Kofi is a name that is slowly but surely on the rise to being an important figurehead in the UK battle rap scene. Starting his battling career in a ‘fan vs battler’ stipulation against Bison Briggs at Don’t Flop’s ‘Maypril Fools Liverpool’ event in 2016, Kofi continued on a hit-and-miss run of battles against the likes of Wobi Tide, Skorpz and Makar, all of which were sadly on the now-redundant Training Days channel.
However, a massive shift in Kofi’s career as a battler came when he was introduced to a brand new league based in Sheffield, set up by the man he just battled in the qualifying round to Don’t Flop’s historically shambolic ‘Headhunters’ tournament. Their first proper event taking place the day after the game-changing ‘Next in Line’ event, Kofi went up against Leicester’s LE3 at DubScandal Battle League in front of four other battlers, a cameraman, and a singular fan.
Kofi would go on to put in impressive Dub performances against the likes of Judge T, Acre and Dank Schrader while successfully organising two ‘Bartlepool’ and ‘Cause & Effect’ events, which introduced higher-tier battles to the league including Kinell vs Suus, Mos Prob vs The Calcium Kid and Matter vs Mr Tongue Twister.
Now, after several years of crafting, Kofi has released his debut album. Appropriately titled ‘Sentences For Sentience’, Kofi delivers something vastly different to the musical output of most battlers. This album has its own sound and messages that carry on throughout the entire piece to form a whole identity.
North East DJ BadFunk is really allowed to shine here and each track has a unique feel and catchy beat, offering the rarely-found trait of two tracks not sounding alike. His ‘Interlude’ in particular is bloody gorgeous. Also, his mixing, particularly on Kofi’s vocals, forms an electronic, synthesised sound. Kofi sounds like an artificial intelligence or somebody delivering his messages through a megaphone rather than a rapper in a studio. If Blade Runner was about battle rap, you’d probably find a few tracks from this album on the soundtrack.
Sam Strickland is on the artwork; a simple yet memorable image of Kofi’s face in white over a black background. Given the colourful nature of the album’s way of expressing its ideas, this contrast is inviting and welcome.
Collaborations have also been wisely selected. Only two tracks have other artists stepping in on the seven-track album, so not too much attention is taken away from Kofi. Out of the two Kofi chose, he went with a fully-established legendary battle rapper in Blizzard, and his buddy from down the road, yours truly.
The Blizzard track, ‘Serendipity’, challenges problems directly influenced by unstable capitalist class systems, while the Conman Curve track ‘Prayers’ delves into problems created by religion. Each track in general has its own main concept and the album combined is an introspective look at the self and also effectively a survival guide to the dangerous world we now live in.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re a general hip hop or grime fan, the sound here is so experimental that it could at first take you aback and startle you. This is Radiohead to Oasis, Massive Attack to Madonna. It stands out from the crowd and that only plays into the hands Kofi intended it to.
‘Sentences For Sentience’ is now streaming on Soundcloud here!