Introducing Kensaye Russell a dynamic yet distinct Hip-hop Soul Producer from London. Originally representing France and Haiti, he has been living in the UK for over 11 years and has made music for Artcha, Mensa, Speech Debelle, and Femi (From Kidulthood/Adulthood). Kensaye music has recently been played on Westside Radio and Mystic FM, and has also featured in Hip-Hop Connection Magazine, the Mercedes-Benz Mixed Tape 27 and BET Awards UK Cypher – which is his greatest achievement to date. He has released his first beats album ‘Introspective’ which consists of 24 instrumentals catering to each fan of various genres of music, displaying a mix of versatility, flair, and eclectic style. Currently busy working on an array of new musical projects, Flavour took a minute to catch up with him.
Who is your favourite producer?
Who can you not go a day without listening to?
I don’t listen to music every day, it helps my creativity to not be submerged with other music all the time.
Where does your artist name derive from and what is its meaning?
My artist name is my birth name. It’s originally from Mali and it means ‘The wise,’ not that it completely suits my character! It was given by my mother as she was watching a Malian film in the cinema whilst pregnant with me. ‘Kensaye’ was called out a few times and I was kicking. In some ways you could say I chose my own name!
Who would you most like to work with past or present?
Sway in the UK Talib Kweli in the US
What would you ideal working day consist of?
Waking up bright and early with breakfast made by my girlfriend, have a dip in the pool and make a beat in the studio. Later on, Jay-Z would pop down for a session and in the evening I could be found dining at the finest restaurants whilst watching live music.
Do your beat productions tell a story, if so what message do you aim to convey?
Sometimes I create tracks with specific themes and ideas in mind and sometimes it’s just a sample I picked up or a melody in my head that inspired me. Messages I try to convey are usually everyday issues or frustrations that I encounter through life or on the news. Now, what the rapper or singer will talk about on the beats is not always in my control unfortunately.
Who is your favourite Hip-hop artist and why?
I love Talib Kweli, he’s been my favourite for years. I love the way he tackles social issues in a simple but yet intelligent way. His style of writing is very journalistic and not judgemental, he lets listeners form their own opinion. Add a sick flow to that and for me it’s the perfect package.
Which is your favourite track of yours?
In the Beat CD available for free download on the Band Camp website my favourite beat is ‘Aftermath.’
It reminds me of a hard Dr Dre beat, hence the title of the track.
Which is your favourite existing instrumental?
I can’t just single one out but a lot of the J Dilla instrumentals are mind blowing.
What motivates you?
Good or bad feedback. And also people on my level doing banging tracks. I hate at first, then I congratulate and finally I improve my skills.
Two legends – which one do you favour and why, Biggie or Tupac?
Tupac, because I was one of those troubled teens, and Tupac was the typical teenager role model in those days. It’s all in the ‘Nothing to lose’ mentality he had.
Your style genres – which do you prefer Hip-hop or Soul?
Hip-Hop! But I do love Soul music.
In the next 5 years where do you see yourself with your music career?
Front cover of your mag at least!
What do you consider to be your biggest achievement to date?
When I DJ-ed for the UK B.E.T awards Cypher for Chipmunk, Ghetto, Skepta and Giggs.
And what is the biggest thing you would like to achieve?
Sky’s the limit!
Interview by Kemi Giwa, Photography by Kibla Ahmed