“Poetry is pure expression. I feel like any great piece of art, poetry or music should have an element of truth. The truth makes things timeless.”
It’s this sense of sincerity that has people talking about contemporary artist and spoken-word connoisseur, Kojey Radical. But it’s not just his art that he speaks so frankly about. “Music doesn’t come with a pension plan,” he admits. “I think as creatives we’re not taught how to monetise and understand business despite the worth people see in our output. It’s important to truly understand the difference between priceless and worthless. I speak openly about [this] for the sake of future generations. The industry should have to answer for the amount of artists chewed up and spat out due to poor numbers, despite their talent.”
There’s a level of profundity, authenticity and something fascinatingly provocative that has this wordsmith dominating a category all of his very own. His latest long-awaited EP, ‘23WINTERS’, makes an intense listen; a heartfelt tale narrated by his Ghanaian father, encompassing themes that include religion, society and love over raw, throbbing beats.
An artist of 23 years having such a clear-cut vision and belief in their work is rare, but Kojey stresses that it hasn’t always been like this. “It’s been a very long journey to self-discovery that isn’t over yet. The pitfalls can be crushing. There’s a reason why there are so many issues with depression and mental health in art and music. What’s kept me sane is remembering who, why and what I do this for,” he stresses. “I remember wanting to be signed so badly ’til I had a major label say to my face I’ll never make it as a poet in music unless George The Poet has a hit song. You have to have thick skin.”
Kojey’s Old Blue Last headline show reached capacity in 20 minutes and while that’s a testament to his successes, his sense of self and lack of pretence rivals even that. “I’m still extremely grateful. I don’t put myself on a pedestal. I’m constantly celebrating my peers because I’m proud. To be able to celebrate and share my art with people that appreciate it is a feeling that can’t be described.”
WHERE: East London
WHAT: Spoken word poet-cum-contemporary artist-cum-provoker of thoughts
GET 3 SONGS: ‘Bambu’, ‘Open Hand’, ‘The Garden Party’
FACT: In October 2015, Kojey #shutdown the Tate Britain alongside his artist collective, PUSHCRAYONS, with the visual premiere to his audio piece ‘Open Hand’.
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Words: Maya Rose Radcliffe
Photography: Sophie Mayanne