Live Review: Token - O2 Islington Academy, London 24/04/2019
Being compared to hugely respected rapper’s like Eminem so early in your career might be a daunting experience, but Massachusetts rapper Token take it all in his stride, firing off lyrics like an automatic rifle and having just dropped his 2nd album, this guy doesn’t do things in small doses! Announcing a world tour a few months ago, Token has finally got around to the European leg and we caught his highly anticipated London show…
Support tonight came from London native Big Heath, who is not one to be called shy when It comes to his stage performance. Strolling up and down the stage showing off his uniqueness as a rapper, new single ‘Biggy’ instantly got the crowd moving, Heath spitting pure fire about his come up as a rapper, the current rap scene and every now and then throwing in a self-inflicting jab at his physical size! Just before he left the stage, he asked “Does anyone want to hear some unreleased shit?”, of course the answer was yes; this new song was aptly named ‘Pablo’, after infamous drug king Pablo Escobar, lyrics about being the king of the rap scene with a few cheeky drug references peppered on top, what more could you ask for? Big Heath is still a relatively new name on the scene, but it won’t be long before he’s headlining a similar tour that Token is on.
As the instrumental of the opening song started, you could barely hear it over the immense chanting from the crowd; ‘TOKEN, TOKEN,TOKEN” the audience screamed as he hop, skipped and jumped from backstage right into ‘Household Name’ which got an even bigger reaction somehow?
A quick nod to his DJ before asking “Should we take them to the Treehouse?”, jumping up and down across the stage, Token’s energy was electric during huge hit ‘Treehouse’! Before the crowd had a chance to grab a breath, the beat kicked in for huge breakout song ‘Code Red’ that saw Token once again crashing around the stage like an escaped animal, stopping only a few times to start the most intense staring contests with members of the front row! A few songs later, ‘Mom Would Agree’ began and we could not control are excitement, this same level of hype could be felt from every single person in the venue this evening; every bar he spat, the crowd would shout back the next like the world’s biggest rap battle!
Things took a calmer approach during ‘No Service’, to which I’m sure the audience appreciated as they had been bouncing off the walls since the very start! Token’s lyrical mastery in this song is phenomenal, going from talking about his girlfriend, to a veteran to the mailman delivering fan-mail but not one line feels out of place, they all move and flow perfectly into one another.
Final song came in the form of ‘Little Boy’ which Token decided to turn up even more than humanly possible, a giant leap from the crowd landed him the in the centre of the audience, all while continuing to rap every single verse, at one point an eager crowd member tried getting more than a autograph and attempted to steal Token’s shoe, to which he naturally replied with “Get off my feet motherf**cker”!!
Token is doing huge things even though he is still so young and hasn’t been in the mainstream eye very long, going on what he has released so far and the speed his popularity has grown: we wouldn’t be very surprised if he was headlining festivals in the near future!
Words and Photography by Joe Dick