At first glance it would be easy to dismiss Incisive as just another UK rapper. After all, right about now the British music scene is overflowing with urban lyricists, which means that anyone looking to get a piece of the action needs to be bringing something different to the table.
Luckily 27-year-old Incisive doesn’t have a problem in this area, the west London-bred emcee not only writes his rhymes but he also produces the beats on which they are laid. AND when it comes to said rhymes and beats, his love of live instrumentation and knack for tackling topics a range of people can relate to, takes things to a whole new level, and away from what many of his peers are doing.
Incisive, or Rueben Adamah, as his family and friends know him, has been making music since 1992, he was in his early teens, when he and a friend created a rap duo called I.n.A (Incisive & Adrenaline). The group recorded a string of albums together and in 1998 reached the final of Choice FM’s respected annual talent showcase Rapology.Uk hip hop fans may also remember his name from the popular underground smash song London N.E.W.S, on which he featured alongside Baby Blue, Sway, and J2K. However these days Incisive is flying solo, after taking time out to do a Law degree, he is back with his self-titled debut solo album.
Kicking things off in style, with double AA side ‘Incisive’ and ‘Do It’, both are the perfect catalyst for his forth-coming self-titled album (all released 2nd August). Other gems on the album include ‘Don’t Forget to Call Me’ (feat. Yasmin Baker), a laid-back grove, which highlights the importance of the little things in a relationship, and ‘Nothing Compares’, which talks about the immense feeling of making good music from the heart, which perfectly sums up Incisive’s main mission. Don’t sleep on Incisive as he is set to shake up the industry in the biggest way possible.
How would you describe yourself as an artist?
I guess I’d say I’m a ‘Musical Integral Rapper’ – I’m from the brand of new age of rap, where I try to make my music ‘about something’- not just money and women, and I also don’t need to promote violence or negative things all the time. My music contains the everyday, honest, humble thoughts from an everyday, honest, humble man.
How did you get into production?
I was forced into production simply because there weren’t enough producers around at the time to give me as many beats as I wanted. I believe in “If you want something done, do it yourself” so I googled everything I needed to know to get my sound more professional etc and got into production. I was lucky that a youth centre round the corner from my house had a studio in there so I was able to use that until I could afford my own equipment at home.
Which producers out there do you admire?
Just Blaze and Timbaland are on the list but because I’m a music lover, so I admire the more “musical” producers like the Neptunes and Ryan Leslie. Also I love watching Youtube videos and I’ve seen quite a lot of theirs in the studio making music from scratch without session players. They can actually play instruments and I love seeing that. Recently though, the production team behind Rick Ross’ hits – Justice League are doing it for me.
UK wise, TE1 who produced a lot of tracks on my album is up there – Vol who produced “Do it” is a monster too and obviously Nutty P. I think those are my top three in the UK – all real music makers – not just samplers.
You’ve been doing this for a while now, what are the biggest changes in the industry between when you started and now?
Wow – I started a lifetime ago in the early 90s so almost everything has changed. I started before Mp3s, Myspace, iTunes, Twitter, before most people even had the internet at home. More importantly, I started before there was a proper urban mainstream scene in the UK. Everyone was doing Jungle or Garage – I couldn’t even get some friends to listen to my music because UK rap just didn’t make sense. Back then, you would literally send your demo-tape (cassette tape) to companies and cross your fingers.
Now, obviously we’ve got the online community – Myspace, iTunes, Twitter etc, and an expanding urban scene and UK rapper is found on every other doorstep. Now you can launch and sustain a career independently because of how easy it is to record your stuff and get it out to people. Everything has changed!
What is the most common bit of feedback you get about your live performance/music?
People normally come up to me surprised they liked it. I tend to perform in “different venues” – more indie band type venues in east London to a mainly “non-urban” crowd. So when I go on stage and say I rap, they all look at me like they are expecting me to talk about women and big chains or selling drugs. They tell me that they are “pleasantly surprised” that they can relate to my music and that they don’t normally listen to that type of thing, but like mine.
If you could do a duet with any female in the game, who would it be?
She isn’t in the game anymore but I’d love to do a track with Lauryn Hill. I’d get her to rap and sing “Doo Wop” style….yeah.
What inspires most of your music themes nowadays?
Life should always be the inspiration for your music so – my life as a regular 9-5-iver living his life is my inspiration. I’m trying to write as much stuff as possible now because this is the life people relate to, and in turn they relate to my music. If I get big and start living a life that most people don’t know, my music may reflect that and my listeners may not relate in the same way. Either that, or I’ll be rapping about how my life used to be – that’s what a lot of rappers do. I prefer to rap about the “now”.
Where do you go to bring out the best in yourself creatively?
Either my car or my bedroom I write the best stuff. If I had the choice, id never write in the studio because it’s always such a naturally dead environment. I mean there could be a vibe in the studio because of the artists but if you are all quiet and just look around, there are no windows. The sound is literally dead. It’s a very uninspiring environment, so anywhere outside the studio. Also, I don’t like to “look for creativity” or “sit down to write a song” – obviously you have to sometimes but normally a song will come to me – literally like ill hear a new melody in my head and I’ll have to rush home and make the beat or lyrics will just come to me… I prefer the organic approach to get creative.
Who in music today has got ‘it’ (everything you feel makes a great artist)?
Thing is, I don’t actually think anyone has everything you need that makes a great artist. I mean without naming names, the most successful artists at this present time might have great song writing abilities, great production behind them but maybe not “the look” that you may typically put to an artist. Or someone else might have all of the above but maybe not the best eye for the videos they put out or career decisions they make.
More importantly, I don’t think you need everything as that would be boring – I think it adds character if you are missing one small thing….it makes us more individual.
You are asked to write an official song for the world cup final, Mandela’s birthday or for the winner of the X-Factor, which challenge would you take up, and why?
I’d try and be smart about this one and probably do the winner of the X-factor. That’s a guaranteed number one – the others aren’t. In turn, I could ride the wave off my number one to write a World Cup song and a Mandela birthday song – you can have more than one World Cup or birthday song but there can only be one X Factor winner’s first song….
The AA side single Do It/Incisive is out August 2nd 2010
The album Incisive is out August 2nd, 2010
For more information: http://www.incisive1.blogspot.com
By Helen Page