The date was 17th January 2018 and we were in a radio studio to watch a seminal show take place. Premier Gospel’s Luke Williams invited Faith Child on to the Hip Hop Sessions to share a collection of old school UK Christian rap classics. The show came after a thread on Twitter that blew up and saw fans sharing their memories of the music from the early 2000s.
It was clear that there was an appetite for this brand of nostalgia. And when the ten year anniversary of Faith Child’s album Illumination hit, it was the perfect opportunity to do a live show.
Illumination 10 was our favourite gig of 2019 and here’s why. It signalled the first time the UK hip hop and grime scene could celebrate its history over the last decade with the protagonists that made it happen.
Putting on this show couldn’t have been a small undertaking. It saw people coming out of retirement and dusting off their mics for one last time. There were also artists that have continued to make music and remain relevant the whole time.
Take A Star for example. He kicked off the evening. Even by his own admission, his tenure isn’t as long as others in the scene. Be that as it may, he still had enough to offer such a historic event.
There was the classic track DFMB. He also got Presha J on stage for the Channel U hit Whose Side Are You On? and Guvna B for #TwoZeroOneSix. Guvna then stayed on stage to rummage through his own archive. See the Light, Looking Out the Window and Kingdom Skank were some of the relics he pulled out.
Triple O drew for the likes of Come Home, and Rachel Kerr was the only woman on stage. She gave an animated performance.
But what really took us down memory lane was seeing people like L Dubzy. The godfather of gospel grime gave his first performance since 2011 and with tracks like Bun Da Gun, there was plenty to reminisce.
In a similar vein, it was great to see Victizzle and Commission take to the stage as well. It would have been criminal if we didn’t get the chance to sing along to “C-O-Double M-I-Double S-I-O-N.”
Then came Faith Child’s headline set. Immediately we got to appreciate the depth of the bangers Faith has in his arsenal. He kicked things off with new song Come A Long Way, a song produced as an almost companion piece to this special throwback show. He then went on to give us some of the tracks we’ve been singing along to for years. I Like It, Holla at Me and Just Pose started the set.
The set itself functioned as a greatest hits but had little by way of context and introductions to bring people back to the era when the songs were first made.
But maybe that didn’t matter. The crowd seemed very happy to just jump in the musical time machine without the spoken interludes. It was a riveting rollercoaster nonetheless. Grins were on faces across the building and we enjoyed this opportunity to dance and rap with Faith Child – an artist that has stood the test of time in the UK while many have come and gone.
No stone was left unturned. Even newer hits released since Illumination were played. Tunnel Vision and That Was Then were among them. There was also an effort to create a mosh pit that initially didn’t quite work. This certainly wasn’t Big Church Day Out. Different crowd.
This event was a celebration. It was a coming together of an entire movement of music in UK gospel. It was a time when at last we could finally look back and bask in the nostalgia. Some of the people who were on the stage paved the way for today’s scene and as such, it was brilliant to see newer artists such as Still Shadey and Shardz appreciating that fact.
The song that summed everything up came right at the end. We were all expecting to hear Bibles Bibles, it was even on the flyer. But the people who came out to replicate the original track were incredible. It was a reminder that the UK can do amazing things when we work together. That is something that was true then and is still true now.