The London Word catches up with hip hop artist Melanin 9 ahead of the release of his new album about living through the 7/7 bombings, and why the city’s youth desperately need more outdoor activities to avoid a repeat of last year’s riots.
What are your favourite and least favourite parts of the city?
‘I’m based in the Islington, most of my family and friends are based in north London, so that would be my favourite area. Least favourite part is west London, especially the West End. London is basically a load of different areas which have merged together to form one huge city. So it’s natural there’s going to be different sights, cultures, social and financial situations in each part and that you’re going to feel more comfortable in an area you can relate to.’
What is your most vivid memory of the capital?
‘As I’ve been born and bred here, I’ve obviously got a lot of personal memories. But in terms of events shared by everyone in the city: the day of 7/7 bombings.
‘The uncanny atmosphere in the streets where I was staying at the time made it a day to never forget – for all the wrong reasons, obviously. You see and read about events like that all over the world, but when it arrives on your own doorstep it’s a hard thing to describe and I think many others felt the same.’
What’s your perfect day in the city?
‘Relaxing on a sunny day and taking my daughter to the park, not thinking about anything else apart from spending time with her and soaking up some rays.’
Who is your favourite Londoner?
What is the city’s best kept secret?
‘You’ve got me stuck on that one. Nothing obvious comes to mind – maybe that’s why it’s a secret! I know that Buckingham Palace was built on the site of a brothel!’
What inspires you and what music best encapsulates London?
‘The everyday trials and tribulations of life and the wonders of science inspire me. That tends to be the basis of the subject matter when I’m writing. Although I’m inspired by hip hop culture and would be classified as a hip hop artist, I also appreciate London’s associated with grime and dubstep, which originated here.’
What do you miss when you are away?
‘The vibe of the area I’m from, and of course my friends and family.’
What would you change?
‘The transport system and the lack of outdoor activities and events for the youth. It’s been well documented that lack of amenities have been partly to blame for the riots of last year. And in a city like London, you rely on public transport to get around, so you have to be able to afford it and also make sure things run on time.’
Where do you go to relax?
‘London’s obviously a huge built-up area, so it’s cool to get away for a while into an open space just to relax. That’s why I like going to the parks, and probably my favourite would be Hyde Park because of the size. So OK, there’s one thing west I like!’
‘Loving yourself and being content with the things that have value in one’s life.’
Melanin 9′s new album Magna Carta is out on Monday 3 December. Find out more about it on his website.