A$AP Rocky, Electric Ballroom, London
Stooshe, Royal Albert Hall, London

Never mind hip-hop's great hope, here's a girl group going places

Is it time we all became a bit more demanding? A$AP Rocky – a name that absolutely oozes irony when he rolls onstage a whole hour late – is, along with Odd Future collective, the hipster's choice. He is, the NME tells us, a "new kind of rap hero", the main evidence for which seems to be that he isn't homophobic and that he says "sick" meaning "good" a lot.

In many ways, A$AP – aka 23-year-old Rakim Mayers – is as much of an unreconstructed bozo as the next rapper, littering his lyrics with more "bitches" than Battersea Dogs Home. He's also as materialistic (one song boasts of his "brand new yacht" and, mystifyingly, "microwave oven"), and as fond of violent imagery: almost every track tonight begins with the loud click of a trigger being cocked, and ends with the boom of a bullet being discharged. And he's more self-obsessed than most: the first two tracks consist of little more than his crew chanting "A$AP! A$AP!" until we give in and join them.

So, why all the fuss? Well, for one thing he is, by his own modest admission, a "pretty motherfucker". And he's got at least one great tune. "Peso", the single, is a dizzying, light-headed, lo-speed beauty, a return to the stealthy principles of early Nineties G-Funk (put simply, "speak softly and carry a big stick"). And it's surely no coincidence, given that he was named after the Rakim (of Eric B & Rakim fame). The subtleties of "Purple Swag", another single lifted from his mixtape LongLiveA$AP, are lost in the mix, and "Goldie", the third, was never that outstanding to begin with.

There can be no doubt that we're going through one of hip-hop's occasional slumps in creativity, and the warm-up set, from the DJ J Scott, rams the point home. A crowd-pleasing cross-section of what's currently popular, it's dominated by sluggish sub-50 Cent grunters. Against that backdrop, A$AP has just enough to stand out, and to raise faint hopes that his debut album proper might be a head-turner. In a bad year, he's getting away with it. In a good year, we wouldn't give him a second chance. Click. Boom.

Since the demise of Girls Aloud, there's been a vacancy for a great British girl group. (The Saturdays? Little Mix? Do me a favour.) The arrival of Stooshe, therefore, couldn't be more timely.

The south-east London trio are frequently described as a British TLC – and, indeed, an acoustic cover of "Waterfalls" is in their repertoire – but, for me, they're a proper feel-good British pop thing in the lineage of Bananarama (Stooshe's dance routines look like they've made them up on the spot).

They may have been assembled via audition, but Stooshe don't feel like manufactured androids. Instead, their personal eccentricities are amplified, cartoon-fashion.

Courtney Rumbold is the stand-out star: the vocalist whose side-shaved, quiffed-up hair may explain the band's strong lesbian following. Karis Anderson provides comic relief, while Alex Buggs takes the Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes role, with a rap halfway through each track.

There's a massive Motown influence running through them, courtesy of production team Future Cut. The drums at the start of "Love Me" are either sampled from The Supremes' "Come See About Me", or a direct approximation thereof.

Stooshe can also play nice, as proven by tonight's brief PA at a JLS-headlined benefit gig for the Rays of Sunshine children's charity, but there's an unmistakeable edge to them. When they're interviewed on the tour bus they don't hide the vodka, and they look like they could drink you under the table.

There's also an undercurrent of pure filth. Breakout hit "Love Me" (featuring Travie McCoy) was originally released with a less radio-friendly title (featuring Suave Debonair), complete with a video packed with saucily bitten bananas and squirty cream. No wonder Nicki Minaj is taking Stooshe out on tour. More of this, please.

Critic's Choice

Hot Chip, Friendly Fires and Grace Jones headline the three-day Lovebox festival, with other highlights across the weekend including Lana Del Rey, Niki & The Dove, Little Dragon, Chic and a one-off reunion set from organisers Groove Armada, at London's Victoria Park (Fri, Sat, Sun). Meanwhile, Californian harmonic janglers Best Coast begin their UK tour at the Garage, Glasgow (Sat).

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl

First look at Oscar winner as transgender artistfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month

TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel

film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island

Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars ceremony 2015 will take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles
Oscars 2015A quiz to whet your appetite for tonight’s 87th Academy Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Sigourney Weaver, as Ripley, in Alien; critics have branded the naming of action movie network Movies4Men as “offensive” and “demographic box-ticking gone mad”.
TVNaming of action movie network Movies4Men sparks outrage
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Sleater Kinney perform at the 6 Music Festival at the O2 Academy, Newcastle
musicReview: 6 Music Festival
Kristen Stewart reacts after receiving the Best Actress in a Supporting Role award for her role in 'Sils Maria' at the 40th annual Cesar awards
A lost Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed
arts + ents Walter Elliot, an 80-year-old historian, found it in his attic,
Arts and Entertainment
Margot Robbie rose to fame starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street

Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days

Arts and Entertainment
Right note: Sam Haywood with Simon Usborne page turning
musicSimon Usborne discovers it is under threat from the accursed iPad
Arts and Entertainment
A life-size sculpture by Nick Reynolds depicting singer Pete Doherty on a crucifix hangs in St Marylebone church
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Escalating tension: Tang Wei and Chris Hemsworth in ‘Blackhat’
filmReview: Chris Hemsworth stars as a convicted hacker in Blackhat
Arts and Entertainment

Oscar voter speaks out

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscars race for Best Picture will be the battle between Boyhood and Birdman

Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn (Claire Foy), Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)
tvReview: Wolf Hall
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Meighan of Kasabian collects the Best Album Award
Arts and Entertainment
Best supporting stylist: the late L’Wren Scott dressed Nicole Kidman in 1997
Arts and Entertainment
Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan as Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey


Arts and Entertainment
Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) and Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor)
tv occurred in the crucial final scene
Arts and Entertainment
Glasgow wanted to demolish its Red Road flats last year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower