OUAG meets: Kamakaze


Everyone in and invested in the grime scene knows of Kamakaze by now, so an introduction is irrelevant. Most recently, the Leicester native has been dropping select singles throughout 2019 and beginning of 2020, followed up with Massappeals on Royal Blud 2; and developed captivating sounds and visuals with his last two records, alongside producer Swick.

This interview seeks to move away from common music questions or "introducing the artist", but to offer a more intimate and deeper conversation. To delve further into the mind of this extremely talented MC; touch on relatable experiences, desires and interests; and to overall offer a stamp in time from Kama's current mindset, decisions and aspirations.

During these times of isolation, he is currently offering "lyrics explained" IG posts - nice, personal, interest thought and meanings from the rapper on his top tracks. His 'Road Rage Pt 2' here.

*****

Your last two tracks have been phenomenal. ‘Memories’ continues ‘BLG’s nostalgic vibe with producer Swick; how did this partnership and sound occur?

The partnership came from an intro from Johnny at Astral Black who was working at Redbull at the time. I was in with Toddla T doing a remix for 'Last Night', I think. Anyway, I was there, he said “there’s 2 producers from Aus next door they wana meet you”. I said “cool”. Went through and we clicked Nina and Swick are both amazing people and very talented. We hooked up a few sessions and the songs just made themselves. The vibe wrote the songs, so credit has to go to Swick really.


This is a distinctive sound, and one that has been very well received; is this something you are planning to run with? Or switch up in the leading months of this year?

I just like to make what I feel and off the back of 'DesiShots', which is primarily a song for my mandem, about us and how we like to wave and chill. I thought I should concentrate a bit on where we came from and what makes us, US. 'BLG' and 'Memories' kind of encapsulates them times. As for going forward, you’ll hear some stuff like it, but I hate brackets and FUCKING labels. I just make music, and music is about emotion and how you feel. So, what I write changes day to day and week to week.

BLG was also a crew formed of yourself and friends in younger years; what are your fondest memories from this group?

Bastard, too many really. BLG was more than the music, it was my friends who didn’t make music too, where we used to hang out, what bottle we drank, all dumb cliquey stuff. Fondest memories would probably be playing a sold-out show supporting High Focus @ Beastwang. Or maybe even our first out of town show. We drove Camden and stayed in some dirty hostel; for us it was like playing some big fucking spectacle. Road trip and all that. All the memories are close my heart evening just sessioning in my boys garage. I’d love the carefree feel of them days back.


Your JDZ Media ‘Road Rage’ of 2015 has accumulated around 3.4m views. Obviously, the bars are top notch, but what do you personally think stood out in particular with this freestyle?

Fuck knows, them bars I wrote when I was like 18, I didn’t get it and still don’t. I’ve been consistently that level of MCing / lyricism for like 8 years now. You don’t decide what the hits are the listeners do - that’s the ultimate rule. Obviously, I’m thankful that it happened, as for why or how, I ain’t got a clue.

You are a centre midfielder at Dagenham & Redbridge and you stated in 2017 interviews with Plugsville and RWD Mag, that football was your priority but alluded to music becoming a stronger focus; does football still take lead?

Yes, it does. I love it still and it pays the bills which music doesn’t quite do for me. My priority is being happy more than anything and both those things make me that. Until I have a concrete reason to not have it as the main focus, I feel it always will be. Plus, it takes the pressure of having to ‘BLOW’ - I don’t need to. I’m cool where I am. Obviously I wouldn’t mind it lol, we will see.


(Image Credits: Kamakaze)

Do you feel you’re living a somewhat separated reality? Is this a strange concept?

It used to be like that, completely separate entities, but I feel like music and football are so hand in hand nowadays it’s kind of become a blessing in disguise. The association of hometown pride and the people whose opinions are scrutinised run parallel in music and football. I think it’s a cool space. You see shows like Saturday Social, Soccer AM, Poet and Vuj, Versus and loads more all these platforms are engaging a versatile audience who care about music and football. So, it’s a cool time for me especially.

Surely the most common question you get asked is about balancing football and music, so what else do divide you focus to?

My girlfriend first and foremost if I’m honest. She’s my rock, she holds it down. It must be weirder for her than it is for me sometimes. My parents are used to it and are super supportive. Aside from that my mates are massive - they back me, I run shit by them, we been friends for over a decade now, doesn’t nothing come between us. Then, anime and Xbox really. I started Naruto and it’s super long. Just completed Hunter x Hunter which was sick. I like the storylines; there more grown than western cartoons I feel. So yeah, that’s what else I do.

You’ve mentioned before that both music and football are hard to infiltrate, but less so to maintain; what advice would you offer young footballers and musicians attempting to penetrate the barrier of their chosen field?

Don’t think about it too much, you’ll learn what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Don’t put your talent in the hands of someone who firstly doesn’t have any talent and secondly doesn’t share your ambition. Mistakes I’ve made previously.

What is your favourite part of a music career?

Hahaha fucked answer but I have two. Live shows where people know your stuff, that’s amazing, that’s scoring goals for a full 90-minutes, every kick you have. But honestly for me it’s listening to my own music. I love my music and sharing it with people is a blessing especially when they love it too.


(Image Credits: Kamakaze)

You once stated that your “Fire in the Booth” was your proudest musical moment, is this still the case? If not, what has topped it?

Nar the FIFA song that was a dream come true especially with it being produced by Mass and featuring Morgan, they’re my people man. I love them both. I was a character on the game, I had a song on the game. I’m proud of myself, you know. I feel like that was a real moment.

You’ve gone B2B on tracks and sets with a notable number of MCs, but who are you rating at the moment and who do you think is your biggest lyrical competition?

Back me in a corner why don’t you. I never see another MC as competition. Bars for bars. I see achievements as competition. I spat with Darkos Strife on Reprezentz for Benteki - he was a madness. Admittedly I didn’t really know about him, he’s mental. But I don’t really listen to MCs too often. I like Crafty he’s sick; Capo Lee’s style is so unique; Zuu, slowthai, Izzie, Manga all very notable rappers and lyricists. But to be honest, I like people like Murkage Dave and Hak Baker as lyricists more. I listen to their songs and think, how did you say that so cool.

In a GRM Daily interview you mentioned your writing process, at times, is putting headphones in whilst driving and recording yourself freestyling, which has got to be a first. Is this still a common process? How are your ‘off-the-dome’ skills?

Ask the lads. They’ve seen it first-hand. They’d vouch for my freestyle ability. 2nd to none…..Nar I sound like a dickhead. It is still how I write majority of my songs though. Then get home and write it down, maybe add onto it later. It’s about moods. I’m alone in my car, that’s my time alone. It’s weird cause I get home and my Mrs is at work but there’s distractions. I find it hard to shut off there.

Out of all your projects or singles, which would you present to a new listener if you could only choose one?

“Need U 2 Know”, I think. Females would probably like it. Guys can relate to it, I sing in it, it’s structured. Probably that I reckon, if not “Last Night”. But if you liked that and expected more of the same you might be slightly let down with the rest of my catalogue, you get me. I ain’t made a follow up to “Last Night” yet.


Platforms, venues, sets, radios, and avenues are of abundance in London, though opportunities are now much better, what one thing could non-London cities benefit from?

Radio. I think it’s a must man. Young MCs ain’t got nowhere no hone their skills properly and it’s peak. Bedroom is cool, in front of the lads is cool but what when there’s 20 man in the room you don’t know and you can’t remember the first line of the bar and this is it, your chance, ON A BIG STATION. Its over before it’s began, smaller stations are like the feeding ground for everything else you mentioned. You might shine on a local set, DJ says have you got tunes, you show him, he plays them next week, shows them to Who his mate, Who Owns a channel. You do a vid, it does numbers, your tunes doing well. Bigger platforms and stations poach you for sets and local promoters give you a support slot. It’s all training and I think radio is the first step. My first set was the grime show on rinse with Spyro. Imagine I flopped it.

You were connected to Astral Black during your collab EP with Massappeals, but most recent singles have been released under your own title. Are you connected to a label or have supportive backing at all?

I have distribution through Ditto and the team there helps. Nina, who I mentioned before, is a diamond, for real, she’s helped me put stuff together for pitching, etc. Aside from that I’ve just been trying to maintain my own thing which is INDEED.


What is the most important strategy to a DIY, independent function?

Maintenance - don’t switch off. Set timers and have reminders on everything. Don’t let there be room for someone to badmouth you. Also be respectful, there’s no room for error in communication cause they’re dealing with you direct. And back yourself, you wana ask for more dough, ask for it. They’d give it someone else.

You tweeted that P Money or Sox are the king of grime; are they big influences for you?

Yes and No. I used to rinse Sox and he was a big inspiration back then - just how rags he was with what he said. P Money has also, obviously his consistency and general ability are outrageous but more so the way he carries himself. He’s a good person. Well respected and has integrity which goes missing for a lot of man in the scene. I said Sox too because every time I listen to him even when he comes from under the radar, it’s fresh bars and they’re levels. That’s rare.

You’ve declared, with the quickness, to Radio Panik that your dream feature would be Erykah Badu, is this still the case? Why so? And what kind of vibe and content would the track bring?

She’s my favourite artist ever - effortless soul and confidence. She’s a bit loopy sometimes but who isn’t. What would me make??? Codeine on steroids or I’d just mellow it out like an old BLG tune and be slick as fuck, I hope.

What else will 2020 hold for Kamakaze, in all avenues of life?

Happiness.


(Image Credits: Kamakaze)

*****

Find Kamakaze on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for more updates.