My experiences writing/recording my EP
This was the first project that I completely planned and conceptualised before I created it – before this, every release I made was a compilation of my best and most recent work. I started writing for this EP around a year ago and I was thinking a lot at the time about the music industry and what it meant to be a part of it.
I was conflicted because practically it was the only place I wanted to be but the underground culture in my genre and the perceived association between the music industry and soulless, Faustian bargain striking made me hold back. The name ‘Shadow Puppets’ came from an image I had in my head to describe the future I envisioned and the choice I had to make – navigating a two-faced, shadowy place, where puppets were manipulated by strings from high above to entertain the masses. I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to join the shadows, become a puppet, or turn around and run in the opposite direction. Each song on the EP has a symbolic connection to that image.
Like most UK hip-hop and grime artists I place a high value on the independence of music and approve of the self-made artist. Everything was recorded in a DJ called Tricksta’s house and mixed/mastered in another DJ’s house. It features artists who I spent my nights with drinking and freestyling, and the two producers involved are both closely affiliated. UK hip-hop and family are two words that go hand in hand.
My feelings on the position of UK hip-hop/grime
I feel like UK hip-hop and grime is currently in a simultaneously exciting and terrifying place. Exciting because certain grime acts – real, proper, home-grown UK musicians – have started to arouse the interest of both the UK mainstream music industry and the global music community.
There’s loads of examples of grime creeping into mainstream culture, from Stormzy nearly winning a Christmas no.1, to Skepta winning the Mercury Prize, and grime becoming a trend in Japan. As every other genre of music has seen, as soon as a genre becomes popular it becomes an attractive investment opportunity. This unfortunately means all its authenticity will disappear (at least on the surface) along with the reason why everybody was listening to it, and true grime will become a niche, underground genre again. This happened with US boom bap hip-hop and I hope it doesn’t happen here as well.