MIST’s upward trajectory in UK music has been nothing short of spectacular. MCs outside of London do not usually receive the type of recognition or praise reserved for those hailing from England’s capital. There have been glimmers of hope over the years, with artists such as Trilla (Birmingham), Fangol (Nottingham) and Shifty (Manchester), being able to secure somewhat regular slots on Westwood TV and Logan Sama’s show on Kiss 100 (now at BBC Radio 1Xtra). Despite strong followings in their own cities, none were able to attract a sizeable fan-base outside of their core market. The increased use of social media platforms has definitely allowed for artists in these regions to gain more popularity. Bugzy Malone and Lady Leshurr are two artists who have capitalized off these platforms, with Bugzy’s feud with Chip and Lady Leshurr’s ‘Queen Speech’ series both going viral.
MIST has managed to also follow a similar path whilst carving out his own niche in UK Rap. Combining with the very talented Shadow, his tracks ‘Smokey’, ‘Sickmade’ and legendary ‘P110 #1Take Freestyle’ all racked up over a million views, leading to collaboration with London-based Steel Banglez, which has proven to be somewhat of a dream relationship. The release of ‘Karla’s Back’, only further propelled him to greater heights in the UK music scene, and with the guidance of a strong team, his debut EP (‘M I S to the T EP’), was a success in the charts, further solidifying his status as one of the top upcoming UK rappers. His star grew brighter with an opulent video for ‘Ain’t The Same’ and he maintained his knack for the outlandish and daring, with his most recent video, ‘Hot Property’.
From interviews, one can see that he is an instantly likeable character, and even within his music videos, he has a comic side to him, for example, placing one of his gold chains onto the husky in ‘Hot Property’ and his response of “fok’s dis?”, when receiving the keys to a Ferrari in the ‘Ain’t The Same’ video. His use of the Punjabi language is endearing to the high proportion of Indians in Birmingham and other major cities within the UK. Despite showing this side of his character, he does not shy away from confronting the pain he feels when thinking about his late mother, and conveys his emotions aptly in his music. The combination of all these factors lead to MIST being a frontrunner to be the next artist to really take over the UK Rap scene. However, I always question whether an artist can do themselves justice by performing well live. I was able to find out when attending MIST’s sold out show at KOKO, Camden on 27th March.
He kicked off the show with the two tracks that propelled him to widespread acclaim in the UK, the aforementioned ‘Sickmade’ and ‘Smokey’. His clarity was something I picked up on instantly and a quality required by any good live performer. What I also found interesting was how the majority of those in attendance knew his lyrics word for word. Even though his rhyme structure is not too complex and he uses characteristic repetition, it was still something I rarely see in a crowd when attending live gigs. He turned up the tempo, with Shadow produced, ‘Dab Cuz’ We’re Winnin’’, an underrated song off his ‘M I S to the T EP’, before what seemed to be a very long interlude of special guests.
Initially, Not3s, who has just released his second single, ‘Notice’, graced the stage to perform his viral hit, ‘Addison Lee’. WSTRN followed with their rendition of ‘Best Friend’, and remix of Yxng Bane’s summer vibe, ‘Fine Wine’. The audience were then treated to an appearance from Tottenham’s Abra Cadabra alongside manager/hype-man, PK Humble. Given WSTRN ended with a song featuring Kojo Funds, it was only right that Abra began with ‘Dun Talkin’. He capped off his mini set with last year’s MOBO winner, ‘Robbery’, sending the crowd into a frenzy. The final special guest to enter the fray, was MIST’s good friend and collaborator, Mostack. Sporting a camo jacket and trapper hat with shades, the ‘gangster with banter’ performed ‘Block Popping’, ‘Let It Ring’ and ‘Liar Liar’ before MIST reentered the stage for Mostack’s final track, their collaboration, ‘On My Ones’.
MIST restarted his solo set with his most recent release, ‘Hot Property’, before mellowing the vibe with ‘Madness’. Nearing the end of his show it was inevitable that he was close to performing his two juggernaut hits. As expected, following the completion of ‘Madness’, the high-pitched keyboard synth of the ‘Karla’s Back’ instrumental rang out across KOKO. Sevaqk, co-producer of the track, came from behind the DJ decks manned by Steel Banglez, to join MIST, as he performed the song to a rapturous response from the audience. The volume of the audience’s cheers only increased as ‘Ain’t The Same’ played, before MIST finally closed off his headline show with Steel Banglez’ ‘Money’, with special guests Haile, Mostack and Abra Cadabra returning to the stage for their verses.
Despite the overall show being very good, it was evident that MIST is not completely there as a live artist. I feel that he needs to work on the show structure, and reduce the number of tracks that special guests do during his own headline show. However these critiques are not to undermine what he has achieved as an artist. As stated above, he has managed to secure fans from all over the UK, including London, with his trademark rhyme pattern, catchy lyrics and unique delivery. He has an excellent team around him, from the production of Steel Banglez, Sevaqk and Shadow to the experienced, astute management skills of Guvna Singh. A vital part of his rise also has to be attributed to the visuals for each of his singles. Him and his team understand the impact of releasing grand music videos with cinematic effect. Music is as much about utilizing visual platforms today as solely audio platforms like Spotify and Soundcloud, and MIST has accomplished this to great effect. With tweaks to his live show, and an increased discography, MIST’s vision and a plan will undoubtedly come to fruition.
Photography Credit: Amina @ kiwi.photos