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In conversation with Aniefiok Ekpoudom – ‘Where We Come From: Rap, Home & Hope In Modern Britain’ | @AniefiokEkp

We got a chance to sit down with one of the countries most influential culture writers after the release of his book ‘Where We Come From: Rap, Home & Hope In Modern Britain‘. He explores the relationship and influence of UK rap in three regions, covering Cardiff, the West-Midlands and South London.

How long did the process take you?

 “It took four years to report and deal with interviews. And it took a year to finish the writing. In 2018, I started doing the interviews in different parts of the country, and then obviously, the pandemic was in the middle of that, but by 2022, I did the last interview. I had been writing bits and pieces in that period, but from 2022 through to 2023 is when I finished writing it, but it was a lot. It was a long time and longer than maybe I thought it was going to be when I started, but I think it’s good because I think I really got to see all of these different areas, I was going to understand different musical cultures. Obviously, London, Birmingham and Wales, they all have their own differences, really specific stories, specific relationships with UK rap. So, it was just cool to be able to get a really good understanding of the places and the music”.


Was there any location or part of writing the book that surprised you the most?

“Yeah, I think the place that probably surprised me the most, I would say is Cardiff. I didn’t know much about Wales until I went there for the book, I didn’t know much about their music scene. But then hearing about and witnessing how big an impact and how long of a history they have. The sound system culture, they’ve got a Carnival in Cardiff that has been going on for decades. So learning about that history was really really interesting”.

Where do you think the scene is heading in the next five or 10 years?

“I feel like now, this music is obviously as popular as it’s ever been maybe in the recent six month. There has been a bit of a dip in terms of rap specifically. But in comparison to 10-15 years ago, it’s way more popular. There’s way more of an infrastructure now for musicians. Even if you’re from like Northampton, or if you’re from Scotland, there isn’t actual infrastructure, if you have a rapper that you can plug into, and use to get your music seen and heard by wide audiences all across the world and I think that’s a really positive thing. I remember interviewing Unknown T recently. And he was saying he had Loyle Carner on his album. He wasn’t so aware of Loyle Carner at the time, but then when he went to Loyle Carner’s show it was at Wembley. These are two artists in the same field, but at such different ends of it that he wasn’t even aware that there was this huge musician that is selling out Wembley with his albums and seeing them collaborate now, I think was a sign that collaboration and connection between all of these different sounds is better than separation”.

Does it matter to take America?

“I don’t think so. I think the idea of breaking America was rooted in not wanting to actually be able to make a career in music. So, I think people thought they couldn’t make a financially viable career in the UK. So naturally, you’re looking towards America as a place where you think, okay, obviously, that’s the home of great rappers. So I think the feeling was that if I can get there, that’s kind of like the promised land because we’ve seen that you don’t want to have to be a commercially successful rapper to be a financially successful rapper in America. That was the driver of that. I think as soon as we got to a point where you could actually make a career in the UK, and even just by touring Europe, people make actual money and livelihoods through the music without necessarily even having to leave their homes. I think that kind of switched the narrative with people that you don’t need to go abroad to do that. I saw initially that the likes of Skepta in that way, where they were just touring Europe, incessantly really seemed like they were certainly successful. People like Stormzy, Dave and I think like people looked at them. And if any of them have really broken America, they may have had songs that are popular, but they’re still doing really well. So I think that idea of breaking America is not as prevalent anymore. I think that the same is going on in France, the same as going on in New Zealand. And the same as going on in Australia. All of these different places are having a similar kind of movement, which I think is reflected, I guess how deeply entrenched hip hop is into some of these different countries now.”

Do you think grime ever did die?

“I don’t think it did, I think. I do think in the UK. I think that when you look at like the history of these sounds, and you’re just looking at the history of like black British music in that sense. The garage peak was huge, like so ridiculously huge. Then actually, that died down a bit that grime came in that had a big week, that actually that died down a bit and someone else came in and grime came back. So, I feel like the sounds never disappear. But I think it’s not a bad thing that they don’t last forever. Like, when it comes back down to like a level that is still fine if that makes sense. I don’t think it ever died”.

What are your top 3 albums in the last 5 years?

“The last five years I would say Kano’s, I would say to be honest, from the stories, the production to like the history and to the lyricism, the delivery I think that is the best one. Hoodies All Summer is just amazing like his level of honesty really on the record is like yeah, like he’s so skilled. But the production was amazing. The stories were amazing. Like everything just felt like a step up from what he’d been doing. And second and third is a tie. I always go back and forth. One day I say Little Simz No Thank You. But then on another day I say Loyle Carner HUGO. either”.

James Woodham

Journalism student with a heavy focus on music



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