One half of London’s First and Last rap duo, 26-year-old hip-hop artist and producer Apex Zero releases his debut solo album Reality Provoking Liberation on October 28. Here he opens up to The London Word about South Bank beach parties, talking to strangers, connecting with nature and his African roots…
‘I’ve got the most love for where I grew up, all over west London: Hounslow, Brentford, Acton, Shepherd’s Bush, Southall. This is the environment that shaped me. But I’ve got a lot of love for Brixton too. My brother lives down there and there’s always been a big hip-hop scene as well as a lot of expression of my culture, being of African descent via Grenada. I like Tottenham too. There are a lot of deep roots events down there and they’ve got the Marcus Garvey library, the best community library in London. But I’m all about unity. As my brother OMeza says: “everywhere in London’s my hood!”
I’ve lived here my whole life. I’ve only left for short periods, so my whole life is a vivid memory of London!
Even though I’ve always lived in the west I’ve been everywhere in London, had good and bad experiences and made links and connections with people all over.
Good weather, a good event, talking to intelligent people who are on my wavelength is cool. Anyone who knows my music knows I’ve got a lot to say on important issues. Any opportunity to promote good vibes between people in our communities is positive.
Compared to everywhere else I’ve been in the world, I think London is definitely the most diverse. Growing up I met people and had friends from all over the world and through that learned about all different types of cultures, religions, food, music, ways of living, thinking and being. Other places I’ve been, even other big cities, don’t have the same mix.
It hasn’t happened for a while but the Speakers Corner/EOW crew used to run banging ‘beach’ parties on the South Bank when the tide was out .They were live. We had some good times down there. They need to bring those back!
When the sun is out and my melanin is replenishing is when I feel best in London. I’m not feeling winter; I’ve spent too many nights out on the road freezing – face freezing, hands freezing, everything freezing. Nothing raises your spirit more than nature sending you the sun.
I write a lot of my lyrics and produce my beats sat in front of my computer. That’s where I feel most comfortable to express all the things that are on my mind. There’s no pressure to do anything else and I can do what I have to do with no interruptions or distractions. But I like to try and get up high and look out over the city whenever I can; from someone’s block, from a high point on a hill, in a university building. It’s easy to do.
When I feel disconnected from nature – and it’s easy to get like that here – I like to go to one of the big parks. Richmond Park’s probably my favourite. It’s good to find a quiet spot and just chill, read, reflect, write and try and reconnect with nature.
Marcus Garvey and Maurice Bishop are two of my biggest inspirations. Garvey the brilliant scholar and leader of African unification, and Bishop a major force of the Grenadian Revolution. Garvey finished his life here, not far from where I live, and Bishop studied at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies). The things these brothers wrote, said and then practised in their lives are examples for all people, especially Africans, to live by and follow.
A lot of the time we get caught up in complaining but don’t make enough effort to take things into our own hands and improve it. If we collectively worked together to take action, so much could be improved. We hold the tools inside us to make it happen.
Even though London has raised me, I still feel my connection to my roots and constantly feel a need to trace and be connected with them.
We don’t talk to each other in London; we don’t interact enough. People can be way too cold to each other. Certain people in certain jobs are like robots and follow rules that don’t even make sense, instead of listening to their own thoughts and opinion on what is right. There’s more CCTV than people. That’s mad! It’s suspect.
I hate that so many of us are killing each other and dying over nothing: postcodes, drugs, arguments. We need to fix these things in every affected community in London, the UK and worldwide.
You can’t improve the world around you until you’ve improved yourself. That doesn’t mean that you should put yourself before others. It means that you need to become a better human being if you want to create a better world or environment around you.
My family inspire me, all of them. My wife, my brothers and sisters that I create music with, those I’ve studied with, the children I’ve worked with, the people I train with. All of these people constantly inspire me to evolve, improve and grow.
Talk to someone you don’t know on the street. You can learn and gain so much from just talking to people.
Happiness is making a genuine, positive and lasting change in the world that benefits the people who truly need it, not those responsible for creating this need.
Apex Zero releases his debut solo album Reality Provoking Liberation on 28 October, with a launch party on Saturday 2 November from 8pm at:
The Vibe Bar
91 Brick Lane