Rakin Niass is a conscious emcee and has been involved in the music business for over 20 years. He started with the world renowned British rap crew Cash Crew and went on to form Mecca 2 Medina, first Islamic hip hop group in the UK. Rakin has just released his first mixtape “The Road Less Travelled” for free download and features the likes of Tyson Amir (US) John Graham (US) Poetic Pilgrimage, Mohammed Yahya, Iron Braydz, Nomadic Poet just to name a few. Tricksta caught up with him to find out what goes down!
When did you start making music and was there a person artist that inspired you to start writing songs and hit the studio?
I started in the late 80s my group was called Cash Crew. When I left Cash crew I had a break from Music then started An Islamic Hip hop group called Mecca 2 Medina. This group did really well on the Islamic scene and saw us performing in the US, Africa, France and Norway to name a few countries. My favourite emcees had to be Rakim and Big Daddy Kane. I also used to like Roxanne Shante.
Let’s talk about your latest project, its sounding really tight. Who features on it, who dealt with the production and how long did it take to make?
It took about 6 months to make features on it are Nate, Muneera from poetic pilgrimage, Fiveeighty (US) Tijani Conscious (US) Singing vocals from Samiya and Joel Culpepper. Production is by French producer RMS Trizm and one track produced by Gravity.
How would you describe the music that you make? I know it’s hard to compare yourself to other artists and styles, but what kind of vibe is your music on?
My music is conscious and spiritual. I rap about the things I see around affecting the community. I make music to uplift the youths mentally and spirituality. I would say my music is a mix between Lowkey, Talib Kweli and Common.
What do you enjoy the most about the whole process of recording and writing music? Is there something that you absolutely love and is there anything that maybe you don’t like doing as much?
I love creating tracks. I love the process of getting a concept for a track then working with it until it is completed. I also like the idea of collaborating with artists.
Are you releasing your music on your own label or do you have a team that is aiming to help you get signed to a major?
I am on my own label and have been for a while. The good thing about that is that you are your own boss. The downside is that you have to support everything financially yourself. Promotion and marketing costs money.
How are you getting your project out there? Do you have a distributor involved or maybe some shops/websites stocking & supporting your music?
You can get my music on Bandcamp and soon on ITunes or at shows.
Getting radio play can be hard for unsigned Hip-Hop artists, but have you had any radio play and if so what DJ’s and stations have supported you?
Up until now I have been building a presence on the underground scene using the internet and doing underground shows. But with this EP I am hoping to get DJ's supporting the EP.
Do you enjoy playing live? Have you done many gigs and what kind of artists have you supported or played alongside?
Back in the days when I was in Cash Crew we supported Wu-Tang that was incredible. I have also supported the Gangstar. As Rakin Niass I have shared the stage with Keith Murray, Mohammed Yahya, Questra, Phoneixdaicefire, Poetic Pilgrimage, Jaja Soze, Ed Greenz
Let’s talk image and branding for a minute. Some artists spend lots of money on artwork and other acts aren’t that interested. How important is image, artwork and branding to you?
Image is important, especially for what I am trying to promote, which is the opposite to what a lot of emcees are promoting today. I want people to understand straight away that this is a conscious emcee who is spreading light.
What was the last album you brought and apart from Hip-Hop what other genres of music do you listen too?
The last album I bought was Pharaohe Monche (WAR), and the last album I downloaded was immortal technique Martyr. I love rare groove, Jazz and Afro-Beat.
Have you got any videos on You Tube and have any ever got played on TV Stations?
Yes I have videos on YouTube my most successful has been New World Order featuring Mohammed Yahya, And now I have the clarity video. I have had great feedback from both.
So what does the future hold for you as an artist? Have you got any big plans that you can tell us about before you go?
I am hoping to grow and grow as an artist. I am hoping to bring an album out next year with loads of features both from UK and US. I am also hoping to do more shows around the UK and abroad. I also have plans to write a book on my experiences in the music business.
Interview by Tricksta