Mel D. Cole


scarlxrd doesn’t need a band to rock

August 28, 2019
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It was a rock-filled AFROPUNK Brooklyn Sunday afternoon when British rapper Scarlxrd hit the Red stage with only his DJ in tow. It should have been an awkward transition from amplified instruments to tinny 128kbps MP3s but Scarlxrd rose to the occasion. He is blessed with a voice most punk singers would kill for and makes music that exists somewhere between the sound of mosh pit beatdowns and piercing screamo punk. His is a shriek that cuts to the bone of anything he sings or raps over. Because of this, Scarlxrd often gets lumped in the ‘trap metal’ category; a genre that tends to rely on industrial-sounding trap beats to carry less than proficient rapping.

It’s an unfair comparison because while he is clearly rock-influenced you would most likely find his beats located in a Macbook folder under the tags of “drill,” “trap,” and “grime.” And while he keeps his voice in the red he doesn’t use that as an excuse; an effective MC, Scarlxrd will slow his flow down, speed it up, and make it bounce when the track calls for it.

And bounce he did; Scarlxrd didn’t leave one inch of the stage uncovered as he (and his extremely enthusiastic DJ Jacky P) danced across the stage. Dressed in all black with a matching black bulletproof vest thrown in for proper Brooklyn attire, Scarlxrd was a commanding presence. And the crowd bounced along with him; it was a sea of faces pogoing up and down in the summer sun through the entire set.

It helped he had some fans in the house; while he ditched his trademark Tokyo Ghoul facemask (it’s hard to have the essential rap breath control through non-breathable fabric), there were a few in the crowd sporting his look that had nothing to do with Afropunk fashion. “I have one question. Is it always this hot?” he asked a few songs in, dripping with sweat. That moment of exhaustion was earned; it’s hard work showing you can go toe to toe with a full band with just your voice and a microphone.