Bring The Fire: Coops Interviewed

“I’m getting out of that space where I’ve been quiet, and it’s all coming together…”

Coops is an old soul. It’s a term with which friends and older people often used to describe him, observing that he tends to hold a maturity and wisdom beyond his years. It’s also a personality he’s come to ascribe for himself. It may be fitting, then, to see him become something of an elder statesman in the UK’s own rap scene. His debut mixtape, ‘Lost Soul’, recorded a decade ago with long-time production partner Talos, is now touted as an underground conscious classic; one of those mixtapes that fans kept returning to as the years went on, whilst the rest of the scene creeped ever further towards the harder, grittier sounds of drill and grime. 

Coops’ own musical roots go back further still; to a home and a kitchen in Stamford Hill where music was always playing; raised by a reggae-loving mother and a father who had always aspired to be a DJ; plus a large collection of old VHS tapes and MTV videos, including some classic hip-hop. “Me and my sister would be watching them, definitely some of the less explicit stuff than what I got into later, but I remember a video, of like… Arrested Development – Everda-yyy People!” he sings along. 

Bring The Fire: Coops Interviewed

Darker 90s rap came into his life a bit later, and within a few years he was writing bars and hopping on his mates’ posse cuts at a local studio up the road; producer Talos helped him write ‘Lost Souls’ mostly with the intention of trying to turn Coops and his mates into a modern day Mobb Deep: “That’s how it started, really, it was a therapeutic process for us. We enjoyed writing, even though we didn’t like school, didn’t like English – deep down we were really poets, but we didn’t see it that way at the time.” 

For all of its qualities, it’s possible that Coops’ music, like that of many promising artists, simply came a bit before its time. It certainly paved the way for bigger artists like Kojey Radical or Loyle Carner, who would end up taking soul-raps to the Mercury just a few years later. Kojey, for his part, seems to want to acknowledge that debt, and the two have recently gotten in the studio together.

“It was jokes, actually, I was about to delete my Twitter, because I hadn’t used it in like five years, but right before I did I checked my mentions one last time. And I saw that Kojey was like ‘I need new Coops music like yesterday, cause I’m greedy!’ And I was like.. what? So I hit him up, said he could have that Coops music when I got a verse, and then he sent me the Batman sign back, like he had been summoned.” 

In the end, Coops is just happy to be making and releasing music again, “maybe at some point I was isolating myself, I wasn’t reaching out to people I respect and rate, or I felt like they weren’t f*cking with me since I was doing my own thing…and now, I’m definitely getting out of the space where I’ve been quiet, and it’s call coming together, you know?”

Words: Louis Torracinta

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.