It's been a while since my last interview, however I'm back with something special from Isaac Danquah, 20 year old rapper from Hackney. The sensational lyricist has recently just dropped his latest project 'The Boy Meets Man Experiment', streaming on many websites including Complex. I caught up with Isaac a few weeks before the release, to find out how he's been getting on...
What was it like growing up in hackney?
"This question got me digging the crates of the minds museum, haha !! Man looking back I think balance of a few things. Lived here with my family for as long as I remember, cultural house hold so ultimately cant escape my roots. But i was also a kid who moved with like minded friends free from most pressures and just wanting to do shit all the time. Of course growing up as an inner city youth in London your exposed to a lot from young age and for the most part the hyper masculine attitude i.e 'do it or you're a p-ssy' scenarios occurred often as well as other things. But its a part of inner city living, secondary/primary friends, parties and nostalgic vibes always. I feel like it ultimately stemmed the type of person I am today and I'm greatful."
Was music always something you wanted to do?
"A very solid question, I feel like from young I have been admirer of the performer and sounds, I think one of the first visual experiences I can remember is Michael Jackson in Bucharest performing, seeing people collapse whilst he's passionately singing and having the crowd at the time in awe was crazy. But ultimately I feel like there was a periods in my life where soundtracks went hand in hand with me growing up. My parents used to host parties a lot back in the day so I took musical elements from those moments to grand theft auto game soundtracks with sounds from the 70's and prior award shows to current made me a fan in general. When grime music first came about I saw dudes perusing the musical art form who were no different than myself, so at around 11/12, I was rhyming locally and in secondary school for fun, left it for a while. It wasn't until after I left after secondary where that period in my life, the only vent was a soothing output recording songs in my boys bedroom. All I had was the music, that being said amongst other experiences it might be written somewhere for me to but i have always been a fan ultimately."
What is it like preforming?
"Performing is one of those things that has been one of the barrier breakers for me. The type of person I was before I first ever got on stage ever for the first time, I was quite quiet. But ultimately I had to prove to myself that I can be able to deliver on any of life's platforms.Going into shows especially are quite an emotional mix of wanting to perfect words to delivering a lasting performance. Over my time I've done a fair few exciting sets I personally have enjoyed and its the satisfaction. Overall its the physical end product of fractions of hours put into your craft, delivery and effort showcased to a small or large crowd is always cool."
Have there ever been times when you've felt like giving up?
"I wouldn't want to contradict myself to say negative things have not once crossed my mind in the past but for me its perseverance, discipline and also re-assessing find where you stand and sometimes why you started in the first place. For me I like to read on great people sometimes, even talk to people sometimes. Motivation comes from the weirdest places."
You also model. What kind of campaigns have u been involved in?
"I think whenever finding your feet in the world it never hurts to try things and experience, provide memories but also just wanting to push to do more. Fashion I have been a fan of for a long time. Style in itself is an art-form and quite cool but kind of in reference to the earlier line finding my feet. 2012 was the eye opening year for me really seeing things differently and within that short space of time, things slightly started popping off . I think where i'm from and growing up round my area, I have got to experience different types of people, backgrounds, cultures and subcultures, however most of us then and even today hardly ever get a shot or are just not in the position to make things happen due to self, financial issues, family and many other things. It's quite easy to fall into a subjective mindset of 'the sky is the limit' you know. Sometime's people don't do things just because of people not relating or they're afraid of doing something different. That is common aesthetic, a norm where i'm at and I've always been the person who liked a challenge, a one dimensional attitude. I think there was a trend revival period in the east end and in London after the the riots. People fail to address that time as turning point but that's just me. Gentrification of the rich fashion art world kind of narrowed into the inner city a bit more in places which are considered I would say a nay to go to at the time. I have seen being a roughneck modern wild west to a more subtle ghetto high end if you like, in terms of changes of people attitudes and so on. One example; I lived across a theatre which quite recently closed down and was re-modeled into studio spaces. I wanted to get into fashion just because of people who I related to musically especially in the genre of rap, But I honestly didn't know what I was getting into. No harm in trying right? One particular Saturday I looked my window to see a whole crew of people in the cage across the crib shooting for what I know now as a test shoot. I spotted few people days later and see one the dudes outside the studio. I took the initiative with a friend to reach out. A few days later I had finished my first shoot ever and looking back I really enjoyed it. That stemmed into doing things with M.I.A., to Adidas haha (humble regards). I think when it comes to branding as well, it's kind of a cool thing to have under your belt but more so the experience it provides too. I wouldn't say i'm superficial to delve into the facade of style or looking the part. In terms of style for me minimal is cool and i'm just blessed to have clothes really."
Tell us about your latest project you've recently dropped and how does it differ to your previous work?
So yes I have been working on a bunch of stuff. More so this release is quite reminiscent of where i'm at as a person, with my views and experiences just really encapsulating that sonically and musically. It's something more diverse. I'm never one to like the idea of boundaries so it has been a quite exciting period just having fun with an immanent goal at mind. But there's allot of surprises in general."
Any possible collaborations we can expect?
"In terms of music, I would like to think so. I'm defo an admirer of other artists and other sounds but ultimately all will have to make sense. A good friend mentioned using your craft is like your lifeline. You have to be careful what you tie your name with, but that being said things you also have to be musically open minded. I Would have to be fan too. I have a few other avenues in terms of venturing some creative expertise but we'll see how things pan out."
What is your main message you want to communicate to your audience?
"I feel like my music is quite reflective of me, my experiences, my views and my introspect and life in general. The purpose is of course my art, my vent first thing and last thing on my mind (minus my family / close people ), but its also to share and provide what I bring to the world and gradually the story would be painted on this canvas we call music. I feel like there's a lot things in our world today that people are afraid to touch on because they're sensitive things, but it's okay to challenge aesthetics or formula of how things should be done and so on. But its never really that simple as it's a complex world and time we live in. Music can be outspoken yet powerful as lines or verses to synth, melody to a note on a song snare etc can evoke emotion and feeling amongst many other things. I just want to be able to do what I love and build on it. This is me at age twenty but as I grow, learn and experience its ultimately almost a natural progression for one to detail more than one aspect of memoirs. And most importantly, the audience, the listeners and the fans can relate and if not respect it hopefully."