I recently got the opportunity to interview London-based MC Arise King David, who after years of honing his craft is set to release his second album; a collaborative project with Monad records founder and producer Deepstar, which is set to drop later this year. If you’re an MC on the come-up you might wana take notes, as AKD casts his perceptive eye over the current state of Hip Hop, reveals how he linked with AG from D.I.T.C, and examines the evolution of the modern emcee.
Give the people a brief background on who you are, and how your career has progressed up until now.
Im an emcee by the name of Arise King David, I’ve been on the underground scene since 2000; I was with independent label Strictly Bizzness until end of 2005, and used to sell units on road. During that time I opened up shows for Akon and The Game, and got airplay on national radio, before Strictly Bizzness disbanded and I took a break. I then founded a sound design company called DM Sound Design, composing music for film, tv, and theatre. In 2011 I decided it was time to contribute once again to my first love; Hip Hop, and released my first solo LP Free Music the following year. That project opened doors, and I feel lucky to have collaborated with some really talented artists and emcees that influenced me before I started rapping.
How did you get into Hip Hop?
After listening to Wu Tang’s 36 Chambers album and Biggie’s Ready To Die I was inspired to write; then through school and college I was battling and rhyming with friends. In college word got about and I was introduced to some brothers (Stamina and E Johnson) that set up an independent label (Strictly Bizzness). I was sold on the vision, went to the studio a few times, and the rest, as they say, is history.
What does being an MC mean to you?
Its who I am. Its my best mode of communication. I have a lot to say, and I’m never more comfortable than when I’m rhyming. Essentially an MC is a master of ceremony, someone who can move the crowd. It feels great when people appreciate your craft and are affected by what you say or how you say it, and it validates your artistry; but if no one feels you, then leave it alone.
How do you feel the role has changed over the years?
Well emcees originally went hand in hand with DJ’s in order to rock a party; the two would work in tandem, or the DJ would spin records and MC at the same time. Now that partnership is not as prominent. Now-a-days you can be called an MC but not necessarily have the ability to move the crowd, you maybe able to rap over a beat, but you’re not judged on how well you work with a DJ to rock an event.
Where do you see Hip Hop’s future?
As far as the music is concerned, I see it getting stronger as long as it comes from the underground. Its a global phenomenon and I hope exponents around the world continue to preserve the elements that drew us to it in the first place. As a culture I think it will continue to permeate everyone’s lives in one way or another; through music, clothes, dance, art, and its use in advertising and tv. Commercially it will continue to be watered down and exploited by opportunists purely as a means to make money with no respect for the art, but then I’d ask can we really call anything in that vein Hip Hop?
Who do you rate out of the new generation of artists?
Clear Soul Forces, Que Hampton, Mystro, Joey Bada$$, Melanin 9, Phoenix Da Icefire and all the members of Triple Darkness, just to name a few.
What advice would you give young MC’s?
Try to be creative with your delivery, content and the name you choose for yourself. Be as original as possible and be true to yourself; no fakery.
How did your collaborations with AG and Deepstar come about?
I put a profile of my work up on Conspiracy Worldwide Radio’s social network. Deepstar heard my stuff and contacted me, thats how the connection sparked. Thats my brother! I heard his beats and they were so on point, the guy is a real talent. We decided to work on an EP; which then turned into an LP (Universal Language), he had lined up some collabs with some well known names in Hip Hop, and I had done the same, so we put it together. He sent me one particular beat and I immediately thought of who I’d like to work with; so I contacted AG online, and sent him my work so he could hear what I’m about. He felt it, and said he was down to collab and shoot a vid. I was hyped to fly out to Hip Hop’s birthplace The Bronx to record the video, and it was very humbling to know someone I’d listened to growing up felt my music to the point that he was willing to collaborate.
Do you see much difference between the scene in the UK and America?
Of course the UK is tiny compared to America so the scene there is much, much bigger. You can be well known in 1 state in the USA and have more fans than in the whole of the UK, plus Hip Hop was born in America so it’s hard to compare. I will say however I’m hearing a lot of rawness coming out of the UK in terms of the underground MC’s; the kind of realness I used to hear in the 90’s and early 2000’s in the US, none of that bubblegum crap.
On your ‘Free Music’ intro you speak on the commercialization of the culture. How do you feel we could best reduce the impact of this negative influence?
I think we have to take more ownership in terms of what we put out there as a Hip Hop community. It comes down to the integrity of the individual. We have to try not to cater to the corporations that exploit us, and be fearless; because then we can once again dictate what’s hot and what’s not, rather than having dross shoved down our throats. Let’s not be naive though; there’s no doubt that there’s a sense of empowerment derived from commercialization, in that if we can make money from our craft we make more time to dedicate to it. The question is where do you draw the line? What message do we want to put out, who or what do we allow Hip Hop to be associated with?
As a communication method Hip Hop is one of the most effective. Do you feel there should be more responsibility for what’s being said?
Plain and simple, Yes.
What message do you most want to communicate with your music?
That’s a good question. I guess I’m calling people to question everything; their role in society, family, their community. Don’t believe the hype; question your own existence and don’t plod along with your head down, get to know yourself and the creator, because we have a purpose, Whats yours? Oh, and take pleasure in the simple things in life, dare to dream.
How has Hip Hop affected other aspects of your life?
Its been central to my life, a constant soundtrack. It got me through good times and bad, made me life-long friends. I met my wife through Hip Hop, I have 2 beautiful kids because Hip Hop brought my wife into my life, it’s crazy.
What inspires you?
Generally I’m inspired when I see people working hard to fulfill their dreams and aspirations. Musically I’m inspired by many things; from life situations, conversations, nature, film, books and other artists, to news items, historical, political, and social events.
What do you feel the key to longevity is?
Creativity. I think as long as you can remain creative you will always come up with something new to share with your fans.
What have got coming up the rest of this year?
In September Deepstar and I release the Universal Language LP. It’s a collaborative project with some exciting features such as AG, Sadat X, and Masta Ace. I’ll be spending a lot of time promoting that; and I’m looking for more shows, so promoters please holla at me! I’ll also be working on an EP with Cyclonious which I cant wait to sink my teeth into; then I start work on my solo LP, so there’s plenty to keep me busy, and a lot more flava for ya ear. Stay tuned….
You can keep up with AKD @arisekingdavid, check his youtube channel AKDTV, like his FB page, and get yourself copies of his Between Projects mixtape here, and heavyweight début album Free Music here.