Introducing K Koke, a rapper from Stonebridge, London. Now, I’ll be honest with you, I came across this artist quite late, early 2010 to be precise (I’m never usually that late, I can assure you). The relaxed flow and hood-influenced lyrical content throughout his 2009 released Pure Koke Vol. 1 mixtape was an instant hit with my eardrums, especially on tracks such as “My Deepest Thoughts” and “My Bitch.” K Koke managed to deliver a more than acceptable first offering, and I can honestly say that this is one of the very few mixtapes that I still listen to today. When your mixtape receives regular reloads in the JP household, it’s definitely a good look for your career (I joke, I joke).
Initially, the rapper didn’t take music seriously and it was a bit of fun to him at the start, but that all changed when his newly gained fans started to show some real appreciation for his music. “I started the whole music thing with Squingy [a fellow member of his camp, USG] in 2005 and I’ve just been pushing it ever since then,” Koke told XXLMag.com. “At first it was a joke thing, but then people started to take to me and felt what I was saying. I started to get shown a lot of love, which kept me moving. Then I found out that I was actually good at it, so I thought I’d try it out.”
Being a white rapper with all this attention and someone who clearly has a lot to say, Koke often gets compared to Eminem. Although he finds this a huge and somewhat humbling compliment, the rapper wants to prove that he can hold his own without being likened to anyone else. In fact, he doesn’t want color to be the topic of any conversation that concerns his music.
“I don’t see color as anything,” he says. “I’m a product of my environment, but obviously I know what color I am. My whole estate is literally a different color to me, but we don’t watch color, none of that. If you compare me to Eminem, that’s love, because he’s a legend, but all these other up-and-coming artists, especially these little white rappers coming up right now, they need to pay some respect and homage, because I made it okay for white boys to spit around here and that’s certified shit. I don’t run around saying, ‘Yo! I’m the man’, I don’t go on like that. I released one mixtape and got signed, but I’m still humble. Stay humble and go through.”
That leads me to K Koke’s recent signing with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation (Sony RCA). It was confirmed in January that K Koke had been signed by the hip-hop mogul’s record label, news that had many-a-critic rubbing their chin simply down to the fact that the rapper had only released one mixtape. But it was far from a rumor. The USG member had officially signed on the dotted line. Now that he has the financial backing to release the music that he wants to on a wider scale, will this street poet continue to feed the roads with those raw bars that everyone came to know and love him for?
“Yo, I’ll never leave what got me here. Obviously, people like me for a certain thing, like I’ve got fans because of a certain type of music that I do, so I can never stop doing that music, ya get me? I might venture out a touch and try new things, but I’ll always be doing the street thing. I’ll always be looking after the roads. That’s what made me. But yo, the roads can’t be mad if I’m trying to do something new and positive.”
He continues: “There needs to be a balance. You have to be able to make some music for the mainstream, but also keep it real at the same time. I reckon that I’m more than capable of doing that as well. Like I always say dargy, if you keep it real, you can’t lose. I want to be the best at what I do, so whatever it takes for me to do that, then so be it. I’m a hard worker and I’ve got the talent. If you see me on T4 (a popular UK television show) in the future, holla at ya damn boy (laughs).”
The music industry has changed, clearly. For the better, I say. Being snapped up by such a label on the merit of just one mixtape, well, it’s a great thing and it should be an inspiration to all of the up-and-coming lyricists out there who are still on their musical grind. Now that K Koke has the Jiggaman on his team, a collaboration with Roc Nation’s J. Cole in the pipeline and a highly-anticipated mixtape due for release (Pure Koke Vol. 2, out March 28), I have no doubt that we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more from this little white child who grew up hood real soon.
“I’m in a good position right now,” says an excited Koke. “I can make something out of myself now, ya get me? There’s USG Entertainment, which is the company that me, Squingy and Exo own. We’ve got a few artists coming up on the label. The grind don’t stop! I’ve got Pure Koke Vol. 2 coming out this month and after that I’m gonna focus and start work on my album. I’m not rushing that release, though. I need to lay my official stamp down, I haven’t done that yet. I have on a street level, yeah, but money music is a different thing. Anyway, big up C-Certified, he knows who he is and also USG. Exo and Squingy, family for life…” – Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson