Once again, it’s a privilege for me to write about the artists I’ve been following for many years now. Time flies and those people never fail to impress me and to uplift the level of British rap and diversify it. Being French, I can tell you that here British rappers are mostly categorized and simplified as Grime rappers. Women ? They are barely known or appreciated. As I grew up with pioneers like Ghetts, Wiley and firstly Dizzee Rascal and Tinie Tempah, my vision of British rap has clearly changed through house/pop and hip hop collaborations. My knowledge was getting bigger sometimes by chance or thanks to my appetite for music and my curiosity. And finally, these artists up there solidified my appreciation for British rap. I will release two articles for better exposure and comprehension. Let me present you in this first article those three Londoners : Jay Prince, Barney Artist and Kojey Radical.
THE FREE SPIRITED : JAY PRINCE
When I was talking about coincidences, I wasn’t lying. I first heard and knew about Jay Prince at a Chance the Rapper‘s concert, in November 2016. He was his opening act with Samm Henshaw (a fucking good live, if you want to know). He performed « Father, father », and the crowd went crazy. After this show, I became a faaaaan. Seriously, Jay Prince is consistant, talented, interesting and creative. I started to listen to his first project, « Before Our Time » (2015) and I was so impressed. He has this Californian vibe except he’s British, twice blessed. From « Cruisin » to « 1993 », this album is beautiful. And the more I was digging, the more his discography was opening to me. « Beautiful Mercy » (2015) is one of my favorite project from him. It’s black, spiritual and bold. « Afrophunk » is joyful, « Good Right Now » is calm and dark, this guy is a wizard. He always chooses the adequate sounds for his songs. Jay Prince songs are like sound experiences. I can continue all along with each of his project because Jay Prince is in a perpetual evolution, he transcends. Each project is a source of energy, if you’re sad, he got you, if you’re happy, he also got you. The song « Go East » in « Smile Good »(2016) is an anthem, the album « Late Summers » (2017) helped me appreciate summer 2017, with the songs « Head Right » and especially « My Side » featuring Fabienne, the duo never misses. Then « Cherish »(2018) and « Wonder »(2019) that was released last year, each project has its identity, it’s clear that each one crystallizes the state of mind of the rapper, which confects them a connection with the listener. Other than his music, Jay Prince is also very creative and photography oriented. Through his Instagram he shares with us his trips, memories, moments of everyday life captured beautifully. So please, if you’re still not convinced, go listen to his music and his universe, RIGHT NOW. (P.S : His live at Trabendo, in Paris, last year : unforgettable).
THE MATHEMATICIAN : BARNEY ARTIST
Like Jay Prince, I first heard of Barney Artist by chance. As I discovered Tom Misch and Alfa Mist 3/4 years ago, I was intrigued by this rapper many times, who was the Superstar team of British alternative scene I name : Barney Artist, Tom Misch, Alfa Mist, Loyle Carner and Jordan Rakei. So, I started following his musical path and went through his discography during a rainy summer night of 2017. His project « Bespoke »(2014) impressed me. From garage to lo-fi beats, the project is intense, it’s a journey. Barney is spitting on each song with grace and technicality. « Love Language » ft the young Ella Mai, is tender and voluptuous. Barney has the skill to adapt his flow and voice. « Bespoke » is jazzy and an ode to the conjugaison of soul and hip hop. Then I naturally listened to the « Painting Sounds » project, the project that confirmed me that Barney Artist will have a great career. This project is tougher, more aggressive, it’s faster. Barney is on a higher level. « Down » is a masterpiece, as he always gives a space to a singer on his chorus, his collaborations are just a mix of bright energies. On « Rubicon-Same Old me » ft Jay Prince, the violon guides the flow and rhythm. It’s graceful and light. Jay Prince haunts the chorus mysteriously. On « Stay Close » (my favourite one), accompanied by Jordan Rakei, on a house/techno beat, Barney is on fire. Him and Alfa are a powerful duo, the type of duo that we never forget, like Common and the great J Dilla or Freddie Gibbs and Madlib.
And Finally, « Home is Where the Art is » released in 2018. The project is personal and it’s an invitation to meditate on the lessons of life, bad or good. « Roses Thorn » is splendid and fresh, like Spring. « Breakdown cover » is the « go crazy Barney » that I love. Alternating between lo-fi beats, jazz and contemporary r’n’b, the project is rich and modern. Finally, I saw Barney live two times in Paris at the end of 2018 and the show that he pulled out at the Louis Vuitton Fondation was amazing. This night and this party were pretty incredible, in such a wealthy and uppity place, facing a boujee crowd Barney took up the challenge and everybody celebrated. This kind of night proves that hip hop has no limit. So once again, thank you Barney for your artistic choices that are never wrong.
THE PROFOUND : KOJEY RADICAL
My discovery of Kojey was also odd. I can’t even tell you when I first heard « If only » circa 2018 but trust me after I heard this song, I immediately started following his musical career. Kojey Radical is dark and goes hard. Visually, he has like an Ozark or American Gods kind of darkness or DMX linking with Metallica, his music is spiritual and clever, so are his texts. The most beautiful thing about him is his rare and singular voice. I don’t think I’ve heard a voice releasing this type of energy since Busta Rhymes in Flipmode Squad or Rick Ross. It’s powerful and you can’t deny it. As I discovered more of his music, I took an interest in his previous projects. « 23Winters »(2016) is a good approach to his universe : drowned in his African roots like the song « Footsteps » or « Selfish », « Bambu » is almost religious. Accompanied by his voice, some songs almost sound forbidden, like secrets or hidden prophecies. This project is the epitome of his musical essence.
The album « In Gods Body »(2017) is the one I like the most. « Windows » is technical and strong. « Nostrand Ave » is already a emblem, his cutting flow is on point. He’s articulated on a slow but detonating beat. And the saxophone in the background, what a perfection. On « Love Intersection » he is haunted and possessed and also poetic. The project is pure quality. With « Cashmere tears » (2019), which was released last year, Kojey never stops surprising me. In « 2020 », he’s fearless and determined. The bop « Cashmere » is clearly an ode to 90’s Californian hip hop, such a Snoop Dogg and The Game type beat. And the video of the song is pure Soul Train material. The song crosses a lot of borders. But a few months ago, his surprising collaboration with Mick Jenkins, just confirmed his boldness. The collaboration is raw gold, pure and untouchable. I was so happy because the two of them merged flawlessly, no false strings. It’s a reunion between the Chicagoan Wizard and the Londoner baron. And beyond music, Kojey’s visual world is unique. The »97″ video is a gem. His fashion choices are brillant. He is always chic, classy and different. I also saw him live at Pitchfork 2018, and I just want to thank him for the f***ing show he pulled out, the crowd was clearly wack (just gentrified I think), so I shouted the songs that I knew the best I could. Kojey you are always true to yourself and it’s a blessing musically and visually.
I hope I made you want to go enjoy their musics and universes.
See you tomorrow for part 2,
Follow me on Instagram : @pointzeroworld – POINT ZERO WORLD.