Kwabs, The Proud Prince of Black-British Music
I’m going to ask you a question. How many Black-British musicians on the radio today demonstrate their heritage within the music they release? And no, i’m not talking about dropping the latest twerk anthem or crime-drama film soundtrack. I’m talking about the quavers and crotchets that run through the blood of an artist. If you don’t know where you’re from, who knows where your music is going to go?
Kwabena Adjepong, also known as Kwabs, is a 24 year old multi-genre singer/songwriter from South London, who prides himself in his West African heritage. With a voice I’m unable to put a label on, Kwabs doesn’t need to prove the respect for his roots through the three EP’s that he’s released (although Into You from the Pray For Love EP demonstrates the african-vibes we all want to hear), because he is happy to admit that it is responsible for most of his work as an artist. Inside his Camberwell flat is a living room filled with objects of an African culture; Aretha Franklin records, John Coltrane books, wood-carvings, Jazz manuals and a single Calabash, not forgetting the tonnes of instruments. The man himself said that “the music and the people behind it is very important”, so who apart from Kwabs is behind his music? His parents? No, Kwabs grew up in foster care for 10 years, and has still managed to find his motherland on his own, literally. A few years back, he took a trip to Ghana, and documented it on his blog…
“I’m off in a plane at 11:45 tomorrow morning to the Gold Coast, where I’m checking out the culture, my heritage but mainly spending time with family who I’ve NEVER MET BEFORE in a country I’ve NEVER BEEN TO on my bloody OWN. Oh goodness. For various reasons, up until this point, my west african blood relatives seemed to have escaped my consciousness. Other than the occasional random call from an aunt or uncle, wondering when I’m going to visit the motherland, I’m completely clueless as to who they are and what they’re about. To be fair ‘grandma’, ‘aunty’ and ‘uncle’ are all alien concepts to me in the strictest sense anyway. Family has always been a state o’mind. And a good state o’mind it is too… I’m bloody terrified. And excited. This must be kind of like my music in that it’s still early days really. Right? There is still so much to discover. Oh my is there a lot to discover. Don’t even get me started on the long lost siblings. It’s all good though. It’ll give me something to write a song about that’s for sure.”
This is what I call an artistic journey. Finding what truly makes you a singer, a dancer, a poet or an actor. Not how many steps it took you to walk into a record label, and just come out as manufactured product with an X Factor sob-story and performing arts scholarship under your belt. What I’m trying to say is even if Kwabs’ music wasn’t to my taste, or anyones taste at all, it wouldn’t matter. As a Black-British musician he has hit the nail on the head. So I repeat myself, “If you don’t know where you’re from, who knows where your music is going to go?”. Well evidently it will go up if you’re someone like Kwabena Adjepong, who has been tipped as one to watch in 2014 by BBC Radio 1Xtra, MTV, and the MOBO Awards, which he has recently gained the “Best Newcomer” nomination for.
Kwabs’ new single ‘Walk’ is out now and available here: http://smarturl.it/KwabsWalk