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The Comedy of Errors

Rapper and Busker TrueMendous is Coming to Notts for UKYA City Takeover

23 January 19 interview: Bridie Squires

A master of the multisyllabic rhyme scheme, TrueMendous is a rapper and busker from Birmingham who recently upped sticks to the big smoke. In February, she's back in the Midlands as part of the UKYA City Takeover in Nottingham. A residential artist at The Roundhouse, she's been kicking out multi-genre, story-focused music with a mad work rate, and is currently putting together a new EP and book of lyrics. We caught up with the rising star ahead of her visit…

You’re a residential artist at The Roundhouse in London, what does that entail?
It’s a programme they run for up-and-coming musicians, helping them with gigs, events and networking opportunities. They’re the ones who told me about UKYA City Takeover in Nottingham actually. They’re pushing artists they think are worth helping.

How have you found the move from Birmingham to London?
It's a quicker pace, and there’s a lot more going on in terms of performances. You can accomplish a lot more in a shorter period of time; it’s developed me to a point I feel like I couldn’t push past in Birmingham. You can feel the competition here a lot more.

Tell us about the book of lyrics you're developing...
There'll be pre-existing material as well as new stuff. Pattern- and flow-wise, people can get lost in what I’m saying so this will offer the opportunity to understand everything more clearly. People can pay attention to what I’m saying rather than how I’m saying it.

Are there any artists that you admire or take inspiration from lyric-wise?
Ghetts is top tier. He’s articulate, and his flow patterns and delivery are all high-calibre. US-wise, I’d say Kendrick, J-Cole, and Wale. Wale is very underrated but he’s sick. My favourite is Andre 3000; his mind is just ridiculous. He’s crazy. And Lauryn Hill, obviously.

A lot of your music is focused on storytelling…
I do gravitate towards it. Funnily enough, I don’t read too much. It takes a specific kind of writer to draw me into a book; I loved Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, but in general I’m more into films and extract ideas through them. I enjoy stuff that makes you think, like The Butterfly Effect and Get Out. All that mad shit.

What kind of writing activities do you do to keep things fresh?
I put out sixty-second cover challenges and freestyle videos on Instagram. I'll take an instrumental, like a J Dilla or a Dr Dre beat, and base something off the title or extract the concept and put my own lyrics to it. Doing those little covers keeps me on my toes.

Are there any specific skills you’re looking to master?
I busk a lot, and that pushes me. I’m improving my clarity, delivery, pitch changes and flow patterns, and I’m playing with lyrics and the different ways of executing them. I'm teaching myself through busking.

Can you remember the first time you busked?
It was with Obi Rudo, who’s from Nottingham, funnily enough. He raps in French and English. I was working in retail at the time, and he got me into it. I saw him in Birmingham town centre, and we did a quick back to back; he spat a verse, I spat a verse. We made a quick ten-fifteen quid in a few minutes. I eventually left my job to busk full-time. I get commissions, gigs and workshops, but my income is mainly through busking. I've been all over the UK.

We saw you busking in JemVenturez’ YouTube video Somewhere in Manchester and he was loving you…
Yeah, I know Jem! He bought two CDs off me. I’ve seen him a few times now while I’ve been busking. It’s nice, you get compliments from people who want to support you. It’s a good way to network with other artists.

Is there a core message you want to put out with your work?
It's about self-respect and having the drive to achieve without having to rely on a normal nine-to-five, or a partner. It's about being independent, going for what you want, and not being afraid to be weird. I love creatives who don't stick to the rules.

What can we expect from your show for UKYA City Takeover in February?
I'm doing a mixture of three songs: old-school hip hop, a more trappy tune, and one with smoother undertones. Expect some energy. I'm looking forward to seeing some other artists, too. There's a big mix of creatives about.

Anything else you'd like to say to LeftLion readers?
Just that 2019 is the year of the weird musician! Don't be afraid to express yourself in ways that haven't been done before. Don't worry if people are gonna like it. Find out what the outcome is.

Catch TrueMendous at UKYA City Takeover in Nottingham, Thursday 7 - Wednesday 13 February 2019.

TrueMendous website

UKYA website

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