“Live From My Den” heads abroad for its penultimate episode of the season, as East London rapper Kojey Radical takes Variety’s K.J. Yossman on a tour of his hometown.
The music and mixed media artist discusses what shaped his full-length release, “Reason to Smile,” and reminisces about honing his skills at Hoxton Hall, his favorite food spots and the block he grew up on.
“I think that the sheer cheekiness of some of the statements made on that album is very East London,” says Kojey Radical of the 12-track album.
The title track blends the mellow with the witty as it explores complex themes like immigration and what it means to be Black and British, and the child of immigrants.
“I think Ghana was something I had to learn to discover,” he says. “And I think it’s part of the experience of being a first-generation or second-generation — being part of the Diaspora in any way, shape or form. I think, sometimes you’re going to be connected immediately to your homeland. And sometimes it’s a personal journey.”
After a string of EPs and a long list of features, Radical has been sitting on “Reason to Smile” for a minute, which is why the album is bookended with a question, “So what do we do next?”
“I wanted [the album] to feel like a continuation, but also be self-contained in a way that it will loop around on itself,” he says. “So by the time you get to the final statement on the album, the question begins again, ‘So what do we do next?’ And for me, that’s always been a problem as a creative: deciding when one piece of work is finished and then deciding where you go next.”
Radical also shared what it was like to collaborate with his mom on several tracks, including “Pressure.” “It was hilarious, to be honest,” he recounts. “I hit mumsy, ‘Yo, you got to come to the studio, cool?’ She comes. My mom practiced … the whole week.”
The distinct sounds on the album are a culmination of Radical’s early influences. He cites Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me,” André 3000, Ghetts, Kano, Busta Rhymes, Kendrick Lamar and many more. “I think, if you limit yourself — It’s like, imagine eating one style of bread every day. Boring. No tiger bread, nothing. Just one piece of Hovis. Variety, please. Slice of life.”
Hear more about Radical’s upcoming appearances and watch him perform “Cashmere Tears,” “War Outside,” “Silk” and “Gangsta” in the video above. This season of “Live From My Den” is made possible by Hard Rock and in partnership with Fujifilm.