Kojey Radical: “Nobody is naturally scared of diversity”
Since Kojey Radical was in the country to perform at the - now legendary - Coely show at AB, he got invited to do a show at All Eyes On Hip Hop the day before. Our editior in chief Azer, who's also resident dj at AEOHH, had a chat with him before the show.
That evening we were having dinner with Kojey and I asked him if it would be ok if Sebastiaan Franco, one of our Chase photographers would come over to take some pictures. I showed him the Antwerp hooligan pictures Sebastiaan took a while back and he loved them, so I sent Sebastiaan a message to join us at the venue.
After dinner we ended up at the apartment Kojey and his friends were staying at. The air was thick with blunt smoke, rum was poured into glasses and Fela Kuti’s afrobeat vibes where blasting through a small bluetooth speaker. While Sebastiaan was taking some pictures we got into a conversation about UK hip hop, grime, meeting Coely and Brexit. The talk was never intended to turn into an interview but as Kojey was talking so passionately I put my phone on the table and recorded parts of it.
It is refreshing to hear somebody from the UK that has developed his own style like you. It would be easier for you to establish yourself at the moment if you would jump on the UK grime hype.
The thing is, all over the world people love hip hop and in the UK our hip hop culture grew simultaneously with grime. But because grime was ours, it got the limelight faster. Everybody cared about grime more than they cared about the hip hop scene.
Also, England is rural, for the most part it’s grass and sheep (laughs). As London is a city it becomes the representation of the UK. If you think of the UK, you think of London, and grime is what everybody does there.
As far as hip hop - and I don’t want to limit this to the UK - in Europe we have been making some of the best hip hop that came out in the last ten to fifteen years. But as hip hop is something we adopted it takes longer to start supporting our own hip hop artists.
We are indeed seeing more European hip hop artists who are touring outside of their home country like Loyle Carner or even our own Roméo Elvis. Another UK hip hop artist that is doing his own thing apart from grime and is quite known in Belgium is Barney Artist, do you know him?
Yeah Barney that’s my boy! He’s my boy!
He’s actually starring in ‘Lefto in Transit’, a documentary series currently on national television here in Belgium.
That’s crazy! The thing about Barney is that everywhere else, Barney is a known artist. But in London we know Barney as the guy working in a jeans store, selling denim. So everytime I go to Rotterdam or Amsterdam and people ask me if I know Barney, I'm like: “Barney from the Edwin store?” (laughing out loud)
It also looks like artists from Europe start to work together more. You and Zulu for example are featuring on Coely’s album. How did that collaboration come together.
Coely was on the same lineup as us for a festival at Cargo in London. Zulu and me are the type of guys that if we hear somebody play, we show respect. So when we heard Coely’s soundcheck we stopped to listen. I really thought they were cool so afterwards I went up to them and asked “You guys look hungry, are you looking for food?” And they were like “YESS”
So I took them to a Caribbean place that was about to close down and managed the owner to still serve them food. They enjoyed the food, we had a good time and afterwards Niels (Coely’s manager) contacted Kaiya, my manager, based on the fact that we showed them so much love that night.
He basically said “we really messed with you and really like your stuff, you should come over to Belgium”. They were the first ones to bring us here. They took us everywhere, we ate, we partied, we did everything to the point that now everytime I come back to Belgium I’m excited to see my family here.
It might sound as a cliché but i’m being serious: Belgium is one of the friendliest European countries you can visit.
Coely’s manager Niels joins the group and Kojey asks him how he enjoyed the food in London, to which Niels replies “The food was amazing!”
Kojey: See that’s the importance of food, it brings people together. I also remember that when we came to Belgium the first time we were all rapping in the living room for 2 hours. And I realized wherever you go, people connect over the same things.
Maybe it’s because I’m from London, and we’re on an island and even though we are European’s we don’t realize that everybody can connect and vibe to the same things. We almost feel like we’re in the middle of the US and Europe.
Now that you bring that up, what do you think about the Brexit?
Brexit is bullshit, it’s absolute bollocks. No honestly, Brexit has happened in every country in some form, where some kind of political party realizes that fear and use of specific wording can manipulate people. It takes people into a space where they are ready to act irrationally based on the fear that was given to them. Fear that wasn’t there in the first place.
Nobody is naturally scared of diversity. We all existed on this planet at the same time, the only threat we impose to each other is not understanding things or thinking differences are wrong. But difference is important, difference teaches you.
The problem with Brexit is that none of the real information had genuinely been shared and none of us know what is going to happen. We have to wait and see but I don’t foresee good things. Everything is going to get more expensive and the division between rich and poor is going to grow. The UK will have to establish their own economy and that will take a lot of time.
The discussion continues but at this point I have to head back to the venue to play an opening set. During Kojey Radical’s show later that night it’s obvious he’s enjoying his time here. Several times he thanks the crowd and mentions he never expected to see that much people come through for his first show in Belgium.
We hope to see him back soon! Check some more pictures below: