Abnormal Sleepz

Selected by: James Keith

Name: Abnormal Sleepz

Where He’s From: Manchester

When He Started: 2004

Genre: Rap

File Next To: HMD, Children Of Zeus, Sangy

Sounds like: “Somewhere between high energy and mellow.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “One of the songs that made me want to rap was A Tribe Called Quest’s ‘Check The Rhyme’. Back then in my ends it wasn’t cool to rap, it was more about spitting over grime, which I also did and heavily contributed to making me want to do music.”

Last week, Mancunian rapper Abnormal Sleepz dropped his brand new album, Kaleidoscope, his first since 2016’s The Meditape Two. It also held the honour of being the first rap album to be released on The North Quarter, the Amsterdam-based label from D&B producer Lenzman. That shouldn’t come as a surprise either, since Manchester is famed for its overlapping rap and D&B scenes. As fans had hoped, the new album built on his existing foundations of cerebral lyricism and breezy, melody-rich instrumentals. Lead single “Textures” exemplified that by paying tribute to the Windrush Generation and using the video to celebrate the debt Britain owed to that generation in terms of music, fashion and culture as a whole.

Abnormal Sleepz first made his name in the local rap scene with the Meditape projects, but has spent the decade since he first started making music in secondary school absorbing the reggae, soul, hip-hop, R&B and Motown of his DJ father’s record collection and blending that with the underground rap he was beginning to immerse himself in. Back then, however, grime was king and being a rapper made you an outsider. His first track, he says, was “probably an untitled freestyle grime track. We didn’t title tracks and we couldn’t afford studio them days, so we made use of everything.”

By exploring the parallel worlds of grime and rap, Abnormal Sleepz has formulated a unique sound of his own and it’s becoming increasingly clear how ahead of his time he was. The low-end rumble of soundsystem culture can be heard booming through his tracks and his ever-evolving flow and delivery are indicative of an artist who’s writing the rule book for himself. Kaleidoscope currently sits as the latest and most representative look at the artist, drawing together classic hip-hop, reggae, trap, soul, R&B and more into a well-balanced and immersive journey through the sounds that sculpted him.

As for the future, “My next big goal is to break into the rest of the world,” he tells us, “so I can eventually do an international tour. I’m trying to carry this sound all over the world with my team. Everybody’s dream is to sign a big deal but, for me, acknowledgement and my core fanbase is more important. That support will allow me to independently set out to do all the things I’ve wanted to for so long.”

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Posted on September 11, 2019