Music & METAPHORS with KING KOFI
Interview┃ Words by Amy Woodroffe ┃ 08.08.2020
A highly versatile artist to emerge out of North London’s hip-hop scene, King Kofi stuns with his last album Summer With The Wolves. His earlier work includes the 2016’s Just a Dude In Need of A Chance mixtape, followed by the release of Summer With The Wolves, which cemented the artist as one of the UK’s most conceptual young storytellers. The title track was featured in i-D magazine’s ‘’Best New Music’’ playlist.
King Kofi is claiming his sound. With seamless merging sounds of trap, indie, and experimental rock, it's unsurprising that the rapper’s inspirations range from Hip-Hop icons such as Jay-Z, Eminem, and Kanye West, to alternative/indie bands such as ‘’The Middle East’’ and ‘’Naked And Famous’’.
So far, King Kofi has brought us Summer With The Wolves, Amy Told Me, and the very popular and compelling Angel-Man. With a new album on the way, IZLAND is here to relive some of the compositions from the first one...
"Icarus is lyrically very personal and touches upon childhood - what made you start the album with this track?"
"The story of Icarus has always been something that interested me as a kid. I think thematically as well about flying too close to the sun it was a good way to foreshadow the theme of summer that runs through the album. Summer is used as a metaphor for life and the wolves were the problems I was dealing with at the time. Also, because it discusses some of my earliest memories as a child and because it's stylistically laid back, I thought it made sense to start the album with this track."
"Summer With The Wolves really resonates with the listener - those trippy hip-hop sounds and instrumentals give a bittersweet vibe. What comes to mind when you listen to this track?"
"Summer With the Wolves - when I listen back to that track it takes me back to working in Starbucks and getting up at 5 am, so I could pay for studio time and beats haha! It also somehow reminds me of my childhood as well. The album is meant to be autobiographical to some degree so I actually sampled my neighbour's music from my childhood house in that song (Papajawal - Festival Time). So that's probably why. It's the only song that I've released that I have production credits on. I hope to learn more about production and engineering so I can experiment with my sound a bit more freely."
"In Young Alphas, you rap 'the reason these sheep all be running their mouth cos they know that I'm changing the topic'... what was going through your mind when you wrote this?"
"In Young Alphas when I wrote that line I felt like the underdog at the time. I still do. But at the time of writing that I had hardly anyone to vouch for the work that I've been doing and no one to share my vision with me. There were a lot of doubters, people who didn't believe I could do the things I did with that project. People told me to not make an album, not be an artist, stick to other things, make other styles of music, etc etc. I felt as if people were afraid of me achieving the things I'd set out to do and essentially "changing the topic"."
"You use the metaphor 'we're in the same boat' in Flower Girl - did you mean anything specific with those words?"
"Flower Girl is one of those songs I don't hear many people talk about (laughs). Maybe because it's so close to the end of the album and it's so experimental sounding. It's one of Peter Judge-Fernandez's (the Art Director for This Is Not Yellow) favourite songs on the album so that's enough for me. But the song I'm talking literally about my time working in Starbucks. The lyrics are about a colleague who asked me to write a song about her. I think I was probably depressed at the time which is why it came out so dark. I was working a 35 hour week while studying full time at university and still had to make time to make the album so it was a lot. The line we're in the same boat is quite literally "We're both in the same place in life right now, but we can get through this.""