Thursday 20 May 2021, 7:30pm - 11pm
tickets sold out!
14s+ (under 16s to be accompanied by an adult over 18)
Following the release of his new single ‘Really Love’ ft. multi-award winning singer-songwriter Craig David and DJ Digital Farm Animals via BMG which debuted at #1 on The Official Big Top 40 on Sunday and a string of sold out shows across the U.K. for May 2021, KSI today announces additional dates to his highly anticipated U.K. tour due to phenomenal demand.
Additional dates include Bournemouth, Bristol, Norwich, Cambridge and Hull. The tour will kick off on 13 May at Institute, upgraded from O2 Institute2 in Birmingham with a total of 10 dates scheduled throughout the U.K. including London, Manchester and Newcastle with a final show in Glasgow.
To celebrate the announcement, KSI said “Finally fam. Ya boy cannot wait to finally perform for you guys. There are so many new songs that I have never performed before so I’m excited to have the chance to do so. Trust me, the shows are gonna be insane from the production to the special guests plus all the new music that I’ll be dropping will improve the experience even more. I am too ready. You better be too!”
Olajide William ‘JJ’ Olatunji (known by all as KSI) might only be 27, but his career as a musician, YouTuber, actor, author and professional boxer is already one defined by a determination to take risks which pay off. Long before YouTube offered a clear path to success, he dropped out of college to pursue his channel full-time; seven years later, after cementing himself as one of the platform’s most successful creators (30 million subscribers and a staggering 6 billion views and counting), he blacked out his online presence and went off-grid.
No longer content with content, he returned with tunnel vision. “Everything changed in 2017,” he says. “I got sick of social media and became ready to talk about things in my life that were more personal, more important.”
Whether writing revision raps at school or producing original tracks for his videos, music had always played a part in KSI’s life. His time offline, though, offered him clarity. “At my first gig as a teenager,” he says, “I saw Jay-Z and Kanye at The O2 in London. I knew then one day I’d be up there too… and now my time had come.”
Despite having another EP to deliver on his deal with his label, KSI opted to release his third independently via BMG / RBC Records instead. “It was my way of saying I was done with being an animal in a zoo just being stared at; I was done with acting like a puppet on a string.”
The result was a coming of age anthem, a transition from young internet star to fully-fledged recording artist writing lyrics with substance. “YouTube is like fast food, consuming it is easy and it tastes good,” he says. “But it’s not rich, full of depth. It wasn’t what I wanted to be eating. Music is different, it’s not about quick hits but crafting them - it has a legacy.”
Dissimulation - KSI’s first album - marked the next stage in his evolution, an ambitious record which quickly became the biggest studio debut of 2020 so far. Hitting number two in the UK album chart and with over a half a billion streams, in Dissimulation KSI creates space for both his public persona and the personal: big hit features with the likes of Rick Ross and Lil Baby (Down Like That) and AJ Tracey (Tides) sit alongside more intimate, honest tracks. Take Millions, a candid reflection on his relationships and online omnipresence: “I told myself I wanna finish, And I meant it, I hated every fuckin' second, Hated every mention.” There’s a duality to the sound, too: fresh London grime beats are lifted by bold US-inspired production primed for the huge, hyped-up audiences which await him. The silver-certified Houdini pops with Afrobeat influences.
No stranger to defying expectations, Dissimulation received critical acclaim. Clash labelled it “an excellent body of work”; “he’s absolutely smashed it” proclaimed Metro. It’s no surprise that KSI has been seen on the cover of The Sunday Times Magazine and Music Week; The Observer Magazine and Notion. Other labels and artists want a piece of the KSI pie too: just look to the success of his features on S1mba’s Loose and Nathan Dawe’s Lighter.
And with his second album almost completed, a 2021 tour which sold out in seconds, the launch of his own label and an upcoming single with Craig David (Really Love), KSI is proving that music is very much his domain.
KSI brings with him the unrelenting work ethic and infectious energy which YouTube instilled in him. Despite his debut’s success, he’s certain Dissimulation just scratched the surface: the next record, he’s clear, will showcase his artistry’s further progression again. Given FAULT Magazine described KSI as “one of 2019’s biggest success stories - “an emergent hip-hop star” said The i - all eyes will be on his follow up. KSI’s task - writes The Observer - is “not just to make “YouTube rap” but the real thing”. Their verdict? “Mission accomplished.”
“I want to destroy this infuriating stigma that if a YouTuber does something it should be disregarded,” he says. "Being a YouTuber isn’t easy - it’s tough: long hours, pressure to stay relevant, constantly producing new material, recording and edits.” The industry’s old guard, he believes, who don’t understand the digital landscape, think having his own platform means KSI is cheating the system. He disagrees: “in reality I’m working twice as hard as everyone else because of it.”
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