K Koke is the latest addition to Jay-Z's Roc Nation roster. The 27-year-old rapper, born Kevin Georgiou from London's Stonebridge area, was singed by Hov on the merit of his 2009 debut mixtape, Pure Koke Vol. 1. This collection of tracks detailed the life of a young man living on the edge in one of London's notorious hoods who tried everything in his power to make it to the next day without going to prison, or worse: six feet under. Nas, D-Block, 50 Cent, Tupac and Eminem -- they've all influenced the way K Koke approaches rap music, however, his own assured delivery and ghetto tales are inspiring a whole new generation of rising street poets.
Many thought Koke's short stint in prison last year was going to damage his career, but how they were very much mistaken. Joseph 'JP' Patterson speaks with the rising rap star.
Your first mixtape was a well-received offering around the world, and it has become a go-to for anyone wanting to know more about the UK rap sound. Did you ever imagine that it would do as well as it did? Like, you got signed to Roc Nation off the back of it! Stuff like that doesn't happen in this day and age [laughs].
[Laughs] Not in a million years did I think that would have been the outcome from Pure Koke Vol 1 . What I did was tell my story, the road’s story, and kept it 100. When I started out, I never really took it seriously, but the love that the fans have continued to show me has kept me going. Getting signed is definitely my biggest achievement so far.
How did you and Jay-Z initially make a connection? It must have been a great feeling toknow that your Stonebridge street tales were being appreciated by one of the world’s biggest rappers…
Basically, they [Roc Nation] were looking for a UK artist around the time and my name was popping off. Everywhere they went, they heard my name. I gave out my stuff and they was digging man, and everything all made sense after that. I do feel great about it, but I'm just focused on trying to better myself so I don't really have time to sit down and worry about certain things. I'm just focused, and I just plan on doing what I came here to do – which is to make great music.
So, how has life changed since you've become a Roc Nation artist?
Right now, I'm fully off the roads. I'm not on the roads at all! It’s just me and music, every single day. Music is my life now, and I’m loving it.
When you were wrongfully sent down for attempted murder last year, it couldn’t have come at a worst time because you had just signed with Roc Nation and you were just about to drop Pure Koke Vol 2 . What was going through your head whilst behind bars, and how have you managed to overcome that whole situation since?
I'll be honest, I was stressed! I was sent down for no reason, for something I didn't do, having just signed my deal three months before. Not many people have that opportunity and are then able to keep that opportunity, given the circumstances. I was stressed for a minute, but I couldn't do anything other than hold my head high. I just had to get on with it and prayed for the best. When I got released, it was one of the best feelings.
As you continue to grow as an artist, do you feel that your content will change? I mean, when you’re making those millions, trapping will be the last thing on your mind [laughs]…
[Laughs] Yeah, maybe in some aspects, in certain songs. But remember, I came from it, so I've got stories forever and I can always relate to people who have been through similar stuff. I'll always be talking about more or less living but, in other aspects, it will eventually change.
What type of person do you not make music for?
I represent the roads. I represent the struggle. It's real life! That's what I represent. I don't make music for close-minded people. My music is strictly for the people who have open minds and get where I’m coming from on that real level.
Okay, talk me through your debut album, I Ain’t Perfect. Can we expect more of that raw, say-it-how-it-is Koke that we all know and love, or will it have more of a mainstream feel to it?
The most mainstream I'm going to get is my singles, other than that, it's still going to be the same old me [laughs]. I'm still going through problems now! Even though I've got opportunities and things to look forward to, I still face problems every day, and people are going to know about that.
And who have you collaborated with, artist-wise and producer-wise, on the forthcoming LP?
As you already know, I've done a song with Maverick Sabre, 'Turn Back', which is out now. I've just shot the video for my second single, 'Lay Down Your Weapons', with Rita Ora – which should surface around January. Producer-wise, I've got Jahlil Beats, I'm trying to get something in with J.U.S.T.I.C.E League and that's it so far but I'm still recording, I'm still working, still trying to make it happen.
You've already worked with Rita Ora and Maverick Sabre, who you’ve just mentioned, Emeli Sande, Wale and you recently toured with Big Sean, but who else would you like to work with? I'm sure there are a lot of people expecting to hear a K Koke featuring Jay-Z track one day...
I don't know… I mean, obviously, I'd love to work with Jay – that would be a dream come true – and other artists who I grew up listening to, that would be big. Right now, though, I just want to focus, build up my name, and bring out some of my own future classics.
Who are you rating in the UK at the moment on a level where you feel they could give you a bit of competition?
I don't look at no one else, to be honest. I don't watch what no one else is doing. I might hear a man's name and hear a man pop off and I notice what people are doing but, musically, I try not to take in too much people. To be real with you, there aren’t many other rappers like me out there right now – Giggs is probably the only one.
What’s your aim for the next twelve months?
God willing, if all goes to plan, I’ll be selling millions of records and sitting comfortably by next year. That's the aim. I'm out here [laughs].
This also appeared over at the MirrorOnline: H E R E