Interview with Kozzie, the young veteran
Lewisham MC Kozzie may be young, but when he speaks about his experiences in the grime scene you would be forgiven for thinking you were talking to one of the genre’s veterans. “I was used to turning up at Pirate Radio Stations or a Logan [Sama] set with someone who was well established and getting the last bus all the way back to South London just to get exposure” he tells me, “sitting at the back of the bus at 2 in the morning thinking why did I do that?”.
In a scene plagued by unfulfilled potential, broken promises and mythical mixtapes, Kozzie’s attitude comes as a breath of fresh air. Rather than treading out the classic grime stereotypes of “mixtape coming soon bro” or “this year bro, this year” Kozzie is refreshingly open and honest about the inner workings of his career, this is surprising given that he was once addressed in a track called Compulsive Liar. “I was always prepared to work and that’s why I’m here now” he tells me, “people say “you’re not even that good, you shouldn’t even be in the position you’re in” well, I went out and took the opportunity”.
In 2011, Kozzie was regarded as one of the New Wave’s most exciting prospects, an old-fashioned hype MC with an aggressive, in-your-face flow and violent lyrics. The release of the Spartan Remix and the positive reception among grime fans of his EP The Problem’s Started saw his stock rise further. When Jammer announced Lord of the Mics 3, Kozzie was signed up to clash Birmingham’s Sox, a member of the Invasion Alert crew who was also hotly tipped as a confident and competent MC. The clash has gone down in grime history as one of the most convincing victories ever seen as Sox choked in the first round, forfeited the clash and even lost the rematch.
Afterwards the Godfather of Grime, Wiley, told his Twitter followers of his admiration for how Kozzie handled the clash, however, the reaction online was less than friendly, as Sox’s fans took to YouTube to defend the Birmingham MC. “This is how delusional people are, a lot of people still comment on YouTube saying that he didn’t lose” Kozzie claims, “If you can’t see that then you’re ill, there’s something wrong with you”.
Following his LOTM victory, Kozzie moved quickly to establish himself as hot property in the grime scene. “At the time I thought the best thing to do was to move fast and distance myself from the clash” he tells me, “say to people here’s some of the songs I’ve been recording, here’s a video, here’s a release date here’s where you can buy them for 79p”. This success has come with a backlash, Kozzie is now an easy target for grime’s army of Keyboard Warriors, especially those from Birmingham. His videos receive thousands of views, but are flamed with comment wars and often receive more likes than dislikes. This was especially evident on recent single Still Here, a more commercial, reflective effort which marked a more mature direction for the young artist and received a mixed reaction from fans. “I didn’t do Still Here with a record label in mind” he claims, “A lot people think that once you’ve done a tune like that labels are offering you a bag of money and it’s not like that”.
Far too often in grime’s history, artists have abandoned the genre, chased commercial success and left their fans wondering what might have been, but Kozzie is adamant that he has absolutely no intention of that, despite an interest in other genres. “I enjoy doing grime songs but you’ve got to try other things” he tells me, “I don’t rate artists who don’t try different things”. Going forward, Kozzie plans to continue making grime, including resurrecting the old-fashioned 8-bar rally, a concept which made him famous with his classic Spartan Remix, “I would love to do another Spartan, there aren’t many 8 bar tracks going on at the minute so maybe I can bring that on”. Another goal for Kozzie includes collaborating with Wiley and Skepta, “I like how Skepta carries himself as an artist” he tells me “I’d like to do a tune with Wiley and I am in talks with him and if that comes through then that will be another accomplishment for my CV”.
Kozzie’s use of the term “CV” is indicative of his attitude toward music, in a genre blighted by unprofessionalism, Kozzie’s success comes as a result of his positive attitude. “There are people who cancel shows and that is a bad look on us because then people think that everyone in grime will” he tells me, “I will turn up to every single show, every single video, every single set because that’s my job and I take everything I do seriously”. This explains why Kozzie is a constant fixture at all of the biggest grime events including Eskimo Dance, “for the first Eskimo Dance I did I only got 70 pounds” he tells me, “but it was a chance to MC alongside Wiley, alongside Skepta, these MCs who people care about”. As it happens, Kozzie was one of the event’s standout performers and has been booked for every single Eskimo Dance since, something that he is personally very proud of, as he tells me “I’ve gone from being a name on the flyer to having my face on the flyer”.
On the 8th of this month, Kozzie is performing at the Inside Music Launch at Bells in Shoreditch alongside some of grime’s most exciting names such as Merky Ace, Big Narstie and rave legend Flirta D, “one of my strong points is that I have a good stage presence and I interact a lot so that’s what I’m going to bring” he tells me, “I’m looking forward to it 100%”Tagged in: grime, inside music launch, Kozzie, music, rap
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