WHY I RATE: Kamakaze

Selected by: James Keith
Photography: Lincoln Gore

Name: Kamakaze

Where He’s From: Leicester

Genre: UK Rap/Grime/UK Garage

File Next To: Jaykae, Izzie Gibbs, Capo Lee, Berna

When He Started: 2008

Sounds Like: “Timeless, immaculate, rap music.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “Probably ‘I Luv U’ by Dizzee. I had it on CD as a single. That was energy that my young mind needed! The first song that made me write lyrics was a track called ‘Mandem’ by a Leicester crew called YTS.”

Raised on a steady diet of reggae, soul, R&B and rap, Kamakaze’s earliest musical education came from his father, who would play the greats like Erykah Badu, The Spinners, Nina Simone, D’Angelo, A Tribe Called Quest and Dennis Brown. “My dad loves pretty much all spectrums of Black music,” he tells TRENCH. “So I grew up listening to Motown and Studio One compilations.”

It’s hard to fully grasp just how much Kamakaze has crammed into his career so far. Last year alone, he released three full-length projects, including a collaborative piece with Big Zuu, Capo Lee and Eyez called Royal Rumble. Then, of course, there’s all the freestyles and the string of critically-lauded singles and fan favourites like “Royal Blud”, “Road Rage” and “Pull Ups” that he’s been dropping since 2016. More than any of that, though, his biggest achievement, he says, is “having a song on FIFA and having had a character on the game also. But also that song being about going on my first ever tour with the lads. Big up Massappeals and Wax, always.” I mean, really, who else can say that?

Football and music were always his two obsessions, and while he has managed to make a success of both without either really suffering, there have been a couple of close calls. “I had a show at Outlook and had it booked before I found out my football fixtures,” he confesses. “I was playing Barrow-in-Furness away and there were no flights from Manchester. I had to fly out Sunday, played the main stage Sunday night, got waved with Jaykae and Bouncer, and missed my flight back. I had to dash a festival-goer off the coach and get a different flight from Pisa and resume training on Tuesday. Luckily, we won the game and got Monday off, otherwise it would have been a much more dramatic story.”

Despite his footie success in the last few years, Kamakaze’s still got major plans for his music career. His latest EP, Wavey Shirt Wednesday 2, just dropped after spawning three stellar singles—“Time It Took” with Deuce Sparks, “Where We At?” with Trillary Banks and “Sunrise In The East” with Jafro (each, it has to be said, eschewing high-profile London collabs for homegrown team-ups)—but he’s still looking forward, refusing to sit back and coast off past victories. Next in the firing line, he promises, is that all-important debut album: “It’s been a long time coming.”

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on July 01, 2021