Today, Kwazi Cort unveiled his highly awaited EP titled, ‘Blood On The English Carpet’. Here to make a statement, this project explores various sonic avenues, proving his versatility to the fullest – it’s only best you push your expectations aside. Leaping in with open ears, this EP takes you on a journey not only sonically but lyrically as well. Spread across 8 tracks, featuring pre-released singles “Please Don’t Boast” featuring LD, and “Trapstar II” – be ready to be awakened to a whole new world in which he likes to call ‘Grock’. Fusing his influences seamlessly together, Kwazi Cort isn’t afraid to perform outside the box.
We caught up with Kwazi Cort to talk all things ‘Blood On The English Carpet’ and more…
Let’s go back to the beginning of your career, how did you first start getting into music? I looked back on your DSP’s and you’ve got music going back to 2017?
Growing up, music was the way that me and my friends shared a connection – it was a way in which we bonded; we didn’t have much technology at the time. We didn’t really play sports, for me and my community, rapping was a way for us to share our time with each other – it was a pass time. I never made a conscious decision to get into music, I was just doing it! It was a part of my life! I recorded my first song at 14 and sent it around school – my first performance was when I was 9. Just the way that you would have whatever hobbies you have, like girls just somehow get into makeup right? It just seems to be a thing that girls come to understand and by the time they’re like 18, 19 or 20 they kind of just know what they’re doing!
I guess I’m just one of those artists, that’s how it happened for me – it just became ‘a thing’. I kind of ran into Stormzy on my journey, I’ve ran into Kojey Radical and been to his house, I’ve just lived, and for the black community in South London where I’m from, in that small vicinity I think rapping was just a part of the oxygen.
Were there any artists that you drew from or looked up to for inspiration at the time?
Yes, Kanye West – more so for his character, ability to adapt and move against the grain and to blend the worlds of art and street into one. So yeah, Kanye was definitely the artist I looked up to!
You create a genre of music that you like to call ‘Grock’ – For people that wouldn’t know, please explain this genre and why you decided to infuse these musical elements together?
Yeah! *laughs* The whole point of ‘Grock’ for me was that I wanted to create a term that allowed me to understand that I was different from everyone else in the world. I think when you’re trying to be successful, you have got to find your individual identity. You are looking at all these other individuals that are successful and taking inspiration from them, but they’re individual and it’s very tricky to get yourself into an individual belief that you can become the next Oprah or the next Will Smith or whatever!
For me, I had to play a mental trick on myself by creating a term to help me understand that I’m on an individual path. The word ‘Grock’ comes from Grime and Rock – it’s a simple process; me coming up and spitting Grime and then taking influence from Rock! I came up with the name and then someone said it sounds like a toilet cleaner! *laughs* I was determined, once the journalists start getting used to the term and once, I say it more often it would be something. It’s literally what I grew up with listening to, Grime tempos and Hip-Hop tempos and mixing that with Rock influences.
The overall sound, especially as you listen through the EP is unexpected, and almost keeps you surprised each time. You have proven your versatility a lot throughout this EP – Was experimenting with sound something you wanted to achieve with this project?
I just experimented with life! I’m a curious and experimental type of person! It definitely wasn’t a conscious decision but just a reflection of my character. I’m an artist, I spend a lot of time in my head and can’t even think quick – I’m thinking about other stuff whilst talking to people. I just experiment in life, hence why I would even try to mix Rock with Grime. Only when you’re repeating it to me now am I aware of me having an EP with different sounds – I haven’t listened to the EP I’ve just made the songs individually.
Yeah, well I’ve lived it! My music is autobiographical right? So, I’ve lived it! I haven’t necessarily listened to it all the way through, I’ve just been doing press and different things. In conclusion, I experiment with life – eat in the trap house one day and at a fashion show the next day. I want to be able to go to Wimbledon tennis and go to the streets in the same hour – If I can! I want a dynamic palette so I can continue grow as a person. I want to live different degrees and I think as an artist, it’s going to make me way more relatable, if I can relate to multiple people.
What was your aim with this body of work? Was there a specific message you wanted to convey, but you just said yourself that it’s almost an experimentation! Unless there was something you really wanted to convey?
I mean if there was, I probably didn’t get it out! *laughs* There’s always sh*t I want to convey in life and when it comes out, you’re like “F*ck! That’s not what I meant!”. The EP is called ‘Blood on the English Carpet’, it’s just a reflection of me, almost how a lot of things are happening are ‘behind the scenes’. There’s blood on the carpet but it’s not suggesting where the blood has come from; when you see blood on the carpet, something has happened but there’s no conclusion as to who’s responsible for it or why it’s there. It’s just a crime scene!
Okay, let’s talk about the collaboration with LD on “Please Don’t Boast”. For me when listening to the EP all the way through, that is quite an un-expected feature to have – How did this collaboration come about?
I just knew him for growing up from my ends!
Oh okay! So, you go way back then!
Yeah! I was in the studio and I thought it’d be good to get this guy in! One of my friends in the studio, gave him a call and it’s as simple as that! I feel like I am a new breed of black artist – I’m half road man, half what you wouldn’t expect. I don’t think we’ve had anyone who’s in the street but goes to the House of Parliament – having that duality means more. This is how I want to play my career; things are unexpected if you have a perception of what I am, but for me I don’t expect anything I just live and create! With LD it was more natural, it’s crazy because he is a big artist, but it was just a natural situation.
What made you decide that this was going to be the lead single? Why this track in particular?
I just needed something that would be recognisable, a recognisable name and it’s quite loud – it felt like the right single to lead with. For example, with “Trapstar II” and all of that stuff, it starts to go into directions that I don’t know if people want to join me on, but “Please Don’t Boast” is like okay cool, rocky sh*t with LD it’s like boom! When it gets to “Trapstar II” and ‘Trill Fairy’ it’s like huh?! Some Funkadelic stuff – I make music that isn’t necessarily easy to listen to.
One track that stuck out for me was “Trill Fairy” – it has such an uplifting, feel-good vibe to it but towards the end it breaks down with a more Rock feel with the guitar. Talk to me about the title, what is a Trill Fairy? What was the main draw of inspiration for this track?
I wanted to make a song about God but I didn’t want it be obvious, I wanted it to be more mysterious in the way I described it. I love Texas music, chops and screws – A$AP Rocky sh*t! One of the terms they use in Texas is ‘Trill’, which means true and real. I wanted to find any excuse in life to use that f*cking word! *laughs* I wanted that word to be associated with me, so I found a way to use it! And the attributes of a ‘Fairy’ in terms of the way they behave, to my knowledge anyway – I haven’t really looked into researching a fairy! *laughs* They are a mysterious element in terms of delivering something, disappearing and you weren’t conscious of anything. Based on the attributes of a fairy, I felt that God had similar character traits and could be described as a fairy or a genie – I think all of these are variations of God from different cultures. I just put the two together, ‘Fairy’ and ‘Trill’ and thought it was an interesting title – it definitely makes people go ‘What the hell is this guy talking about?’ but it’s literally me wanting to use the word trill – I must’ve been high or something! *laughs* Listening to that now is like ‘Okay, but how did you put the two together?!’ but it made sense in my own creative brain at some point!
You asked what the song is about, it’s about God and my journey to God. I believe that there is an external God that controls everything and an internal God – the one that drives your life forward. It’s me having conversations with myself, reflecting on my own mistakes, reflecting on where I’m going and trying to connect with my inner God and also the knowledge in God beyond myself.
That’s quite deep when you put it like that, and then listen to it – it’s like “ahh okay!”
Yeah because I’m like “It’s hard to love when you feel alone, my life is driving me crazy and I hope your touch can bring me home” which is God. I realised I had to connect with myself to be able to talk to you right now and have these types of conversations – I had to do a lot of connecting!
For the visuals for “Trapstar II”, you took an out of space route. I think your vision not only visually but also musically really pushes boundaries in terms of what we are used to seeing and you are quite literally paving your own lane. Why did you choose this theme for the visuals?
For the typical black rapper from London, there is a specific narrative that we perpetuate which people tend to consume and like. I think that narrative has a ceiling. If I wanted to be a billionaire, I don’t think acting like a street solider is going to get me there. I don’t want to spend 3 or 4 years of my life expressing someone I feel like I should be. It’s psychology, if you tell a people a group of people that they are ‘this’, eventually they will start acting like that. So, it’s very clear that there’s been a lot of conditioning on how people should act, or in this case do music videos. I’m just a man on earth, so my expression should represent everything on earth, but I noticed there was people perpetuating designer clothes and women – that’s such a small segment of the world!
Consciously, I said I’m not going to see myself as a black guy or a white guy or an Indian guy or whatever, I’m going to see myself as God’s child and create from a point of creativity and not think about my race or where I’m from. If I do that, I’m going to have very narrow ideas – I’m trying to do things differently. I like films like Mission Impossible, I want to be in submarines and jumping out the sky in videos and just take it somewhere else. I’m living in creativity and not making choices based on the colour of my skin, my environment and what I can see. Because that is pretty much why the music videos look the same, people are looking at other people’s videos! I am different, I can choose to conform and act normal but I am different! I like Elon Musk, I’ve been in the street trapping but I was also reading whilst I was there – I’m a complete anomaly and I’m not afraid to show that now.
Were you afraid to show that originally?
Yeah, there’s definitely a fear. One of the biggest human needs, is the need to love, to be important and feel considered – these are part of the seven human needs. However, I think when you’re different you can feel a bit abandoned in your own journey, and until I was able to understand my emotions as a human being and learning psychology – I was afraid of being alone in what I was doing. Generally, if you grow up and are conditioned in any western country, the need to belong is necessary. It’s like when people ‘need’ to be in relationships, I was never taught that being alone may be the path for someone that is trying to achieve something that’s very individual.
Was there a song on the EP that challenged you maybe musically or lyrically more than the others?If so, why?
It depends on my definition of challenged! Maybe not, I think my music is autobiographical, so I am creating from a space of my life, as opposed to trying to impress someone. Some of it I didn’t even write on paper, it was the energy from God and then directly and potently put on a soundtrack. I’m not one of those MC’s that rap to be hard, I rap autobiographically and try to get a message out. I guess, “Trill Fairy”, that was the song that was most challenging emotionally because the truth about the song is a big part of my life. It felt like I was ascending from where I was as an artist and going even further. I don’t know if I am, but I feel like it! I am talking to you; I haven’t spoken to you my entire career and I’ve been talking to a lot of people – things are growing!
Did it take long to make the EP?
Not really! It was a very natural approach, I was in the mindset of ‘I’m going to work on this and it’s going to be the best EP’ but I think what’s best is what connects with you and other people. My position in music is telling my truth, it doesn’t take too long! It takes the people working on it longer. I think the EP does take a while but not because of me, I write songs in minutes!
Yeah! *laughs* I’m telling the truth and not waffling; I’ve just developed a skill of how to rhyme my truth!
What else can we expect to hear or see from you this 2020?
More visuals! More energy! Expect the unexpected!