MC and producer GAIKA’s darkly magnetic blend of gothic dancehall and industrial electronics is soon coming to YES. Here’s why you should be excited.
Raised in Brixton, schooled in Sutton and of Jamaican and Grenadian descent, GAIKA’s creative output has always straddled different worlds. Taking influence from academia, philosophy and political theory, he devours his influences and spits them out, tangled around personal tales of love, loss and rebellion. Similarly wide-reaching when it comes to genre, his singular ‘ghetto futurist’ style fuses grime, dancehall, garage, hip hop, R&B, trip hop and more. All of this is drawn together to paint pictures of stark, dystopian landscapes that feel like some kind of South London Mad Max.
After captivating listeners with a blistering pair of self-released mixtapes – Machine and Security, as well as WARP-released EP’s SPAGHETTO and The Spectacular Empire, GAIKA released his debut album just last year. Entitled BASIC VOLUME, it turns London into a site of bleak oppression, inhabited by a population of ghosts, fractured by drug wars and racial division. Ironically, this fractured London is delivered via collaboration, with GAIKA enlisting such forward-thinking contemporaries as SOPHIE, Aart and Dutch E Germ to help with production duties.
The SOPHIE-inflected ‘Immigrant Sons (Pesos & Gas)’ is one of the most instantly rousing tracks. Its bright cascading synths dance across a dramatic hip-hop bass line while GAIKA sounds a call to arms: “Young women with your heart in song/I wanna see you in rebellion/Stand up for yourself, don’t take no shit/Put your bombs on the grip, every boot, every kick”. Wonderfully cinematic, this track is matched by ‘Born Thieves’, whose brooding bass line and graceful, hook-filled vocals combine to hypnotise. And then there’s the fire-fuelled ‘Crown & Key’, whose muscular beats and trance-like synths ferry us through GAIKA’s grim London in characteristically disquieting style.
Take a listen to the album and you’ll see for yourself why GAIKA is being billed by many as one of the most arresting MC’s of his generation. At a tenner a ticket, don’t miss him at YES on the 30 May.