WED, 17th MAY 2023

7:30pm - 11pm

£17.50 adv + bf


AEG Presents…


He may have been releasing music for over a decade but Tottenham rapper Avelino hadn’t felt ready to drop his debut album until he knew he was ready to compete with the all-time greats. Setting such a high bar might be an obstacle to some but for Avelino approaching difficult situations with positivity and a vision for the future is what motivates him. Over the past decade he has established himself among the pantheon of U.K. rappers, in part thanks to his legendary radio freestyles, including an iconic 2015 Fire In The Booth alongside Wretch 32, plus collaborations with Dave, Skepta, Knucks, and Krept. In 2019 he was namechecked by Stormzy as part of a roll-call of Black British music icons during his Glastonbury headline performance.

God Save The Streets is a career-defining body of work that marks Avelino out as the U.K. rapper able to blend heavy-hitting lyrics with memorable wordplay and an inspirational message. The album, executive produced by longtime collaborator Wretch 32, is Avelino’s grandest statement to date. His previous mixtapes have laid the path for this moment. Underdog Music, Iconic Ambition, No Bullshit, and Ego Kills; each title reflects a moment of personal growth that led him to the point of clarity needed to craft God Save The Streets. “My perspective hasn’t changed,” he explains. “It’s like a dartboard. I was always hitting the board but now there’s only a bullseye.”

The catalyst for God Save The Streets came during the pandemic when Avelino found himself inhaling new knowledge and perspectives through audiobooks. Inspired by non-fiction works, including The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and Maxwell Maltz’s 1960 classic Psycho-Cybernetics, he was able to steer his mind to a more productive place and reach a peace of mind that led to the genesis of his album and its central message. “My thing has always been street music telling my peers to not kill each other,” he says. “Now it’s just become more specific. Changing your life is as easy as changing your mind. I want people to look at me as proof. The best thing you can do is lead by example.”

Avelino understands that life on the street is far from easy and that the violence which haunts generations of people in his area can’t be solved with soundbite statements. “It’s not as simple as ‘put the knives down.’ You have to appeal to a person’s state of mind,” he reasons. “If you can get someone to work on their mindset and recognise that they have choices then eventually they don’t relate to crime and violence.” He wants people to listen to God Save The Streets and then take negative experiences as fuel for their next, more positive, move. He points to his stage name, a tribute to his father he has used since his death a decade ago, as an example. “No matter what negative thing you go through it always comes with a potential good side, too. You need to reflect and use your imagination.”

Avelino wasn’t alone in crafting this career-defining project. Wretch 32, in addition to overseeing things as executive producer, contributes a spine-chilling acapella to cap off Vicious Cycle. Elsewhere there are appearances from grime icon Ghetts and rabble rousing Backroad Gee on Vex and OGD on the punchy Sin City. Tiggs Da Author’s soft touch, meanwhile, lights up the tenderhearted Brotherhood. Each guest artist was hand-picked to make the album feel like a movement and the culture coming together.

Thoughtful collaborations run across God Save The Streets. Gang member turned motivational speaker Marvin Herbert’s voice appears often, relaying his time on the streets and how he turned his life around between songs. Deeper in the mix is producer Fraser T Smith, who has helped shape UK rap classics from Kano and Dave, who Avelino recruited for added expertise.

The album artwork tells a story, too. Riffing on the punk imagery of the Sex Pistols and their 1977 single God Save The Queen, artist Reuben Dangoor paints Avelino in the centre of the Union Jack flag. His mouth is free but his eyes are covered, reflecting that the album is about more than the star at its centre. Punk and grime, one the successor to another in the history of working class British music, come together again with Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock playing guitar on Vex.

The album ends with Acceptance, a somber song on which Avelino marks himself out as an artist who can show the way while continuing to learn himself. “Everybody goes through things and I am no exception. This is acceptance,” he says over a haunting vocal melody. It’s a song about figuring out what role you can play in making the world a better place.

Returning to the idea of releasing his debut ten years into his career, Avelino references legendary music teacher Nadia Boulanger. She would tell her students, including Quincy Jones and Philip Glass: “Your music can never be more, or less, than you are as a human being.” It took him this long to build the life experience needed to have something he deemed valuable to contribute. Put in blunt terms, a 22-year-old is not in a position to make an album like this. “I wanted to make the greatest UK rap debut in history. It’s about exhibiting your skills, reflecting the times and trying to add to the world in a positive way. This is about more than entertainment, the music we listen to is important.”

You can’t just say “God Save The Streets” without being there in your life. Maturity, influence, wisdom. Only Avelino could be the person to do a title like that justice.

Tickets on sale Mon 24th April @ 10am