Feature Opinion

Skepta is an icon and it’s not because of ‘Shutdown’

There’s a lot that I can write about why Joseph Junior Adenuga, at 36 years of age, has had a profound impact on my generation and, most likely, the next too.

Skepta is playing Red Bull Music Academy in Johannesburg on the 7th of April and you’d be stupid to miss it, but do you know what really makes Skepta an icon?

It’s not the countless awards. It’s not the Drake co-sign that made him known worldwide. It’s not ‘Shutdown’ (even though he got Idris Elba to jump on the remix). It’s not the fact that he’s dating Naomi Campbell. Everything he does, he’s done his own way.

A first-generation Brit, Skepta has been making music since the early noughties. He’s a grime OG, from Pirate Radio days. He’s a Lord of The Mic. He’s a cofounder of Boy Better Know (BBK), a label that signed Drake. There’s the legendary Devilman clash (which he finally put to bed with ‘Nasty’ in 2015). This man brought out enough material to name his debut album “Greatest Hit” in 2007, and he really is the clearest MC. In all senses of the word.

But he’s not just an MC. He’s a visionary. A businessman. A performer. A movie director. A designer. He doesn’t look like a typical MC, but he can damn well put you in your place if you think otherwise.

We can talk about the iconic scene in Misfits where the whole cast were off their faces in the dance to his 2008 tune ‘Rolex Sweep’. We can talk about his hardcore porn video for ‘All Over The House’ that shook Twitter in 2011. We can talk about his continuous occupation of GQ UK’s best dressed man. We can talk about his endless freestyles, mixtapes and features (A$AP Mob, Mick Jagger, Drake, Chip, Krept & Konan, and Giggs – and that’s not half of them). We can talk about MAINS – his clothing line that features his iconic tracksuit look. His influence stretches further than you can see.

He’s a calculated artist – one might even go as far as to say an activist. He’s Everyman – filled with flaws but following his vision. And he means everything he says in his lyrics.

That’s why Skepta is an icon.

Catch Skepta at Red Bull Music Festival Johannesburg next weekend.