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Emcee/singer/Poet/Blog Junky. I'm a freedom writer, Truth seeker, Truth speaker. A cheeky joker. hehehe I'm on a journey and documenting my experience...If You need to holla at me, Email me here: KarlNovaBookings@gmail.com

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London Anomaly in New York City

I have had a quite a year so far. I just celebrated my birthday in the air. Yes, I was flying back to London after a week in New York and as I crossed time zones I celebrated twice hehe. I landed in London early in the morning of September 13th my birthday.

I've been to America a bunch of times to tour and perform but for some reason I have never been to New York City so I was quite excited to visit for the 1st time. I have to confess that I am not too happy with America right now because of what I had been seeing going on in Ferguson with an unarmed teenager, Mike Brown being shot to death by a cop. Even in New York there had been Eric Garner who had been choked to death by cops. As much as I love America, in recent times I have fallen out of love with America due to all these kinds of things happening. Saying that a post-racial America is a myth is kind of redundant at this stage.

With all this in mind, flying out there I was kinda not in the best of moods but once I touched Manhattan and Madison Ave where I stayed for the whole week I was there, I can't lie I was totally enchanted and seduced by my first bite of the big apple. I did feel myself tighten up whenever I saw cops about with their guns though but all the same I was caught up in the magic of New York City.


New York to me is like London on steroids with an American accent and a dash of that Lagos hustle that I am familiar with. I have to be honest though, NYC wasn't as frenetic as I expected. I guess no city to me can compare to the hustle of Lagos. I had to respect the hustle of a cab driver who ASKED for a tip which was new to me haha. The subway system isn't as good as the London underground system (i know some will debate me on this but this is my opinion) but big up the air conditioning all the same (TFL need to sort that out and get air conditioning into every underground train line). New York City was hot and still experiencing summer even though it was September. Kind of like how London is still warm now but even hotter.

New York is the birthplace of Hip Hop. I have felt a connection with this city for years and years. From the 1st rap songs I ever heard ("Paid in Full" by Rakim and  "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five) to my favourite rap album ("illmatic" by Nas) All the way to the fact that I am a Hip Hop artist myself. American Hip Hop is a huge influence on my style, for years in the UK some people have said I have slight American inflection to my voice
when I rap and I own that, I learnt how to rap by listening to American rappers, I didn't even know UK rappers existed at one point except for London Posse who I saw ONCE on MTV when I was young in Lagos (I was born in London but a good deal of my childhood was spent in Lagos). Another thing is because rapping is close to talking people forget that rap is music just like singing is music. No one complains about the majority of UK singers who sing with an american sounding style in their vocals and accent. Anyway music is a language you learn and I learnt from the best which are american Hip Hop artists, I am talking about Nas, Rakim, Mos Def, KRS ONE, Jay Z, Lauryn Hill etc etc. Such is life. lol. The funny thing is when Americans listen to me rap they know I am not American because to them I sound British.

It really helps to visit the city where an art form and culture originated from, when you get the context of where something springs from it gives you a deeper appreciation for it. It makes you more aware of the fact that you have put your own spin and interpretation on it if you are a creator of the music yourself.  You have to respect the architects and pioneers. It's like visiting Lagos and understanding where afrobeat by Fela Kuti came from (not afrobeats/afropop I mean the REAL afrobeat)

Another thing that struck me was the fact I got to be in New York on September 11th. To me that was deep. I met a guy who lost 8 people in the towers. The only frame of reference I have to even begin to understand all that is when the July 7th bombings happened on the underground trains in London in 2005 and even that cannot compare to the scale of what happened on September 11th 2001. All I can say is rest in peace and may comfort be upon the families.

I now understand even more why a British rapper who does hip hop will find it hard to break into america, I mean big up Slick Rick and all but he had to move there as a young un and adapt before he could break in with his unique style, also that was a whole different era in rap music when variety was
practically the norm. Who has been as big as Slick Rick in America since Slick Rick? There have been others who have tried like S.A.S but maybe only embraced by a few. Dizzee Rascal tried but couldn't break through on a huge scale but he came from grime which is even more foreign to Americans. In recent times Tinie Tempah had a platinum selling single in America ("written in the stars") but I think it was  more of a novelty pop thing and also the song getting picked up and used by Superbowl, Wrestlemania, Miss USA 2011 and MLB (Major League Baseball) helped a lot but on a wide scale, I don't think Hip Hop from the UK is accepted and respected generally in America talk less of grime which is another thing. America is a very insular country and isn't very open to things outside it.

Think of it this way, if an American tried to do grime would he/she be immediately accepted in the UK? The only Grime MC who is not from the UK and is accepted that i know of in the UK grime scene is the Canadian Tre Mission. Grime artist JME definitely helped him to break in and be accepted. Anyway the bottom line is respect the culture and be good at it. Those who embrace you will embrace you or at least respect your authenticity eventually if you keep it real with excellence and consistency.

Being in New York City had a great effect on me and I think listening to Lecrae's brand new album "Anomaly" in the birthplace of hip hop added to it. It was a very fitting album to be the soundtrack of my visit. Lecrae is a Christian who does hip hop that is kind of an outsider but somehow is breaking through due to becoming top of the food chain in his niche market and subgenre/subculture of Hip Hop through consistent hard work and quality output. I'm so happy he went no. 1 with it. That's so inspiring! He even had a billboard in Times Square promoting it! I also got to perform in New York for the 1st time ever. I can't lie it was emotional ha!

That's what hip hop is you see, outsiders who were shut out of the "American dream" creating from nothing a culture that kicked down the door of the mainstream and more or less made people listen to their stories by the sheer force of beats and rhymes. That is fundamentally it. They were locked out of the mainstream downtown party so they created their own party and now the whole world is partying and turning up.

So there I was a kind of London/Lagos hybrid, a hip hop anomaly that doesn't really fit in anywhere but somehow feeling at home in New York far away from home. I arrived back in London on the very morning of my birthday. I even made a beat in the air on the way back  hehe. I feel inspired, reinvigorated and thankful. I returned to London to see that an interview I did with MOBO has been published, click HERE to check it!

Check out the beat I made on the plane ha!

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