Studying at Leeds College of Music, Cynikal graduated with first class honours, working hard to lay the ‘building blocks and foundations’ to see him right. He played live at the Olympic Park this year for the 2012 Games, and last year played at London’s Lovebox Festival.
He has received plenty of airtime across BBC 1Xtra, BBC Asian Network and Choice FM, and you only need to give his debut mixtape Breakfast a couple of spins to understand why. Cynikal takes his music seriously, and it shows in his well delivered rhymes and flawless production, coming from a songwriting perspective that he calls his ‘personal therapy’.
Have a read of our 30 seconds with London’s up-and-coming hip-hop star to see what makes him do what he does.
How long have you been making music?
I’ve been active as a hip-hop artist for nearly 12 years now, but my musical journey began much younger. My earliest memory is playing various different instruments at the age of four.
What inspired your new album?
The Breakfast mixtape was inspired by a number of things that had been running through my mind for a year or so before producing it. It had been a very difficult time, both personally and professionally, and writing these songs was like personal therapy for me – although I guess in this case, more public therapy.
What process do you go through to create your music?
It always starts with the instrumental, always! Whether it’s producing my own music, or sourcing a beat from elsewhere, I can only ever write lyrics to the music. The music is the foundation and the direction. Lyric writing for me is just transcribing the language of the instrumentation. After that, I’ll get into the vocal booth and just vibe it out. I like to record my songs as whole takes, so the essence of performance is really captured. I’m not a believer in highly refined vocal deliverance – in my mind, it’s somewhat of a contradiction of human nature.
How would you describe your sound?
My sound is hip-hop, for sure. Of course there are so many different kinds of influences brought in from other genres, but that’s natural. I’m a sponge yearning for information and so I’m going to pull from as many sources as I can. I think that’s why many people say my brand of Hip hop isn’t as intimidating as most, because I don’t place too many boundaries on my pool of inspiration.
What would your dream collaboration be?
Dream collaboration? There could never be just one! For me, the dream would be to work with as many talented individuals and groups as possible.
Where can we catch you performing next?
I have a few gigs in the coming weeks, but the one to highlight would be 5 September at the Paralympics. I’m performing two 30-minute sets on the bandstand stage – that will be special, much like the Olympics gigs were for me at the beginning of August.