Wolverhampton based rapper Reload grew up in the heart of the West Midlands music scene during the birth of grime and the rise of UK rap music. Drawing heavy influences from Nas and his Jamaican heritage; Reload is a part of seven man collective OneAway and released his mixtape #CreativeNonFiction on New Years Eve 2015.
OVER THE PAST 15 YEARS NAS HAS PLAYED A MAJOR INSPIRATION TO YOUR MUSIC. HOW DID BEING INTRODUCED TO HIS MUSIC AT A YOUNG AGE SHAPE THE DIRECTION YOU WANTED TO TAKE YOUR MUSIC CAREER?
Around the age of 10 at primary school I used to love poetry, there's no shame in admitting that. Things really changed when my older brother played me some of Nas' music and I heard how he painted pictures with his lyrics. When people listen to my music, I would like to think that people can visualise my experiences that I share through either a first person or third person perspective. I wouldn't say that I sound anything like Nas but he set the benchmark for the quality of the music I aspire to reach. What's the point in wanting to be the best MC in the Midlands? I'd rather aim to be the best MC in the country and beyond that; so I thought I'd follow the best example of the greatest MC who ever lived.
HOW COME YOU WERE INFLUENCED MORE BY US ARTISTS NOT UK ARTISTS?
When I was younger, UK rap wasn't taken as seriously as it is today and I had no shining examples to wish to aspire to. That's not to say I wasn't interested or aware of what was happening in the UK; I've listened to the likes of Giggs, Klashnekoff and grime artists like Kano and The Movement, but nobody was getting paid to the extent of how the Americans were. It was very hard to see the UK in that light because I wasn't seeing the fruits of their labour. It wasn't so in your face as multi-platinum selling US artists - but it's definitely changing now!
HOW HAVE YOU INCORPORATE ELEMENTS OF POETRY AND DUB REGGAE INTO YOUR MUSIC?
Well dub reggae is definitely from my heritage and I've always loved the energy that dub reggae brings to the surface of music. I want to travel to Jamaica a lot more and learn about the culture first hand and listen to the local music. In terms of poetry my whole music style is geared towards content and storytelling and applying that to my music. I'm a big champion of content over everything and as I've got older my ears have become opened to so many more artists. I now understand it's more about the vibes, choices and melodies than just the bars.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES OF DEVELOPING AS A MUSICIAN IN WOLVERHAMPTON?
Luckily there's always been a massive musical scene in Wolverhampton and because it's so close to Birmingham we've shared and combined into the West Midlands scene. Growing up in Wolves was fun; obviously there are highs and lows but it's definitely contributed towards my music in a vivid sense.
It was a natural progression to split my time between London and Wolverhampton to give myself the best chance to be heard because that's where the industry is. There's no point complaining that London is not looking for artists in the Midlands; if you have that attitude, things will never change.
HOW DID YOU COME TO BE APART OF WEST MIDLANDS SUPER COLLECTIVE ONEAWAY AND WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THEM?
OneAway was started in 2012 by a close friend of mine called Apostle who is the doctor of the music scene in the West Midlands. The likelihood is that any artist coming out of the Wolverhampton area has passed through his studio at some point. The OneAway collective consists of Messy, Shorty, Brutez, XO, J man, Cs and myself. We primarily make grime which is a chance to experiment because I mostly make rap by myself. Being a part of this crew has definitely strengthened my 140 BPM grime game.
TALK TO US ABOUT THE CONCEPT OF #CREATIVENONFICTION AND HOW DID THAT DEVELOP INTO YOUR MIXTAPE TITLE?
I had a semester called Creative Non Fiction when I was studying journalism at university. I've always loved that notion because I've been creatively telling true stories since I was a poet and eventually became an MC. I've been holding onto that title since 2011 even though I've only just released this mixtape on New Years Eve 2015. That was one of the most enjoyable periods of my creative life and it was well received with lots of support so it was a great feeling.
IN THE ICONIC WORDS OF NAS &ANMP; LAURYN HILL; WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE MUSICALLY IF I RULED THE WORLD?
I would create a level playing field where talent is always weighed over ego. Sometimes I feel like it's no longer about the artist but about perception and everyone needs to be celebrated in their own right for their own achievements. I don't know whether it's social media to blame but we need to focus on the art not the egos.