fans in attendance, seemed to revel most in the gritter, darker corners of UK Rap, as opposed to the more polished lighter sounds that have dominated the charts of late.
As the DJ skilfully moved the crowd with more fades and blends than a barber, the balcony above the stage was overflowing with industry tastemakers and influencers, keen to maintain their reputation as having their fingers on the pulse. As the DJ set wore on, more and more people slowly begun abandoning the obligatory jostle for prime positions at the bar, in exchange for the best views of the stage.
Given the style of Meekz’s music, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the performance might be more composed and measured, rather than the hyperactive live wire that Meekz seemed to embody the moment he stepped out from behind the curtains. Coming out to his “Hoods Hottest” freestyle understandably sent the crowd into a frenzy, as everyone seemed to know every single word of the iconic track. Another testament to the fanbase that Meekz has built, they’re genuinely tapped into the music, and less concerned with the things that go on outside it. The more fickle the fan, the less invested in the actual music they are. Meekz’s set never dipped in energy, and he moved from banger to banger, during the opening moments alone, with modern day classics like “Year Of The Real” and “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop – a reminder just how deep the discography is already.
Meekz treated the fans to more outfit changes than Mariah Carey in her prime, coming out draped in a variety of different tracksuits, of course all complete with matching balaclavas. This attention to detail shows exactly the artist that Meekz is aspiring to be – someone who takes pride in his stagecraft- an area too often neglected in UK rap. Meekz’s only break from the stage was when Unknown T came out to perform some of his most anthemic songs, most notably “Homerton B”. T’s appearance although random, leaves the door open for a welcome collaboration with Meekz in the near future. One collaboration that Meekz did treat us to was an unreleased joint with NSG entitled “Unruly”. The collab sees Meekz move into NSG’s territory, bringing something a bit more vibey to his repertoire, a move that could hopefully in time chip away at the male dominance of his audience.
Of course the moment that everyone was waiting for was an appearance from either of the two collaborators on the mixtape. Eagle eyed fans may have spotted members of Dave’s camp mingling amongst the influencers and tastemakers, a sign that Santan was certainly in the vicinity. Sadly, it was a red herring – and although Meekz closed out the show with two performances of “Fresh Out The Bank”, Dave didn’t join him on stage. Either way, Meekz proved what a great live performer he is; and will surely pack out venues double or even triple the size next time he’s on the road.