Interview: Adian Coker On Subject Matter, Production, Kanye West and More

In the ever present British music scene, we are currently seeing the rise of various artists making strides in their respective industries. Skepta and Stromzy, among others, are giving grime a presence across the world, Adele is making strides in the pop industry and then there is Adian Coker; one of Britain’s untapped gems in the hip-hop industry. Sitting down with AWM, Adian Coker talks all things from the release of his new EP, “Connect”, to how he uses social media as a tool to enhance his presence.

Firstly, congrats on the release of “Connect”, what does the release of the EP mean to you and the growth in your career?

It’s just another step forward. It’s just what I’ve always said. As you know, with the traffic sites get, and how the cycle in music changes so quickly, you have to constantly put out music. I’m just laying the foundation, because at some point there is going to be something that sparks something. The album also shows growth, and me moving forward, establishing my sound. Every artist goes through a period of development and you have to try loads of different things to know what your sound is and I think “Connect” is me finding my lane, my niche and I think you can hear that in the maturity of the sound, how the beats sound, and the overall product.

Have you noticed an immediate response?

Yeah man! I think people know or have expectations for me in regards to the projects I put out. Music for the most part has sub-standard production or the lyrics aren’t hard, and I take pride from the artwork to the videos that everything is at a standard I want to receive. I think it’s about meeting that expectation, and it’s not a conscious thing, it’s just how I make music.  

Go through the process of of making “Connect”, was it different to that of “Time Out of Mind”?

Yeah, very different. During the making of “Time Out of Mind” I started being out a lot more, just on the scene, in the clubs, different events, and if you listen to “Time Out of Mind”, aside from “Get Money” you can’t really play any of those in a club. People aren’t having fun, you need to sit down and listen, and hear the metaphors. With “Connect” I really wanted it to speak to people at both levels. If you want to just enjoy the vibe and listen to the music, you could. You don’t have to listen to everything I’m saying on “Connect”. You can have fun to it and it doesn’t make you rewind and think ‘did he say that?’ or ‘that’s what he meant’.

How did you get into rap?

I started making beats and I needed someone to rap on them. Everybody that was in school when I was 13 was really mediocre with the raps. It was just me wanting it to sound as good as possible. I was really heavy into Eminem so I started rapping like him, same with Fabolous. But you have to go through that to find your sound and your voice.

Do you produce some of your music now?

Everything that I put out I produce.

Seeing as you’re not grime artist, do you have a connection the scene still being that it’s one of the Britain’s musical staples at this point?

Firstly, I don’t even think grime is up and coming, I think it has been a staple. If you look at the generation of kids who are urban, and I hate using that word, but for urban kids, that’s the staple, that’s their diet, that’s what they do. Now, the mainstream media have accepted it and grime artists have broken through. You can’t helped but be influenced by it because that’s the environment I grew up in, not necessarily the music I listened to growing up, but when I was 17 or 18, you know Skepta, Wiley and all these artists influenced me when I was out.

Does your flow take inspiration from American hip-hop as well as British? If so, who are some of your idols or influences?

Jay-Z, Biggie, the thing is it’s always going to be the people that are the best, that are going to influence us. You want to be the best so only the best influence you. They’re the best for a reason. They transcend the genre, and linked the hip-hop genre to a bigger sphere so when people ask who are your favorites, we always mention them because they’re the artists who have done that and they’re the people artists aspire to be. Anyone notable you can think of are my influences in hip-hop, but I’m a musician and I listen to more than just hip-hop. Red Hot Chilli Peppers and a myriad of other acts I listen to as much or even more to than hip-hop because I think that’s where my musicality comes from.  

Do you have any non-music related inspirations?

In general, life inspires me. I’ve been out a lot more and I’ve been traveling a lot this year and all those experiences have shaped me. Meeting new people, new countries and life experiences shape what I rap about. I rap about my own personal experiences. I think it is very important that when you’re going into a new project you’re in a place to say something different, otherwise you just become stagnant. In “Time Out of Mind” to “Connect”, the subject matter is different, I’m rapping differently. I’m in a different place, financially, personally, everything, and I think that is important to incorporate into your music, but you need to be living life to do so.

What’s changed in the hip-hop scene since you’ve become more prominent and what is your current view of the hip-hop spectrum?

Back when I was 13, when Kanye came through, it was something special. It was something we had never had before. A guy coming out of Chicago with a pink polo, rapping softly, and it came right after the 50 Cent era and gangsta rap. Nowadays there is nothing wrong with the music coming out, it’s just that I think the threshold is lower – the bar isn’t as high anymore. To become a rapper, you don’t need to be good on the mic anymore, you just need to be rhyme words. But that’s okay, because everyone has different lanes. It’s become party-led and dictated by that scene. You don’t listen to an album to understand it’s meaning anymore. I listen to that one track and it bangs, and I want to play it in the club and that’s just the way the culture is. Kanye is one of those artists who leads and shifts the culture in ways nobody else has or can, but this is his first album (“The Life of Pablo”), that hasn’t shifted the culture and I think that is because where we are in the culture, it’s harder to do that.

Do you feel like in hip-hop you are constantly adjusting or do you feel like you are an artist, such as the aforementioned Kanye West, who does the adjusting?

You don’t want to be the one doing the adjusting. Artists such as Kanye have already done so much of that so it’s now so hard to come in. It’s done. Here, in the U.K., when I released “Young World”, I don’t think we were ready for it. In the U.K. there isn’t as strong of a hip-hop foundation as there is in the U.S. or even France. Now, though, we do have more platforms and when I put that project out in 2013, I think it was ahead of its time and people weren’t particularly ready for the music and radio as a platform wasn’t ready for it. The project was too polished and really American and now that’s what’s accessible and that’s what people want. Take grime now and then. It’s no longer gritty, it’s polished. “Konnichiwa” is really well produced, man. Same goes for Stormzy, and his sound. Their sound is international and popular and that’s how it has to be and that’s a good thing because it’s then able to spread to a much larger demographic than when it sounded like it was produced in your bedroom and it had been mixed by your mum. The reason I do music is because I love doing it and because I want as many people to hear it as possible so you don’t want to take away from your ability to do that by being stuck in your ways and saying ‘nah it has to be done like this because it’s mine’. You can still retain that identity of grime or hip-hop, but make it accessible to a bigger market. Stormzy is doing it, Skepta is doing it, it’s achievable.

Seeing that we live in a world run through multimedia, what influence does it have on you in a social media and promotion realm?

I am quite a private person so getting me on social media was a headache for my managers, and I didn’t have a personal Facebook for a long time, but now I’m heavy on it. I enjoy going through Instagram, it’s the culture and getting excited by what is happening. Khaled is changing lives on social media with his shit, so if Khaled can do it, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if I wanted to post a picture of me pouring water into a glass. With social media, it was just me finding my voice on another platform and everybody has different ways of doing that whether it’s pouring water in a glass or not. I want people to be excited. On the other end, you see artists like Kendrick (Lamar) and Cole (J. Cole) and they have little to no social media presence. They’re not on there. Their market and lane is very different.

What are some of your pastimes seeing as you’re busy artist?

Like I told you when we talked earlier, I work out. I just came back from a run, I do yoga three times a week. I like to read and watch TV. Just that normal shit, like hanging out with friends and exercising. Sometimes, though, I tell my friends ‘nah I’m going to stay home’ on a Friday night, it ends up that I produce and make a track that ends up on a mixtape and then I end up in places like right now when I’m getting interviewed by you guys.

Do you have an interest in expanding your reach as an artist through outlets such as fashion seeing as that is becoming a common thread in hip-hop?

You have to have a fanbase to do that, like right now it’s really about cementing my foundation in hip-hop. You don’t want to take away from music at this early stage, and I know it can be a vehicle, but usually the vehicle that gets you to that place, is usually the vehicle that people remember you for, because I have something to say. In the future, I would like to get into clothes, but only in the right way.

What can we see coming from you in the future?

Music. The video for “Krispy” just came out and I think that’s at 40,000 views now. I’m going to be shooting the video for “Nothing New” soon. I released that as a single before the EP dropped and man, people went crazy for it. I knew it was a banger, but it’s the way people went crazy for it that I thought I might as well make a video after people asked for one. Then we’re going to come with the next EP in October. It’s just a constant stream of music, I’m not Jay-Z or Kanye, I can’t take a year out, I have to be constant.

Listen to “Connect” below:

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