ArrDee review – hard-partying rapper proves he’s an artist of substance | Music


“You’ve got to be one of the best crowds I’ve been with,” ArrDee says, straight-faced, shirtless and dripping with sweat. He’s deadly serious, but it’s only the second night of the 19-year-old rapper’s first ever tour.

ArrDee (real name Riley Davies) found rapid fame in 2021, stacking a series of UK Top 10 hits after scoring a verse on the remix to Tion Wayne and Russ Millions’ record-breaking drill hit Body. Now he’s part of a wave of rising Covid-era stars who have yet to test their skills in front of a live audience.

The Brighton-born teenager starts out surprisingly stern, his brow furrowed as he barrels through Locker and its blunt bravado: “I’m a warrior, I feel like Rocky the moment he got up.” Snaking left and right, ArrDee works the front rows like a seasoned politician, shaking hands and posing for pictures. By the end of the tune he has relaxed, and breaks into a wide grin. “We gunna party or what?” he asks.

On Wasted, a track with drill pioneer Digga D that samples the noughties bassline classic Heartbroken, ArrDee jumps into a new gear. Between bouncy bars about being “white-boy wasted” he demands a mosh pit from a crowd determined to oblige. Some teens do literal backflips, skidding on spilled drinks.

Although the detailed storytelling of the track 6am In Brighton gets lost in the frenzy, it’s the softer cuts from his debut album Pier Pressure that confirm ArrDee’s star power. Come & Go, a track about transience and loneliness, has a brutal self-awareness that undercuts his reputation as a chatty party-starter. Sweet and sour ballad Early Hours paints the rapper as a vulnerable antihero, and he steps into the role with unflinching eye contact.

His brashest hits are saved for last: Jiggy (Whiz), a loose, cold tune in which he drinks “straight from the bottle, cups are too spilly”, and Oliver Twist, ArrDee’s first solo hit that riffs on Dickens to spin a tale of ambition and greed. “I just wanted some mooooore” he yells, reaching up towards SWG3’s low ceiling. It’s only just begun, but this sold-out tour seems far too small.

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