Ghanaian born Sydney rapper, Kwame’s, music has amassed 19 million streams globally since the release of his debut single, ‘I Get It’ in 2016. His latest release, EP, Please, Get Home Safe, is a journey of self-discovery, acceptance and catharsis. The EP follows the young artist, from once starry-eyed, to now venturing out into the uncertain world facing trials and tribulations in the hope that true self-identity can be recognised.
I’ve been grinding my whole life and I’m still grinding to this day. I always live by the come-up mentality it doesn’t matter where I’ve been, where I’ve played, I’m still with that mindset of like I’ll play the underdog.Kwame
The EP’s title takes inspiration from a saying often used by parents to their children when leaving home “Be careful, stay safe and let me know when you’re home” It was through this saying that Kwame gained the inspiration to speak on how as an artist he can often see the world as intimidating when wanting to break away from the unwritten social norms of acceptable behaviour as well as how artists should create.
Through this project, Kwame begins his journey of self-discovery and acknowledges his deep vulnerability as a human being. Kwame acknowledges self-identity is a journey and now stands before his audience with confidence, maturity and positive energy in the hope that he can provide a voice to others through this multi-dimensional, lateral art piece. Whilst he understands his purpose, he recognises the best years are yet to come – we can be anything. You can be anything.
Around The Sound’s Christian Mechler turned in a wide ranging interview with Kwame in which they spoke about housework, hip hop collaborations, Kanye, his new EP and so, so many other things. Read on…
Yo, Kwame how you doing man?
I’m good thanks for asking.
How’s your day been?
Yeah, it’s been cool just taking calls doing the whole press stuff while cleaning my room.
Very nice you gotta get it done.
Yeah for sure.
I just want to start by saying congratulations I listened to your new EP and its phenomenal.
Man thank you so much.
I’m a big fan. When I saw the opportunity to have a chat with you, I was like hell yeah! I’m all about that.
Hahaha nah that means a lot thank you so much.
I caught on to you after ‘Wow’ dropped, which was a bit late, but I’d like to start at the beginning and touch on your back story, cos that shit’s next level. You can’t hate Kwame if you know and if you don’t know you don’t, you better fucking learn cos its awesome!! So 2016 you jump on stage with ASAP Ferg and spit a verse; then drop ‘I Get It’ like as soon as you can.
Wooooow my goodness hahaha.
Did everything happen real quick? Wait we only really see the tip of the Iceberg I should start even before that what kinda got you into music?
For sure. You know it was when I was 15, 16 that I started dabbling in music. I’d always been listening to music. I grew up in a household where there was a lot of gospel, reggae, jazz, blues, soul, funk, even afro beats. Just all these diverse sounds of music. It was the one song being Power by Kanye that for me at that time, I really tapped into the sonic qualities of music and just like production and the layering of music. I was like oh my goodness this is crazy. I literally remember myself in year 7 walking down the hallway of school and just listening to it and was like wow there is so much that is coming from this one song and that pushed me to wanna pursue a music career and create something of that nature. So, I stared to dabble in production and like anyone dabbling in anything for the first time you start and then you give it up coz your like man this is hard. But then I was very blessed and honoured to have mentors around me who we’re in the grades above coz my best friend who was in the same grade as me his older brother was or is a production mentor to me. He goes by I Digress and he was quite pivotal in my first project, mixing and mastering that. Even before that project I would go over to his house and sit in and watch him make music. I remember one time I was like “yo, what is this program that you’re using.” He was like “oh its FL Studio.” “How do I get it.” “Well it costs this much but I pirated it.” And you know back in the day how everyone, you know, we all pirated some stuff on pirate bay and utorrent and such but you know now I’m in a position where I’m grateful enough to be in a position where I can pay for that stuff. So I definitely bought a version of FL Studio now so you can’t get at me. If there’s anyone out there reading and thinking can we sue him hahaha but nah.
So I started off like that and you know kept grinding, grinding, grinding trying to learn how to produce and it got to a point got to a point where I was like cool I should probably try and put lyrics to all these instrumentals that I have and that kinda came about then with the Ferg moment and the song ‘I Get It’ which is so crazy that you even know. I don’t even remember, if I was asked to perform it I would be so bad coz I don’t even remember those lyrics anymore but that song was actually made before that Ferg moment coz I was gearing up to put out a song. I had already distributed it to go onto DSP’s and such but when that moment happened, I was like man I need to follow up as quick as possible. So, it happened on the Saturday. It was weird back then stuff came out on a Tuesday. Let’s drop it on Tuesday, 5pm everyone’s real active on social media and then it did its thing, people caught on to it and that I was a kid that made music and everything it was crazy. Even with the press shots and stuff I didn’t even know what a press shot was back then, but I guess it looked so planned but it wasn’t. It was planned in the sense that I was gonna put out music regardless but I just had to speed the process up because I was on a wave and I’m like I need to capture that moment and continue that but also show people that it’s much bigger than that Ferg moment and that, you know, I can do more.
Straight up I think honestly people see that Ferg moment and go oh it’s an overnight success and it’s like nah man I’ve been grinding for time.
I’ve been grinding my whole life and I’m still grinding to this day. I always live by the come-up mentality it doesn’t matter where I’ve been, where I’ve played, I’m still with that mindset of like I’ll play the underdog. I’ll keep that come up mentality because I’m just hungry and I’ll continue to fight and push to overcome any boundary that might come my way.
Hell yeah, it’s literally like that moment is the universe saying ok you’ve put in the work it’s go time and like I feel like you took to it and had a flying start it was awesome to see. I wanna ask about coz like I’m pretty heavily involved with the hip-hop scene over here in Perth.
Oh cool shout out 6k!!
Ayyy we’re getting there, we’re getting there, people will catch on eventually.
They definitely will.
I really love Manu crooks. Since listening to you I’ve listened to like Phil Fresh, Raj Mahal even people like Lil Spacely and JK47 is doing big things now. Who’s the people that you surround yourself with and came up with you.
Yeah definitely, I mean currently now I’m surrounded by like you know Swindail That’s my brother. If you don’t know who Swindail is, like he was and is pivotal to the Soundcloud days and like the whole Soulection coming up and Carmack and everything. Go listen to his stuff and then also go listen to Goldlinks’ album ummm what was it that one that had Crew on it with Brent Faiyaz. The track ‘Kokamoe Freestyle’ oh dude Swindail, that’s my guy, that’s my brother. Kimi an amazing vocalist, Phil Fresh of course. Those are the three artists that I’m surrounding myself with day in day out. We’re all just an immediate circle we’re all just with each other in every session. Whether just sitting in, just like being about it. That was really cool coz essentially before we had this space. It was literally a house out in the hills with like 5 rooms and multiple people in there and what was so cool about it was that like people we’re just pulling up and being in there coz I guess you never know what’s gonna happen. Even if it’s a shit day just be there because you might walk away with something. Another real cool thing about that place is that was actually where I was interviewed by Zane Lowe for the premiere of ‘CLOUDS’. and oh man that was wild. He just walks in and I’m like “holy shit I’m a huge fan” and he goes “nah man I’m a huge fan of you what do you mean.” Like I’ve watched every single one of his interviews with like the greatest of greats and for him to just be out in the hills like that was wild. So yeah those are the people I’m always around and who continue to push and motivate not only myself but the whole circle. Coz we just wanna be better versions of ourselves every single day.
Straight up, straight up. Well that’s how I feel right now I’m talking to Kwame.
Hahaha oh that’s an honour man thank you.
Crazy, so yeah. I gotta ask on the tip of collaborations. I have to ask how the Triple One, Matt Corby collaboration came about?
Oh, ok man actually you know what? I’m just gonna be honest about like the whole situation coz I’ve wanted to for so long and I feel like I can and like anyone can be mad at me but like I really don’t care but Triple One they are like my brothers I love them to death!! And every time that we were out, we were always talking about getting on a song, like we need to do something. And I always knew deep down that we were gonna do something like monumental, something that was bigger than hip hop itself. That’s just me don’t get me wrong. I love all the music that’s coming out I bought some, others I’m just like eeeh this is like generic or sorta the same stuff but like me personally when I go to collaborate with, I guess someone who’s at the forefront of music here. I always want to do something that is unexpected. When we got into the room, we did one song and like it was cool. We all put a verse on it and everything like that. It was like a posse cut, like it was still cool I’d actually love to hear it.
But then ‘So Easy’ what I love about it is that it came so naturally coz I was like “Billy pick up your guitar like what do you mean, I see you play guitar” he was like “nah, yeah ok like I’ll give it a go” and then like I chopped up this drum loop and sent to him and said bro do your thing it just came so effortlessly. I remember I just said “She tryna kick it with my best friend” and everyone looked and was like “yoooo” and I was like “ok alright cool, cool, cool” then we pieced it together and everything. And then Connor gets up and he just, man that verse that you hear on the final record is the first take that he did. I witnessed it and was like “duuude whaaat!!” and just how he approached it I’m like “Bro I don’t think you realise how capable you are of doing so much more than you I guess are doing right now.” Then Marty being the perfectionist that he is he probably had like 3 or 4 verses like there were so many versions that I actually got caught up with and like bro, like each one I was like this is amazing but I think he found this was new territory for a song like that and he was like cool I gotta come correct but also really bring it and so props to him for doing that many verses coz that was really you know cool to see. Then umm with like Matt Corby coming in like that was honestly never on the table. Man, like I’m all about transparency and honesty and like I guess with the story that went out about the song I was like nah man this ain’t it. So like exclusive first time you’re ever hearing it. So unfortunately, people in my team told their team that I didn’t wanna be in the song.
Oh, what, didn’t you write the hook?
Duuuude, I’m telling you I was not privy to all of this. I’m texting like Marty and the boys being like “yooo when’s this song coming out you know I’m so excited this is gonna be crazy.” And then when I saw them at BIGSOUND last year it was weird energy and I was like “yoooo what’s happening like when’s So Easy coming out.” And they were like “your people said you don’t wanna be on it.” And I was like “huuuuuuh what do you mean?” I was like “wait, wait, wait, wait, what!?” and then they were like “yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re management and label said that you don’t wanna be on the song so we had to get Matt Corby on it.” And I’m like “wait Matt Corby is on the song!! What do you….” I’m like “dude what!!” I’m like “nah, nah, nah, get me back. Like you guys know how much I love the song and like how powerful and just amazing and a moment that it would be for myself and Triple One but look like Matt Corby is in the mix. Hectic!” And then everyone was kinda like “oh so you didn’t know?” I’m like “nah I didn’t know like what do you mean!?” I was under the impression this is all coming out and such then ummm I blew right back at everyone being like “what the hell why didn’t you tell me!!” and this was because ‘STOP KNOCKIN’ @ MY DOOR!’ was coming out and they were like “uh we want to have the spotlight on you, for your song” and I’m like here’s the problem with music in Australia every manager and label or whatever it is just has their own agenda for their own artist for when they release or they have other features and it’s like man music is moving so quickly that it doesn’t matter if I put out a song today and a song tomorrow and a song next week it can still be consumed. I guess it’s coz like we have the one platform being Triple J who you know really back local music here and Ruby Howe mentioned on my Insta post about what you could change about the music industry and they said “what about commercial radio who miss out the 25% quota of local music in Australia.” You know so a lot of managers and people in the industry have this own agenda for their own artist they want them releasing and nothing else around it. It’s so weird like when you set up collabs or whatever and then you try and find a date and they’re like oh if you could potentially release your song a just couple weeks after and not in the same week because we want the shine. It’s like man look at how the US is moving and how they’re dropping.
Look at Kanye and Cole dropping an album on the same day.
Exactly!! Exactly!! Yeah and look at someone like Future who in 2017 when he dropped the Album FUTURE and that went number one and the following week, he dropped HNDRXX and that was a completely different album. That was more on his pop side and it still went number one. And that’s why the industry is so backwards here because we only have that one platform and we wanna have the space ourselves and it’s like nah screw that lets just give everyone the space and opportunity to do it, doesn’t matter if that persons releasing like just put it out coz people can still consume it. So yeah once they heard that they we’re like “oh like you know we loved you on the song and we didn’t wanna take you off it. So, here’s the plan we’re gonna put you at the first chorus then the second chorus Matt Corby singing under you then the last chorus Matt Corby sings it and you’re singing under him then you come back with your last verse.” And I was like honestly like this is ICONIC because it’s like Triple One, Matt Corby and I and that was really cool so like man Triple One might not like that I said it but like we… I remember talking to them and we laughed about it being like if only people knew what really happened. So, like that’s what happened. I’m still so grateful to be on that song. They’re my brothers it’s nothing but love for them and yeah that song is really cool and I think it was just a moment because it was like holy shit like these are two acts in hip-hop that have come together and have created something so unique and timeless.
On that collab tip I wanna ask you’ve already had some real cool collaborations what would be the dream collab for you?
Oooooh I mean are we talking say like locally internationally or just in general?
Sky’s the limit.
Sky’s the limit. Oh my days. Obviously, obviously Kanye would be the biggest. However I would actually love if it was Myself, Kanye, James Blake, Bon Iver and Francis and the Lights all in one song. Oh my goodness, oh my goodness like that would be crazy.
I wanna say just from your vibe bro I feel like you’re a real positive dude. How do you do it? How do you stay positive? What’s the key?
Nah I appreciate that thank you. How I stay positive is just like. Knowing that everything happens for a reason right and understanding that we only have one life to live so, do everything and all that you can in one lifetime. My whole thing is I just wanna be a vessel and I want people understand that they can achieve greatness they are great within themselves and that like there are no limitations set to what they wanna do. Unfortunately, false perceptions of reality can turn one insane and can really deter them from wanting to be all that they can be. However regardless of whether or not your impact is big or small you are still making an impact and you are changing someones life for the better. Whether or not you see it to be the case coz it genuinely is. My whole thing is, it’s my purpose I know that I was born to this earth to make and create and to, you know, put that battery into people’s back to be supercharged and to like come out from that sunken place and be all that they can be. All that I personally care about is… I have no interest in being a “Rapstar” I have no interest in wanting to be a “Popstar” because like that isn’t the life that I want to live and seeing people go through that and also seeing what the industry can turn into when you become that is honestly probably one of the worst things because you put your body and your MENTAL HEALTH through so much. You know I just wanna be someone who can live comfortably off of what I’m doing, take care of my family and my friends provide for people but also just create a platform for any like-minded individual and the next generation to come for them to have that platform to step on to and do what they wanna do coz unfortunately we’re in a world where people can tell you “do everything you wanna do” but then there comes limitations of “nah you can’t do that” but then it’s like “you just told me I could do whatever now you tell me there’s limitations?” I’m just that person that, I go against the grain, I break the boundaries. I don’t give a damn about limitations and such. I’m that person I throw myself in the deep end and I swim back out and do it again because I just have so much fun challenging the boundaries and innovating and creating something so unique.
Man hell yeah I vibe with that big time. I don’t think you realise the impact that this new EP is gonna have because you’re already doing that. This new EP is phenomenal I’m gonna get stuck into it now. NOBODY is an absolute masterpiece the vid is crazy. STOP KNOCKIN’ @ MY DOOR! is wild but AIN’T SO with Arno Faraji fuck man that’s my favourite. So epic.
Hahaha on it with the boy from 6K!!
It’s such a bop.
Then TOMMY’S IN TROUBLE the new vids are crazy, very experimental. I was kinda shocked. I was like ooooo this is a bit dark.
Hahaha what are we doing here!!
Yeah but I have to say that I loved it because then when you go from TOMMY’S IN TROUBLE to GLORY you’re like wow. Ok I get it, we’re out dark, we’ve been through the tunnel, we’re in the light now we’re coming up.
Yeah nice. You get it. You see it.
Exactly! and the final song WE CAN BE is just… Man it’s so good. The outro is just phenomenal it’s a massive vibe.
Ayy. Thank you.
All of your projects are very cohesive and thematically interwoven every song is connected the whole project tells a greater story but this new shit. Damn, even your old stuff, I feel like you can’t make a bad project, you just can’t do it.
Oh wow that means a lot thank you. The whole of my artistry has just been a journey from Lessons Learned to Endless Conversations. and now to Please, Get Home Safe and you know what’s actualy funny. If you listen to every last song on each project. For some reason every last song ends in strings. Like I realised oh my goodness Late Night ends in strings. FREEWAY has strings at the end. WE CAN BE ends in strings. What is it about strings that I always bring it down for like the last moment where it like carries everything out? It’s just been a sonic journey and what I kinda came to the realisation of a while ago. I was in the studio and said to myself “I get me like I know what I’m trying to do” the whole brand of Kwame and even just who I am as a person is a creative experience and by that, you know, you get it through the visuals you get it through the music you can get it through the press or whatever it may be. Whenever you come across anything that I do I want you to be like “whoah I just witnessed something so unique and innovative” and it like might take time for you to understand it but like that’s ok. However, that’s the whole thing that comes with an experience because it’s something that you never have been privy to before and now you’re embarking on that journey there. So, I just want to continue to be that person that every time something comes out lower your expectations because you don’t know what’s gonna come. Like I might be on this wave for a bit. You know if anything this project here is like a precursor to an album. Like really the last two projects I’ve just shown you that I can literally do anything. You saw what I’ve done. Even the collaborations that I’ve done with Wave Racer, with Triple One or even a track like Schleep. coming out or whatever. If I wanna sound like that there I can go do that but then I can also be on my experimental type shit and just like really dive in and make it so unique where you’re like “wow damn I need to try to think” coz this is amazing type stuff. So like man I appreciate you saying that and like that’s pretty much what the brand is it’s just giving you a creative experience through all forms of the creative arts.
Dope!! It’s a real emotional rollercoaster too. I feel like great albums are ones where you get more out of each subsequent listens and I’m gonna be bumping this project for a while.
Thank you, thank you
I just wanna finish by saying you know how on Spotify they do those best advice you’ve ever had segments what’s a bit of advice you’d wanna say to people that wanna follow in your footsteps?
Oh man if there’s one thing that I can leave people with. It’s that the only benefit you get from conformity is everyone loving you but yourself. Stay true to yourself. Don’t be pulled into what the trend is moving into because once you get caught into that you can come up so high. But you can come crashing down even harder. So stay true to yourself you know why not be yourself when we’re in a world full of 7 billion people who look nothing like each other, who function differently we’re all one of one, why would you wanna be the same as someone else when you are so individual and unique. So like, stay true to yourself and continue to do everything and anything for yourself coz at the end of the day you have to love yourself. You gotta put yourself first. Otherwise it’ll just be easy for people to just walk over you. And do all you can in one lifetime.
Straight up man I love that. I just wanna say, you’ve signed to DefJam your shit’s dropping October 30. Sky’s the limit, Arias, Grammys, fame, fortune, I reckon it’s all coming your way. I honestly think this EP is gonna be huge for you and I’m proud you’re an Australian artist. Australia’s got your back. Everyone here loves you. Keep doing your thing man.
That means the world to me thank you so much. I honestly appreciate your time to music just like giving me the platform to speak with you and amplify to other people as well. Like any platform is a huge platform for me it means the world honestly thank you so much.
Straight up man my pleasure. You’re a legend, thanks for the chat man honestly it’s been awesome you’re a real one. Peace.
Likewise, Likewise. I appreciate you take care.