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Biig Piig, Village Underground, review: ‘Delicate voice that belies brutal realism’

‘Soulful’: Biig Piig sold out the 1,000-seater venue. Photograph: Wyatt Dixon

Jess Smyth, aka Biig Piig, bounces onto the Village Underground stage.

Twenty-one years old with the pigtails to match and a pseudonym taken from a pizza menu, the singer-songwriter and rapper has sold out the 1,000-capacity venue on a Tuesday night.

Part of the London-based NINE8 collective of underground DIY musicians and creatives, Biig Piig epitomises the lethargic, dreamy sound of a new generation of hip-hop artists whose lyrics romanticise the mundanities of everyday life.

In her ironically titled debut EP, Big Fan of the Sesh, she tells the story of a doomed relationship in a languid style of rap, tinged with a hint of an Irish accent and R’n’B influences.

The cover pictures her on a sofa, cig in mouth and an empty bottle of Hardy’s red on the table beside her.

Tonight, Biig Piig somehow manages to bring the same laid-back, after-party vibe to the vast, industrial space.

Tales of angst and heartbreak made soothing through soulful, jazzy melodies reverberate off the exposed brick walls as she glides through her set.

Her support, KEYAH/BLU (strange punctuation clearly makes for edgier stage names in this scene), sets the tone.

“I heard you like your boys deep enough to drown you”, she drawls with a smile over a lulling hip-hop beat.

Playful and relatable, the lyrics are lapped up by the student-dominated audience.

Biig Piig treated the audience to some unreleased music. Photograph: Wyatt Dixon

Once she has bounded onto stage Biig Piig follows suit, one of her openers being entitled ‘Getta’ Real Job’.

Her wide-eyed demeanour and high, faultlessly delicate singing voice belie the cutting, sometimes brutal, realism of her lyrics.

Modern city life is innocently dissected in a midst of “doo dah days”.

Despite having supported the likes of Princess Nokia in the past, Smyth is refreshingly down to earth.

“Well isn’t this lovely”, she declares before entering into an anecdote about the next track, simply called ‘Sex’, which she fondly recalls doing “over a Dilla beat when I was like 15”.

The unassuming chat is endearing and while this may be Biig Piig’s biggest show to date, you can definitely see her on bigger stages.

She’s a classic example of how YouTube self-starters can break out but still retain the intimacy of those first bedroom tracks.

It’s this combination of the affinity an ingénue can conjure up with the audience – treating them to “a bit of unreleased stuff”– with the effortlessly polished nature of her sound which makes Biig Piig special.

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