Selected by: Blessing Borode

Name: MOKO

Where He’s From: South London

Genre: UK Rap/R&B

File Next To: Jordy, Zakhar, tendai

When He Started: “2015 but properly in 2020.”

Sounds Like: “I should probably get better at answering this question, but I’ll say it’s just me. What I hear, I give to the world.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “James Fauntleroy’s ‘Storm’. I’ll be real: I wish I wrote this one—it’s such a well-written song.”

Ever since MOKO arrived on the scene in 2020—fresh-faced and eager—he has made calculated moves to ensure his name is heard far and wide. Fronting a sound that borders road and cloud-rap, with even some R&B melodies thrown in for good measure, MOKO has shown that he’s a one-of-one artist with only a handful of releases. The South London rhymer has an instinctive ability to lay a bold verse on a track, but it’s the deep-rooted determination and hunger for growth that drives his output more than anything. So it came as no surprise when the streams were rolling in on his debut EP, Eighteen, with the title track and “1 Time” comfortably sitting at over two million streams each.

Working with his dad and producer Ian Copeland Green, Eighteen nods to a time when MOKO was once known as ‘Moxe’ and “was purely making love songs for the sweet ones,” he tells TRENCH. “Real sing-man business.” It’s a 12-minute spell of charming melodies and lyrics, but if you listen close enough, tales of street life are wedged in between it all, leaving the door into his mind ajar. MOKO has his household to thank for his unhindered approach to creating: with gospel music in heavy rotation, artists like Kirk Franklin and Israel Houghton informed his general understanding of music. Similar to most artists, there’s a shedload of music that he’s made that may never see the light of day, but the satisfying practice of pushing his pen is more important than attempting to please listeners with frivolous drops. “I need to give an honourable mention to a song called ‘Pretty Riddim,’” he says. “It’s a classic to people who know me and it might make an appearance one day—you never know.”

Following a short hiatus, next in line to be released is the long-awaited 48 Vol.1 mixtape (Sept. 23), where MOKO documents his gritty rites of passage through life, from surviving on the roads to providing for his family. So far, he’s teased us with the tracks “Back2Roadz” and Shameless”, song which he describes as an “insight into how I feel the world is at the moment. ‘Shameless’, in particular, was made to reflect how I see the world and the dark in it.” MOKO’s drive for success is greater than the streams and accolades, and more about the possible connections people can make to his music.

“I could say my proudest achievement is that I’ve managed to get millions of streams off of the strength of my music,” he says, “but for me, it’s that I’ve been able to make music that touches people beneath the surface. That has made me most proud.” Through his chameleonic nature, MOKO is destined to become a household name amongst many artists contributing to the evolution of UK rap through their willingness to explore with sound and delivery. “I feel like I have a lot more to offer than people may expect from me. It’s just whether it’s God's plan for my life.”

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on August 25, 2022