Interview: Thompson Urhiofe
Photographer: Thompson Urhiofe
Collages: Annie Mcgill
eff Raps. is a UK rapper staying in his own lane devising his own flow and most importantly rapping about his personal stories. What interested me about eff Raps. before this interview was the style and feeling of his music. When I first listened to him on YouTube, I stayed away from watching the video so that what he looked like did not influence my thoughts on his music. With the smooth flow, punchy metaphorical lines in the track Mid 20’s I was taken away and wondered why I’d never heard of him. I strolled through his videography on YouTube to find more work that not only sounded polished and mature but displayed consistency across his music.
His musical influence began during the early years of grime where he was a regular at radio stations listening and watching grime sets. He took an interest in the genre and began writing and spitting grime lyrics from age 11. A few years later even at a young age, eff Raps. was above his peers and quickly understood his place in music and realized grime wasn’t really for him despite it being the trend back in the early 2000s.
“What I found in the beginning was grime tended to, at the time, showcase negative stuff but there was nothing negative in me, but I had to keep up.”
The conflict of having to keep up with what’s current at the cost of not being true to oneself eventually got the best of him, leading him to ditch grime to experiment more with rap.
“I started to notice I’d be writing lyrics that were against what grime was about back in them days. We’d go to a set…and every mc would be talking negative and it would come to me and I’d literally speak about the complete opposite and after a while I started to feel like I didn’t fit in…so I went doing my own thing, slowing things down, doing more rap and that’s how everything else was birthed”
The switch made a change not only to his musical style but also to his approach to writing music. What now directs the content of his music is no longer what’s popular but rather the ability to make music that is true to him and one that listeners can relate to.
"I like to be 100% with people. I don’t like creating a façade…it’s about being honest. There was a point in music where rappers only spoke about the highlife and about the good that happens to them. I just try to show both sides of the scale because it’s not all one way. If it’s negative it’s probably going to help someone come out of their situation because 9 times out of 10 someone else will have gone through what you’ve gone through so it’s putting music out there that people can relate to.”
When discussing how he develops his ideas and stories in his raps, he shared a statement that I personally felt needed to be shared not only to other musicians but also to other creative individuals.
“I study a lot of things that don’t necessarily relate to music. I remember when I had two friends who were rapping as well but what I noticed is they always tended to say the same things in every new rap and I used to tell them, look go read some stuff, broaden your horizon and that’s going to reflect in your music.”
Taking on this approach not only allows you to develop more content and stories but in the case of eff Raps, it displays a sense of depth, not only in his music but also in his personality. With a keen interest in descriptive and creative writing, eff Raps. takes this knowledge and tells stories from the perspective of others, offering detailed accounts that help bring his stories to life.
Looking back, eff Raps. hasn’t always been as confident in his style as he is now. His early music saw multiple styles and personalities shine, creating music for different types of people rather than music that personified him, which led to the final transition in to the eff Raps. that we know today.
“whenever I met someone and they asked to hear my music, I noticed I was playing certain songs to certain people depending on who they were. And I said no. I didn’t like that there were different sides. I said I wanted to make something from this point forward that embodies who I am as a character full stop”.
This transition led to his EP ‘Long Story Short’ and the amazing well shot 16 minute long visual ‘Long Story Short: A Visual Collage’, a project he persisted on completing, despite a number of critics and people close to him advising not to. Till now it remains his favorite project and taught him the important lesson of listening to your gut feelings.
“People don’t tend to do 16 minute visuals. When I approached people saying this is what I’m going to do, if you could count how many people said don’t do that. I wasn’t the first person to ever do it but I remember when I done it, not long after Beyoncé came out with Lemonade and it was all of a sudden acceptable to do a long visual. I understand its popularity and I get that. But it’s the principle in the sense of are my ideas not good enough?”
It was great meeting and talking with eff Raps. From the interview and body of work there’s no doubt that eff Raps. will make waves with his music. His persistence to continue learning and experimentation with new ideas and styles is a determining factor that’s brought him to where he is today. Listen to his latest track Two Sides.