Over the course of the next week, we’re counting down the three UK artists who are expected to have a storming year with their innovating use of songwriting and sound.
First up is the artist, poet and musician Kojey Radical, whose array of influences and originality run deep through a kaleidoscopic range of genres and styles. The East-Londoner (Hoxton to be precise) creates a sound so dark and sinister yet humorous and meaningful; it’s simply impossible to pigeonhole him into a designated label.
The extensive use of powerful socio-political semantics and regional jargon are a breathe of fresh air at a time where in the UK, Hip Hop has fallen out of favor considerably over the years on a mainstream scale.
The underground is rife with experimental, forward thinking musicians, yet due to the current musical climate, with talent show merry go rounds and manufactured performers dominating, the yearning to break out on a mass scale is simply not that attractive in Britain.
The sound of Mercury-winning Hip Hop trio, Young Fathers, shines through in Kojey’s music a great deal, that almost punk-like prophesizing of strong social issues. Having supported the Scottish group in 2015 on their ‘White Men Are Black Men Too’ to critical acclaim, this brought Kojey a huge outlet to showcase his creativity and talent.
When performing, he almost rallies the audience with his captivating connection with the crowd, talking for long periods of intervals between songs about past girlfriends and even his love of Shakespeare. What’s interesting is the crowd are completely hypnotized, clinging to every word and laugh coming from his mic as if almost he’s a stand up comic or political figure.
Following Young Fathers’ model of deftly remaining in the underground and building a solid core of respectable listeners through mind enhancing music, Kojey set out on gathering his following of thinkers.
“Open Hand,” released in October, highlights his admiration of Grime, being raised on the movement during its blossoming years of the mid-2000s, yet also the penchant for a classic mood-inducing harmony, coupled with slave-like imagery and verbal bashing of the electorate regime. This cross section of art and symbolism shouldn’t really work, but it does so and in powerful efficacious fashion.
Just before 2015 came to a close, “Blind Eye” was released, where Kojey backs up his potent use of lyrical narrative with alternative left of field beats, exhibiting strong remnants of the much-heralded Bristol Trip-Hop explosion of the 90s. Sprinklings of Massive Attack and Portishead seep through to beautifully haunting effect covering the taboo subject of Middle East tensions. The lyric ‘Pictures of our nations, painted in colour of violence’ couldn’t be more appropriate in the present climate.
It remains to be seen whether a full-length album debut will come this year, instead Kojey may use the time to sharpen his craft and mold his sound and songwriting ability in the form of EP and mixtape releases.
This man sure means business though, and he’ll do it in a way that goes against the grain. Expect big things from Kojey Radical.