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Interview: CHOZE

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Hip-hop is at the forefront of the musical landscape, and some argue, is becoming an over-saturated genre. However, amongst the homogeneity emerge alternative artists, who stand out from the rest with innovative style, creativity and flair. We met with London-based rapper Choze, who embodies the alternative scene to a T.

From the get-go, Choze makes sure to identify himself as being an ‘alternative’ hip-hop artist. “I feel alternative hip-hop is the new wave that is slowly starting to carve its own path to becoming a ‘commodity’ in today’s society. It’s another form of hip-hop, where musicians really think ‘outside the box’ and produce records where everyone in that realm will not be compared to each other so easily.”

Today’s young rappers, like their peers before them, are experimenting with different instrumentals that will establish their names and elevate them to the forefront; for example, Grime, DNB, Dubstep and even Indie.”

Choze certainly has a penchant for experimentation and seeks influence from his personal listening habits. He sights The Prodigy, Skepta, Klaxons, Kanye, the xx and The Gorillaz as key players in his game of innovative, boundary-pushing music creation - experimental hip-hop, grime, indie, alternative rock and indie rock makes for a true student of music, with a wide berth of taste.

With such a diverse taste and an ability to pick and select elements of good from so many different genres, it is no wonder that Choze’s own productions are also so diverse, which he credits to producers Skolz and Shai Sevin. “Working with Skolz and Shai Sevin has definitely given my music more of an alternative sound. The positive feedback I’ve received as a lyricist has helped me put a ‘unique stamp’ on my sound.”

That sound mixed in with his outspoken lyricism has culminated in his latest single ‘Nothing To Lose’, which features a fairly contemporary hip-hop beat, sprinkled with aspects of grime and electronica, and a backing horn instrumental. Chose tells us that live instrumentation is something he's trying to implement more into his music. “Doing live performances with a rock band and an orchestra, gave me ideas on how the record could sound musically… I feel if live musical recordings are added to the equation, it can make most records sound really epic.”

Certainly, his sound is unique, and his lyrics match that in their social and political strength. ‘Nothing to Lose’ is rife with poignant observations about the social landscape in the UK, and the impact that certain decisions have had closer to home. “My upbringing was very touch and go. I lived in a council estate which didn’t have a lot of role models to influence me to become the person I dreamt that I could be”. 

His past experience encouraged him to become active in his local community, and to champion lyrics in his records to reflect that. “I do think we have a responsibility (to be engaged politically) to a certain degree. Especially if you have a cult following who do believe in your story and want to buy into it”.

A true positive force of change in his music and his community activities, Choze became closely involved with London's anti-knife campaign, alongside long-time supporter of the cause, Sir Lenny Henry. “I was invited by MBE Paulette Randall who was collaborating with Sir Lenny Henry. They were searching for an artist that could express the same message on stage and felt that I was the perfect candidate…getting the message across to put those guns and knives down, was a great achievement. Especially having been in similar scenarios that could have jeopardised my safety.”

Choze was able to champion the campaign by drawing on his own experiences and relished the opportunity to educate his peers. He told us that education has a particularly important place in his heart, both musically and socially. “Education is key, and you can create opportunities for yourself with the information that you’ve stored through lectures and other lessons. This journey helped me become an observer and transformed me into being a narrator for my musical projects. When I write, it feels like it’s all or nothing.” This sentiment is very prevalent on ‘Nothing To Lose’, and hopefully, his writing style will continue to reflect that sense of urgency in his narration for as long as he feels he has something to say.

In the coming year, Choze is set to release more music, do more shows, and stay fully independent. “Succeed as an independent artist. I’m always up for collaboration if the deal is right but it’s DIY till the day I die”. He also is looking to continue his positive community work, and release his much-anticipated mini-album. 

I honestly think people are going to be surprised, as per usual, of what’s in store. I personally feel, my mini album is my best work to date, and I can’t wait to share it with all you beautiful listeners”. 

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