Not many rappers can boast that their first ever live performance was at London’s O2 Arena, supporting hip hop legend, Nas. Such was the talent of Jordan Cooper, aka Coops, who at 23-years-old won Choice FM’s Breakthrough Competition, and the chance to perform alongside one of his formative influences. “I want to be inspired by the greats, rather than what’s current,” the North Londoner explains, citing Jay Z, A Tribe Called Quest and Eminem as other major inspirations.
Throughout his late teens Coops was making music with his friends, but it wasn’t until he looked at himself and the world around him that he changed his writing approach and decided to go it alone. “I’ve always had the mind-set that if I’m true to myself and where I am, as a social commentator or looking inside myself documenting that stage of my life, then I’ll have endless material.”
Signed to Deadicated Music, Coops released his first mixtape What Do You See in 2011, followed by 2014’s Lost Soul. Produced by long-time collaborator, Talos, it juxtaposed 90s hip hop era boom bap with fresh mellow vibes. Singles Chillin and Blessings quickly garnered plaudits across UK radio. Chillin was BBC Radio 1’s Introducing Track of the Week, and was championed by Radio 1 DJ Charlie Sloth, Kiss FM's Shortee Blitz and Capital Xtra's Ras Kwame. Tastemaker blogs Ear Milk, SBTV and Alt Sounds along with cult US hip hop magazine, Vibe, soon showed their support. Lost Soul is “a reflection of our generation. We’re all searching. We’re all lost souls,” he explains, with a wisdom beyond his years.
Momentum continued to grow as Coops’ headline show at the O2 Academy Islington sold out, much to his surprise. “To have people pay tickets to come and see me…that’s nice. People appreciated that I was trying to do something different.” This humble approach is integral to Coops’ perspective as an artist. “It’s hard for rappers today who have to fake it until they make it. Everyone is glorifying riches or girls – the stereotypical things that people presume come with success. I try to keep it real.”
Forthcoming album God Complex sees a different approach, both stylistically and practically. Rather than taking a pen to paper, he went into the studio, hit record, and saw what came out. “It’s freer,” he enthuses. “I’m experimenting with this record. It’s a lot more melodic and chorus-driven. It’s more about where I am as a person, and what’s going on in my head.”
Religious themes and metaphors running throughout, Coops points out that there is “a positive and negative duality, with moments of self-righteousness and doubt and questioning of my integrity.” Ultimately the record is a testament to self-belief and determination. “You can’t rap to people if you don’t believe in yourself, or what you’re saying…Having this God Complex, let me show you what I can do. I can do everything.”
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