Writer Jasmine Khan / Photography Andrew Roberts
The Sunny is a bit busier than I’ve come to expect on Tuesday evenings. As I walk down the narrow steps into M9’s first headline gig I can hear the thud of the bass and covers. It looks like it’s going to be a backing track kind of evening.
The first support Corbyn is emotive and talented, if a bit nervous with his eyes more on the ground than in the audience, fully in his personal flow but not quite ready to share it with us. There are a few bops and sways but it feels we’re waiting on Corbyn to give us permission to let go.
It’s a nice crowd and he finishes to applause and shouts of “slay”.
The next act Bundiny brings more interactive energy and much more eye contact, performing to the audience and taking up the stage. The room isn’t filling up, but the crowd’s much more reactive already. There’s an old skool hip hop feel coming through the speaker; Bundiny’s rap is sharp and clear.
“I wanna hear all of you singing this one, it’s my biggest single.”
I can’t say I know it, but one guy in the front keeps up with the lyrics as they swim from Bundiny’s mouth.
At times the beat feels pretty basic, but the flow is full of imaginative, pacey rhymes. Bundiny also offers up some vocals and while they’re a little shaky, his tone’s definitely there. A bit more confidence and I reckon he’s got it down.
Not missing a beat, Bundiny comes to the front of the front and raps rapidly into the audience. Confidence is not something he’s lacking now as his lyrics paint the hard work and hardship needed for success.
You know from the expression on his face he’s not fronting.
In the break between songs he sends love to his supporters which is always appreciated. “This is my dream,” he grins and then runs the next track, whose beat offers a bit more of that variety I’ve been searching for.
“I spit real passion when I open my mouth.
“Pain and joy when I open my mouth.”
At the end of his set Bundiny says that this is his first gig – definitely one to watch.
After a quick stop at the bar, the headliner M9 (previously known as J Mizzy) claims the Sunny’s stage. I started listening to M9 back in 2020 and his sound has moved from rap based hip-hop and grime to having more of a focus on vocals and alternative sounds.
That being said he’s running 25 minutes late, so M9 better be worth the wait.
As he starts the vibes change, it’s more intense, the bass feels deeper and the beats are layered and textured in a way we haven’t seen all night. The audience shouts back the end of the chorus of the first track and it’s clear who we’ve all come to see.
M9’s in his feelings when he performs but it’s a shared collective experience. His flow is melodic and the rhythms reflective. S4 from Nottingham joins M9 on stage and I’m getting LA hip hop, driving in open convertible cars and as if by magic the smell of California sober fills the room.
The next song has more movement and there’s a couple dancing at the back of the room. M9’s singing and I can’t decide which I like more, the flow of the vocals. You can hear that guttural growl at the bottom of M9 vocals that makes you know it’s real.
“No you won’t, no you won’t walk these roads alone.”
He brings another surprise support on stage for ‘Free Fall’ and Cartebranche closes his eyes before releasing an energy that seems to have been building inside him for I don’t know how long. It’s all over his face and the crowd shouts “oi” loudly in response.
This feels like one of the first hyper local gigs that I’ve been to where people are listening to the artist at home because they know the lyrics. M9 is accessible and engaging, dancing across the softer sides of hip hop and RnB.
The last track ‘Indigo’ maintains the reflective vibe of M9’s set, behind me are tens of phone lights adding to the atmosphere. The crowd’s not massive but it’s dedicated, and for me it makes all the difference.
For more from M9, click here for his Spotify page.
For more from the Sunflower Lounge go to www.thesunflowerlounge.com