Selected by: Sul Fell
Photography: Jun Yokoyama

Name: Kish!

Where He’s From: South East London

When He Started: 2016

Genre: UK rap

File Next To: House of Pharaohs, Virgil Hawkins, Sam Wise, Kadiata

Sounds Like: “Audio crack! It can’t be defined.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “If it wasn’t Mikey Dread’s “Roots & Culture” playing in the house on Sundays, then it was pretty much Dipset, Nas and G-Unit. I have three older brothers, so gangsta rap was like gospel in the yard.”

Appointing oneself ‘the underground king’ might sound brazen, but it’s hard to argue with Kish!’s assertion when you examine how he’s positioned himself in the British music landscape. Not only is he head honcho of art collective 237, the 24-year-old rapper is also the founder of Paradoujin—an online platform/blogsite dedicated to highlighting the stars of tomorrow, from the underground up. To put it simply: Kish! is a leader, not content with carving out a lane just for himself but one for other artists that exist on the fringes of the UK music scene.

Like many internet-bred artists, Kish!’s style is a melting pot of influences, fusing elements of grime, trap, UK drill and alternative hip-hop to create a slick style punctuated by his percussive flow and witty lyricism. 2020 has seen the release of the infectious sing-along “Kishin’s Revenge”, as well as his full-length project, The Fantastic Preservation Society. These releases have garnered listens as far out as Sydney, Australia, but Kish! says his proudest achievement to date is a release that’s yet to be unveiled: a collab with Manchester battle rapper Shotty Horroh. He points to Shotty’s status as one of the UK’s biggest battle rappers as being evidence that he must be doing something right.

Over the last few years, Kish! has built an impressive discography, his Bandcamp proving to be a treasure trove of hidden gems including the likes of 2017 EP Flagrant Death. The consistent quality of his output coupled with wacky music videos that ooze creativity, have helped him amass a cult following, but going forward Kish! is hoping to transcend the niche space he currently occupies. His ambitions for the future are simple, telling TRENCH that he hopes “to gain the respect and attention of mainstream UK audiences, all while elevating Paradoujin and 237 to greater heights.”

Everything this creative does is driven by a DIY ethos and an industriousness comparable to leaders of influential collectives such as Tyler, The Creator of Odd Future and Brockhampton’s Kevin Abstract. Like them, Kish! plays by his own rules and it’s not hard to imagine him going on to reshape the scene around him in a similar fashion, tossing conventions aside with his clique in tow.

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on June 25, 2020