J Appiah and Kojey Radical illuminate our dark times with the sombre beauty of ‘Come Around’

‘What I had in mind when creating this was on the subject of people feeling they can’t be their true selves for better or worse. Politically at the moment people are revealing some of their uglier parts.’

Built around Appiah’s unforgettable hook “I don’t want to change you / I just want you to be who you are,” ‘Come Around’ is an examination of the factors that prevent us from connecting on a truly human level. Featuring the lyrical bars and unmistakeable flow of rising star Kojey Radical, together the pair explore problems of selfhood in the adversity of urban life. Kojey inhabits the street-smart modern OG, made vulnerable but surer of his identity through the tumult of modernity. “They say I don’t know the streets, I said the streets know me / Like I know myself” he spits before asking “who the hell do I talk to? Couldn’t find a voice I believe in / Couldn’t find a reason to trust truth.”

Appiah’s own feelings are conveyed in the breathtaking melody and emotive timbre of his voice, conveying that in any event there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel as he bookends the song with a final beatific hook: “and when the ice melts to the ground and all the green has fallen down, you’ll come around.” Appiah’s unbounded belief in the goodness in people here would melt even the iciest of hearts.

J Appiah’s pointed observational songwriting stems from a lifelong fascination with people on both microscopic and macroscopic levels. Having finished a degree in Social Anthropology, observation is something that has always informed and given shape to his creative and interior life. “People bring colour to life and life is at the heart of everything” he writes. Musically, Appiah finds kinship with his listeners. The act of creating music for Appiah is the art of finding and conveying possibilities, in lyrics and in music, to feel human and alive in a metropolitan environment that can often seem cruel, disorientating, and larger than us. Music is our common escape, and from the moment the listener presses play Appiah lets us know that we’re not alone.

Raised on an early diet of whatever records he stumbled across in his estranged father’s vinyl collection, J decided from childhood that music would be his outlet. Learning his musical chops after enrolling in a local saturday music school, his eclectic tastes were given a fertile environment in which they could grow. The sonic poetry of Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo and James Blake converged here, and later, the cultural environment of Hackney and the UK hip hop scene sculpted him into the mature artist he is today.

Whether lost in the ineffable emotive range of a Daddy Lumba record or finding an outlet for his aggression in the fierce bars of D Double E, Appiah is a cultural magpie, absorbing all that glimmers in his own taste and channelling what he’s learned into his raw songwriting. Now J continues to hone his trade, providing backing vocals for artists such as Michael Kiwanuka, Kwabs, Jess Glynne and Maverick Sabre, to name a few. His last project ‘Travelight’ received great support from the industry and it’s anyone’s guess where this inimitable new artist will go next.

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