Novelist chats to Kennedy Taylor about Selfridges Shakespeare reCITED and The Warehouse Project.
Combining austere, confident rapping with sharp, bass-heavy rhythms, both of which recall the early work of genre pioneers Dizzee Rascal and Wiley, Novelist emerged as one of the British grime scene’s most notable MCs and producers of the 2010s. Born Kojo Kankam in 1997, Novelist co-founded South London grime crew the Square in 2012 with fellow teenaged MCs DeeJillz and Elf Kid, and DJ/producer Lolingo. The crew expanded to include other MCs and producers, such as Grandmixxer and Streema, and the group began making pirate radio appearances in late 2013. That same year, Novelist’s grime instrumentals began to receive airplay on London’s underground radio airwaves, and he began recording vocal tracks with producer Mumdance. By early 2014, Novelist’s tunes were a fixture on BBC Radio 1Xtra and Rinse FM playlists, and he recorded guest sessions for the stations. Mumdance’s “Take Time” (featuring Novelist) was released by Rinse that June, and the track instantly became a grime anthem, eventually placing in several year-end singles polls. Novelist also released an instrumental EP, Sniper, on Oil Gang that summer. Meanwhile, the Square had signed to No Hats No Hoods, who released the crew’s debut EP The Formula in August of 2014. In September, Novelist was nominated for Best Grime Act in the MOBO (Music of Black Origin) Awards, and the BBC included him on the longlist of their Sounds of 2015 survey later that year. In early 2015, Novelist and Mumdance released an EP titled 1 Sec on XL. That September, Novelist left the Square in order to focus on his solo career. In October, the MC/producer opened for Major Lazer during the London stop of their European tour. Novelist guested on Baauer’s debut album, Aa, in early 2016, appearing on the song “Day Ones.”