kofi stone connects ’90s new york boom-bap & uk rap

January 30, 2019

Though rapper Kofi Stone hails from the UK (born in East London, raised in Birmingham), there is more than a whiff of ‘90s New York to his music. Both Stone’s new single “Same Old” and its accompanying video give off an immensely strong Wu/Mobb Deep/Illmatic vapors in all the best ways. If you’re a head, you’ve lived this tale of striving “from the belly of the beast” to a “top that’s out of reach”; heard the mournful piano that provides the stripped-down, boom-bap beat’s only tonal accompaniment; and seen the video of a family trapped in a home, evoking both comfort and claustrophobia.

And even though Kofi’s British accent is impossible to deny, grime seemingly casts no shadow here. Stone’s is a hip hop classicism at its finest — the lyrics, the track, the outlook all breed a familiarity without being nostalgic. Yet that’s also what makes Kofi’s aesthetic disassociation from UK’s great young rap culture a bit of a misnomer; for what are many of current grime’s finest tales but stories of young minds destroyed by the developed world’s corruptive norms? That shit’s still happening every day, and grime’s echoing of tried-and-true narratives is just more street reporting of the war going on outside. Or as Kofi’s says in the song’s chorus, “it’s the same old, same old / the cycle repeats / you know how it goes…”