WHY I RATE: Vic Santoro

Selected by: James Keith
Photography: Yushy

Name: Vic Santoro

Where He’s From: Lewisham, South London

Genre: UK Rap

File Next To: Youngs Teflon, E.Mak, H Moneda, TE dness

When He Started: 2002

Sounds Like: “I would define my sound as conscious rap with an edge.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “‘Changes’ by 2Pac was the first song that made me want to make music because the content felt very familiar and relatable.”

They say it’s not how you start, but how you finish. And that’s never been truer for the South London rapper Vic Santoro, whose story has had more than a few setbacks but is now blossoming into something to behold. After an 11-year stint in prison, the Vic Santoro that stands before us today is a new man. In the last year or so he’s thrown himself into music, acting, public speaking, and anything else to help get his positive message out there.

Santoro is by no means in denial about the path that led him here. Instead, he uses those dark days as the fuel to keep him on the right path and encourage others to learn from his mistakes. You can hear it in recent cuts like “Reinvented” and the Glory Days mixtape, and you can hear it more plainly in the talks he’s delivered in schools, prisons and even the House of Parliament. He describes his style as ‘conscious’, but where certain conscious rappers have found themselves guilty of becoming preachy or disconnected from the realities of street life, Santoro’s tales are delivered with an unpretentious matter-of-factness that stops you in your tracks.

But prison isn’t the only thing that informed his life, of course. Growing up in Lewisham, his household was dominated by the uplifting and positive sounds of gospel and the Makosa music of Cameroon. Although his music has no overt influence from either sound, the subconscious touch of positivity is plain to hear. On the flip, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the DNA of South LDN rap that weaves its way through the booming bass patterns and rattling hi-hats of long-term collaborator Michelin Shin, as well as Vic’s own commanding delivery. It’s a unique combination—ultra dark rap and uplifting consciousness—but its potency can’t be denied.

Now, as we all look forward to what will hopefully be a more positive, corona-free future, Santoro’s got a lot to be excited about. He cites the Glory Days tape as his “biggest achievement thus far,” but his next goal is “to build a studio in my borough, Lewisham, so that young people can have free access to it.” But before all that, he’s itching to get on the live set. Before lockdown, he tells us, “I did a show in Bristol once and tried to create a mosh-pit in an intimate venue. It got so crazy that the stage ended up getting ripped down and I ended up in the crowd. Best show I ever did!” Between studio, his public speaking, and the live settings to get his message out there, Vic Santoro has all the tools he needs to affect real change.

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Posted on June 18, 2021