On a freezing November night Genesis Elijah is getting interviewed in a Subway in central London whilst munching a foot-long sandwich and drinking oasis.
The interview setting could not be more appropriate, a true metaphor for what Genesis Elijah is doing with his career. He is looking to eat. He is hungry. Despite the frosty conditions, which have caused many journalists to cancel their opportunity to speak to Genesis before his album drops, he has time for every interview. Normally it is the artist that acts the diva but not this rapper.
It has been a long press day. It has taken Genesis across half of London, doing interviews at various locations and lasted from morning until evening. It has lasted so long that this is the first opportunity he has had to eat anything, but still took time to invite me along to break bread in these humble surroundings. It's not a problem for Genesis, he is happy to get interviewed in the fast-food sandwich store. Having taken a break from the music game for a few years he is now back for the long haul. He has found his oasis.
Genesis Elijah is back but “this isn’t a comeback” he says. He has not been gone long enough to call this a comeback. Three years is not long enough? It was far too long for the legion of fans Genesis had built up, during the years he stepped out from under the wings of his mentor Klashnekoff. Around seven years ago Genesis was making big waves in the industry with his raw, pure and perceptive rap sound. His first album (which he still says was not really even an album) ‘Deh Pon Road’ got massive critical acclaim, fans taking to his unerring style which was a far cry from the “bling rap” which was saturating the market at the time. Next he brought out a mix-tape CD called ‘Industrial Revolution’ which sold approximately 20’000 copies. At this time he was going around the world performing in shows from Spain to back hear at Glastonbury, getting on stage with the likes of Talib Kweli, the Wu Tang Clan and KRS One. So what came next? Nothing.
For reasons of his own Genesis decided to give rap a rest for a while. Then, after three years out, he just walked back in like he had never left. His flow and lyrics are still coming just as good and the hype about him is still there. We decided to find out what happened to make Genesis take a break from music, why he came back and how long he plans to stay in it.
GLASSWERK: Our first question is the most obvious one. Where have you been for the past three years?
GENESIS: I was raising kids, paying bills, arguing with my missus.
GLASSWERK: What made you stop making music and why have you come back to it?
GENESIS: A lot of people don’t understand that while I was gone I was still recording. But the people I was with weren’t putting the work in, so we would record something and it would never go anywhere so I just got frustrated to the point where I gave up on it for a while. Then I just felt like “You know what? No. I’m still gonna do this”. People were still messaging me saying they wanted to collaborate and fans wanted to know when my new stuff was coming out, so I knew people still wanted to hear me. People are not going to feel me forever, so while I got it I may as well use it. I say to all artists, as long as people want to hear you and you have the opportunity to make it – it doesn’t even have to be a large fan base – just as long as people listen, then make music.
GLASSWERK: Now you are back with a new album “Before I was Famous” – which is a very good title by the way – out on Dec 6th, at what is probably the best time ever to be a UK rapper. What are you looking to achieve with your album?
GENESIS: I just want people to hear it and I want us to get shows from it and keep doing what we do but maybe on a bigger scale and getting a bit more love. I want them to mention the Krate Krusaders and Genesis Elijah when they mention all the other great UK acts.
GLASSWERK: What can we expect from the new album?
GENESIS: A classic UK hip hop album. It is kind of nostalgic, talking about the journey of where I was to where I am now and how got here. It’s a really personal album.
GLASSWERK: Any big name features on it? Any particular tracks that stand out?
GENESIS: I haven’t got any big names on it and not many features. On the remix, I got Ruthless from Watford, and Trojan who is just sixteen from Tottenham. The stand out track is “For Genesis” or “Rap Music”. One of them tells you about how I felt before the game and the others tell you about how I feel after the game.
GLASSWERK: Did you ever think about trying to switch to a more commercial style for this album, perhaps trying to go for the American hip hop-R’n’B sound?
GENESIS: If I go commercial it would be something real, I would get a number one hit with something I like doing, I would never do something that is not me. People don’t understand, you can’t sell their hip hop to the Americans. N-Dubz and people like them are bringing a UK flavour to that style, they are just being themselves. America gave us this hip hop style and some people think they can sell it back to them. If you change it, do something a bit different, then yeah maybe they will want it then.
GLASSWERK: As an advocate of pure hip hop what do you think about the likes of Tinie Tempah, Chipmunk and N-Dubz?
GENESIS: A lot of people hate on N-Dubz and Chipmunk because they don’t see what they do as credible music but they are still opening up doors. The scene may be hip hop, grime and whatever but the music industry just sees us as urban, grouping us all together. So they bring attention to us and people need to respect that, even if they don’t like what they are doing they put the work in so you have to respect that.
GENESIS: Did the takeover of Grime hinder rappers with that pure hip hop style like yourself?
GENESIS: Grime gave our scene life again. Any of the hip hop rappers that came about after or during grime came with a more grimey style. Look at Klashnekoff and that last terra firma album, it had a grime feeling to quite a few tracks. JME on his last album they bigging up klashnekoff, it is a symbiotic relationship, you can not have on without the other. Although grime came from UK hip hop, UK hip hop went on to use grime to stay alive, feeding of grime until it could jump off and turn into it’s own thing again.
No one was respecting UK hip hop but the hardcore heads kept following. But those weren’t or aren’t the people that are now listening to Tinie Tempah. So the UK hip hop artists cant say they helped Tinie Tempah get where he is today. They can say they laid a foundation, they cant say they helped him get where he is today. Skinnyman did not help Skepta get where he is, he just laid a foundation.
GLASSWERK: You have done so many collaborations. If you could choose anyone to work with who would it be?
GENESIS: I would like to do a track with Wycliffe. A Primo or Rza beat would be nice too. UK wise though it would be Rodney P and we were meant to do a track together but I just longed it out so it never happened. Roots Manuva too, but not because it may help my career it is just because I respect them as artists and would like to work with them.
GLASSWERK: Can you see yourself taking another break from the music scene now or are you planning to put in a long shift this time?
GENESIS: Not for a while, there wont be time for a break, I am trying to make things happen. I am in a good position now but I wasn’t back then.
GLASSWERK: What can we expect in the future from Genesis Elijah?
GENESIS: It is going to be good. Good quality music, controversial music, thought provoking music and just a lot of good music. As long as people want to hear it, I will make it, as simple as.