WHY I RATE: OthaSoul

Selected by: James Keith

Name: OthaSoul (Louis VI and Dozer Carter)

Where They’re From: Kentish Town, North West London

When They Started: 2013

Genre: UK hip-hop

File Next To: The Age Of L.U.N.A, Jungle Brown, Children Of Zeus

Sounds Like: Louis VI: “I hate it when people describe us as old school hip-hop. We’re experimental, we’re rappers, we’re musicians. It’s a truthful gritty London hip-hop sound that’s raw, that’s why people like it. It’s not that super palatable, soft-on-your-ears-silver-spoon-hip-pop we’re hearing on the radio too much these days. It’s everything dark and Otha-marinated, in a thick bit of soul.”

First Music That Inspired Them: Dozer Carter: “Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I had heard it before but when I turned 11. I just had to know everything about it; how each sound was made, the dance, everything.” Louis VI: “You know what? I had that Thriller VHS double boxset too! But for me, it’s when my cousin gave me Illmatic by Nas for my 10th birthday. When I heard NY State Of Mind, I was in awe. Rapping can be genius, and I want to do this with words. Then I heard Roots Manuva and it showed me you could be from London and rap.”

North West London duo OthaSoul — aka Louis VI and Dozer Carter — first made their mark in 2013 with their debut single “Drain Pipes”, but there’s more to them both than their work as a duo. Both have released solo albums in recent years, but before uniting as a twosome they were exploring music; Louis VI as a trumpeter in his youth (before getting braces derailed that) before switching to drums and piano, and Dozer as a producer in his teens. A well-rounded appreciation of music was instilled in them from a very young age, something they attribute to their mothers.

Funnily enough, their mothers were in the same year at school, although apparently they passed on quite different musical tastes to their sons. Dozer says his home life involved “a good bit of disco: Chic, Evelyn King.” As for Louis, it was just about everything else. “My mum hates disco,” he adds. “There was a lot of Fela Kuti, De La Soul, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Burt Bacharach, James Brown, MC Solaar, reggae, Outkast, Damian Marley, A Tribe Called Quest. As a baby I listened to lots of Cab Calloway, which seems like a different world now.”

If there’s any sort of common theme that’s come together in their music it’s most definitely the melody and grooves. They detest the ‘old school hip-hop’ tag, which is fair enough since it’s often used as a blanket term for anything ‘90s-sounding, relegating it to “nostalgic”. But it’s those grooves that people are often misinterpreting as “old school”, but the boys don’t see it that way at all. “We’re experimental, we’re rappers, we're musicians,” Louis says. “It’s a truthful, gritty, London hip-hop sound that’s raw.”

Now seven years into their career and with new project Return Of The Soul fresh out the gates, they’ve packed a lot in. They’ve toured with Talib Kweli and Loyle Carner, found fans across the planet and got into some interesting scrapes. “Getting arrested immediately after our set at Bestival,” ranks high on their list of proudest achievements (although we’re still waiting to hear the backstory there), but not as highly as the five albums they’ve put out both individually and as a duo. While they’ve already done plenty, their eyes are still very much on the future and as live music opportunities tentatively open up around the world, they’re raring to go. “OthaSoul has a cult following of fans pocketed in all four corners,” says Louis. “It’s time to meet them.”

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on August 26, 2020