1. How did you get your initial start in music?
As a teenager growing up in the early 2000s, grime was a massive influence for me. At the time most of my friends had at least one verse to drop whenever the time called so it was kind of just a natural thing for me to get involved. It’s funny now with the resurgence of grime because my current style doesn’t really reflect that. I never really took music seriously, until I met another kid my age at church who rapped too. We formed a group and did a few shows in our late teens. Fast forward a few years when I started messing around with solo stuff and here we are today!
2. What would be your ultimate aim in the industry?
I’d love to be able to say I have a grand plan to “revolutionise the game” but really I just want to add to the wide tapestry that is the worldwide music scene. I believe I have an interesting and unique perspective to offer so I just want to put that out there for people to digest. Ultimately my aim is to use music to help change people’s lives, both through the music itself and by developing a platform through which I can act on a larger scale.
3. How long have you been writing your own music?
Well if we’re going back to those early grime days, then for about 12 years haha. In terms of a conscious effort to make music as a solo artist then it’s been about 3-4 years.
4. Who are your top three influences and why?
Super tough question! I’m sure my answer would change on any given day…
One of my favourite rappers of all time is André 3000. It’s funny because when I say that a lot of people are confused and ask “the Hey Ya guy?”. However anyone clued up on Hip Hop knows the guy is an absolute beast on the mic and his back catalogue more than confirms that. Past his technical ability in rhyming and his willingness to go completely left, he always manages to make whatever he’s saying unique. It’s something I try to emulate in my writing – what’s the most interesting way I can say this?
Secondly, I’ll go for Sufjan Stevens. I caught on to him quite late into his career but I think what initially struck me about him was the beauty, honesty and imagery in his music. He’s able to say the most powerful things in a really concise way and that’s something I’m trying to do more. It’s funny as a rapper because sometimes I feel I’m almost saying too much, when actually there could be a really quick way to sum up a single thought, that the listener can then unpack for themselves.
Lastly I’ll say Israel Houghton. Growing up in Church, I heard a lot of his songs performed by the worship band and that had a massive role in my faith growing up. Not only that, he was one of the first artists who I really sat down and tuned into musically. Gospel music as a genre is full of awesome “did you hear that?!” moments and I think that’s something which really helped develop my love of my music.
5. Is there anything you would like people to know about your current release?
I had a lot of fun making ‘Liberate’ and hopefully you hear that in the track. When people hear it I want them to groove along and then actually take time to listen to the lyrics. I feel like freedom is one of those instinctual things that we all long for. Even if you don’t agree with where I think that freedom can be found. I hope the song can at least help you avoid some pitfalls in pursuit of it.
6. Where are you based and what’s your local scene like? Any favourite venues?
I’m born and raised in Croydon. I spent a few years out for uni but soon returned after. I’m actually trying to make more of a conscious effort to be fully involved with everything that’s going on round here because with central London just on our doorstep there’s a temptation to see other places as more ‘popping’ or whatever. There are some great regular events in Croydon that I enjoy – Beats and Eats often has a cool blend of artists as do Live & Unplugged and Hoodoos. With the Westfield coming in soon, it will be interesting to see what affect that has on the music scene going forward. Hopefully it’s a positive one! To zoom out a bit, I think the south as a whole has a lot of cool stuff going on – Jacob’s Rock, the Space Rhyme Continuum with Sumo Chief, and Steez are just a few of my other favourite music nights, south of the river.
7. Who else can you recommend from your local scene for people to have a listen to?
I think one of my favourite acts to come out of Croydon in the last few years is ‘Hawk House’. They have a real soulful Hip Hop sound while also not being afraid to experiment. There’s ‘Abimaro & The Free’ who offer some beautiful soul music. Eerf Evil is another rapper from the area who is putting out some really socially relevant content. I know I’m going to get in trouble for not mentioning people, but there really is too many to mention! If you ever want some more artists to check out, feel free to get in touch online.
8. Give our readers a round up of where they can find you online and hear more of your music.
Yeah, you can find me on most platforms:
(when in doubt, just google Mr Ekow ha)