What an amazing couple of months I have had. First of all I just want to say I am so happy that Spring is here. Listen, I am not a winter person at all, I hate how it gets dark so quickly and even though it doesn't get THAT cold these days, I still can't stand it.
I did a 2 week tour and visited a lot of schools celebrating World Book Day. That meant travelling a lot of miles on lots of long train rides and sleeping in a few hotels. I found it ironic that I was doing such an intense tour with my book not being ready yet. I hit Banbury, Northampton, Norwich (where I did 2 days performing and running workshops in 6 schools. Very intense!), Wickford, Manchester, Stoneleigh, Ponders End and Hampton. I was really stretched but because I fed off the energy of amazing young people I met, I was able to maintain high energy and deliver. I will never forget this run ever. I was also firing new pieces off as well, I was going in! I performed a couple of new pieces including one where I tell a story backwards. It left a lot of them scratching their heads in Northampton hahaha.
I woke up after the tour with an email from my publisher telling me that I needed more poems and more stories for my book. I caught some inspiration and ended up writing 7 poems at a sitting with stories to go with them. This is a rare thing to happen by the way, I normally space my writing out. I sent them back and they loved it. After a lot of checking to see if all the spellings were correct as well as getting the cover art ready, I can tell you that I am now the proud author of a book that is ready to be released! I am so happy and can't wait for you to read it. "Rhythm And Poetry" my debut book of poems and short stories for young people in school will be out on April 24th and you will able to order it directly from my publisher who will deliver it to wherever you are. Even if you are not a young person in school this book is for you, it is a reflection on childhood and growing up from my point of view as a person who found love for poetry and lyrics via rap music and spoken word poetry.
In the midst of all this I have been in the studio a lot, it's like I can't keep myself away from recording. Even while touring I was recording lots of demos. One of them was this track "Backstage Banter" I just did it for the heck of it, it is not going to be on my new album or even an official single. By the way this whole track was created and mixed on my phone including the vocals. If I didn't tell you this I bet you would have never known.
I have completed my album but I am facing the challenge of deciding how many tracks to put on it. These days albums from big rap artists are getting longer like back in the day so I might be able to get away with squeezing a lot tracks on a deluxe version. I am trying to make sure I am happy with every track. The name of the album is "For Such A Time As This" and I will release it in the summer. It seems a track I made called "Aim High Stay Low" will be the lead off single, so keep your eyes and ears open!
Wow I haven't blogged for a while! I really did intend to blog towards the end of 2016 but I just didn't feel inspired. I also felt overloaded with all that is going on the world at large and in my world. I just didn't know where to start.
2016 was one of the best years I have ever had in my life. I really do hope my blogs from last year were able to capture that. I know the world at large was saying how bad last year was due to so many iconic celebrities passing away as well as many other things that happened on the world stage, but for me personally it was a great year. Yes I did have my own challenges but I traveled doing what I do creatively more than I ever have before. I also made music I truly wanted to make and even finished writing a book!
I think last year collectively we even more deeply realised how it is a celebrity dominated culture we live in. As a collective we vicariously live through celebs for better or for worse. They are part of the landscape of the collective psyche in ways we probably didn't fully realise therefore, the passing in quick succession of iconic celebs really threw people into panic mode. I guess it brought our own mortality home to us more (even though lots of death happens all the time everyday!) I really got tired of the continuous refrain of how bad 2016 was in the echo chamber of social media though I understood it. It just seemed something people mindlessly said because they needed something to say and because they saw everyone else saying the same things. I guess that is how we collectively deal with things in this social media era.
In 2016 this world became a place where the most powerful man is going to be someone who doesn't come across as presidential or fit for the job at all in these unstable times. It's like the pendulum has fully swung from the optimistic headiness of Obama's first term all the way to other side, the dark side. That's just how it seems, metaphorically speaking. We are living in very interesting times indeed. I have not been able to really articulate what I think and feel about it all and I think that is why I haven't been blogging for the past few months. I have been avoiding expressing it all directly in this way. I don't believe in writer's block, I can write anytime I want but I just didn't want to.
I have been tweeting and facebooking though. I have been active on instagram and tumblr too. I have also been creating a lot of music. If I am very honest with myself my creative activity has been a coping strategy to deal with the way the world is. I internalised a lot of stuff and didn't really go crazy on social media. I resisted going into panic mode and just going with the trend of those proclaiming doom and the end of the world.
This year I just hope for continuous personal progression. I am just taking one day at a time. I do see a lot of good things on the horizon. I am going to still blog and this time my goal is one blog a month. Thank you for reading. May the road rise to meet your feet, may the wind always be at your back and my the sun always shine on your face.
11:50 | | 0 Comments
Stream of consciousness alert! Stream of consciousness alert! I am not gonna start with what is becoming my usual way of beginning an entry. I have come to accept that there are going to be spaces in between entries. I won't apologise for that. These entries will arrive when they arrive. I really do appreciate you stopping by to check out my blog, like you actually read in a time when people just want short video clips or just check out headlines and click bait summaries designed to wind you up.
Summer was beautiful. This was probably one of the best summers I can remember. The weather was hot! hot! hot! I got to travel not just to Germany but also to Canada. You can see pics that I took while I was in Germany here and pics I took while in Canada here 2 totally different places and my first time in both of them. Travelling is good, it expands your mind and helps you understand the world, yourself and life better. It is so easy to get caught up in your own bubble and forget there is big world out there to explore and experience.
I hit the ground running this Autumn, I am back performing and doing workshops. In fact the day after I touched down from Canada I visited a college in South West London for a performance and did it while I was still jetlagged! The great thing is the performance actually went smoothly without any hitch whatsoever. If you are wondering what type of stuff I perform in schools you can check out a poem below which will be in my new book which is going to be out soon.
I got to do a workshop in Plymouth. It is on the southern coast of England and it is a beautiful place. I stayed overnight in a hotel and got to check out the city. I took quite a few pictures. You can check them out here the performances and workshop sessions I did at the school were great. I will never forget that experience and I am actually getting to go back there next year!
If there is one thing on my heart and mind lately it is the feeling of being determined to be the best I can be at what I do and to positively affect as many people as I can. I am staying focused on my own path and just continuing on my journey. It is easy to get distracted by things that cause you to focus on what people think about you or if they rate what you do but the truth is that doesn't actually really matter. I am just thankful to be here doing what I love and loving what I do.
I did an acoustic set at the Omnibus in Clapham Common and this is one of my songs that performed.
04:15 | | 0 Comments
It has been too long but here I am again. So much has happened since May when I last blogged. It has been at the back of my mind to update this blog of mine but I am going through a period where I am wondering if I am going to continue blogging. For now I will keep doing it though. It is summer time in London (finally!!!) and as I sit here rehearing for a big gig, I might as well toss out a stream of consciousness style blog to capture my mood and thoughts. It is gonna be a sort of recap so here we go.
So I have dropped my music project PLTFRM SE7EN [SIDE B] it is out now digitally on iTunes , Google Play, Spotify and every other store. You can listen in full below via my soundcloud
I was gonna do a whole "digital liner notes" blog about the project and I probably should get on with that but for now the project is just me letting loose some tracks I had floating around on my laptop. They are literally B-Sides and rare recordings that were supposed to be on projects but never really fit anywhere. The funny thing is they somehow fit together as one. I see myself as an underground artist, that is where I am right now. Only a few people know me and what I do isn't for everyone. I am cool with that as I keep moving. If you like what I do, I appreciate you. This project is inspired by my journey and a lot of it was made riding the London underground trains and pondering my journey.
I have been doing workshops everywhere this year. I think this first half of 2016 has been the busiest I have ever been since I started doing this in December, 2009. I recently got back from Germany where I was for 3 days doing workshops in 2 schools there. I also performed at 2 graduation ceremonies as well. I totally enjoyed my stay there. I met some great people. I was in Paderborn city a place I never even knew about. Check out some pictures I took while I was there below:
You can check out the other pics I took by going here
A lot has been going on in the world as usual but this time around it feels even more intense. I think being on social media everyday like I am makes you even more aware of what is going on. I have been processing so many thoughts and feelings about everything, it's hard to articulate what I really think and feel about it all. You would think it would be a great thing to use this blog as an outlet during this time but I just didn't feel like writing. I didn't even feel like doing music at some point. I have recently been getting back into it and more music is on the way. I guess I use music to get it all out of me.
I am going to stop here. This blog entry is just me getting my engine revving and getting back into gear. I am still here. In fact I have a new song I released out of the blue saying that. I saw a post on facebook talking about suicide and I felt inspired to write and record the song because I was once suicidal myself a long time ago. You can download it from itunes, amazon etc right now and stream it on TIDAL, Apple Music, Spotify, Deezer etc with all the rest of my music too. I want to shoot a music video for it. Press play and enjoy it below. I will be back on this blog, I won't be away for too long this time.
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Life is a beautiful thing. It truly is a gift. Errrrrr ummmm that wasn't how I planned to start off this blog and I am not going to go back and delete it. I guess those have been my thoughts lately. Anyway a lot has been going on. Brace yourself because this could be a long one.
So recently I released a single. I made the beat on Monday, wrote the lyrics the next day, recorded it on Wednesday and it was out on itunes and all digitalstores by Friday. It is called "Hidden" and it was just how I was feeling at the time. Listen below and download it from iTunes or Amazon
Thankfully in London at this time we are properly in Spring and I can feel Summer very close around the corner. My increase in sneezing has fully alerted me to this fact and we have been having some very beautiful weather. Ok this blog isn't supposed to be me giving you a weather update, there is something I really want to talk about but I don't know how to start.
So Chance The Rapper has dropped his brand new mixtape (OK call it an album or whatever) "Coloring Book" and the sound is very gospel genre influenced. In fact some songs are just straight up gospel songs. I mean Kirk Franklin even shows up one of these songs that could have been on a God's Property album. Now there is still cursing/swearing all over this album so I wouldn't call this a straight up gospel rap album (in the traditional sense) but it definitely is dipped in traditional gospel sounding music. There are choirs all over it, there are soaring harmonies, you hear that organ play those chords associated with gospel music. You also hear lots of themes of faith, praise and redemption. I have fully enjoyed jamming this album. It's that feel good music I like, I have attempted to make this kind of music before. Just press play on some of my throwbacks below:
The moment I heard this project I knew there was going to be a strong reaction online especially from his fans and from fans of Christian Hip Hop (ugh I still struggle with calling it that but I understand why it is) In fact this is part of an ongoing conversation that has been going on for a while but I think at this present time it has intensified because of certain American mainstream rap music releases. (just like when Kanye West dropped "Jesus Walks" back in 2004) Kanye West announced before his last album "The Life Of Pablo" dropped that it was going to be a "gospel album" but apart from "Ultralight beam" and "Father Stretch my hands" Pt 1 & Pt 2 and "Low Lights" I can't say it fully fulfilled that vision but Chance definitely took that vision further and fleshed it out better with this release "Coloring Book". We've already had Kendrick Lamar dropping "Untitled Unmastered" which has some biblical references and themes (I mean his album "good kid, m.A.A.d city" is his salvation/redemption story from top to bottom!) So we're in a season where we will see more and more of this because you know how people are followers and hop on any wave that is poppin'
I immediately started seeing tweets saying things like "Chance the rapper is more of a Christian rapper than Lecrae" I read all kinds of tweets from Christian Hip Hop fans taking indirect shots at Lecrae (and others) all saying something to effect of "Chance The Rapper has made an album that is more gospel than certain gospel artists" or "Chance the rapper is more of a Christian rapper than actual Christian rappers" Along with the fact that Lecrae recently signed a deal with Columbia Records and the normal moral panic from a lot of CHH fans that follows any mainstream move he makes, these snarky remarks are bound to increase. I understand why these things are being said but the truth is when an artist has been first been introduced to the world as a Christian rapper who basically preaches their faith explicitly with all their songs, apart from the fact they hardly reach mainstream platforms, if they do they are normally dismissed as cheesy, preachy and corny if they come with songs dipped in traditional gospel sounds, especially if they are rappers (unless you are Kirk Franklin in the "stomp" and "revolution" days). I will get into this later, stay with me.
Days before Chance The Rapper had dropped this mixtape he appeared live on Fallon's tonight show and performed "blessings" and gospel artist Byron Cage even showed up to sing. (i don't know if he is on the album version, I don't recall seeing his name or hearing his voice on it so must have just being a special one off appearance)
If you listen to "Coloring Book" by Chance The Rapper you will hear profanity scattered all over it even though the sound is dipped in traditional gospel sounds and even sentiment. I have no problem with anyone calling this a gospel rap album per se but I ask, if an artist like Lecrae made this exact same album exactly like this would it be acceptable? I doubt it would be received warmly. Earlier this year, Andy Mineo an artist signed to Lecrae's Reach Records asked questions about the use of profanity via twitter and he got butchered for just ASKING and trying to have a conversation about it by a lot CHH fans. I am willing to bet that some of the same people who wanted to crucify Andy Mineo for trying to have an online conversation about profanity are rocking Chance's new album hard and calling it a "great gospel rap album"
If Chance had dropped this as his debut I doubt it would have this much buzz. He has a huge Kanye West co-sign at this stage, lots of high profile features on this project (Kanye West, Lil Wayne, T Pain, Kirk Franklin, Young Thug, Justin Bieber, 2 Chainz, Jeremih, Jay Electronica, Lil Yachty, D.R.A.M) so of course he is going to have attention. He had ears waiting eagerly for this. He was just coming off being on "The Life of Pablo" by Kanye West which was a HUGE look for him. I mean "Ultralight beam" is a HUGE song, so even comparing him to a Lecrae who has had to graft for over a decade to even begin to get to where he could access the same kinds of platforms Chance has isn't really fair.
The truth is if Chance had started his career as a Christian Hip Hop artist in the American Christian Hip Hop scene and had become big in that scene, he would have had to follow the same kind of path Lecrae has taken to breakout of that scene into the mainstream. Chance The Rapper never had that stigma of being a "Christian rapper" from the get-go. Not only that this actual "gospel rap" album Chance has dropped isn't held to the same standards a Lecrae album is held to because of his track record and history. So he can get away with swearing and making certain choices in sound that if Lecrae maybe had made when he was first trying to break into the mainstream would have come off as "corny and too religious" I mean the the last couple of songs on "Anomaly" by Lecrae were heavily criticized by many for being too religious and schmaltzy even though they loved a good deal of the rest of the album. One could argue maybe Lecrae should not have added those songs which seemed designed to cater to his CCM fanbase/radio/circuit goals (He ended up with a Grammy for one those songs "Messengers"). Chance The Rapper doesn't run the risk of being placed in that corny religious rapper box because he has no history of being a gospel rapper that first had his audience and come up in a scene where you have to be sanitized, squeaky clean, theological and super explicit about your faith to even have an audience or be that popular in that scene in the first place. This is a fact, I dare anyone to challenge me on this point.
What I always wished Christian Hip Hop artists would do more is mine the rich sound of traditional gospel music and fuse it with Hip Hop just like Kirk Franklin did that made him explode in the 90s. Chance The Rapper uses that sound beautifully on this mixtape. I mean listen:
It is so beautiful when that uplifting, soul moving, authentic gospel sound is done well in rap. I don't recall it is ever being popular in the CHH scene (correct me if I am wrong people who know better than me) the only example I can recall of this sound being used is when BB Jay did this song "word iz bond" on his album "Universal Concussion" (I'm sure there are others, if you know any let me know I would love to hear them)
BB Jay represents what people probably hated the most about Christian rap, he was basically a Christian Biggie Smalls. Since you're always preached at about the "evil's of secular music" here is BB Jay with a sanitized, christian version of an actual artist that existed (LOL!) He bit Biggie's flow and cadence so bad I bet Christopher Wallace felt it in the grave. Even though that was the case, this song is actually ok, it sounds nice. I remember liking it. I always wanted to see more of this kind of sampling of the traditional gospel sound and that is why I tried it myself.
The thing about gospel music is it has it's own sound and therefore it's own identity. Christian Hip Hop lacks it's own sound and piggie backs off any hot sound in mainstream rap that is currently poppin'. This isn't necessarily bad or good, it just is what it is. Even when people come along with innovations like Andrae Crouch, The Winans, Commissioned, Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, Tonex etc etc gospel music still has that thing about it that makes it sound unique and identifiable. You hear it and you know it, so much so that even if the message in the music isn't THE gospel of Christ you associate the sound with it being about faith, upliftment and inspiration (this is why I personally separate gospel as a genre and THE gospel of Christ even though they intersect at it's best) I mean this song below from the new Chance tape isn't a faith themed song, it has loads of swearing/cursing in it but be honest you would still call it a "gospel" sounding song even though I don't think any choir will be singing this in any church service on Sunday morning:
The point I'm making is simple, while people are going crazy over this beautifully sounding album/mixtape whatever you wanna call it from Chance (and rightly so because in my opinion it is dope AND sincere too) understand it isn't just about what the music sounds like, it is who is making it. The reception of music is subject to the personal preference of the listener and their perception of who the artist is. You can't escape this fact. Position affects perspective, perception affects reception.
Yeah, yeah, yeah I know this has been a long blog, but I have to sign off by saying my new project "PLTFRM SE7EN (SIDE B) is OUT NOW. You can buy it from iTunes and Google Play NOW. You can also stream it on Spotify, Apple Music and all streaming platforms. Check out a lyric video for "Get Up and move (flash mobbing) below:
10:20 | | 0 Comments
I was very close to giving up blogging but how could I do that? This is a good practice to keep up even if blogging isn't that hot right now. The year has been a busy one so far, I have already started doing a lot of travelling doing workshops and it is only march. I am very happy about that.
I have done creative writing workshops in Hounslow, Essex, Central London, Stoke Newington and Wembley Stadium so far and work from the six week project I did in Hackney with Kele Le Roc is now part of an exhibition which is currently going on at Hackney Museum, I went for the launch of it and I felt really proud of the young guys we worked with. Read more about it here
I dropped a song called "Blackstar" recently, I consider it just a warm up song. I made the beat on the day I found out David Bowie died (January 10th). I was listening to a lot of his music and I came across "Fame" which I am sure I have heard before but couldn't remember when or where. That track is so good I just HAD to sample it. I checked and I am not alone, many others have sampled this track including some very famous artists. I ended up writing lyrics that are very much influenced by me thinking about issues of race and being proud of my African roots. I called the track Blackstar because David Bowie's last album that he released just before passing away was called that. It is also a nod to the duo Blackstar comprised of Talib Kweli & Yasiin Bey (the artist formerly known as Mos Def). Their self-titled album remains a classic and it contained very positive pro-black content. I have always wanted to come from that kind of angle that they came with that breathes consciousness, positivity, introspection and fun. I have done that a couple of times before.
Rapzilla were nice enough to post "blackstar" much to my surprise. I saw some funny soundcloud comments that were not positive. It seems someone wasn't too happy that I was being pro-black and Afrocentric. I was accused of being divisive and "remixing the song of a heathen" (lol) It seems being pro-black will always be a threat to some who don't understand that being pro-black doesn't automatically mean being anti-white. I even say in the song "this aint black supremacy, I'm just being me.." Ah well, it is what it is. Listen to the track below:
I am currently rounding up my next album as well as a couple of EPs. I am also working on a book that ties in with the workshops I do in schools. More about that later, let me not get ahead of myself. The name of my next album is "Unseen Unheard Unknown" It is inspired by the book "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison as well as many other things I will share soon. If you are supporter from a while back and you were on my journey with me from the 2012 album "Delayed But Not Denied" this new album follows on from that. In fact every album and project has been following a narrative. They are all linked. All will be explained soon.
Here is another track I dropped at the top of the year. I was just trying out a different kind of sound and tempo. If I am really being honest, I wrote this and made it when I was feeling depressed. When winter comes around I experience the blues a lot because it is cold and dark. I end up producing a lot of beats and writing to deal with all my feelings even more than ever. All these tracks I have been dropping won't be on my upcoming album. I kinda dig this one. Press play on "Turn up/Turn Down" below
The track called "Love" that I produced for Fiona Yorke and also featured on was released as a single and the response to it has been amazing, In fact I got to perform it live with her outside London all the way in Ipswich at a gig that I did. It was such a wild gig though haha. I had to wear a suit and all that because it was a ball kinda situation. It went on until 2am. I got home about 4am. Hahaha. The DJ was playing some crazy jungle and drum and bass and that really inspired me. I went home and produced like 4 jungle/drum n bass influenced records hahahaha. You will hear all this music soon. Anyway listen to "Love" below. It is out on itunes. amazon and all digitalstores and part of Fiona Yorke's EP called "Sound Freedom"
oh yeah I have let my beard grow longer than I have ever done in my life hahahaha. I just didn't shave after Christmas. I might cut it soon though. Anyway I am gonna go and live a bit and create more. Follow me on twitter if you are there: http://www.twitter.com/karlnova (@KarlNova) I am on snapchat too at: therealkarlnova
Ok I am gonna start this blog entry like a hipster. I've been blogging before it was cool (lol!) I started blogging on myspace just as it started to pop off and as myspace started dying (R.I.P) I started this blog.
Actually to be more accurate, I made a transition from blogging mainly on myspace to using the notes feature A LOT on facebook. Those were the early days of Facebook before Zuckerberg switched up the layout and it became all weird. It was THEN that I decided to switch to blogpsot. I was almost gonna use wordpress (I had it all ready to go) but blogspot was easier to set up. Well at least to me.
Student Of Life. I have recently been doing a series of workshops with the legendary R&B/Soul singer/songwriter Kele Le Roc.
I have been working on my first book. It is mainly a book of poetry with notes about the inspiration behind each piece and I hope to have that out in the new year. It is linked with the work I do in schools but I'm trying to craft it in a way that everyone can connect with it, not just young students. I really believe words put down properly can transcend in that way.
I have been gigging. I recently performed with Soul Sanctuary at the legendary Jazz Cafe. It was a Christmas concert. I got to narrate the nativity in a contemporary way with Mel Giedroyc of Mel & Sue fame. She currently has a show on BBC called The Great British Bake Off. She is so cool. I also got to perform a spoken word poem written by my mate Chenoa. I don't normally like performing other people's words being a writer myself but I was asked to do it and I thought to myself "cool, i'll do it" It was a great night.
I keep saying I've finished my album but I keep adding to it and taking away stuff from it but yeah It will be out next year. One day on a whim I went to the studio and recorded 3 full songs in a session and that has become a Christmas themed EP. I am dropping it on Christmas day and I am calling the "Messiah EP" it will have 4 tracks on it and it will be free.
OK this has been interesting, for one who has been struggling to want to even blog this has all flowed so easily. I don't believe in writer's block, I think when the writing is ready to happen and come out of you, it will happen. Just be ready to let it flow.
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One thing I like about blogging is it becomes like a time capsule for me. I can look back on what I have written before and it brings back memories of the time when I wrote it. I don't blog as frequently as I used to because sometimes I just don't feel inspired. There are things I want to write about but I am doing a lot of reading and researching so I don't just chat and waffle on emptily.
I have just celebrated my birthday and this time last year I had just touched down in London from New York on the morning of my birthday. I was suffering from Jet lag but still very happy because my 10 day visit to New York was so amazing. You can read all about it here This year however I have been laid out by the flu and all day I've been coughing and wheezing. I have a blocked nose and I feel groggy but I am still full of gratitude and thanksgiving. The love I received from all over the place was really touching. I sometimes wish I could have that kinda love everyday haha.
As always you have time to reflect on the journey so far especially when you are laid up with the flu and just lying around. In the last year I have done a lot of travelling doing workshops. Apart from being all over London in different schools, I've been to Lancashire, Luton (I did a workshop in a stadium again this year I was invited back you can read about it online here) I was out in Southampton and Blackpool at the end of last year and also in Colchester. I got into the local Colchester newspaper when I went to do a workshop there for first time in 2010 and got into it again, read about that here I also got interviewed by the MOBOs about music, it got published just after I arrived back from New York, you can read about that here. Earlier on in the year I got interviewed by Marcia Dixon for The Voice newspaper, that came out of the blue and you can check that out here. I also got interviewed by Francesca Bondioli of Empire Radio Magazine, it was one of the best interviews I've ever done and you can read it here
This blog is turning into one of those episodes of your favourite sitcom where they do flashbacks all through the whole show haha but it is good to look back. I made the decision to leave Premier and no more present "The Writer's Block" and "Hip Hop Sessions" I did this for many reasons. The main reason was I felt it was time. I am glad I got the opportunity to be a radio presenter there and I really learnt so much on the job. I wanted to learn a skill, gain experience and help the UK scene. It is something that I will do again since I now know what it takes to do it and do it well. I will miss all the wonderful and friendly people I met there. There are so many kind and amazing people that I got to know that I would probably never have known any other way. I will miss them.
During my time there I can say I brought exposure to music and artists that probably would have gone overlooked. I can say that because my ears are always to the ground and because I am aware of the history of the UK scene, the work I did on air had substance. I did this all for free on a voluntary basis because they didn't have a budget to pay me. (as far as I know all specialist shows are like that not just me doing the 2 shows I was doing) I understood that this was how it was going to be from the start but I chose to do it anyway because I really wanted to learn how to be a presenter and all the mechanics of broadcasting. It was worth it for me from that angle. Coming into my 3rd year of doing it I started feeling it wasn't helping me as an artist. I felt like I had hit a ceiling and there was no progression. I didn't feel free. I felt like it affected the perception of me as an artist which to me is my primary passion. Some people might say "well why couldn't you do both?" I did do both for the whole time I was there but I started noticing I was getting overlooked as an artist myself and not taken seriously as one who had already sought to establish himself as one. I was already Karl Nova the artist before being a radio presenter. This is why I released a mixtape in January called The Frustrated Artist It's just how I felt at the time. I explained more about that in the digital liner notes of the project
Now that I have left I have had people ask "what next?" or "how is life after leaving?" as if being at Premier was my whole life and not just 2 days a week. This brought it home to me that leaving was the right decision for me right now. Perception is powerful. In this business branding is everything. I mean I have been doing gigs where on the flyer they would put premier next to my name as if that defines who I am and I didn't like that at all. It got to a point where I needed to make a decision to move on if I wanted to get to where I feel I needed to go.
I have said before that the genre category labelling of christian hip hop, holy hip hop or gospel rap (or whatever it is called these days) is something I don't personally subscribe to so that was another factor. I am just at a point where these genre labels and titles don't define me anymore, to be honest they never really have. It has been that way before I even became a presenter on Premier. I guess because that world of music is one I am familiar with, I felt I could help and I still feel I can and I will still help out but I have grown and I just don't feel I can be confined to just that world only. I know it is an ongoing conversation going on right now over in America within the christian hip hop subgenre aka CHH but I just feel it is not relevant to where I am in my journey. In the bigger picture I just don't think this subgenre really matters unless you are one who needs it because of selling a product, basing your identity on it or wanting to belong to a tribe that uses it to feel significant. My identity doesn't depend on a subgenre and my mission is beyond it. It is easy to get caught up in a bubble and think it is the whole world when it is merely a drop in the proverbial ocean.
So as I enter my new year I will keep pushing forward with the main things I am about as an artist (new album album coming soon), a workshop facilitator with Student of Life a curator over at PLTFRM SE7EN and who knows what else is gonna happen? Watch out!
Here is a track I decided to release for free to mark my birthday it is called "The Gift" written and produced by me and in the song I say quite a few things. You can stream/download it as well as check out the lyrics below!
Things are shifting
I stay lifted
blessed & gifted
You all better listen
or you'll be missing
The next ting, the move
Sometimes I talk in riddles right now I'm dropping clues
In my verses are gems right now
I'm dropping jewels
Picked up by open minds not close minded fools
Of course I had to leave, I had to hit the door
I outgrew the box, I don't fit no more
I got tired of the label and genre war
This is not what I came here for
It's a bore
I was asleep inside you could hear the snores
But a clash woke me up
shook me to my core
If you walk in the steps of king Saul
On your sword you will surely fall
and to a man like David you'll lose it all
So keep your feet on the ground while you walk tall
I feel alive as
I keep on living
I've got this drive
I stay driven
I always thrive
as I sharpen my vision
I've got the gift
that just keeps on giving
I've put the past behind me
So if you talk behind my back
It won't affect me
The future is where I'm at
And best believe
I'll keep chattin' my chat
No manipulation or threat
Will be stopping that
My opinions are informed
backed by facts
and actual facts lead to factual acts
My tongue is too sharp for you to gag
This is real talk not an idle boast or brag
I've paid my dues
my foundation is strong
My roots are deep underground
That's how I last long
To whom it may concern
this is more than a song
Just for the record
Bygones are bygones
It's all about progression
I had to move on
I'm writing a new chapter
The old one is done
I have a date with destiny
Not Lady Luck
I'm so glad I got up
'cause I felt so stuck
I used to be a guy that would blog so frequently and relentlessly but these days I try to blog in this long form at least once a month. Technically I blog everyday because twitter is a "microblogging" website (follow me @KarlNova if you aren't following me there already) My whole motto is you have to live life a bit so you can write about something real.
So summer is here though not fully (well the sun hasn't been consistent like last year. I guess I am gonna have to be optimistic and see how it goes innit? lol) This year has been very challenging for me so far. Last year was different but that's how life is innit? Festival season is here and I am performing in a couple, I love festivals and always enjoy when I get to do them every year. I performed at one recently and headlined with Rain Freedom, A Star & Faith Child and it was great!
I have been recording here and there and making so many tracks. I recorded a song with Melvillous which I uploaded to my soundcloud called "Kingdom Sound" and it was inspired by MCs who came before me in the scene.
I also got to record with the amazing singer/songwriter/vocalist that is Michelle John This is a woman who has toured and worked with the greats like Eric Clapton, Annie Lennox, BB King, Mariah Carey, BB King and so many amazing people.
I featured on both these songs I am talking about too. I produced in a very unorthodox way so when REAL producers talk to me I get nervous hahaha.
All these collaborations are really interesting because I have never felt fully comfortable letting other people into my personal recording process for a while. I guess collaborations should be organic and authentic and I think it reflects in the actual music if done well.
I recently dropped a lyric video for a freestyle I did that isn't going to make my next album but will probably make the B-Side of my EP PLTFRM SE7EN It was recorded with an iPhone 6 and I did the typography myself. Watch it below:
When I started writing this blog I had no idea that it would end up this way hahahaha. I guess that is how it is when you don't just go with the flow but become the flow. (I thought that was gonna sound deep ah well I am not gonna edit it hahahahahha)