Music review: Nova, King Tut’s, Glasgow

Scottish Album of the Year winner Nova strikes the perfect balance between soulful vocal tracks and strident rap attitude, writes Fiona Shepherd
Leith-based rapper, DJ and producer Nova Scotia won the Scottish Album of the Year Award last year.Leith-based rapper, DJ and producer Nova Scotia won the Scottish Album of the Year Award last year.
Leith-based rapper, DJ and producer Nova Scotia won the Scottish Album of the Year Award last year.

Nova, King Tut’s, Glasgow ****

With the lifting of social distancing restrictions, it is now possible for live music to resume in earnest. Among the small venues re-opening their doors for the first time since March 2020, legendary Glasgow club King Tut’s has been quick off the blocks, filling the remaining August calendar with their Summer Nights season of multi-band bills showcasing the best of new Scottish talent. By the end of the month, almost 80 rising acts will have scored their first gig in close to 18 months.

Upcoming talent doesn’t come much more highly commended than singer/rapper/producer Shaheeda Sinckler, better known as Nova. This Edinburgh-based triple threat of a performer bagged the 2020 Scottish Album of the Year Award for her 20-minute mixtape Re-Up!

Nova PIC: APH and KJNova PIC: APH and KJ
Nova PIC: APH and KJ
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Like most of her peers, she has spent her furloughed time developing new material, some of which she debuted in her pithy, no-nonsense set.

Having first caught the performing bug just up the road at Glasgow School of Art, Sinckler held the stage with a natural command. Backed only by her imperious, unflappable DJ, she struck a seamless balance between the sweet, almost coquettish soulfulness of her vocal tracks, lightly dusted with Autotune, and her strong, strident rap attitude.

Despite the enforced live lay-off, there were no signs of nerves or rusty stage presence from Sinckler, nor any of her supports acts. Rapper Hannymoon was more about the vibes than the skills with his smiley, inviting presence, drowsy psych-infused beats, mild reggaeton inflections and short soulful sketches.

Psweatpants rhymed to a heavier, bassier hip-hop sound with higher excitement levels to match, while pocket rocket MC Jayda had repurposed her studio creations for a live setting with the springy backing of rocking trio Houseplants, creating a bratty barrage laced with slinky indie funk and slowburn wah-wah guitar.

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