We recently sat down with UK hip hop artist Ikes who has performed at CMJ in New York and NXNE in Toronto , Canada. In 2014 , No Commercial peaked at #1 in the US College HipHop radio and then went on a 5 date college tour across the states. The single ”They Know” ft Maleek Berry was #1 trend in Lagos , Nigeria when it was released in April. He recently had his brand new record ” Pray for Me” hosted and supported by Russell Simmons’s All Def Digital.
Hello Ikes, can you remember the first time you thought “I want to be a rapper?”
Well I’ve never really wanted to be a “rapper” but I wanted to touch people through rap music , which is why I prefer the “rap artist” label, and the first time I think I knew that I wanted to make music for a living was when I got such a global and positive response on MySpace in 2005. People told me I helped them through hard times, can you believe it? I hardly could. I was on top of the world, and I wanted to feel like that everyday. Ikes was born.
Amazing. Before that, were you creative in other ways?
I was largely into sport, still am but I used to play football semi-professionally. That was my first love really. I just grew out of it around the age of 17, lost the love for it.
Was that your plan B in case rap didn’t work out?
Well that was my plan A growing up, and so I feel extra blessed to find another plan A, another love.
Man, that’s great. How supportive have your family been in your decision to be a rap artist?
I mean at first they didn’t take me seriously but it all became real when they began to see me on the TV, here in the UK and back home in Nigeria too. I can’t complain they support me; my siblings always come to shows and bring their friends too. Means a lot to me.
Sure. Apart from hip-hop, did you listen to other genres of music?
I’ve always listened to other genres, I think that’s why my music is very musical, I draw inspiration from a vast array of genres, anything from rock to soul to indie sounds. Good music is good music, to me.
I love that. Have those genres played a part in how you write your music?
Yeah I mean, rap is about writing songs, not just the art-form of rapping, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. So I study the greats of all genres on how the write the “perfect song”
Take a look at the industry right now, name us 5 artists you’d love to collaborate with if you had the chance to.
Nas, Jay Z, Frank Ocean, Coldplay and Kanye West.
Why those artists?
It’s a mix of artists I grew up listening to and my favourites; Nas and Jay are the reason I rap, I think Frank Ocean can write something close to the perfect song I mentioned before. Coldplay are my favourite band and I’ve taken many live performance qualities from them. Lastly I think Kanye is just the ultimate creative, and together we could make something timeless.
What would the subject of the song be if you collaborated with one of those artists?
If I made something with Jay Z it could probably be about timeless or priceless art, precious pieces.. Damn that’s a cool title right there! *laughs*
*laughs* You need to contact Jay Z and make it happen! A year ago you released “Walk To Freedom”, what inspired you to write such a powerful song?
The passing of Mandela amongst the loss of other legends hit me hard; but who are the legends of the present and who will be the visionaries of the future? I think we have to make them, get behind them and build them up. But I can’t do it alone, so let’s walk to that place, let’s build together for the greater good.
Preach brother. I like the message behind the song, is this something the fans should expect to hear in your upcoming project?
The upcoming project is quite personal so yes, maybe in that particular song I was hurt so there was a certain sentiment that may not be present. However I can guarantee a good journey, whether it be a bumpy ride or not.
What’s the story behind the anthemic “They Know (Wan Mo) ?”
It’s a victory lap record; it’s for everyone who’s been grinding, waiting for an opportunity to win. “They Know” or soon they’ll all know about us, our sound, our movement That’s what it’s about really, repping or introducing a new sound and movement, a new force.
Nice! As an independent artist, what’s your stance on streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music etc?
I think we have to somehow put the value back into the art of making music; the internet and digital age has made music too easily accessible and so many artists that may not appear as “talented” have soared in the business. This has caused saturation and the common view that music should be free. I am all for streaming services, but fair services. It’s simple, easy, and a thing of the future. However the artists, writers and composers need to be compensated accordingly; some of the figures I’ve seen have been shocking. We are of most importance, Spotify & co are just platforms, without the artist they have no product, and therefore no company.
That’s a fantastic answer, I couldn’t agree more. Let’s hope things change in the future. When can we expect new music from you?
Hopefully “Outside|In” will be out sometime this summer, with more content to follow!
Watch the brand new video entitled ”Pray For Me” recently released via All Def Digital