For those that haven’t heard of you before could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure, I’m a Hip Hop Artist and Poet from Southampton, England. I was raised by Buddhist parents, which meant that I had a very spiritual and socially conscious upbringing. I was always encouraged to write poetry, as a form of self expression, from a young age. My gift with words was picked up early by my teachers at school, at age 13 one of my teachers noticed I carried around a thick book of my poetry and asked to read it. one week later she returned it with the comment “I’m stunned; its very powerful and thought provoking”. My poetry evolved naturally into Music once I first heard Hip Hop. At first I just listened, I was in awe. As time went on listening wasn’t enough and I started to write rap and freestyle.
I decided Music was my passion and path in life and I eventually studied Multimedia sound production at university. Whilst at uni I became immersed in Hip Hop culture; rapping, producing, graffiti writing etc. and free-styling at live events. whilst at university I had been looking into philosophy, spirituality and religion and shortly after uni I converted to Islam. Music took a back seat whilst I worked on spiritual development under the guidance of a spiritual guide, known as a “Shaykh”. After a period of time my Shaykh encouraged me to begin making music again, with an emphasis on spreading positive values and socio-political commentary. This brought me to where I am today both in terms of a person and an artist.
Your just released the Red Soulphur Mixtape, could tell us a bit about how it was created?
I started with a concept of a journey from the trails of the outer world to the attainment of inner bliss. The title reflects this as it is a play on word that is based on a book called “The Red Sulphur & The Greatest Elixir” By Ibn Arabi.
The concept was to start with talking about inner & outer struggles, then move onto seeking freedom and higher life states and then lastly to speak about love. The entire Mixtape is really one big metaphor for attaining a state of bliss in the divine presence. This is hinted at many times in the last song “I thought I told you” which at first appears to be a monologue by a man trying to woo his beloved. However it was written as a two sided conversation,and flips between the two speakers throughout. This conversation is a metaphor for an unspoken dialogue between man and the Divine. This is hinted at several times within the verses and within the chorus.
Once I had the concept, and had stetched out the stages each track would represent, i searched for beats from several producers I like which reflected the mood I wanted to create, from their I wrote the tracks always keeping in mind the metaphorical meaning of the overall piece.
I often hear people say that they made 20 – 40 tracks and had to narrow it down to around 9 or 10 for their mix tape. That’s not how I work. I have a structure. Even the track layout is purposeful and has meaning. An example of this can be found in the number of tracks. There are 9 tracks the middle track or the heart of the mixtape is “Till Infinity” a conversation about the human heart and the things which influence it.
You have quite a few freestyle videos on YouTube, how does it influence the music you create?
Freestyle is how I perfect my art. I freestyle for hours each day, whatever i’m doing. My creative process is to play the beat and freestyle about the subject i’m intending to rap about. Once I get “in the zone” I start writing. if I fall out of that zone I start freestyling again. I tend to visualise words and sentence structures as shapes, when I freestyle I imagine it being similar to a surfer riding a wave.
Your lyrics are quite political, is that important to you as a performer?
I feel free to touch upon politics, its important for artists to enter controversial territory; to make the power holders of the world uncomfortable and inspire the oppressed. That being said I feel my message is primarily humanitarian not political.You recently took part in the 8 bars competition could you tell us about that?
Yes, its actually an audition to recieve a stamp of approval from Team Back Pack & to have your content featured on their platform, as well as performing at their cyphers and other events. The 8bars part if the first stage. I’ve enjoyed making entries however myself and a lot of emcees in the competition don’t agree with the way it is judged. it is currently judged by the amount of likes your video gets. this is obviously open to cheating, which seems to be taking place heavily. its very disappointing but reflective of how social media hasinfluenced mainstream Hip Hop, allowing talentless artist to become more successful than real dope and masterful emcees.
It mentions online that you are a poet as well, do you ever perform just he poetry, is there anywhere people can read your work?
I haven’t published any work but I do perform spoken word. I have one video up at present called “let them speak”. & I will be putting up a lot more spoken word video’s in the future.
What are your favourite tracks that people might not have heard of and why?
My favourite track from the Mixtape is called “Hold You Down” its the dialogue from the perspective of my reflection, in the mirror, speaking about my life. Its very personal for me.
“Uncensored (Censored)” is another of my favourites. This encapsulated the feelings of frustration and oppression I personally experience. I couldn’t move on musically without expressing what is contained within this song. Meaning that dissenting voices are censored from the mainstream media and those who manage to speak out face the prospect of character assassination.What is your favourite venue to perform at?
My favourite places to perform at are community events, the crowd is always supportive and the intimacy of the situation means you have peoples full attention and my words hold more impact.
I don’t like to perform for drunk crowds, I feel my art is worth more. I hope to create an new music scene in the UK which values the artistry of the music and the wordplay. I know there are some groups already holding events of this nature in London. I forsee performance venues changing from clubs to more of the shisha bar/ coffee house type venues. I want the crowd appreciates the art!
What plans do you have for rest of the year?
I’m recording some videos for my current Mixtape. However I’m also doing lots of international collaborations. I’ll most likely release them compiled as a second Mixtape mid next year.
Working with lots of international artists has really helped to develop my style, and give my sound a higher energy than in the mixtape i’ve just released. I think people will notice a big difference and a huge progression. Plus the songs are dope!
Find Out More:
Twitter, instagram, facebook: @soulconnex