‘BLINDING’, the brand new single from East London singer, songwriter and musician J APPIAH, as premiered via Clash Magazine, is a frank examination of J’s interior anxieties with his developing career. In an industry that literally commodifies artists, it’s both a cautionary tale and a creative expression of the mental labyrinths an artist passes through just trying to stay human in an industry that peddles idols and products.
Appiah’s ‘Blinding’ is no heavenly one, though musically, you could trace in its Hip Hop beat, shades of blues and gospel emanating from his soulful vocal delivery, beautifully assisted by Submotion Orchestra’s Ruby Wood. Petitioning for forgiveness and invoking the blinding lights, Appiah cleverly subverts classic musical themes, reviving them in the context of a cautionary tale.
All that glitters is not gold, and the meretricious allure of fame, its promises of the paparazzi flashbulbs and the engulfing spotlights, are framed as toxic to the artist struggling to manage their own expectations of themselves. Above all, ‘Blinding’ evokes Appiah’s home city of London in all its diverse, vibrant, expansive, nocturnal mutant glory, reminding us of what it is to be alive and to be human in its cold concrete embrace.
Speaking about the inspiration behind ‘Blinding’, J Appiah says, “this new track ‘Blinding’ is about my desire to be well known as an artist but also my apprehension with regards to the pitfalls of it. It’s about people judging you for who they think you are before they’ve even met you. It’s also about being seduced by the idea of popularity. I think today there are many ways you can become well known, everyone seems to want their 15 minutes of fame”.
J Appiah’s pointed observational songwriting stems from a lifelong fascination with people on both microscopic and macroscopic levels. Having finished a degree in Social Anthropology, observation is something that has always informed and given shape to his creative and interior life. According to Appiah, “people bring colour to life and life is at the heart of everything”.
Musically, Appiah finds kinship with his listeners. The act of creating music for J Appiah is the art of finding and conveying possibilities, in lyrics and in music, to feel human and alive in a metropolitan environment that can often seem cruel, disorientating, and larger than us. Music is our common escape, and from the moment the listener presses play, Appiah lets us know that we’re not alone.
Raised on an early diet of whatever records he stumbled across in his estranged father’s vinyl collection, J decided from childhood that music would be his outlet. Learning his musical chops at a local Saturday music school, his eclectic tastes were given a fertile environment to grow. The sonic poetry of Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo and James Blake converged here, and later, the cultural environment of Hackney and the UK rap scene sculpted him into the mature artist he is today.
Whether lost in the ineffable emotive range of a Daddy Lumba record or finding an outlet for his aggression in the fierce bars of D Double E, J Appiah is a cultural magpie, absorbing all that glimmers in his own taste and channelling what he’s learned into his raw songwriting. Appiah has lent his vocals to Jess Glynne, immersed himself collaboratively in Damien Lazarus’ Ancient Moons project on Heart Of Sky, and featured on Michael Kiwanuka’s Out Loud live album.
The Hackney native has also received strong support from the likes of BBC 1Xtra, 4 Music, Complex, BBC 6 Music, Clash Magazine, MTV Base, Dummy Magazine and The Line of Best Fit recently, while his last project ‘Travelight’ garnered rave reviews and strong acclaim from fans and the industry alike, and it’s anyone’s guess where this inimitable new artist will go next.