If you haven’t already, take the time to familiarise yourself with the conscious lyrics of Nathaniel Bygrave, AKA Genesis Elijah – one of the UK’s most up-and-coming hip-hop talents at the moment.
Born and bred in South London, Genesis Elijah describes his music as “intelligent hip-hop about the streets, from an eloquent point of view or [delivered] in an eloquent way”.
Hitting the scene in the summer of 2005 with his debut album ‘Deh Pon Road’, Genesis Elijah has developed as an artist with a rapidly growing fanbase, while consistently achieving excellence and superiority in both his lyrics and delivery. 2010 saw a team-up with producers Beezwax and Krate Krusaders to release the albums ‘Civil Unrest’ and ‘Before I Was Famous’, respectively. Both were met with very commendable reviews from the hip-hop community and since then, he has only got better. Genesis Elijah’s free EP ‘I Ain’t Even Charging Bruv’, released in May 2011 as a prequel to not-yet released ‘I Ain’t Even Started Bruv’, transcends the quality of his previous releases. ‘Matter of Time’ (spat over Skepta’s ‘Mike Lowery’ beat) takes precedence as the stand-out track of the EP, purely for its astonishingly sophisticated, intricate wordplay and sincere delivery.
My favourite track from Gen is ‘Hard Times’, released September 2010, in which he collaborated with fellow London-based MC Grit Grammar. The animated beat and uplifting, inspiring lyrics are a far cry from some of his more severe tracks, yet his distinctively genius poetry still remains.
Genesis Elijah very kindly agreed to let me interview him, after having followed (harassed) him on Twitter for quite some time. Read the full interview below…
Me: Would you say you’ve always had a natural ability to MC? Did you practice a lot as a young kid or was it something you got into when you were a bit older?
Genesis Elijah: Hahaha I don’t think I’ve ever really practiced. I guess I’ve got better over the years but I started writing when I was eleven and just never stopped. I used to listen to Ice Cube and Big Daddy Kane and just figured that’s what streetwise adults did.
Me: Do you have a role model or main influence? Who, if anyone, inspired you to start MCing?
G.E: My main role models will always be my parents. They raised six kids, studied, worked and pretty much built a great life from very humble beginnings. At one point there were eight of us living in a two bedroom flat. Long story short, now my parents are very well off. Hustling’s in my blood. I don’t think anyone really inspired me to start MCing but many artist have inspired me to take it more seriously, be more true to myself and keep doing it. The biggest influences on me as as an MC are Ice Cube, Keith Murray, Tupac, Biggie, Canibus, Eminem, Wu-Tang, Killah Priest, Common, Dead Prez, Klashnekoff, Jehst, Chester P, Wordsmiff and Terra Slim.
Me: How have you progressed, both musically and personally, from your first single/mixtape to your most recent?
G.E: I think nowadays I’m a lot more confident in what I do. To be fair I was thrown in at the deep end as my first single, ‘Jah Bless’, featured Klashnekoff who, not only in my eyes, is still the best to EVER come out of the UK, but also spat one of his sickest verses on that track. When the reviews came out and no one said he destroyed me on the track and some people even thought my verses were as good as his that really let me know that I was a pretty good MC. I think when I first started I was very conscious on what I should and should not say to protect my image as a credible “hard man” in hip-hop. For some reason I wanted to be seen as a very serious, no joking, no funny side MC, which is quite weird cos in real life I spend all my time pissing around and having a laugh. I would censor myself and not say certain things back then where as now I say whatever I want and whatever I feel.
Me: What is your greatest strength?
G.E: My greatest strength is the way I act like I don’t give a f*ck about what anyone thinks about me. I will never change my morals for anyone else and if you don’t like what I do I will tell you to your face that I don’t care.
Me:…and your greatest weakness?
My greatness weakness is that I really do give a f*ck what you think about me. It still doesn’t change the fact that I won’t change what I do and who I am but behind the scenes little things that get said about me do hurt my feeling. I had a guy the other day comment on one of my videos that someone had put up on facebook saying that he’d never liked ANYTHING I’d ever done. I just commented something a long the lines of “fair enough” but inside I was quite hurt. Now I’ve sold countless mixtapes, EP’s and albums and have done shows all over the world so that really shouldn’t bother me but it does.
Me: Where do you see yourself, realistically, in five years time? And where would you like to be?
G.E: In five years time I wanna be in the position that MCs like Akil from Jurassic 5 is in right now. Touring most of the year and making a good living from music. I don’t want to be famous or be a mainstream act. I just want to be able to continue you do what I do now and look after my family. Right now I’m right on target to do that.
Me: What do you think of the UK hip-hop scene at present? Is it improving in terms of quality? Or do you think it is ‘selling out’ (for lack of a better phrase) to corporate America?
G.E: I think the underground scene artistically is as good as ever but we’re suffering a bit on the financial side. Mainstream hip-hop is dead over here really but then it’s dead in the US as well so it’s no surprise. I don’t even watch what anyone else is doing cos the underground scene over here is putting out so much good stuff I have no reason to. Right now we’ve got artist like Terra Slim, Rodney P, Ruthless, Dubbledge, Wordplay, Klashnekoff, Lowkey, Logic, Mic Righteous, Dream Mclean, Samson, Sway, Blade Brown, Context MC…I could go on all day. If you want good UK hip-hop then you don’t have to look very far cos chances are there’s an MC living on your street spitting fire.
Me: Finally, what does 2012 hold for Genesis Elijah?
G.E: Well I’ve spent the last two years really trying to get everything organised so that everything in my career is in my hands. Right now everything is in house from production to video editing so it gives us so much more freedom to do what we want. I my next album ‘I Ain’t Even Started Bruv’ will be out next year. I’m also doing a group project with 3 other MC’s and 4 producers called The Nat Turner Fraternity. We’re getting ready to relaunch This Is My Hustle clothing as well so that’s looking quite good. All in all I’m just gonna be having fun and doing my damn thing…
A final note from me: Genesis has to be one of the most, if not the most, down to earth MCs I’ve spoken to. I’m so grateful that he agreed to do this with me. Thank you so much, Mr Elijah!
Follow Genesis Elijah : @GenesisElijah
Written by Georgina Chapman – @g_chappers