A quick note: Kojey Radical, 23 Winters
Every so often an artist arrives destined to disrupt the current mood. And when that happens, we have to cherish the moment. Only time can run the rule but it seems that Kojey Radical will be one of them.
And, as I sat in the listening session for ‘23 Winters’ last week, face buried in my hands;I found myself welling up as the soft mumbles of his father carried the project to it’s conclusion. The room fell silent and the lights flicked back on, and we gave Kojey a deserved round of applause, then I got up and without saying a word, left the room.
For the first time since I could remember, art had overwhelmed me, so much so that I couldn’t and didn’t feel like speaking. ‘23 Winters’ had moved me to my core, and had we listened to it again in that same session, maybe I would have burst out into sobs in front of the whole room. Instead, I paced the hallways, shaking my head in disbelief at what Kojey and his team had pieced together.
It was not just that the music was powerful, or that it was witty, or that it was evocative; it was that for perhaps the first time as a Black Briton, myself the son of immigrants, I could hear my story on a record. Somebody was telling my story, my mother’s story, the story of my Aunties and Uncles who had migrated from thousands of miles away to this island I now call home. In telling the story of his and his fathers, Kojey had inadvertently shed light on a generation.
Later that evening, sat in the Southbank Centre at a show Kojey had curated, my emotions now back in check, I talked through the project with someone else who had also heard it at the listening session that day. “He was telling the stories that we have in our houses,” she said, “And this generation has never seen that before.” I nodded along, still unable to offer much input. But that conversation helped put things into perspective, and made sense of what I was feeling. It was a soundtrack to a struggle.
And perhaps Kojey did not make ‘23 Winters’ for that purpose, perhaps he made if for himself, for his father, for his family or for an other half. Perhaps I had got it all wrong, but in that lies the beauty of his art, laced in his words is a message for everybody to take in. And for that, we must cherish these moments.