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Levelz On Levelz: No Genres Allowed

LEVELZ On LEVELZ: No Genres Allowed

Photo: Asia Ella Huddleston Instagram.com/asiaella

I didn’t know what to expect when I turned up at Shapes in Hackney last Friday. I had done some research on LEVELZ, the obvious fact being that they were from Manchester and not London (this is significant, but for another time). I listened to some mixes but hadn’t really come to a conclusion as to what sound they were making. If I had to choose I would have said grime, but it wouldn’t have been a comfortable decision. However, it only took a short time watching them on stage to realize that I wasn’t being indecisive; LEVELZ are not part of one genre and nor should they be.

Before I get into their sound, I’ve got to start with their look. I say ‘their look’ but there is no boy band-esque coordination to speak of. From slogan Ts to tracksuits to propeller-topped caps, LEVELZ are the epitome of a Collective. To add to the diversity, ages were wide-ranging from late teens to early forties. This only peaked my curiosity further as to how all these people had come together and created such an eclectic but simultaneously cohesive body of music.

Levelz On Levelz: No Genres Allowed

Photo: Asia Ella Huddleston Instagram.com/asiaella

Each member is an artist in their own right but a few years ago came together and started making music as LEVELZ. From watching them you wouldn’t know how many members there are – it could have be anything from 5-15 (it’s 14) but the numbers only enhance the energy emanating from the stage. I wanted to play that game where you freeze someone in a scenario and sub another person in, just to see what they could bring, because it could only be more fire.

The show itself was one continuous wave of music, rotating DJs and MCs navigating their extensive catalogue. This is where I was truly amazed. LEVELZ seamlessly glide through (but do not settle on) several genres including hip hop, soul, RnB, grime, dancehall, house, dubstep, drum & bass, and even disco (see King of the Disco below). With unexpected samples dropping at any given moment, MCs switching up at every turn and the crowd growing by the minute, there was no way you could sleep on them. It was like all your favorite songs playing one after another, but at the same time, you didn’t know any of them.

Photo: Asia Ella Huddleston Instagram.com/asiaella

Photo: Asia Ella Huddleston Instagram.com/asiaella

Maybe it’s the 14 members, maybe it’s the Mancunian spirit, but I can’t get LEVELZ out of my head. Not in the ‘catchy tune’ kind of way, but in the ‘these guys are creating something great’ kind of way. Four days on and the LEVELZ sound is still marinating with me. We’ve been slowly moving away from labelling music for a while, or at least creating sub-genres to suit new sounds, but LEVELZ transcend all of that. As I write this I’m listening to their SoundCloud and it’s not background music. It’s vibrant and authentic and most importantly, it doesn’t sound like anything else. They’re making moves all over the UK, so fingers crossed they travel over the Atlantic soon; you’ll feel it when they do.

Twitter.com/LEVELZMCR

Check out their latest mixtape here: Soundcloud.com/levelzmcr/sets/lvl11-the-mixtape

Levelz On Levelz: No Genres Allowed

Photo: Nicola Davies

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