Before It Gets Chilly - Talks with Icie Music
Music is one of the most admired and culturally influential industries in the world, and a lot of our lives and views on life are shaped by what we listen to. We sat down with UK Lyricist, Icie Music, (and one of the UK's most underrated MC's might we add) to chat about where his influences come from, the power of God in his life and how his new release encourages young men to come out of gang culture, and try church instead..
iON: Where did you journey into music begin?
Icie Music: I used to do poetry, because it naturally expressed who I am, it turned into lyrics. My musical journey started when I was around 6/7. Living with a strict father, it was hard to get to experience ‘entertainment’ so when he was away, I’d watch Michael Jackson. I was amazed at his performance, I’d practiced moonwalking and everything! I also admired how his music drew so many different types of people in.
I went to Church and saw a guy rapping and I thought, ‘what the heck? You’re a Christian, Christians don’t do that!’ After he’d finished, I asked him to teach me. His name is Yomi and he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. After that, me and my brother hooked up and started a group called Commission. We gathered a bunch of singers, MC’s together and used a live band for our shows. Christianity within youth was the in thing at the time, and so many people came to the faith. The group has since moved on to do our own separate things, but that experience showed me that as I carry on with my purpose and journey, like Michael Jackson, I want to make music that connects with a range of people.
"It’s not ‘hood’, it’s not ‘gang’"
iON: Grime is the sound of the Black British youth culture. What MC’s have inspired you over the years?
Icie Music: I love grime, because we didn’t steal it from anyone. It was born and bread here. It’s the young person’s voice, and that voice was anger, frustration and struggle, and that just came out in the music. I love people that encapsulated that but were also lovely with the word play. I love Dizzee Rascal because he came different. Before him, especially with UK garage, you had to start spitting on the drop; Dizzee sidestepped that and came in whenever he wanted! He was so unapologetic “Queen Elizabeth don’t know me so how can she control me?” He had that angst in his voice.
Also, Dot Rotten. Ah man, his flow. He could say so much but speak so clearly and I took that from him; no matter what I’m saying, you’ve got to be able to understand me otherwise it gets lost.
Asher D also inspired me. Even when he went to Prison, I prayed hard for him, I was genuinely concerned about his as a human being. I’d take the passion from Dizzee, the clarity from Dot Rotten and the skill and art of it from Asher D. These MC’s have the ability to take on people’s voices and speak for them, which is my aim.
"I’ve seen God change people that used to be like them"
iON: As a Christian and a Lyricist, you are sharing a message of good news in the midst of a sound that may sound intimidating. What are some of the things you consider when you’re creating music to find that balance between keeping it grime and sharing the Gospel?
Icie Music: In trying to get that balance, I bring whatever is needed for that song, because the message will stay the same but it’s just the vehicle that will change. All the pieces of the puzzle have to come together and sometimes your message requires that angst and that anger. The beat selection is such an important part of it all as well and I usually I choose something mellow as I want you to hear what I’ve got to say.
In the early days, I’d perform at shows and people would come up to me and compliment me but then tell me they couldn’t really understand what I was saying, and I’d think ‘Rah, I put my heart and everything into that!’ I really started practicing pronunciation and annunciation, and if the words were going to cause me to stumble, it came out.
"I’d take the passion from Dizzee, the clarity from Dot Rotten and the skill and art of it from Asher D"
iON: Your upcoming release ‘Chxrch Ting’ encourages young men to come to church. What has stirred your passion for young men to come to the faith?
Icie Music: I grew up in Camberwell and then I moved to West London when I was 14/15. Whenever people ask ‘what is one of the greasiest areas’, West is one of the areas people will laugh at because it’s not ‘hood’, it’s not ‘gang’. Moving to West London meant that I didn’t really have those gang affiliations but I believe that if I stayed in Camberwell in those formative years? Man!
So ‘Chxrch Ting’ comes from knowing that could have been me. I had enough issues from my childhood and enough anger in me for it to be vented off in different ways. I’ve spoken to guys and they’ve told me “this road life is not people think it is, you can’t trust anyone, it's lonely”. Whether you do drugs to eat or violence for status, it takes a lot to do those things. So for me, I will always try and reach out to those men because I know that if I didn’t have God in my life, that could easily have been me. I want to appeal to the person behind the persona and I’ve seen God change people that used to be like them.
Icie Music is also the visionary behind intimate panel event, The Sit Down, where he brings audiences closer to their favourites entertainers and personalities, and gets the story behind the fame. For more information on his next event and upcoming release, socialise with him:
Twitter: @IcieMusic | Instagram: @IcieMusic | Facebook: IcieMusicUK | Youtube: Iciesworld | Soundcloud: Icie
The Sit Down - Twitter: @thesitdownuk | Instagram: @thesitdownuk