Lyrican is a rapper from the UK making huge waves with his equally huge hits. He's worked with the likes of DJ Drama, Jay Z, and Wu Tang, among other legendary figures, and recently released the video for "What You Want," a stunning piece of work that highlights his progress so far, as well as his potential in the future. We got the chance to ask him some questions, where he told us a bit about Manchester, his musical influences, and his opinions on UK v US rap.
EARMILK: First things first, you're a rapper from Manchester, which isn't specifically known for its rap scene (as you've stated in a previous interview). How do you think growing up one step away from the scene has made you different from the other rappers out there? Has it influenced you differently than some of the people you meet in the game today?
Lyrican: Growing up away from the scene has made me more original in many ways- accent, flow, overall style etc. A lot of rappers from London sound the same, it has also made me hungrier and more lyrical as I have always had to go harder in order to stand out in an UK scene that revolves around the capital.
It has definitely influenced me differently, I've had to work harder and produce more material to get my name out there. I want to be the one to put my city on the map like never before and that just gives me a greater drive.
EM: You started making a big name for yourself at the age of 16, and on top of everything, you also sing. Did you always know at a young age that you'd be going into the music scene?/ was there ever a special moment when you knew that you wanted to dedicate yourself to making music?
L: Yes, from the age of 16 I wanted to pursue a career in music, and deep down I just felt like I was made for it. I knew I could be great even before I was. I realised I wanted to make music my life over a space of a couple of months, it was the thrill of my first ever studio sessions, and people just praising me telling me how good my rhymes were. I always get a buzz out of getting a great reaction from people.
EM: In a previous interview, you talked about the diversity of Ed Sheeran and his strength as a musician and singer. Do you have a lot of influences beyond rap and hip hop? Who would you say are your biggest influences right now?
L: I have many influences outside of the rap world- Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, the Beatles, the Stone Roses, Electric Light Orchestra, Queen, Elton John, Prince and loads more. I don't narrow my taste down to one specific genre, I am a fan of greatness in any form, in any style.
Right now I'm drawing a lot of influence and inspiration from Kanye West, he is a modern day genius. His passion, talent and ambition is immense. I'm also being influenced a lot by Jay Z, Drake, Frank Ocean, Miguel, and Big Sean.
EM: In your song, “What You Want,” you've managed to keep your roots tied to the UK styles of rap music, yet also dabbled enough to appeal to a wider audience. Where do you see the future of rap going in both the US and the UK? How do you plan on staying ahead of the game?
L: The U.K. will always be behind the U.S. when it comes to rap, you guys own it and that will never change. We're just babies in the rap world, but just like U.S. rap, U.K. rap will get bigger, and I reckon more U.K. rappers will break through stateside. I'll stay ahead simply by making sure I have multiple styles locked, so whether I'm here or over there, the people will feel me.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iS_GjptoXU
EM: The UK scene is starting to infiltrate the US, and guys like Danny Brown have brought Scrufizzer in to feature on his album. What would you say the US could learn from the styles and sounds of UK rap and vice versa?
L: I don't know if you guys can learn from U.K. rap and I'm just being honest, [the] production is better, and the rap skills are better over there. We have so much growing to do. As for learning from U.S. rap, thats really all we've ever done!
EM: Do you tend to stick to the same producer(s)? What do you look for in your beats, how do you decide on which ones to rap over?
L: I will never work with just one producer, i believe in having a team of talented producers, the best music is made that way. I want to work with lots of producers. When it comes to picking beats, I have to feel [it], the beat has to grab me. The quality has to be there, it has to be powerful and draw me in.
EM: How did the collaboration with DJ Drama in 2011 come about? What was the experience like?
L: A friend of mine knew Drama, we sent my tape over to him, and he said he would host it. I was over the moon of course, and a few weeks later he sent it back and I was blown away. He killed it, history was made.
EM: Any chance you can tell us what some of the exciting things you have coming up musically?
L: I have a lot of new tracks I'm workign on, absolute fire. I have a freestyle on Justin Bieber's "Heartbreaker," just because I heard the track and was like "yo i have to kill this." That will be out soon. There's loads of new music being worked on, the main thing I'm focusing on is getting the right people behind me, I'm so eager to get to the next level now.
EM: Any words of advice to anyone trying to make it in the rap game?
L: Just practice, work hard, have a plan, set yourself goals and always have a hustle on the side, a job or whatever because you never know what can happen. You need to eat and provide for your family or at least contribute, don't go thinking your going to make it over night and become rich instantly because that's not going to happen. Stay focused and think realistic.