I pursued music (bedroom producing and rapping) quite intensity for a couple of years from 2012 to the beginning of 2014, until I gave it up to focus on my career as a personal trainer. Back then my rap style reflected my immaturity as I was still searching for a sense of identity and bound by social pressures to “be cool” and fit in. Since then I’ve continued to produce instrumentals now and then for the sheer enjoyment but haven’t worked on anything with the intention of publishing it until recently.
During the break that I took from music I underwent what I can only describe as a complete transformation, becoming a personal trainer gave me the perfect avenue to explore my natural interest in self-development. This is something that has become an integral part of my life; hence why my track Stranger Things captures the depths of my newfound (spiritual) outlook, radically different from the aggressive, arrogant and often overstated music I made 4-5 years ago.
The Stranger Things track came about from a moment of inspiration; my girlfriend started watching the Netflix series in December 2017, so I kept hearing the theme music and thought, “those synths sound mean, I could sample that” … So, I did! Once I made the instrumental I was so pleased with it that I just had to write some bars; the instrumental was created on the evening of the 5th Jan 2018, I wrote the bars that night and recorded them the next day! The music video is intended to be a visual reflection of the story I’m telling with the lyrics and I have to give credit to Matt Bellamy for bringing my ideas to life so vividly - it was shot on the 31st Jan 2018 alongside the completion of my Interstellar EP.
The buzz I got from making Stranger Things was the spring board that led to the creation of the EP; Interstellar being the next track that I made and the only track from the EP which I wrote the bars for before producing the instrumental. For each track I had a concept for the vibe/sound and lyrical content before any beats or bars were started; essentially, I wanted to express my experiences of healing, learning and development from the past few years, musically. I developed a vision for the project and it materialised very quickly, from start to finish the Interstellar EP was produced, written and recorded between 17th Jan – 1st Feb 2018.
I want the EP to take listeners on a journey through key elements of personal transformation, whether that be “spiritual awakening”, deciding to go vegan, healing past traumas or psychedelic medicines. Towards the end of 2016 I came across a psychedelic hip hop artist called D’rok THE menace whose music really resonated with me, in a way it validated my experiences at the time which is something I wish to do for people with my music. The sound/production draws heavy influence from 90s and early 00s hip hop which is what I grew up on, my favourite producer from that period being J Dilla. I tend to listen to a lot of lo-fi hip hop “beat tapes” for inspiration as well.
Track by track breakdown of the EP:
This track is based on the first 15 cards in the major arcana of the tarot deck, the first one being the fool. It tells the story of a human soul as it moves through various stages of spiritual awakening. What’s interesting about the fool’s card is that it is both the start and end of this story; at the start he/she is naive with huge untapped potential, evolves through experience and successive realisations until they are symbolically reborn with a higher level of consciousness or awareness, but they have become the fool again in a reality much greater than the one they knew before and must repeat this process to move higher still.
The basis for this track is the Hermetic law of correspondence, the axiom of which is “as above, so below”. This law states that there is similarity across all scales of reality from the microcosm (very small) to the macrocosm (very large), an example of this is how our brain’s neural network resembles the structure of the universe. I used the solar system and then a growing plant as metaphors for our human experience, to illustrate the interconnectedness of life and importance of cultivating good energy.
I intended this track to be a celebration of my triumph against the difficulties of growing up as a child of the African diaspora. Learning the history of Africans by black authors has been empowering and helped me to connect deeper with my roots, this is something that I believe very few schools if any provide their black students in this country. I received a djembe (traditional African drum) for my birthday last year (2017) which I played and incorporated into the production, this instrument is spiritually embedded in African culture and I wanted to channel the spirit of my ancestors into the sound.
Of all the tracks this one has the most contemporary sound and takes inspiration from London’s iconic grime music style. I injected some humour into this track because I wanted to touch on veganism without sounding preachy or self-righteous. I think that the success of any movement lies in its ability to captivate and welcome people rather than persecute them, which is why using V-Gang as a synonym for veganism works so well; it fuses a progressive movement with youth culture for a positive end. Although the sound of the track is quite dark, everything that’s said is intended to be light and uplifting.
From my own experience, confronting personal issues or emotional traumas can be daunting and exhausting, I have definitely avoided doing so both consciously and unconsciously in the past. But I have come to realise that this unresolved baggage negatively impacts our lives and relationships with others in a big way, so I have committed to healing for some time now and seen massive improvement in my quality of life. This track uses shadow boxing as a metaphor for the inner battle we sometimes find ourselves in and stresses how a change of perspective can help us see the process of healing in a less threatening way.
Some of my experiences with healing have involved the use of psychedelic medicines; I don’t like using the word drugs because that makes it sound like recreational escapism which, while they often are used in that way, is not why I use them. These plants have helped me to reconnect with my emotions, discover insights and access enhanced states of consciousness (thought, creativity and meditation). You need only listen to Alan Watts or Terence Mckenna speak about the psychedelic experience to see why intellects throughout the ages have been drawn to them. I use mainly “magic” truffles and will be taking part in two authentic shamanic ceremonies this year involving much more powerful medicines… Stay tuned for The Renaissance part two!
Following on immediately from the previous track (The Renaissance) and completing the last line of its lyrics, Bliss was intended to capture the feeling of a deep meditation and losing ourselves in the peace of the present moment. I actually took a small dose of magic truffles before sitting down to produce the instrumental and went for a hypnotic, yet mellow sound. Being the final track of the EP, I wanted this to feel like the climactic point of the journey towards wholeness; the general theme of the project.