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kinnyman burst out of Finsbury Park in 2004 with his iconic album

Council Estate of Mind inspiring not only social change but also UK hip hop ever since. He’s coming up to Te Owl Sanctuary this month to play an intimate gig for us but also to lend support to Music Lessons, one of Norwich’s own hip hop crews, and their enterprising new project to help Norwich people. I spoke to Skinny about the tough times he’s been through, and what we can expect from his Norwich show.

How did you first start rapping, and who have been your hip hop inspirations? I first started rapping on reggae sound systems before I came to hip hop. I’ve got a vast range of inspirations, from Muhammad Ali through to Chas n Dave! You started off with the Mud Family Crew doing rap battles. How did you then come to write your own tracks? We were all worthy artists in our right, but at the time the only way you could get on stage with a mic was if you signed up to battle, so it was just an avenue to achieve notoriety. Mind you I didn’t really want to battle – I wanted to unify! I wanted to collaborate! Your album Council Estate of Mind was a really important album. I spoke to Kano a couple months back before he did a show here in Norwich and he cited it as one of the most influential albums on his music. Why do you think it meant so much to so many people? I love Kano. I think at the time it struck a chord in the hearts of how everyone was feeling but no one was vocalising it. I was the first at the time to talk about what I could see happening in

44 / July 2016/

several areas of the country like crime, unemployment, lack of education, homelessness, drugs in the community, the revolving door of prison society. So there was a social motive involved, and since my album came out a lot of those subjects have become at the forefront of political agendas in the ten years that have followed. Did your life change when the album came out? Troughout the release of my album I was homeless and had just got out of custody. Although I felt successful in the eyes of my fans across the country I didn’t receive any payment from the record company at all. Even when I was homeless and going through some suffering myself my main agenda was to help people less fortunate than myself. Tat’s when I got involved in Water Aid. I didn’t receive a penny from any of my records but every thing I earned from my live shows was going to a cause that I believed was more important than mine. You’ve been homeless, and you’ve been in prison, yet you still have a very positive and hopeful attitude to

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