We at illRoots came up with the idea to expose some of the most talented up and coming artists we could find. Every other week, starting today, we will feature a new artist. Each featured artist is interviewed by either myself or kinggs, and we will then post some audio of why they are so freakin’ good so you can see for yourself.
The first artist that we have featured is a young, very talented, British R&B singer by the name of Kojo Best aka Enké. I discovered this musician on YouTube, one of my favorite websites. I was searching for some Gnarls Barkley, and came across Kojo’s version of Crazy. Instantly I was like “WOW! This dude can sing!”. Intruiged, I went to his channel and watched another video. Just as good, if not better. An hour later, I found my self still watching all of his videos. Boasting a proud 60+ video’s, Kojo is obviously a very enthusiastic musician, open to any and all tips or feedback.
A few days later, I contacted him regarding being featured and interviewed on illRoots, and he was just as excited as I was. We talked for almost an hour straight, constantly falling off topic and just discussing the wonderful world of music. I now give you our interview in most of its entireity.
Wacks: Your style is reminiscent to a John Legend with a little bit of Slick Rick when you bust a rhyme. What artists did you grow up listening to and who would you say are your biggest influences?
Kojo Best: I grew up listening to various styles of music. Everything from RUN-DMC, to The Beatles, to Bob Marley. I loved the era of early to mid-90’s, so stuff like A Tribe Called Quest. That’s the stuff I grew up listening to.
W: Were your family and freinds an influence in your music choice?
KB: Both. Music brought me very close to my dad, so i’d go through his collection, which was alot of Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfeild, etc. I got put onto hip hop by my friends. These are very abriged answers. Prince [was] MAJOR. Michael Jackson, MAJOR. James Brown… I better stop.
W: Haha. Ok. Its obvious based on some of your videos that your a big Slum Village fan. If you could descirbe J. Dilla in one word what would it be? How would you describe yourself in one word?
KB: Wow. J. Dilla i’d have to say pioneer… I just think that whole genre, neo hip-hop nu hip-hop i’d call it) was so heavily influenced by him. Arists like 9th Wonder, etc. I think him and Pete Rock are giants in that sort of genre, but Dilla more because I tihnk his stuff is a little more abstract.
W: I could listen to them for days. Also MF DOOM, Madlib, Premeir, etc.
KB: We think alike for real. Real hip-hop as they say. There’s also a great pshycadelic kind of quality to Dilla’s stuff which has been used by loads of people today. Strange Fruit Project spring to mind.
W: You know Strange Fruit Project?!?! Your like one of the only other people I know that have even heard of them haha.
KB: Haha for real? They are nice. They have an album called Soul Travellin’. There’s a track on there [called] “Luv Is”. I had that on repeat for like a month.
W: Yeah, I love that track.. Ok, lets try and stay on topic haha. How would you describe yourself in one word?
KB: Hmmm…. That’s tough… Ummm… I’d have to say dreamer.
W: Why’s that?
KB: I dream alot. Dream of the future. I have big dreams. Dreaming used to take up too much of my time, but now i’m working towards making them a reality. I just dream of being succesful in the music industry.
W: That’s definatly the right attitude. How old where youu when you decided to begin playing the piano? What made you want to take it up?
KB: My parents asked my younger brother and I if we wanted to take lessons when i was 7 years old. We said yes. So we took lessons learning scales, arpeggios, classical pieces etc. I was very fortunate, my parents made sure we practiced everyday from a young age. I started playing in church when I was 11. That’s where I began developing my ear. By 14 I got tired of playing structured stuff.
W: So you can read notes, just choose to play by ear?
KB: I can read, very poorly mind you. I think my talent lies in listening and playing. My younger brother on the other hand, give him a piece of music, he’ll knock it out. His playing by ear is not as strong. My sight reading was always my biggest weakness, its something i do want to continue working on in the future.
W: I tried alto saxaphone and bass… failed miserably. Which leads me to my next question, what is your best advice to aspiring musicians?
KB: Well it’s always an advantage to start very young I think, so i’d tell parents that. To aspiring musicians I’d say, at the risk of sounding cliché, practice makes perfect. Practicing for half an hour a day at least will definatley yield results. Just to add to that, NONE of my videos are done in one take. Some styles of play take hours, days even weeks to perfect. I’m still developing every day. I’m not the piano player I want to be. I’m not the pianist i’ll be next year. Next year I’ll be greatly improved, but it will only come with practice.
W: That’s a very wise statement, I need to remember that. If you could work with one artist, living or not, who would it be? What would be the first thing you would record?
W: Don’t ya just love these kind of questions haha.
KB: Haha, for real. My head hurts…. Ummm, let me think. I’d love to sing with Karen Carpenter. She actually had the same birthday as me funnily enough, but i’d love to do harmony with her. I would have loved to work with Marvin Gaye. In terms of production, I always envisioned doing an album with a J. Dilla kind of feel to it, so I would have loved to have been able to give him my demo tape. I’d love to work with John Legend also.
W: Yeah, all those collaborations I could imagine very well.
KB: Oh, and how could I forget, D’Angelo. Another huge favorite.
W: Whenever I hear the name D’Angelo, I think of that video where he’s singing naked…
KB: Hahahahahaha, yeah I know. It became his trademark.
W: I wish he never did that, he had a great voice.
KB: Hahahaha, “had”. He lost his voice with the clothes huh?
W: Hahahahaha. Ok, last question. You said earlier that you wanted to give Dilla your demo tape. Are u planning on heading into the studio to work on another demo or an album anytime soon?
KB: Sure. I’m writing songs at the moment. I’m also working with my cousin Pha Ro’s label in Atlanta, called Sphinx Music which i’m a part of. We are working on a debut album at the moment. I hope to fly out to Atlanta during the summer and go into the studio then. We’ve been working on this project for a while.
W: Your living in the UK now, correct?
KB: I am. The only thing that stopped me from moving was being in school, but i think this is the year that I can really immerse myself into working on a successful project.
W: Ah, thats great to here. Ok, all done! Want to give some shoutouts?
KB: Yeah. My cousin Pha Ro aka Som in the ATL from Sphinx Music, Akua in South London, my man Andre in South London, and Stanley in Birmingham. And also ILLROOTS for having me!
W: Haha, thank you very much for your time.
KB: Thank you.
Here is an MP3 of his version of P.D.A. (We Just Don’t Care) by John Legend.