Kamakaze Goes In Depth About New Project, ‘Wavey Shirt Wednesday 2’
7 Jul 2021
Kamakaze has been a constant presence in UK rap and grime since the mid 2010’s. The Leicester rapper came up with the likes of Dave and AJ Tracey, and rose to prominence through the Red Bull grime-a-side series on Youtube. Kama has since released a string of excellent projects, with Memories Over Money dropping last year and the hotly anticipated ‘Wavey Shirt Wednesday 2’ arriving just in the time for the summer. I caught up with him to chat about his new tape and what is next in line for the weatherman.
‘Wavey Shirt Wednesday 2’ has just dropped and it’s an excellent body of work. How quickly after ‘Memories Over Money’ did you start working on the project or where you working on both simultaneously?
That’s a good question. The thing is, the way I work means that I’m always working on music so I don’t really have a focus. Because ‘Memories Over Money’ was made over such a long period, I had some songs for ‘Wavey Shirt Wednesday’ that I’d already made. ‘Forehead’, for example, is about two or three years old, but I felt it wouldn’t fit on ‘Memories Over Money’ and would fit better on a tape with songs surrounding it that are more upbeat and the same kind of tempo. I started working on the majority of it in 2020, but they were all recorded this year in one day, so mainly I worked on it this year and last year.
You recorded it in a day?
Yeah, at least my part was. It was recorded by one of the producers, Maniscooler, at HQ recordings in Leicester. I had a plan to release it earlier in the year for summer, but I had a recording session that didn’t go to plan. I felt like I was a bit rusty so I had another session for a whole day, and recorded it all in eight hours.
There seems to be a bit of a west coast influence across the tape, especially on the production of the second track, L.I.S.T.W.I.S. Is this the kind of music you grew up listening to?
I like west coast rap a lot. I like the Bay area and LA style of production. One of my favourite albums ever is ‘2001’ by Dr Dre, and when I heard that particular beat, it had that twang that I felt had that kind of influence, and also slyly on the last song, ‘Way Down’, as well. It has that pan-flute kind of thing that reminds me of ‘Good Kid, m.A.A.d City’, so the west coast is definitely there. How intentional it was, I’m not sure but I’m definitely a fan of the style of music.
The whole tape feels like a celebration of Leicester when you look at the features on the record. How important is it for you to champion your city and put it on the map in terms of UK rap?
Yeah, massively important. It was definitely part of the theory and ethos behind this whole project. I wanted to shine a light on my city like I’ve seen a lot of artists do, especially outside of London. It’s massively important because the exposure is lessened when you’re from a small place, and that goes for a lot of things on the tape. I think five of the songs are produced by Leicester artists, as well as all the features and even down to the artwork and promo work that I do, even stuff like merchandise I make sure I use as local as I can. I think its important when you try and build a project, and what I’m trying to build which is effectively a legacy, I think it’s important to take pride in where you’re from and show that in the process. So yeah, it’s definitely been a big part of the project for sure.
You touch on some heavy topics on the album such as mental health and the BLM movement. What do these topics mean to you and how important is it for you to keep up a discussion about them?
Yeah, I speak about mental health on ‘Where We At’, the song with Trillary Banks. That is a topic in recent years I feel has been opened up a lot more, especially with men. Especially when people come from the roads, I feel like it’s something that has been pushed aside by a lot of people, who suffer from depression, who suffer from anxiety, PTSD, from the lives that they’ve lived and I think it’s something that’s not often addressed and people are battling these things. Especially as men, we’re programmed at a young age to kind of, not numb our emotions, but to hide them because of the masculinity thing, and I think we need to tear that down. Young men are dying not just by violence, but also by themselves. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 30 in the UK, so it’s definitely something we need to talk about and be open with.
As for the BLM aspect of things, I feel like certainly as a white man in a black space, and with the beliefs that I have in terms of equality and humanity in general, I feel like it’s my duty more so than black artists to speak on the matter. The way that I see it is that a lot of people who may be opposed to the BLM movement or who are racist in their day to day lives, they find it difficult to empathise with the issues that black people deal with on a day to day basis in the UK and around the world because they don’t see it as their problem. I feel like sometimes it’s easier for those people to listen when it’s coming from someone who’s from the same race as them so they can go, ‘hold on, if this person is talking about it and I’m the same race as them then it’s a real issue.’ It’s massively important for me as a white male in a black space and a black industry who celebrates black culture and black music, I feel like it’s my responsibility more so to talk on it and have a strong stance on it.
There are some touching and emotional moments on the record, with Aria and Forehead standing out as the most powerful. How does it feel to champion your family and create tracks for them that will last forever?
I’ve made songs before about my relationship with my girl and she’s a massive part of what I do. I talk to her about most of the things that I do musically and she’s always there with open ears to tell me what she thinks. I love her infinitely and I’m trying to celebrate her on the record as well for people in relationships to be free to say ‘yeah I am in love, this is who I am, this is who we are.’ In a lot of the music we hear, the conversation about women is not so much about love as it is about lust. That’s not my life and I’d rather rap about the real love that I do have.
That also comes through in the song ‘Aria’. That song for me was the hardest song I’ve ever written because it’s impossible for parents to describe the love they feel for their children. That’s why in the song I say, ‘All the worlds in every language, they could never explain’, because they can’t. I couldn’t translate or poetically put into words how it actually feels, I just had to strip it back and be honest. As good a lyricist as I am, and as much as I’d like to be beautifully poetic, it feels as if I can’t explain it. Without trying to sound too soppy, my daughter has changed my life for the better and I hope people who have children, and even people who don’t, can feel the love that went into it.
On the final track, you talk about coming up with some of the most successful rappers the UK has seen. Do you feel that you deserve the same kind of respect as those who have made it commercially?
Wow, that’s a difficult question because the people that I’m comparing myself to in that song, the point of the song is that I need to stop doing that. I need to celebrate my successes for what they are, and celebrate my legacy and my art for what it is. That song was me trying to be as honest with myself of my time in this industry and in this game, and it just so happens that these are the people who I have to compare myself to. If you look at the journey I’ve been on since I’ve been in the national view as a rapper, these are the generation of people who I came up with. Obviously their accolades are totally deserved and justified and I was never trying to compare myself and say that I should have what they have because that’s unfair. It was just me being honest with myself and trying to be as real as I could in the situation that I’m in right now.
Obviously, it wouldn’t be a Kamakaze project without some clever football bars. What is your personal favourite on the tape?
Do you know what? My favourite bar got ruined because I thought PSG were going to win Ligue 1, but obviously Lille came and ruined the show. So ‘Ain’t no rapper in my league, but if there were, I’m PSG’ got ruined. But my favourite bar is the Van Basten one on ‘Pretty Nice’. When I wrote it, I thought, ‘yeah that’s hard, that’s really hard’. I like that Matt Taylor one but that one’s for the people who watch Premier League Years, innit. It was just in the rhyme pattern and I thought it was kinda cool.
Finally, Can we expect more music from you in the near future and would you like to tour when things start opening up?
I haven’t got a tour planned, because of COVID the industry has taken a massive hit so venues are wary about taking chances on smaller acts, but hopefully I’ll tour soon. As for the music, I’ve got a lot planned. Hopefully there will be another tape by the end of the year, and if not there will be some singles and music videos and exciting stuff to see. I’m gonna keep my cards to my chest a little bit because I don’t want to promise the people something that I can’t deliver, but the plan is to have more records and more music out by the end of the year.
It is clear to see that Kamakaze is showing no signs of slowing down, and after the excellent performance across the new tape, fans of UK rap should be excited by this. Versatile and sonically diverse, Kamakaze has the ability to make a statement in 2021. This could well be the year that cements his legacy as one of the greatest of his generation.