You may know Hackney raised alternative artist Kwoli Black from his stint supporting Kojey Radical on his UK tour. Following the release of his six track project, ‘Can I Speak’, we caught up with the East Londoner for this VIPER Presents interview…

What five words define your sound?

I. Don’t. Have. A. Sound. Just kidding. Introspective, eclectic, freeform, alternative, Hip-Hop.

Tell me something unique about your creative process 

I write a lot of my songs in the shower or on the toilet. It’s weird, I just get random sparks of creativity in those moments

Which song of yours would you like people to hear first? 

I would say ‘Disrupt’ is a good neutral song to hear first but it depends on your mood. I guess if I really want to impress a new listener then ‘Wake Up’ or ‘Greatness’ would be my recommendations.

What inspired you to make that song? 

See, I should have answered based on this [laughs]. ‘Disrupt’ I made off the back of a long period of reflecting on a break up. ‘Wake Up’ I made during the peak of a depressive phase I was in and ‘Greatness’, I made as an affirmation as well as a reflection of how I was feeling at the time. I felt like I could be the greatest rapper to come out of the UK; I still feel that way.

What’s the most vulnerable you’ve allowed yourself to be when writing/making music?

Whew what a question… When I made my last project ‘Call Me When It’s Over’, the last song which is the least streamed of the project but the most heartfelt is called ‘Call Me Now, It’s Over’. When I recorded that song, I was crying. After recording I just kind of stood there in the booth and let myself cry until I went dry. It was cathartic for sure.

What’s the best/worst experience you’ve had on stage? 

Worst experience? Damn, it was about four years ago now, when I was just starting to perform and really take music seriously, I performed at this showcase and the house band didn’t learn my songs properly at all. I didn’t know how to play it off and work with the mistakes and probably came across as a diva. We thank God for growth. Best experience so far? Performing with Kojey Radical at O2 Brixton. That was surreal. To stand in front of 5,000 people and perform with the artist that possibly is the reason I took music seriously was insane. He’s my brother and I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.

What is your favourite song to perform? 

Oooh easily ‘Greatness’, I love the energy the crowd gives me but there is an unreleased song I enjoy performing too. Can’t say what it is yet but if you follow my socials and peep my recent posts you’ll guess.

Which artist/song/album made you want to make music? 

So many artists. Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Tyler the Creator, Kojey Radical… they all influenced me massively. In terms of albums I’d say ‘MBDTF’, ‘GKMC’, ‘Flower Boy’/‘Wolf’, ‘Because The Internet’, ‘Donuts’ and ‘Madvillainy’ made me wanna create bodies of work.

What’s the meaning behind your name?

Kwoli is a remix of Kweli from Talib Kweli. Kweli means Truth in Swahili. Black is well, cause I’m black.

If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing instead?

I’m not sure, I’d have more money that’s for sure. Up and coming artist struggles. I’d either be working in tech sales and taking it more seriously or really diving deep into my creative director bag. 

What’s success to you? 

Freedom for one. Having the freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want. Secondly, being able to push the envelope. Knowing you curated a lane that further elevates your field is when you know you’re successful.

What moment in your life/career forced you to change direction? 

Never changed direction. We go forwards, always.

Where can people keep in touch with you? 

You can subscribe to my onlyf- nah I’m playing!! All socials just @ kwoliblack. Shoot me a message, I’m not mad famous yet so I reply in less than 24 hours, I promise!

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