Selected by: James Keith


Where He’s From: Hackney, East London

Genre: Alternative Rap/Hip-Hop

File Next To: A2, JD Cliffe, ItsNate

When He Started: 2014

Sounds Like: “My sound represents a diverse composition eclectic euphoric sounds, which sonically encapsulate my current point in life. [It is] my perspective of the hustle and bustle of living in the East End, with references to my heritage, to memoirs of me in this current point of my musical journey.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “I think the earliest recollection of any musical influence would be Michael Jackson on VHS. I think it was a tour in Europe.”

It’s fair to say there isn’t exactly one set, correct trajectory for a music career to take. In fact, more often than not, a musician’s career almost never runs in a linear path. In the case of Hackney-born ISCDQ, that’s involved changing up his sound, his name (shortening from his birth name Isaac Danquah in the mid-2010s), and even changing his whole philosophy, to become the artist he is today.

Though he’s evolved dramatically over the years, the first raw elements of ISCDQ’s musical identity began to take shape very early on. “Growing up, I had a lot of different sounds playing in my home,” he tells TRENCH. “My parents used to have a lot of parties, and the music would range from Ghanaian Hip-life/Hi-life and traditional music, to reggae, pop, jazz, soul and ‘90s house music.” The influence of his parents’ tastes on his current output is more subtle, but it is there, tucked into the deep grooves, the considered lyricism and the focus on storytelling and narrative.

ISCDQ’s journey with hip-hop, growing up through different eras, has also taken its share of twists and turns, dipping in and out of grime and both US and UK rap as he sought to find his voice. “I connected more with the more poetic side; the mixed musical sounds and vibrations just sat well with me,” he says. “I was quiet at points so I felt as though, at times, when I was in those spaces, music would just be the energy I needed to get out my ideas and express myself.” As time went on, it was that process of finding his voice that you can hear in the new album and the development since some of his earliest releases is profound.

The transition into creating his own music came early, even if his artistic palette wasn’t quite fully formed yet: “The very first time I wrote a lyric or a verse, I was 10 or 11 years old, so pre-secondary school, but I made my first song for real when I was around 11 or 12. It wasn’t until after secondary school, around 16/17/18, that I fell into the craft of creating music. Going through transitional periods in life, music became somewhat of a vent for me, like it always has, but it was if nothing was going my way at that point in my life. Certain albums, like Nas’ Illmatic, changed my whole scope growing up as a young man coming from the trenches but with an eclectic perspective.”

Now he’s on the path that suits him, ISCDQ has a well of pent-up creativity to let out. Last year brought us two singles, “Cake” and “Zone”, but this year saw the release of his most significant release to date: 2AM East. It’s clear from the outset how much Danquah has grown; where something like 2016’s B4THESTRM, for example, was a dark, bassy rap workout, 2AM East is a more thoughtful collection, weighing up his journey so far, his plans for the future and how he hopes to correct past mistakes.

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on September 09, 2021