For too long, hip hop that originates from outside the US has existed in the shadows, despite the opinion (mine) that a lot of the music that is true to the spirit of hip hop is from everywhere else. A couple of years ago, my brother-in-law started schooling me on UK hip hop and it resonated in a way that is different from what I continue to enjoy from the US.
The first artist I got into was Roots Manuva and he continues to be one of my favourite, but I was also fortunate to randomly come across the work of Ben Chijioke, known to UK hip hop fans as Ty. In addition to the beauty of his dedication to his craft, what also drew me to him are his African roots; he was born in the UK to Nigerian parents.
An emcee and producer, Ty has accomplished a great deal over the years, including touring the world and sharing the mic with artists like De La Soul, Estelle, Talib Kweli and Erykah Badu. He’s also been involved in hip hop prison programmes and is an accessible artist and open person.
The songs that opened me to his work were Closer and Everybody, from his 3rd album, Closer. Everybody continues to be my cellphone ringtone today. I have been fortunate to interact with Ty on twitter and have been waiting in anticipation for the release of his new – and 4th – album, Special Kind of Fool, which is being released in March through BBE Records.
I still wish we had greater access to music such as his across the continent; at least, the digital is making it slightly easier.
He took the time to record an EPK giving background and insight into Special Kind of Fool. Definitely worth the time to watch.