Entries in Rap (58)


5 tracks that influenced Canadian rapper/songwriter Jerico

Born in Ghana, raised in Montreal, Canada, Jerico has been making music since he was 12-years-old. Having worked with producers across the globe, Jerico is back in the game and has released a new single ‘Ready or Not’ remix. 

We sit down with Jerico and he tells us what 5 tracks influenced this emerging rapper. 

1. Bon Jovi "It's My Life": As soon as the electric guitar begins, you get an instant feeling. This is one of my all time favorites. It's just one of those songs that is very motivational. It's a perfect blend of good instrumentation along with great lyrics. This song always reminds me to get up and strive for what I want.

2. DMX "Slippin": The oboe is one of the key elements to this classic. Even though the lyrics say "I'm falling and I can't get up", this song is very uplifting in a weird way. As he talks about the trails and tribulations of his life, I reflect on my own. Then I always realize that my situation is not that bad. This song will resonate with me forever as well as the artist.

3. Michael Jackson "Beat It": This is another timeless record. A lot of Michael Jackson's videos are like movies. From the cinematography to the choreography, everything is well done. When I was younger I did not fully comprehend the lyrics until I grew. Yet this song has always made me want to move and dance. 

4. Nas ft. Lauryn Hill "If I Ruled The World": This song consists of two artists I consider the greatest of all time. The perfect duo for such a strong message. This song would make me want to reflect on what I would do if I had a lot of money or power. Not for vanity, but all the good I would do and the people I would help. 

5. Eminem "Lose Yourself": I love listening to music that inspires me or has purpose/message. This record falls into that boat. From the very beginning with the pianos and the guitar, there's a real sense of emotion. Eminem's lyrics motivate me and make me feel unstoppable. This song makes me feel like I am ready for any adversity. 


Meet UK MC Otis Mensah, the rapper who is driven by instrumentals 

Otis Mensah is a young storytelling poet and rapper based out of the UK. Describing himself as an alternative hip hop artist, he has had one hell of a year performing at Glastonbury and releasing a number of singles. 

We sit down with Otis to discuss inspirations, the art of rap and new music. Harry Upton writes.

Tell us about a typical day in the life of Otis Mensah?

A typical day for me usually consists of listening to a lot hip-hop music, a lot of boom bap and contemplation. Keeping up to date with all my favourite artists and discovering new realms of music and artistry. I spend of a lot my time working out my release schedule and writing new music and poetry, whilst monitoring my work and figuring out how to best progress to reach the goals that I’ve set myself for my music and art. I also try to keep up to date with emails and bookings as an independent artist. A typical day for me, when I have a show in the evening is usually spent rehearsing, drinking lots of honey/lemon tea; trying to preserve my voice and getting into the headspace I need to be in to perform to the best of my ability.

I recently had the opportunity to see you live and you have quite a unique style and flow, how would you describe it?

I’d describe the style and realm of music that I consider myself to be in as alternative hip-hop, which I feel necessitates a level of experimentation and openness stylistically when it comes to flow and my approach to writing music. I’d describe the style & flow as off-kilter and slightly to the left.

And you perform a mixture of spoken word and hip hop, was it always the plan to do both?

I feel like the two lend themselves to and fuel each other so it kind of happened naturally that I participated in both worlds of hip-hop and spoken word. When I feel that I can’t write within the parameters of an instrumental, I often find I’m able to write without music, which ends up sounding a lot more free-fall but in essence is the same expressionism. I don’t tend to think of them as separate and feel that the kind of hip-hop artists I’ve been inspired by naturally lean towards a style of hip-hop that is more poetic. My perception of rap as an art form is ‘rhythm-assisted-poetry,’ which is a term that I discovered online but feel best represents the art form that I love so much and see myself contributing to. I feel that versions of rap music that don’t fall under that definition are essentially pop music that uses or sometimes extorts the art of rap. 

So who do you like listening to?

I listen to so much hip-hop, different styles, sub genres and cultures. Some of my favourites are people like Childish Gambino, Kid Cudi and Open Mike Eagle. I’m also a massive fan of the Rhymesayers collective so artists like Atmosphere, P.O.S, Dem Atlas. Common is also one of my favourite artists and enjoy listening to a lot of The Roots.

How do you go about writing new music?

Most of my writing is driven by the instrumental, I’m currently working alongside some incredible producers including the intern from Berlin, who creates soulful, jazzy, mellow, sample-driven, boombap instrumentation and hearing his instrumentals along with others lead me to the place where I’m able to sit and write. Writing for me is very personal and I use it as a means of therapy and expression. I find I’m able to write at points when there’s been a natural build-up of thoughts, ideas or worries, internally which eventually translates into what is my music and poetry, externally on paper.

Does it take on a new form when you perform live? 

Yeah, it definitely takes on a new form when performing live, it almost feels that in focusing on the performance aspect of a song I disconnect slightly to the emotional attachment I made with the lyrics when writing them and I’m able to observe the music from a spectators standpoint to see how what I’m saying relates to others, which teaches me a lot about my own songs.

2017 looks like it's been a big year for you, what have been the highlights so far?

It’s been such an incredible journey so far, I’d say one of the highlights was being able to perform at Glastonbury Music Festival on the BBC Introducing stage. It was an amazing experience and showed me what is possible with my art and music. I found the whole experience truly inspiring and encouraging knowing that I was given the opportunity to perform on a stage of that calibre, at the same festival alongside some of my favourite artists. Another highlight was recently traveling to Berlin to meet up with my producer the intern and being able to sit together with him to discuss new ideas and music, whilst recording some new material in SoundCloud Studios.

For people who haven't seen you live, what could they expect?

I try to create an atmosphere live that resembles a journey from start to finish, where the audience can grow together with me, accompanied by some mellow, Boombap instrumentation, lyric heavy songs. I guess you can expect high energy, narrative, an introspective look into my life and potentially a light shined on our shared existential quarrels.

What's coming up next for Otis Mensah?

I plan on continuing a series of single releases that I started during the beginning of 2017, available on platforms like SoundCloudBandcamp and now Spotify, working with producers like; The Intern, Oskar Rice, Elijah Bane etc. In an attempt to remain consistent, continuing to grow and develop with my music and progress my sound and style. Along with releasing visuals to accompany the new music; telling the story of my music and trying to make an artistic statement from a perspective that hasn’t been reached before. I’m also currently planning a UK tour and will be playing live as much as possible; all updates on new music and live dates will be made available over on my Facebook/Instagram. Just continuing to reach the people who feel they can relate to my music and growing a community who are able to feel less alone in solidarity with the art and culture called Hip-Hop that we love so much.

What stimulates your soul?

Experiencing hip-hop music & culture, being able to contribute to that myself through writing & performing my music, reaching people through my art, and spending time with loved ones.


Why MelloSoulBlack is your new favourite hip hop outfit

If you love A Tribe Called Quest and The Roots then MelloSoulBlack are the hip hop outfit you are going to fall in love with. Their your new favourite hip hip outfit straight out of Texas and have just released a delicious EP dubbed ‘SexamaliciousRambunctification.’ 

We sit down with MSB and ask them why they love to name things without spaces, their tell us who their top 3 favourite hip hop groups are and why J Dilla is the most under-rated producer in their opinion. 

How do you guys come up with your group name and your EP name?

MSB or MelloSoulBlack is a perfect explanation of who we are. Mello and peaceful as apposed to some of our counterparts, full of soul, and unapologetically Black. The title from the EP is just a unique expression of how the music sounds to us. Mike B's masterful production mixed with our respective styles sounds like SexamaliciousRambunctification... to us. 

Who are your inspirations?

The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, Outkast, Wu-Tang, Slum Village, Kendrick Lamar, Tupac, Big K.R.I.T., Nate Dogg, George Clinton, James Brown, Ice Cube, Mos Def, Rakim, Nas and Snoop Dogg.

Top 3 favourite hip hop groups and why? 

The Roots - We admire their use of live instrumentation and how the lead vocalist Black Thought commands the microphone in such a way that it almost demands respect.  

Tribe Called Quest - I love how the group gave off a light hearted smooth vibe and traded back and forth over masterful production heavily influenced by jazz grooves. 

Outkast - The duo are like no other due we’ve seen before. They were both lyrically potent MC’s and they had so much soul and taught so many valuable lessons. 

Who is the most under-rated producer in your opinion?

Probably J Dilla (he’s loved by heads but not many others know him) 

If you weren't doing rap what would it be?

GEA: Probably somewhere helping people in some other way. Clue: Military. CREAM: Stand up comic 

Favourite dish to cook and why?

I love cooking chicken wings

What stimulates your soul? 

GEA:What stimulates my soul is anything that can is real and authentic that I can apply to my life. Clue: Music, good food. CREAM: Family/love, music, good food. 


Storytelling into Haven with NYC MC Des Brennan 

Emerging NYC MC Des Brennan is on the cusp of breaking into the hip hop scene for real. Des’s reliability and lyrical skills make him not only someone you have to stop and listen to, but also someone you can depend on. Using rapping as therapy has become a normal outlet for Des, and he continues to do it with his latest EP ‘Haven.’ ‘Haven’ beautifully draws into the light when things were getting dark for Des. 

We chat to Des about his thought process when writing lyrics, other forms of therapy he uses to fight depression and why listening to beats is his favourite thing in the world. 

Does production or lyrics come first?

Production always comes first. 

What's your thought process when you write lyrics?

My thought process usually revolves around the type of song I am trying to make, and the mood that I get from the beat I am listening to.

What got you into rap in the first place?

I just loved the way hip hop songs sounded as a kid. I knew right away that it was the genre I would be most drawn to. I listened to it non-stop. The more I did, the more I loved it. 

You use rap as therapy, do you find you need to do other stuff to keep your mind occupied?

Yes. Rap isn't my only release and therapeutic outlet. It's my favourite and most important one, but I definitely have others such as weightlifting/working out, flag football and basketball, reading books and watching TV series, doing craft beer research and hanging out with friends, etc. 

You just released an EP, how did you come up with the concept?

I came up with the concept when I was sitting in my car at the park. I was feeling pretty gloomy, so I knew I had to make something to make myself feel happier and more motivated.

What stimulates your soul? 

Writing and recording songs. Also listening to new beats. It's the best feeling in the world. There is nothing like making music. Not only do I love it but I also need it.


Fusing styles with MC/Producer Kolade Olamide Ayodeji

Multi-talented Kolade Olamide Ayodeji is a prolific story teller and a razor sharp producer. Everything he touches turns into a hit. He recently released a killer album dubbed ‘Hit List’ and whist hip hop is his forte, Kolade’s latest album effortlessly fuses electro, R&B, pop and hip hop. 

We sit down with Kolade and chat about what does it take to make a hit, what it’s like to produce different genres, and why his single ‘Lonely but not lonely’ was his most challenging track.

What does it take to make a hit?

I can say it depends on the song because each song has a separate tune and identity. I do not do cover song or work on other people’s song so I cannot really say this song I am producing now will be a hit, but when you get the feedback from the fans or listeners that is when one can justify but as a producer I always ensure I want to produce a hit song but this depends on the song from lyrics, structure and the tune but I have to be original and creative. I cannot sacrifice my originality and creativity under the disguise that I want to make a hit song.

What do you prefer making hip hop beats or other genres?

Hip hop beats is very easy to make because it is basically sampling and anything goes but other genres need rhythm, melody and tune so other genres are more challenging to me than hip hop.  

You just dropped your album, what was the most challenging track you made? 

“Lonely but not Lonely” was the most challenging track for me on that album because I came up with four different versions while mixing and hard to select the one that would be included in the album. It took me more than a week, mixing and coming up with multiple versions because the style was a bit different.

Who are your influences?

Michael Jackson, Bob Marley and Dr Dre 

What stimulates your soul? 

Creativity and faith in God.