“It’s me, literally.”
That, pointedly, is how Nehmy describes the music he makes. “In a time where it's clear that there is nothing new under the sun, the only way you can stand out, is by being yourself,” he says.
And he’s right. The proliferation of the Web has made music of all kinds more accessible than ever, and other technological developments have effectively lowered the barriers to entry for music making.
The sense of digital saturation is far from uncommon, and in a time when genre groupings are born and die within months (let alone years) it seems that there is less value than ever in artists actively tying themselves to movements that extend more widely than their own inner circles. That’s not to say that simply ‘doing you’ means the music you make will sound unlike anything that anyone has ever heard, but it does at least encourage a more natural bent towards adding a bit of personal edge. Our experiences as individuals will be largely unique to each of us, so it’s a case of feeding from them to produce something of cultural merit – and maybe even intrigue.
Nehmy grew up in France, which he says has helped him to “develop a multicultural mind.” This has clearly aided him in settling into the cultural and creative melting pot that is south east London, where he operates with his crew, BEV LDN – itself something of a melting pot, that he describes as “a family, a collective of brothers who come together to create.”
More than that though, the loom of language barriers has informed his approach to making music.
“Back then we listened to a lot of non-French speaking music from the USA, Middle East, Africa, South America and more,” he says. “Not understanding the languages but just feeling the sounds, music and appreciating the different art forms and cultures has affected me a lot.”
Indeed, the language he raps in isn’t his first and he explains how struggling with pronunciation when learning to speak English has helped add character to his delivery.
But for now, it’s south east London that he calls home – the green borough to be precise. The place features as more character than mere backdrop in the handful of music videos released via his collective’s BEV LDN channel to date.
Tunes such as ‘WAG1’ and ‘LIT’ play on the proliferation – and Web-enabled globalisation – of local dialects and use of slang. The South East Experiences (or SEE) mixtape that dropped earlier this year is the first in a series of mixtapes and visual arts projects and plays like a love letter to the area. More recently he put on a party in his local chicken shop, which is about as south London as it gets.
“The people here operate differently,” he says, “I want the world to know about this place. And if I'm to leave this world a legend, just know I came from south east.”
- - -
- - -
Words: Will Pritchard (@HedMuk)