Protoje and The Indiggnation @ O2 Academy, Bristol, 10/05/2017

ProtojeWith a career spanning 12 years, Protoje has brought reggae into the mainstream. His modern blend of reggae dub and dancehall, influenced by the rap and grime artists coming out of the UK has really accelerated his presence here. The Jamaican artist has become more of a household name since his latest album, Ancient Future, was released in 2014. Bristol’s O2 academy is on their tour tonight, marking only their second ever performance in Bristol.

The Indiggnation is Protoje’s band, made up of 5 musicians, two singers, and one engineer, brought all the way over from Jamaica with him, making for a busy stage. Kicking off with “Blood Money”, there’s a crazy energy in the O2. Not being a sell out gig allows for plenty of room for dancing and moving around - and it’s needed. It’s not long before there’s a smoky haze in the air and Protoje dedicates “Bubblin’” to all the smokers in the O2 tonight.

Royalty Free is Protoje’s latest release, demonstrating his unique take on the historic reggae genre, but using the new sounds he’s encountered in the UK. And, to clarify the title further, the release was available to download for free. He says during a song from the album, “grime and hip hop back into reggae like this,” and with a single clap, its back onto a smooth reggae melody showing his fluidity between styles.

The Indiggnation singers deliver perfect harmonies to accompany Protoje’s smooth vocal, amid choreographed dancing to bring the performance even more energy. Introducing Sevana, his support act for the evening, adds a more prominent female vocal, as they sing “Sudden Flight” together.

Sevena isn’t the only act he brings out tonight. Lila Iké is introduced onto the stage too; a new artist signed to Protoje’s label, with her latest single “Biggest Fan”. Protoje takes a backseat while she performs, singing along to her tracks at the side of the stage in a humbling show of admiration.

Next up, “Rasta Love” gets a unique twist, sampling Anita Ward’s “Ring My Bell” and Drake’s “Hotline Bling” in one eccentric track. The mixes don’t stop there; the electric track, “Stylin’”, smoothly mixes into Outkast’s “So Fresh and So Clean” flowing reggae into modern hip hop.

Ancient Future’s infamous track, “Who Knows”, is a true crowd pleaser, and is likely the reason some of the younger crowd members know of Protoje’s music. But the older fans are here for “Kingston Be Wise” which is on next, to huge cheers from the crowd. And to finish the performance off in true Protoje style, the track somehow veers into “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

It’s clear that the UK’s music style and the big names of hip hop, rap and grime have had a huge influence on Protoje’s style. But it's the dub reggae and roots energy that people love, as Protoje challenges Bristol to dance Jamaica style. Harking back to roots reggae and original ska, Protoje and The Indiggnation not only remind the UK of the history of the genre but futurise it.

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