Growing up in Hull’s council estates, Oraka’s known for bars laced with unflinching social poetry. His ability to portray the Black, working-class experience from the frontlines of the north through eloquent lyricism, has made him a major talent to watch. Get to know him better with VIPER…

What five words define your sound?

Northern, working-class, unapologetic, protest and symbolic.

Tell me something unique about your creative process?

I’m not sure it’s unique, but I rarely write in the studio; I find it quite hard to do that. I tend to write or think of my best ideas either when I’m running or driving.

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

‘If I Had A Fire In The Booth’, this is off my new mixtape, ‘Misfit’.

What inspired you to make that song?

Well, I’ve been watching the freestyle series since I was little and always thought to myself, what would mine sound like if I had the opportunity to do one. I would want it to be a true reflection of how I got here today. I would want people to hear the emotion in my voice whilst thinking, ‘This kid has got an interesting story’. I would want Charlie Sloth to give me that official co-sign after I was done, so I created that environment in my head and wrote this verse. I know Charlie would be impressed.

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

I would say two songs spring to mind, and they are both on this mixtape. One is called ‘Counselling’ and the other is the one I mentioned before, ‘If I Had A Fire In The Booth’. You will learn a lot about me when you listen to these two songs. Proper heart on your sleeve type of music. No stone left unturned.

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

The best experience was probably when I performed at the BBC Introducing stage at Humber Street Sesh in 2017. That was a real turning point in my career. I felt like I arrived that day.

The worst experience was a Hull gig. It was in a place called Ringside. Proper ropey little spot. I turned up to do a gig and everyone was leaving, there was no one inside. It was that bad that the band on before me had packed all their stuff away and was about to leave, but they saw me get up on stage and must have felt sorry for me and stayed and watched. Haha, it was terrible and definitely made me question myself. This was very early in my journey, though.

What is your favourite song to perform?

That’s a tough question, you know. It changes all the time depending on the crowd or the location, but I would probably say at the minute it’s ‘G. Finger’

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

I’m an album man, so I would have to say:

Nas – ‘Illmatic’
Dr Dre – ‘2001’
Tupac – ‘All Eyez On Me’
Lauryn Hill – ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’
Dizzee Rascal – ‘Boy In Da Corner’

What’s the meaning behind your name?

The Lord is my shepherd.

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

I would have probably set up my own pupil referral unit for kids who have been removed from mainstream education.

What’s success to you?

To be constantly busy, doing the things that I love.

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

2007 was probably the biggest year of my life. I went on a little holiday to HMP and nothing was the same after that. I went to university in Lincoln and the rest is history. I really needed that kick up the back side. My life really could have been so different. I’ve been very, very lucky.

Photo by Luke Hallett.

New Issue

Subscribe to the Viper Newsletter for the latest news, events and offers

Top Stories