Finding clarity with UK rapper Ikes

Ike is a young rapper from the UK who is also a label head rightly getting attention here and abroad for his latest release 'Clarity'. The track is a soulful love story which features Hayley Cassidy and paints a picture of absolute beauty. 

We talk to the UK rapper about his transition from Garage to Hip Hop, collaborations, setting up a label-come-lifestyle group to connect with other gifted creatives and giving his all in a live performance.

Tell us about how you got started? Who influenced you?

Well, it’s all a bit of a long story but I was actually a Garage MC way back, used to go under the name of IQ (laughs) and as I grew through college. I think I was around 17 years-old when I made the transition to rap as the hip hop culture just resonated with me more. That was around 2003/4. I was listening to Nas, Jay Z, Bone Thugs N Harmony, 2 Pac, BIG, Talib Kweli, Dipset etc.  I really appreciated all genres though; RNB stood out for me with the melodies and feeling hitting home and taking me really back to the 90’s.

So a bit of a mix of genres? How would you describe your sound?

Yeah I’ve always called it “musical rap,” as I tend to draw so many influences from other genres and soundscapes. I just love sounds that move, and constantly evolve through a song. Brings a whole new dimension to the table.

What is the story behind your mini album ‘Outside In?’ 

The project is somewhat a self-evaluation piece.  I spent a couple of  years travelling, hitting up music conferences in different territories, with the aim of building an international network, and some buzz overseas. Often when I’ve performed outside the UK I felt the audience were a little more receptive to my art. So I guess I felt isolated, somewhat rejected, a little frustrated, yet quite content with my progress. Still on the outside, looking in, hence the title.

How was it working with Mr Edward Nixon?

Working with Ed was great; it was the first time I’ve locked in with only 2 other creatives to deliver something of this length and depth so it was a new experience. But a great one; we became friends, and found connections on a personal level whilst exploring this process.   This was someone I truly respected and trusted with my work and vision, and so when we didn’t quite agree on a creative decision, I was cool to sometimes take the backseat. I knew I was in good hands!

We've been loving 'Clarity', tell us about collaborating with Hayley Cassidy?

She was awesome! Just really easy going and made the record special. I’ve known Hayley a while just from the industry, so when I wrote the song it needed a specific tone which I was confident she could deliver. So I reached out and the rest is history.

How do you approach a collaboration? Any tips for aspiring artists?

It all depends on my relationship with that specific artist or producer; everything’s about relationships so if I don’t know someone I’d like to collaborate with I may reach out to someone I do know that has a good relationship with them you know? For a recommendation of some sort.

I’d say try and find an email for them or someone in their team (management/publicist etc). Drop them a line; make your proposition sound attractive, and beneficial for both parties involved.

And I understand you have a label Port Mayfair, tell us about that?

Yeah it’s more a lifestyle group covering everything creative from music to film to fashion and architecture.  I just want to be able to connect with other gifted creatives that may not have the resources or opportunities to thrive; kinda like myself when I was just getting started.

Looking at the live scene now, you've done quite a bit of touring in the US? Is that still the home of Hip Hop?

Of course. That’s the origin, the nucleus of the whole culture. You have to do your homework; be in touch and get to know the roots and history of the game you’re in. It’s the only way forward in my opinion.

What can we expect from your live show?

When I put on a live show I give my all to whoever comes to see me whether that’s 15 or 1500 people. I leave it all on that stage, high energy right through. I mainly perform with a 4 piece live band. I just love live music and really bringing my sound to life. The stage is the place I feel most alive.

What's next for Ikes?

Right now I’m locked away in the lab just writing and recording with new producers that I’m over excited about, that’s all I can really say for now but 2016 I’m just getting warmed up so be ready.. 

Finally, what stimulates your soul?

New challenges; adding new skill sets to my arsenal and new layers to my being. I live by the statement that “There’s nothing I cannot do” so everyday I’m working, learning, trying to get better.