I've always found it a bit embarrassing telling people I'm a rapper. I'm very aware of some of the connotations that can accompany rap music, and I've often worried that people would develop an inaccurate opinion of me if they viewed me as a 'rapper', without actually hearing my music. I've never really fit the bill of what someone might imagine a rapper to be. I'm not particularly cool, and I definitely couldn't pull off the whole 'gangster' thing; but ever since being introduced to rap music, I've loved it, and writing lyrics has allowed to me to know and express myself in a way that I wasn't able to previously.
I first started writing lyrics when I was 9 years old. I've got my dad to thank for that. He would buy me CD singles every so often if I behaved myself at school. The kind of CDs he would buy me varied; it could be anything from Cyndi Lauper to the Power Rangers (don't judge!). One day he bought me Puff Daddy's 'I'll Be Missing You'. I think he believed that it might be a good way to get me into his type of music, (the likes of Sting and Eric Clapton); but it did quite the opposite. From the moment I put it on I was hooked. I think I played it so much that my mum had to confiscate it from me. But it awoke something in me. I started trying to rap myself. At that young age I felt like I could find solace in being able to write my own rhymes. I was a pretty shy and quiet kid, and so it gave me an opportunity to express myself. The lyrics I was coming up with definitely weren't going to win any awards - but I just found a release in being able to write down lyrics about things on my mind; the things that were important to me, the things that scared me and what I wanted to be when I was older.
As a teenager, I got into Grime music in a big way. I used to idolise all the MCs I would listen to, and I wanted to rap about the stuff they were rapping about. I tried to do the whole gangster thing, (known as MC Skandal - what was I thinking?!) but it was just so embarrassingly unconvincing that no one ever took me seriously. I was writing lyrics about things that I had no clue about, and pretending to be someone I wasn't. In reality, I was a well-behaved Church boy in the top sets at school. I was insecure about who I really was, and so I tried to put on an act, and the lyrics I wrote were one of the ways I did that.
Fast forward to modern day, and after getting myself involved in loads of stupid stuff, I've finally realised that all of the characteristics about myself that I was so embarrassed about as a teenager, are the things that I should be proud of. They are what make me unique. And I guess that's a big part of the message that I want to convey through my music. People are valuable, not because of how wealthy, successful or good looking we might be, but because we are people; we are all unique and we all have something to bring to the table. The great thing about Rap music is that rappers have an opportunity to actually say something. People that listen to you will be listening to you because of what you have to say. I feel that I have to make that count. If I don't say anything of value, then really, I'm wasting everyone's time. I want to spread a message of hope. I hope that doesn't sound cheesy. I'm not trying to preach, or claim that my words can get rid of all the problems in the world, but if I can get people thinking through what I have to say, then that can't be a bad thing.
I just put out a video for a song I made called 'Miss Online Superstar'. It's about a girl who is hurt by a guy she is seeing, and so she looks for security by building her popularity through social media sites such as Twitter and Instagram. She gets more and more provocative with the pictures and tweets she puts out which in turns makes her online following grow rapidly. It's something that I see quite a lot when I'm on these sites. It's not just girls that do it; guys can be just as guilty of this. I wanted to raise the point with this song that we shouldn't feel like we have to do these sorts of things in order to feel like we are worth something.
There are some really talented artists out there who have a lot to say. I'm glad that people are starting to take notice, because as much as I feel that music is a great form of entertainment, I believe that Rap music and spoken word can also be such powerful tools in raising awareness and challenging issues. They can do it in a way that nothing else can.
[Nick's EP 'Four Miles Further' is available on iTunes now: Click Here.]