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Kate Tempest

November 8 @ 7:30 pm

By the time Kate Tempest begins The Book of Traps and Lessons, the song has already moved on. I came to, she says, meaning homegirl was out of it, lost for a bit, hung up and hung over and by the time she wakes up, catches up, comes back to life, life has moved on. Certainly, the person she thought was right there has moved on, and even in a moment of brief capture, where she falls into a most tender trap, she is out of reach. Together they drift apart. Tempest is surrounded by friends, but something is missing. They are not really friends, but people who remind us of adulting’s first big mistake: confusing friendship with companions in misery. Or companions in drunkenness. All that’s left is her battle born voice and a sad piano, both of which vanish before the song even ends, an unholy cutting off, as if the song was instantly severed from whatever was giving it voice. It’s a stunning change for such a fire-breathing poet. A disturbing quiet space for somebody usually at the forefront of bold sound. Not that she’s quenched her fire or anything, but that now Tempest sounds as if rising up from depths instead of blazing across sky.

I say battle born voice because up to now Tempest has been in essence a battle rapper. Ready and armed for a fight, except her battles were never with other rappers or for establishing some sort of dominance of flow (though she can flow for days). Her battle was against shit at once more existential and more real, shitstems really, whether that be the repetitive dullness of todays with unpromised tomorrows, or the newly rising menace of old racism. Beats, Rhymes and Life told in a bracing, bold, way. Tempest hasn’t spat a single bar that didn’t come with scars. That combination has always made her the realest because—no lie— the first question anybody has when they come across the idea of Kate Tempest is, is she for real? Tempest mastered true meaning in the best way—by not trying too hard to mean something, always the kiss of death for a poet. Or a rapper.


November 8
7:30 pm
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LCR (Norwich)
Earlham Road
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7TJ United Kingdom
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