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Kate Tempest is about to blow up, get in early

Kate TempestPhotos by James Nagel // Written by Mike Frash //

Kate Tempest //
The Independent – San Francisco
May 20th, 2015 //

Take a look at Kate Tempest. Now go listen to her music and see her live because she’s a force to be reckoned with.

The unlikely future of rap calls Southeast London home, and Tempest (born Kate Esther Calvert) can rant with the best of ’em. At one point late in her SF show, she authoritatively proclaimed, “I tell stories!” And after 45 minutes of reoccurring characters, motivation to overcome self-doubt and an exploration of the more hollow aspects of city life, there was no doubt.

Tempest has the uncanny ability to smack you in the face with her rhyme delivery and confidence, but the best part is that her show is hardly a clone of her produced material — upon arrival on stage, she spit the lyrics of “Marshall Law” entirely a cappella.

Even though she clearly thrives on her own, Tempest performs with a live band. Immediate bonus points.

Her hybrid blend of rap-poetry leaves a quick mental imprint with her overtly sharp British cadence, but tracked over minimalist digital production creates an explosive combination. The instrumentals deftly shift from synth-driven, syncopated beats to low-end drops, pushing into territory bordering Caribou and Jamie xx. It’s flat out on point.

Kate Tempest

This decade will likely be known for the death of “genre,” the end of how groups have been contained into categories like R&B or rap since the birth of record labels. And with dance music on the rise, digitized conventions are creeping into pop, rap and indie music on the regular. With music more accessible than ever and for free, listeners are willing to experiment with their auditory material — and amalgamation is the natural result.

Tempest represents this change as much or more than anyone as we enter the smack-dab middle of this decade. And that includes Kanye West, Sylvan Esso or Run the Jewels.

Primed to get big quickly, her SF show at The Independent marks the beginning of the second leg of her U.S. tour. Tempest already made a critical splash in March with a standard LA-into-SXSW-into-NYC introduction. Now, it’s time for word of mouth to spread her impactful storytelling beyond indie blogs.

The end of the “I tell stories” rant ended powerfully and summarized her ethos well. “More empathy. Less greed. Change the narrative in your own life.” We could all use a motivational speaker like Tempest to help believe in ourselves at times, and it’s exciting to see someone like her just getting started.

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