What a night Friday 11th January in Rich Mix was. The result of a culmination of efforts since late summer of 2018, we had a sold out event that left people, including myself, wanting more.
Hidden Gems LIVE has a reputation for providing high quality entertainment and proliferating some of the best artists in the UK’s emerging artist scene. Continually accentuating hospitality and high energy atmospheres, we pride ourselves as one of London’s best showcases for emerging artists. Friday 11th January was our best event yet, with the largest audience we had ever garnered. A true testament to London’s diverse corners.
LEMZI headlined the show and also curated the event, co-ordinating the set list, arranging rehearsals and pursuing multiple ways of marketing the event, including an appearance on London Live, social media campaigns and utilising Rich Mix’s social media, plus more!
Lemzi’s debut album “LEKI” was completed in August 2018. Although “Figure 8 Flipped” & “That’s the Code” were released earlier the year, “B.O.T.S.” was the lead single released early November 2018 and the whole run for “LEKI” began late October 2018. “B.O.T.S.” is a critical analysis of the current situations and experiences that proliferate and structural design (youth) violence and knife crime. This song has proved to be an anthem in communities such as Waltham Forest as it acts as a testament to Leytonstone. Following the release of “B.O.T.S.”, LEMZI’s debut album, “LEKI” was announced publically.
On Thursday 15th November, we held a Listening party for an exclusive audience to hear the album in full before it was publicly released on Friday 7th December. This was an intimate event where Lemzi experimented with the mantra of a focused session, whereby specific people from the music industry were invited to take in the lyrics and sounds of “LEKI” without any distraction. This was a particularly important factor due to the interview-style nature of the album, which included dialogue between Lemzi and a character he created, played by Sophie Lemom, who personifies the critical nature that many creative must face or oppose along their journey to success. This event resulted in great feedback from industry professionals, fellow artists and other members of the audience.
Three weeks later, on Friday 7th December 2018, “LEKI” was released. Subsequent to its release, LEMZI had had a tremendous press run, appearing on Sky News, BBC One, BBC Radio London, Radio, London Live and many online publications plus his artistry projected on to the iconic Waltham Forest Town Hall. This, combined with the conscious effort by Lemzi and the Hidden Gems Live Team, allowed for new circles and audiences to attend the first HGL of the year. However, it wasn’t an easy road generating the audience. The Christmas and NY break was always going to be a huge distraction from the event, so it wasn’t until roughly a week before the show that we started seeing a real surge of interest in the event. This led to stress, reorganisation and a number of emotional fluctuations for Lemzi & Co!
Coming into 2019 with only two weeks before the big show, rehearsals began in a rented studio space on the backstreets of Leyton, East London. LEMZI and The Bandem took over the Rich Mix Instagram and garnered extra audience through some incredible rehearsals with guest vocalists Laura Clavier, Miss Dionne, Tells, Ofien, Harmony & Aneesa Marie. All artists had committed tirelessly to attending rehearsals after work on weeknights and early mornings on weekends, working together to help ensure the event was as organised as possible.
Being someone who is close to Lemzi, I myself began to feel the pressure of the highly anticipated Headline show on his behalf. I have seen Lemzi first-hand, embark on his creative journey for ten years, emotionally and physically striving to create his own platform and build his name as an artist who projects a positive message on to his listeners. Lemzi has no doubt faced many challenges along the way – some touched on through the album script – however this date for Lemzi would be a huge turning-point in his career. This show would be an indicator for Lemzi as to how successful the hours and hard work had been thus far.
Friday 11th January. The day of the show.
Lemzi arrived at Rich Mix in the early afternoon in order to prepare and set-up for the evening as much as he could. His supporting artists began arriving at around 4pm for sound-check. Sound-check was successful and all artists were confident with the preparations for their slot. LEKI merchandise was displayed across one wall of the venue, along with personalised “LEKI” cupcakes.
7pm. The doors opened and the night began.
DJ Hype Hyphen set the tone with prodigious song selection, ranging from conspicuous 90’s hip-hop to contemporary favourites. Throughout the first hour and a half, before the start, audiences from all over poured in. Family, friends from school, friends from Manchester that drove down on the day and from all walks of Lemzi’s life. With the incredible support acts we also got a number of new faces to witness the whole line-up. I remember looking around at one point and being genuinely stunned by the number of people who were there to witness the talent.
Kitch & his support opened the night with great energy, followed immediately by Laura Clavier & H performing a brilliant duet. Miss Dionne was immersed in smoke as she blazed through a Lauryn Hill rendition and Luke November concluded the first acts with his illustrious and energetic single, “Call Me Bad”. 4i followed and provided everything from wit and humour to socially conscious messages about self-preservation and valuing oneself. LAPP was our penultimate act and demonstrated why he is a fast rising star. From piano, to guitar and wonderful vocals, he really brought something special to HGL.
Finally we had our headliner Lemzi who opened his set with the audio from the album and advert for the album. From there, the chemistry between Lemzi and The Bandem initiated the music and our wonderful audience welcomed Lemzi onstage. A true experience for an artist at his level, Lemzi succeeded in having an audience go through every mood and emotion, jumping around relentlessly and compelled from start to finish.
There are not many up and coming artists who are able to release an album, create and organise two extremely successful, enjoyable and memorable events whilst amassing a diverse crowd of 250 odd people singing lyrics back to them. Lemzi had exemplified why he is one of London’s leading emerging artists and what hard work and persistence can generate.
Written by Zahra Malik
Images © Deanna Constable