Photography by Claire McIntyre
'Art Hoes' is becoming a familiar phrase to many since 24-year-old Kadiata took Twitter by storm with his latest music video. After a gradual introduction to the scene with a string of popular singles and his Dnt Tell Me Plz EP, the emerging artist was ready to take things to the next level with his current release, testing the boundaries on every level. But his journey into music didn't have the typical beginnings of a young London rapper; the trap soul artist first discovered his passion for music through a love of pop, stemming from the days when commercial radio ruled the airwaves and artists like Robbie Williams, Gabrielle and S Club 7 dominated the charts.
“Ever since I was in primary school, I would hear things on the radio and I always knew that I liked music, but I never had a singing voice. And then when I heard the 50 Cents and the Eminems, that’s when I was like, ah this is sick, I wanna start rapping - but I still just thought it was an American thing. Then around this time, grime was coming about and my brother brought home a few CDs, like Wiley Treddin’ on Thin Ice and the Sidewinders with Dizzee… and I’d be hearing them and thinking rah, these guys are just like man, they’re from the ends, they’re spitting how I’m talking! And that’s when I thought… this thing is really possible.”
After that moment of realisation, Kadiata went from being like any other fan to giving his very own music a shot.“I used to have this old desktop computer which everyone would use for MSN and whenever my mum was on the phone, we couldn’t use the internet. I was only in year 6 or 7 and I saved up my pocket money for an mp3 player. Then I found a Crazy Titch beat online and I recorded a little freestyle over it straight through the mp3. And everyone was like ‘this is sick, how did you even think of that?’ ‘Cause no-one round here really does music, everyone’s mainly on football.”
“After I’d done that and made a few other things I bought this desktop mic and plugged it into my computer and recorded something 'properly' . And that’s when Bluetooth phones came about so I was sharing tunes from my Nokia and people starting sending it around - and before I knew it bare people just had one of my tunes on their phone. So it was proper organic.”
Despite reaching new levels of success with his song of the moment, Kadiata is still in the early stages of his music career and has often juggled music with part-time work. “I’m always in and out of different jobs, there’s been bare ways I’ve just been trying to survive but making sure I’m not compromising on the music.” And he certainly hasn't. With dreamy synths, punchy drums and nothing but the raw truth, you know a Kadi track when you hear one.“I feel like I’ve figured out my sound but now I’m figuring out my brand. All the music’s there and it has been for the longest, I just feel like I’m figuring myself out in terms of where I fit in the world and why people need me. So I’m not really looking for a mad deal right now - a label can amplify you but when you haven’t figured yorself out yet, there’s only so much they can do."
"I FEEL LIKE A PART OF ME WAS SCARED TO LET THE WORLD HAVE ME"
There's no denying Kadiata keeps it 100% real in his lyrics and takes no prisoners. “I’m very vulgar. I’ve always been very vulgar as a person - this is what I believe in and that’s it. But I found it very hard to put that into the music. I feel like a part of me was scared to let the world just have me. Being an artist is hard because you’re basically ripping open your heart and putting it on a song and people just rip it to shreds - that’s basically your job as an artist. Not that I wasn’t being real before but it’s taken me a while to be very black and white about who I am. And to just give the best representation of me.”
But with brutal honesty comes a price to pay and I can't help but ask whether Kadiata's refreshing approach to songwriting has an impact on his personal life. “I definitely have to face consequences. There are people who haven’t gathered how real I’m being, they think ‘ah it’s just a song’. But there are people who put two and two together and realise that this guy isn’t joking. And there are some things I say that are so real, you don’t really wanna believe it either. Especially if you’re that person I’m talking about. But the only thing I can ever be is be me.”
A man of many talents, not only does the rising star write, produce, record and perform his own music, he also directs videos for himself and for other artists. “I’m very at the forefront of the creative direction of my work. I produce and write all my own stuff. I’ve been in the studio with other producers but I haven’t released anything. I don’t know if I’m being biased but I just feel like whenever I create music I know exactly what I want - and when a producer gets involved, they almost compromise that." On the trials of maintaining full creative control, he adds, "the only obstacle I really have is time. When you’re doing everything yourself, everything takes longer.”
Even though he now delegates his artwork to a graphic designer, he still finds a way to work with it himself. "More time I make the song and then I send it to an artist and ask what they see when they hear the music. But then I tend to base the other visual stuff on the artwork. So for example, I made a song called ‘Goodnight’ and the designer did a space/moon theme so when I did the video I used some of those elements and it all came together as a full production.”
"I DEFINITELY HAVE TO FACE CONSEQUENCES FOR BEING REAL IN MY MUSIC"
As well as working on his own music, Kadiata has become a producer in his own right, cooking up beats for other artists such as House of Pharaoh’s Sam Wise, up-and-coming JGrrey and Miles from Kinsasha. One of his more recent productions is Wise’s ‘Rack Up’, tipped to be a summer banger as a music video is rumoured to be on the way. “To be honest I hadn’t got very far with that beat, it was just a few bits and I didn’t really see the vision. But Sam heard it and was like, ‘nah this is the one, add a few bits’. So I started adding to it and then I saw the vision and that’s how 'Rack Up' came about.”
“I never had the desire to spit over my own production, I was just very interested in the process. So I would hear other people’s beats and be like rah, someone produced this from scratch! One of my brothers introduced me to FL Studio and he was just messing around and made one or two beats to see what it was about, but I really wanted to get stuck in. And before I knew it, I started spitting on my own stuff. But it wasn’t until like 2012 that I felt really comfortable with my production and thought… okay, this could actually be on radio. And I think artists heard myself on my own beats and they were like, 'this is sick, who produced it?' And I was like, ‘it was me, still!’ And then before I knew it everyone was screaming ‘I want a Kadiata kinda beat’.”
Following the laws of supply and demand, Kadiata branched out to collaborate with other musicians. But I've always wondered how artists avoid the inevitable dilemma of producing a beat for someone else that they end up wanting themselves. “Usually when I’m producing, if it sounds sick I’ll take it regardless. But if I create something and I can’t hear myself on it, I start thinking... who can I hear on it? But apart from that the only way you can get a beat from me is if you book a session from me, so I dedicate a few hours to you and whatever comes out is for you, even if it’s better than the stuff for myself.” And there you have it - the secret to securing a Kadiata beat.
"YOU HAVE TO RIP YOUR HEART OPEN AND PUT IT ON A TRACK - THAT'S YOUR JOB AS AN ARTIST"
Throughout his latest musical masterpiece, Kadiata tries to dismiss his lady friend with a cheeky arrogance despite his obvious weakness for her body. So what inspired the 'Art Hoes' story? “I just kept meeting loads of them.” Which begs the million dollar question: what is an art hoe? “They’re everywhere, especially in this industry. It’s basically a female who carries herself very well - and she’s all artsy and spiritual. They have a certain mysteriousness about them. But deep down beyond the surface, they’re just like all the others. Hoes.” It's not often you'll hear someone admit they're being seduced back into a toxic relationship for all the wrong reasons - particularly men - but I'm sure many would agree it's a genius and relatable concept.“I feel like a lot of men have tried to leave a girl that’s just no good for them, but they’re just sucked back in by the coochi.”
The 'Art Hoes' video is set in London's well-established Tate Britain and fuses classical artwork with risque, provocative dancing and tongue-and-cheek group shots of Kadiata and his friends. But how did the rapper pull off such an iconic collaboration? “All the videos I’ve shot so far have been on the ends in some way and Tate Britain is just round the corner from here. And the song is called ‘Art Hoes’… and I performed at the Tate in 2016 with Flohio... so it all pieced together and I just thought ‘what if I could?’ So I made all the enquiries and had to sell myself to them. And we made it happen.” Did they know what the song was called? "No."
You'd think a venue like Tate Britain, one of the largest museums in the country, might be keen to see a copy of the treatment in case the video concept didn't quite respect the historical brand.“I was actually gonna ask the twerk girl to come in lingerie and be proper scatty. I had this idea of bringing a few podiums and statues and setting it all up, but I called up on the day to ask if I could bring everything in earlier and they told me we couldn’t use our own props. Then they said ‘oh also, is there gonna be any nudity by chance?’ And I was like ‘ermmmm, no’... even when we were filming, the girl’s skirt kept coming up and they were like ‘no, no, no, we can’t have that!'”
Kadiata certainly seems to have secured himself a solid fan base and his music continues to reach more and more listeners; even a glimpse of his Instagram stories would suggest he has plenty of interest from labels, so I ask whether the talented producer feels comfortable with where he's at. “I could’ve felt comfortable when people were sending my songs around the ends on Bluetooth, but I knew that wasn't my peak. I know all the things I can do. I know my super power. I know I have something that nobody else has, especially in this country. And in order to achieve greatness, you have to get your head out your own arse and crack down on what you need to do. So I feel like there’s a long way to go, I just gotta stay grateful and always be pushing for more.”
Watch the video for 'Art Hoes' below: