You have been a major player within the UK Hip Hop scene for a few years now. To date what is your greatest accomplishment?
Imagery: I'd been rapping for years thinking how good it would be to release a really original product. I think I’ve done that with My Perspective EP. I spent a long time making it with help from producers VLM and Nutty P, and in the end I think its diverse, unique, and I hope that it can entertain the audience. Aside from that, I believe my greatest accomplishment is having the privilege to work with some really talented producers and lyricists. They help me stay on top of my game. They inspire me, and are my friends, so I feel good about the music we all create.
Your lyrical ability is truly unique, the way you use words is with sheer brilliance. Does it take you long to sit and write a track so deep?
Imagery: It depends. Sometimes I hear a banging beat and just write immediately, and in 30-40 minutes a track is complete. Other times I might get really deep and play a beat in my head over and over for days, accumulating ideas and when I’m ready, I attack the beat and finish the track in one day. When I freestyle I like to scribble down the ill lines that I remembered so I can use them for chorus' and stuff. But even if I don’t have beats don’t mean my brains not ticking over. I might write accapella and then paste it onto a beat when I find an appropriate riddim.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Imagery: Life. Whether positive or negative there is a lot of life to inhale, then I exhale on a beat. I like to surround myself with positive people, down to earth and on a level. Family and friends are my main motivation because I learn so much from them, and they do from me. The world is a big place, and the city of London is one of the most multicultural. That alone is inspiration. When I chill out or I’m on the road the music is bumping. Obviously I love my hip hop, but that don’t mean you won’t hear me rinsing Radiohead's "Ok Computer", or Jamiroquai's "Return Of The Space Cowboy".
You have performed at the same shows as the likes of Genesis Elijah, Verb T and Kashmere. What was that like?
Imagery: I really enjoy the shows because its the perfect way to express yourself in front of a crowd and get some recognition. Its even better when your name appears on a flyer alongside some lyricists who have been doing their thing on the underground scene. You know the promoters are likely to draw a decent crowd who know their hip hop. It helps when trying to put my name out within those particular markets.
Your EP was released earlier this year, what reaction did you get from it? I personally loved it! But you already know that (laughs).
Imagery: Cheers, I’m glad you do. A lot of people liked it too. The feedback has been really good from peeps on the roads. I've been able to plug a few shows to showcase the tracks, so big up the promoters who showed Imagery some love. The journalists, like yourself, who recognise real music. And in an age where radio is deteriorating, big up the DJs who been plugging Imagery through the airwaves, and also the mixtape heads who requested my tracks.
Your track "Your Majesty" was something a little different, explain the story behind it? Your played it out as though you were money right?
Imagery: Yep. I looked at myself as money in the first person. I wanted to explain a different way that shows money as the root of all evil. Money exchanges hands constantly, so I describe some of the hands I come into contact with, and what they do with me. There are some vivid examples in there to get you thinking. On the last verse I deal with how money affects people, gets inside their minds and makes them act silly. As a society we seem to be controlled by her majesty's strong currency. Its deep, and after hearing Your Majesty you'll realise that’s the way it is... if you didn’t know already.
You are due to release Promo Funk 2: The Gem-In-I early next year, what can we expect from this?
Imagery: As you know I’m a little different from other artists. Promo Funk was my first release of 5 tracks. I didn’t wanna go down the mixtape path like other at that time. But the general feedback was that peeps wanted to hear more. So now they can with Promo Funk 2. It'll be varied but its not a mixtape - its a Promo. A full length promo that will feature many of the emcees and producers I have been working with recently. And I’m not just calling it the Gem-in-I because I am a June baby... lol, but because of the Gems that are in I. I spit gems, so its only right. Oh and by the way Gemini’s are not two faced... lol. We just got a lot of different moods going on at the same time. And you can see a range of my diverse mood swings throughout Promo Funk 2. More importantly though, I wanna show people the real Imagery. A promo is the perfect way for me to express my lyrical ability the way I want to, so you're gonna get a lot of different things you may not have heard on my EP.
What other plans do you have for 2008?
Imagery: My aim is to release The Gem-in-I sometime in January. I wanna hit up some more shows and some more radio. And god willing, I’ll continue to elevate. There is another EP in the pipeline, myself on the rhymes repping UK, and Keizan on the beats repping for France. The aim is for his beats to get pushed over here and for my lyrics to get pushed over there, so that link up will be dope. As well as collaborating with my peeps and hopefully some jazz singers and musicians, I just wanna continue making good music in 2008.
What are your views on the current Hip Hop scene within the UK? You have to admit there is a lot of talent around us right now.
Imagery: So much talent, a wealth of talent. There is probably an amazing singer or rapper living at the end of your road and you don’t even know. That’s how talented we are in the UK right now and we got a lot to say. There is more opportunity now than there has ever been and the UK hip hop now has its own identity, without needing to lean on American shoulders. However, there is still no solid foundational structure for our movement. For years there has been no real support, whether from the listener, promoter, DJ, TV host or whatever. Without solid support from the British music industry the real raw hip hop in this country could be stuck in a time warp. And if we don’t start to filter out the really good from the really bad, then the market will just become even more saturated.
What is your all time favourite album and why?
Imagery: Just one album?? That's not fair... lol. Its gotta be Nas' debut for me though, Illmatic. I think its flawless all the way through. His sharp flow and deep metaphors just effortlessly described some ghetto tales without him having to be a gangster, or thug, or whatever. But being born and raised in a dangerous ghetto enabled him to see a lot, and what he saw he wrote down. Its remarkable the way he made the album as if he was observing everything from his bedroom window.
Do you have any plans for the Christmas season?
Imagery: I'm gonna chill out with the famz, eat lots of food and drink Jamaican rum. Its the party season so if you know of any good shindigs happening then holla at Image, ya heard!!
Any last words?
Imagery: I'd like to take this opportunity to shout out my people dem. Firstly my beautiful niece and nephew, and my famz. I wanna say R.I.P to my cousin Garth, and to my grandmother Esther, who both passed away recently. I wanna give big shouts to everyone who has supported Imagery's movement, especially my lyricist and producer peeps. Big up to Intrigue, CTM, VLM, Morfius, DOC4, Spirit I, Grizzy, Chico, A-Stout, FulleBlunt, Rebel, Big Cakes, Redbioul, Zoe, Avesta, Koncept, Sirocco, S.I, Adil, and my bredrins in the endz and in and around North-West London. Anyone who I forgot, my apologies, but you know who you are.
Interview for British Hip Hop courtesy of Underground Promotion UK.