KANIVA

South-London's playful-lyricist speaks on dropping a trilogy of EP's last year, the impact that freestyling has on his process and the importance of consistency. 

You recently did a One Mic Freestyle for GRM Daily, what inspired your verse?
 

The beginning half of my one mic freestyle was initially a freestyle I wrote for the anniversary of Cadet passing. I was going to do a freestyle to his song ‘RMF’ but due to circumstances beyond my control I wasn’t able to. Shortly after, GRM contacted me asking me to do the freestyle, we filmed it once, JBL really liked the pilot and we ended up re-filming it with a whole new look. Freestyles are where I shine the most so I wanted to remind everyone what the levels were.


You released three EPs over the course of 2020, what were your initial inspirations for the trilogy?

The inspiration for the trilogy of EPs was to show my fans that I can be consistent. I’ve been criticised for having all the talent but no consistency to match it. I also wanted to prove that if I’m going to be consistent, I’d also need an equal amount of support for me to flourish in today’s scene as it’s really a numbers game.

 

How was the process of creating the projects and how did the lockdown affect you in creating them?

The process was different to what I’m used to. Before lockdown, I had never really engineered properly, I just knew bits and bobs. Lockdown pushed me to make my home set up, and really get to work. I recorded, mixed and mastered all three projects in my bedroom. It brought me back to when I first started doing music in my neighbour’s bedroom. But the comfortability defo played a big factor.

"I think story telling is a beautiful art within music, being able to paint a picture with words is a gift ..."

How does having experience in making beats and producing aid your writing?


The experience with making beats plays a factor in terms of guidance and communication when working with producers. A producer I work closely with is H1K, we live in two different cities but I’m able to send voice notes or translate exactly what’s in my head in terms of production. Due to my knowledge, I’m able to express exactly what I want, which in turn allows him to execute it just as I need. Another example would be ‘Mummy Says 2’, I worked with DJ Scyther very closely on that production, I picked the Shiloh Dynasty sample and instructed him exactly how I needed the drum pattern and the bass.


When did you first get into making music and later into production?


I started writing music at the age of 9/10, I started recording music by the age of 11, the summer before starting secondary school. I was producing from year nine, but I wasn’t great in comparison to my peers at the time. Over time I gradually stopped producing and focused on the writing and recording aspect of music, but would still aid producers on the songs I worked on. So I’d work on the leading melodies and drum patterns, then allow producers to build around that and finish the beat. I started producing again myself in 2016, but as of late have reverted back to aiding producers on my stuff as opposed to composing the whole beat myself.

How important is it for you to remain a storyteller within your music?

I think story telling is a beautiful art within music, being able to paint a picture with words is a gift that I think very few artists are really blessed with and shine. I still believe I have a lot to learn as a storyteller, although loads of people enjoy when I do story-tell. However, I don’t want to only be known for my story telling, I can do pretty much everything but sing like Chris brown, so I want my flowers for all aspects of my musical ability.

Freestyling is a key part of my writing process ... having that in your locker as an artist is a real blessing."

Who are some of your biggest influences, lyrically?


Some of my biggest influences in music who I think shaped my earlier years growing into the musician I am now, would be: Ghetts & Kano, in terms of lyricism, delivery and aggression, Ghetts was defo a big influence for me. Kano was a massive influence in terms of flows and cadence, ‘Home Sweet Home’ is still a national treasure to me. US artist like Mos Def, for his freestyle ability, concepts and cadence. Biggie Smalls & Method Man for their flows and delivery when rapping. Kanye for his musicality, production and concepts around his music & Busta Rhymes for teaching me how to rap in double time and make it effective.

How important is freestyling to your songwriting process? 


Freestyling is a key part of my writing process, most of my favourite lyrics or songs came from me freestyling. Most of my hooks are freestyles, and having that in your locker as an artist is a real blessing. I catch a vibe when freestyling, keep the parts I like, go back to re-do it change it up and continue doing that throughout the whole writing process. Some of my favourite artists record songs from freestlyles, I’ve watched multiple Tory Lanez sessions and think it’s an amazing process.

If you had to pick two of your tracks to show your range as an artist, which would you choose and why?

 

If had to pick two songs to show my range I think I’d pick ‘Mummy Says 2’, because it shows my story telling ability, it’s one of my most captivating songs, it’s definitely the most emotional piece of music I’ve ever written and a lot of people can relate regardless of age, sex or ethnicity. The second song would probably be ‘Cassaniva’ because it’s a fun, light hearted song which is easy on the ears and can be played at most events, whether that be radio, clubs, festivals or small events.

 

"... the first CD I ever bought was Wiley – 'Pies' and the first grime lyrics I wrote, were to that instrumental ... I then went on to be captivated by Nasty crew ..."

How do you feel that your sound has evolved from your first project back in 2017 up until today?


My first actual mixtape was 2011, the second was 2013, and my first official project was May 2016. The progress has been mental, I think my sound is much more notable now, people know to expect audaciousness when I do freestyles, or the flows and story telling from my actual songs. Hopefully, I can cement my sound and my style more this year and find more producers who can bring my visions to life. Although the scene is very different now in comparison to back then, I don’t think having a particular sound is enough anymore. You have to have an online presence to match.


Who are some local London-based artists you would recommend?


Some local based artist I would recommend? Hmm... I’d say my bro Jords would be a great pick. He’s a very versatile artist and producer from Croydon. My second would be a rapper called Marga S, from Streatham, he has lyrics for years. Great example of a “real rapper” a lot of pain in his music and story telling which I can relate to.

Which artists first inspired you to get into music and who is inspiring you today?


The first song I ever wrote lyrics to at age 9/10 was ’You Know My Steez’ by Gang Starr. It’s an old-school rap song and he was a great lyricist in that era. Other rappers like Big Pun got me into flows at an early age, but the Grime-era really paved the way for me to start making music, the first CD I ever bought was Wiley – 'Pies' and the first grime lyrics I wrote, were to that instrumental, I then went on to be captivated by Nasty crew, which was Dizzee Rascal, Ghetto & Kano.


If you had to recommend five artists to your listeners, who would you choose?

 

Five artists I would recommend to my listeners apart from myself would be: Lylo Gold, TE dness, Jevon, Still Shadey & Melvillious.

What’s coming up for 2021?

 

World domination if I work hard, play my cards right & God provides!

 

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