Before its mid to late 90’s branch out into Gangsta, America’s 1990 rap output really was both a revelation and a revolution. Able to span progressive politics and ideologies, acts like A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul created hugely accessible albums filled with great ryhmes and cracking, laid back, funky productions.
Whereas the later Gangsta’s talked about leading a revolution through violence, the early 90s talked about non-violence revolution as well as the need for self-education and self-actualisation. Perhaps more importantly, their blend of hip-hop was optimistic and hopeful; not to say fun.
Although not born in the early 1990s, Newcastle’s upcoming hip-hop artist Kay Greyson shares her style with such early 90s greats; looking both to articulately deliver insight into difficult subject matters whilst remaining both optimistic, and downright funky. If you’ve seen her live you’ll already know this; she’ll already have coaxed you into the outro call and response to banger, and set-closer, ‘Call the Police’.
“I do try and keep things optimistic in my music, absolutely’ Greyson confirms as we talk through her new EP ‘Paris’ ‘things do go wrong in life, but I think one of my core messages is that we have to be optimistic and try to have a good time’.
Recently signed to Soul Kitchen for a one-single release (‘though to be fair I’ve been working with the people at Soul Kitchen for a couple of years and every chance I can to make music around them and be with them I take’) Greyson’s current preoccupation is trying to reach a wider audience with her 3-track EP.
Taking a mixture of sounds, as well as being crafted by a variety of producers, Paris sees Greyson in sparkling form, moving from house parties gone wrong (‘Call the police’), through to carnivals going wrong (‘Carnival’) to wide-eyed dreams about searching out other cultures and locations (‘Paris’). It’s a stunning EP filled with cracked drums, booming basses and an MC making meaningful observations without insulting anyone.
“Some of the tracks, like Call the Police, I’ve been working on for a few years so it’s nice to have the tracks recorded and finished whilst also feeling like everyone that’s been involved can feel like they can hear their contribution which was really important to me”.
A fan of performing live, there seems very little chance at the moment of seeing Greyson out on stage, though plans are afoot to do something special at the time of the single launch (‘I think the team at Soul Kitchen are already thinking about interesting launch ideas, so hopefully that might include a live stream or something similar, though I can’t wait to get back to live gigs’).
Building on the momentum of Paris, plans are already in place to create its follow up though Greyson’s not sure yet on what form that might take; “I’ve got so many ideas already which I want to get out, but I’ve also been writing loads during lock down and I’d love to release an album as soon as I can, ideally full of the newer material. In the future I’d then like to release a mix tape and release some of the older material. Ideally I’d like my tracks to all be released and heard’.
As do we Kay, sometimes we all need to hear optimism.