Introducing... Kojey Radical
When it comes to blending spoken word with music, Scroobius Pip broke the ground, Kate Tempest made it cool, George The Poet took it mainstream, and the next in line is Kojey Radical. The 22 year-old Ghanian-Brit crafts poems that teeter on the edge of hip-hop, grappling with the politics of 21st century life. This summer he's been cutting his teeth on the live circuit, with a support slot on Young Fathers' European tour and a storming free show hosted by VICE at London's Old Blue Last. 2014's Dear Daisy: Opium EP -derived from Marx's famous critique of religion- was a summer's mirage of woozy guitar licks, lo-fi vocal filters and MacBook beats. Its standout moment is Preacher Preacher, an electro-blues musing on religion that showcases Opium's knack for the subjects of poems being springboards, often finding Kojey straying down tangents such as relationships and social comments before arriving at his conclusion.
If his 2015 output is anything to go by, Kojey's dialogue now draws parallels with Kendrick Lamar's commentary on race and wider social relations, but with a UK flavour. Alongside this his flow has become methodical, slotting ideas and subjects together like tetris, though often imbued with righteous bitterness. This shift in gear is signposted by Bambu and new piece Open Hand, both using trap beats -the mainstay of current hip-hop instrumentation- as a 'hypodermic needle' delivery method for the bars, or in this case stanzas. The former culminates in a ruthless finale, accelerating its hi-hat drops as Kojey wrestles with the hooks of several mainstream rap hits, contorting them to form a haunting vision of the exploitation that the black community suffers.
His latest piece Open Hand follows a similar path, carrying hope for a peaceful revolution against division in communities, but also a coiled anger that flickers with shadows of racism, old and new. Producer The New Machine's dark beats rumble on the horizon as Kojey maps out the rift, going in hard at the second half to sneer at racial profiling "Oh he must be urban if his cadence drops vowels lower than where his trousers sit." In his own words:
I grew up in a working class area that was extremely diverse and yet I could still sense this air of separation between cultures, it confused me. I always thought being divided at this stage when we're all in the same boat is counter productive. We're much better when we work together, there are things to be learned through integration.
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