Great Hall, Cardiff University Students Union, Thurs 18 Apr
It’s easy to see why Stefflon Don stands out in the UK music scene. While other prominent female rap artists position themselves as relatable and real, Stefflon strides proudly in the opposite direction, with a swagger that more closely resembles the brash glam of American hip-hop. Her collaborator list is just as mighty, with superstars like Sean Paul, French Montana, Big Sean, Future and even Idris Elba all sharing artist credits with her. Seriously, can we have networking lessons from this woman?
The set kicks off a not-so-fashionable 30 minutes late, though this does little to little to deter the manic crowd. When Steff finally appears, sprawled across a gold throne and surrounded by a troupe of pink backing dancers, the screams are deafening. Her chart-friendly crossover blend of rap, afro-beat and dancehall has won her a diverse fanbase – certainly enough to pack out the Great Hall tonight. The word DON stands behind her in 10-foot tall white lettering. The opening mission statement is clear: Stefflon Don is here to take charge.
What follows is a bombastic ceremony of supercharged hits, twerk-offs, and bucketloads of attitude. It’s big and loud and boisterous, with Steff’s easy patter in her distinctive Hackney accent smoothing the gaps between songs. We’re treated to fresh cuts from the debut Secure album, as well as snippets from her numerous features on tracks like Wiley’s Boasty and Jeremih’s London. Early career single 16 Shots continues to be a punch-in-the-face banger that Stefflon delivers with bad bitch aplomb, and mainstream breakout hit Hurtin’ Me is predictably an audience favourite. All hail the queen.
words and photos JASPER WILKINS