Kojey Radical is Using Poetry to Tell His Story in 'IN GODS BODY'
Kojey Radical is changing the game of rap and hip-hop with his new album, IN GODS BODY. Incorporating spoken word and seriously sick flow into each and every track, Kojey Radical uses his poetry as a tool to tell his story and truly express himself with his music. We sat down with the artist in question to talk IN GODS BODY, the self-demonizing moments of the creative process, and how his flow has intertwined with Black Lives Matter. Peep the full interview below, and check out Kojey Radical’s episode of Studio Time: Boiler Room for more BTS coverage of IN GODS BODY. Plus, watch his new vid for “700 Pennies”.
Your new album, IN GODS BODY, dropped this month. What’s the reception been like so far?
The reception has been humbling, to say the least, it’s always little bit soon when something drops and people argue if it’s a classic, but to even be in that conversation is amazing. I think it’s a project that you have to live with and for that reason, it’s going to grow with people. So much music comes and goes, but true art lives on forever.
What was the creative process like for that album?
The creative process was probably one of the most liberating I’ve ever experienced. I delved deep into some of my earliest connections with music to be able to understand what aspects I could reimagine or bring my energy to. Making a musical project can be some of the most self-demonizing moments of an artist’s career, I would often second guess myself a lot in my early days but with IN GODS BODY, I used that as fuel… I let the fear make space for true self-examination and realized I had a lot to unlearn in order to begin again. I imagined IN GODS BODY as more of a sonic landscape that people coming in to work on it could lament over, bringing forth some really clever introspective and thought-provoking writing. From the musicians to the producers, engineers, features, creative directors… Everyone. You can tell everyone really loved and cared about the music and what it represents.
What does that album say about you as an artist?
It lets people know the power of creation is our most honest medium and with the freedom to create we can contribute real change to the arts.
Your videos for “Gallons” and “Open Hand” are so dope. What were the reactions like to those vids?
The reception has been effective. We saw really positive conversations form around Black Lives Matter using some of our imagery as a catalyst for conversation. For us, that’s really important. My visuals aren’t just pieces of promotional material but more so a means to create conversations in communities that shy away. I think they allowed people gain a deeper insight to the world that Lewis & Alex of The Rest are creating with these videos whilst giving an artistic take on the UK and the cultures we stand by and represent. We premiered “Open Hand” in the Tate Britain and had to turn away over a 100 people just because of how oversubscribed it was. We had all kinds of people there, parents even showed up with their children. It was incredible.
Can you talk about bringing “700 Pennies” to life visually with the video?
We wanted to highlight some the complexities of love in the simplest way possible. We followed the motif of waiting and longing for a moment of intimacy that never happens, using black love as the canvas. Each scene feels like a painting, we wanted to embody that dreamlike element to the record. For me, it’s important that all people can identify themselves within aspects of my music. I am liberated through my art so it was important for me to challenge some of the confinements of hyper-masculinity within hip-hop (especially UK hip-hop) and incorporate a level of sexual diversity that represented love as a whole. Love is simple, being in love isn’t. It can be distorting and confusing, especially when you’re young and so rooted to connections and energy. I wanted to create a love song that described my experience of having to love someone at a distance and telling them even if this was my last I would spend it all on you.
What’s your goal when writing a new song?
To express myself. It’s my own personal moment of therapy even when the experience is shared. I know I’ve expressed something I had within.
What inspired you to get into music?
I followed my gut, I followed my interest and my passion. I think getting to music was the most fulfilling thing I could see myself doing with my art but also the most terrifying. I knew I’ll never feel complete if I don’t challenge myself. When you come from where I come from you aren’t given many options. You got sports, music & entertainment…you bury your head in academics and try to play it by the book or take the crime route and go jail …we’re not fed with the silver spoons of privilege but we can take the card we are dealt and make something out of it. When I realized that, the whole thing became a lot easier.
Who’s your biggest music inspiration?
Andre 3000 is a big music inspiration to me, I think he was a big influence on IN GODS BODY. I’m still trying to create a piece of work that can rival the love below.
Listening to your work, spoken word is a huge part of your sound and flow. How did that come into being part of your signature sound?
Poetry was my transition into music and still plays a massive part in the sound I developed today. Poetry was an escape, it was the chance to articulate thoughts and ideas I had that I couldn’t through my paintings alone. I was inspired to start writing poetry after listening to Saul Williams and Suli Breaks, crazy to think that now these people are like mentors to me.
What are you working on right now and what can we expect from your next project?
I’ve got my eyes on the fashion world….I’m going to let IN GODS BODY marinate. I believe if you treat your music like fast food you in invite other people to do the same. I’m still living with and digesting projects that I grew up on as a kid because when it’s real it lives forever.
Do you have plans to tour?
I have a headline tour coming up in the UK this October. My headline show at Village Underground is gonna be one for the ages. I’ve got a few shows left in Europe and South Africa before the end of the year and we’re planning to America in the new year so keep your eyes peeled.
Images via Kojey Radical
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