The relationship between football and rap music has somewhat of a troubled history. Watching out of shape pop stars struggle on the Wembley turf at SoccerAid doesn't exactly call to mind the most graceful features of ‘the beautiful game,’ and John Barnes never followed up his show-stealing 16 bar on ‘World in Motion’ with a solo mixtape. Although many have tried, it’s rare to hear an MC with the skills to deliver a verse that accurately depicts the blood sweat and tears of a life dedicated to Britain’s most beloved sport.
Dagenham and Redbridge centre midfielder, Matt Robinson, aka Kamakaze achieved exactly that with his SB.TV freestyle last year; the hyperbole he uses demonstrates precisely how seriously he views his twin passions. When young footballers are profiled as lacking eloquence, and MCs, traditionally, are slated for being negative role models, Kamakaze stands alone in a space between the two. Quick witted and fast footed, he found that from an early age that instead of contradicting one another, the two talents could be mutually beneficial. “When I started, music was a form of expression, it wasn’t that important if people heard my shit,” he explains, as he takes some time out to recover from an injury. “It was an outlet that really helped me to hear myself, and to learn about myself.” Music is a way for Kamakaze to compartmentalise his thoughts, air his frustrations, and free his mind before taking to the pitch.
Even during our brief conversation, it’s clear how how considered and insightful he is regarding his dual passions, ready to confront the apparent dichotomy that shapes his life, and defend his determination to thrive in both. In his words; “If you’re good at something, then why not focus your energy and surround yourself with things that are going to make you even better?” As far as measures of success are concerned, neither takes precedence, and both are enjoyed equally “getting a million views on a music video was a deal for me, but I can’t lie, getting my own character on Fifa was sick.”
Born and raised in Leicester, Kamakaze is gaining a lot of attention from the grime community from his intelligent, often devastating one liners, and the fiery midlands twang in which they’re delivered. He’s proud of his roots and is leading the line for his city’s grime scene. His freshly released debut EP ‘Royal Blud’, produced entirely by long-term collaborator and fellow Leicester lad, Massappeals, possess stunning diversity and attention to detail, from two artists who revel in the opportunity to test their talents. Released on the forward-thinking Astral Black label, its five tracks, the duo deliver a range of impressively cohesive soundscapes and compelling subject matters, From straight-up grime bangers ‘Year Of The Kamdog’ and ‘Pull-Ups,’ to more intricate, personal tracks like ‘Where’s the Love My G.’ “It’s pretty much a coming together of two artists, and their ongoing influence on each other,” Kam says, “there are times when Massappeals beats have inspired be to write, and others where he’ll hear a hook from me, and build a whole track around it.”
The pair have been working together since they first connected at Massappeals house on Upperton Road, Leicester 8 years ago - when Kamakaze was just 15 years old, and the unspoken understanding and chemistry between the two is evident on the tape. The EP benefits from an come up that Kam describes as ‘on the outside looking in,’ coming across as familiar yet distinct from the grime coming out the capital. There’s also a real sense of a team mentality when talking to Kamakaze; something also at the heart of what it means to be a professional sportsman. “There might only be a couple from each city that people recognise,” he acknowledges, “but you’ve got to put yourself out there in a certain space, so that you can then bring others through.” The ‘Royal Blud' EP is not only a fantastic bit of interplay between two of Leicester’s brightest talents, but also part of a much wider tactical plan to bring other artists into the game.
Kamakaze’s unique ambitions for the year, which involve both promotion with Dagenham and a top 20 single, demonstrates the faith he has in his own ability. If 2017 is to be the ‘Year of the Kamdog’ then it should be seen as nothing less than a dedicated and talented individual realising his undeniable potential.
Words: Robbie Russell
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