Hailing from the music mecca itself, Camden’s own Awate chatted to The Great Escape ahead of his performance at next year’s festival.
With a rambunctious reputation for sophisticated rap, Awate describes his music as “complex and witty raps with psychedelic choruses over funk and jazz breaks”.
By seducing ears with scintillating, satirical lyrics, Awate has tackled subject matters from self-affirmation, to racism and gentrification in his tracks, making him one of the most talked about rappers in London at present.
As a Black Muslim refugee, Awate moved to the UK as a child and has been making music from the age of 12. When explaining his reasoning for honing his craft from such a young age, Awate told us that music offered both a challenge and an opportunity to unlock infinite creative possibilities that a school education simply could not offer. “School wasn’t challenging other than the saga of trying not to get excluded which I failed at a lot.”
Since his younger years, Awate has gone on to achieve greatness from becoming the resident performer at the iconic Roundhouse in his hometown, to touring alongside urban stars such as Lowkey, Ghetts and Big Daddy Kane. However, Awate is perhaps best known for his single ‘Uncontrollable Dopeness’ from his ‘Shine Ancient’ EP, which received critical acclaim after its debut in 2016. When asked about the inspiration behind the hit, Awate told us how the song was written at one of the lowest points in his life and that the song tells the story of the unjust murder of 12-year-old Tamir Rice at the hands of US police. The song also cleverly features a reference to his latest single – “the opening chorus references the chorus of the first single from my album which came out a year later, ‘Jewels’.”
It is apparent from his previous releases that the sound of Awate translates into an unapologetic mirror image of his life experiences and views. However, instead of following a comfortable narrative, his upcoming LP ‘Happiness’ is more representative of his state of mind during a dark period of limbo in his life following altercations with the law. With help from up-and-coming producer Turkish, the pair has created “a sort of sonic journey through late 1960s Camden while I rap and sing about attempting to navigate the world from my estate as a Black Muslim refugee on the dole.”
Set to land in 2018, Awate’s upcoming LP has already received the nod of approval from the likes of Hollywood star Idris Elba. “He told me he really loves the forthcoming LP when I sent it to him after I completed it years ago. Back in 2010, DJ Semtex called me to say that Idris was feeling my freestyle/remix run that I later put out as a mixtape [Elements] and that he wanted to put me on his mixtape for the movie ‘Takers’.” The first single from the album ‘Jewels’ is out now accompanied by a newly released music video to give fans a taste of what to expect.
Awate also took the time to tell us about the artists he is currently championing. “From Camden, Dusty and J-mal are doing incredible things in grime. They’ve always had a unique flow and energy and it’s great to see them get recognition for the work they’ve put in. Someone else who’s been working at it is Amy True. She just dropped her debut album, Eleven.”
Catch Awate at The Great Escape 2018. Tickets are now on sale
Words by Elizabeth Pike