Project 6 Festival Review at Brockwell Park

Project 6 Festival Review at Brockwell Park

by Dreams Burn Down / Jun 10, 2024 / 0 comments
Friday, 24 May 2024

Spring bank holiday marks the start of the UK festival calendar. Despite many events struggling to survive in a climate of rising costs, exacerbated by a government that seems completely uninterested in the arts, this weekend has become rather congested. South London’s Brockwell Park alone plays host to four different one-dayers, with Project 6—now in its second year—promising a stacked lineup for connoisseurs of hip-hop and bass-heavy sounds. This year’s festival doubled as a 30th-anniversary celebration for Rinse FM, one of the UK’s best talent incubators since their pirate radio days.

Following a long queue, we headed straight for the Outlook stage, where putting 4am Kru on early doors proved to be something of a masterstroke. While the site didn’t really fill up until later in the day—understandable for a Friday event—the jungle outfit still drew a decent crowd of ravers who’d arrived early for their set. Undeterred by the early billing, they brought the sort of energy you’d expect from a headliner, with live drums and dancers adding to the spectacle. 4am Kru rattled through their catalog at breakneck speed, with tracks like ‘Just Saw Johnny’ and ‘Pianos Raining Down’ getting an especially good reception. After they closed things with their edit of Gangsta Pat’s Memphis classic ‘I Wanna Smoke,’ we wandered off in a great mood.

The biggest surprise of the day was CASISDEAD. On record, it’s hard not to be impressed by his adventurous beat selection, but I’ll admit his latest album left me a bit cold. Live, his technicolor tales of dealing and despair felt like a completely different proposition. The notoriously private MC let his charisma shine through, curating the performance like a DJ set, seamlessly flowing into freestyle sections and rolling out remixed versions of his hits. Closing with the wonky ‘80s shimmer of ‘Pat Earrings,’ we were left with a new appreciation of Cas’ talent.

Arguably the best set came from Freddie Gibbs. Ambling out on stage wearing a pristine grey velour tracksuit, the Midwestern rapper was flanked by backing band El Michels Affair and collaborator Madlib, celebrating the 10th anniversary of their stone-cold classic album Piñata. I’ve always been a bit skeptical of live band hip-hop—sometimes it feels like it’s being done for the sake of it, or to justify ticket prices for rappers scaling to arena production. Here, the group managed to breathe new life into songs like the smokers’ anthem ‘High’ and the electrifying ‘Scarface.’ Fortified by the blunts handed over by his entourage, Gibbs appeared genuinely delighted by the crowd’s elation, and attacked the intricate flow of ‘Shitsville’ with proper energy.

AJ Tracey’s short set served as a reminder of how many bangers the West London rapper has in the trunk. Being able to close on a one-two of ‘Ladbroke Grove’ and ‘Thiago Silva’ should be the envy of most MCs. His newer material displayed an artist increasingly comfortable at melting different styles into the pot, with ‘Joga Bonito’ injecting some Brazilian flair and ‘Seoul’ embracing the high-tempo Jersey club sounds that have taken over East Coast rap. Those hoping for a special guest were hopefully not disappointed, as cheeky Mancunian Aitch arrived to rev the crowd up with the pair’s piano trap collab ‘Rain.’

Pusha T was able to engineer a moment before he even stepped onstage, when his DJ dropped Kendrick Lamar’s Drake diss ‘Not Like Us’ to roars from the crowd. Drawing heavily from his latest albums It’s Almost Dry and DAYTONA, Pusha anchored his sunset performance with the gravitas and laser-focused showmanship of someone who’s seen it all before. Overcoming sound restrictions, the best section came towards the end when he swept through an exhilarating run of feature verses—‘Move That Dope,’ ‘Mercy,’ and ‘Runaway’ among them. Overall, this was an impressive outing from a festival that will hopefully build on its success next year.

Rating out of 11: