2019 was a very good year for Kojey Radical.
In May, the London born Nigerian rapper released the critically acclaimed Can’t Go Back. Then, in August, Radical followed it up with the equally successful 2020.
The singles were the first two tracks to be taken from the artist’s second long player, the outstanding Cashmere Tears. The album was released in September and quickly earned a string of rave reviews from the UK music press. In amongst the critical acclaim, the NME gave the album five stars out of five and called the collection an “an extraordinary tale of turmoil, love – and funk”.
To back up the releases, Radical embarked on a series of live dates. The “For You” tour launched in Manchester with tickets available for as little as £3.
The prices reflect the artist’s desire to make his live experience as accessible as possible. The dates were a great success with Radical earning even more praise from the music press.
Following on from the success of both album and tour, Radical announced another set of UK dates. The Cashmere Tears Tour will see the erstwhile spoken word artist perform at venues likes the Belgrave Music Hall in Leeds and Gorilla in Manchester before finishing off at the Roundhouse in London.
The venue, which in recent times played host to the likes of Jay Z and the Gorrilaz, should provide a fitting stage for the rapper, whose live show features a compelling mix of lyrical dexterity and razor sharp dancing.
If you gather from all of that that Radical (real name Kwadwo Adu Genfi Amponsah) on the verge of something big, then it should be pointed out that the London born artist has long been in the same position.
A darling of the London music scene since his earliest performances on the spoken word circuit, Radical has put out an increasingly impressive series of releases since.
For a while it seemed like 2017’s brilliant In God’s Body would give the artist his big break. Littered with high points and standout moments, including the brilliant Icarus and the impressive single Water featuring Mahalia, the album seemed certain to take the Rapper to the next level. It was not to be, however, and for sometime afterwards Radical disappeared from the music scene to plan his next move.
Now however, the artist is back with Cashmere Tears, and the critical acclaim is almost deafening.
It’s no surprise, as the album is full of brilliant moments. Over 10 pulsating tracks, Radical gives the clearest demonstration yet of his burgeoning musical talents, as he tackling a series of big subjects including religion, politics and mental health.
The collections begins with the compelling ‘Where Should I Begin’. “Man on a mission, still a martyr for the vision” Radical raps over a stark, funky backing track. The sparse arrangement and staccato horns provide the perfect setting for the rapper’s clever wordplay, as Radical ponders his rise to fame.
Can’t Go Back documents the artist’s struggles with depression. “You say you stressed, I was stressed to” he croons, over an insistent yet catchy chorus.
The funky 2020, meanwhile, finds the rapper taking stock. With the help of tunesmith’s Swindle, Kyu Steed, and KZ, Radical reflects on the weight of past expectations, as well as his own career aspirations. “Thought I’d be the man at 21” he croons ruefully, over the track’s ice cool beats.
“Hours” demonstrates the man’s diversity. The track sounds like old school Prince. Adopting a high pitched voice, Radical talks of having “pulled love from a grain of dust and risked it on a night of lust” as the sinuous backing track weaves its funky spell over the listener.
In a recent conversation with the Guardian, the rapper explained the story behind the album’s title.
A few years before Radical had discovered that he was unable to cry. Even at his very lowest point, nothing came. Tears began to seem like a luxury, he said, something expensive and inaccessible.
Later, while announcing the album on Instagram, Radical once again referred to the situation, telling his followers: “may every tear feel like cashmere on your skin and let your ego fall like silk”.
While Kojey Radical might bemoan his unspent tears, with a talent like his, he might find he has quite a while to wait for something to cry about.
Kojey Radical will be at The Roundhouse in the 16th of December 2020. More information can be found here.
Information on other music events in London can be found here.