Meet the British rapper dropping tales of domestic struggle over old school beats and classic jazz samples.
Words by Joshua Gaskin-Brown
With a sound that demonstrates the duo’s musical ability and showcases their wide range of inspiration which ranges from Jazz vibes player Milt Jackson to legendary beatmaker J Dilla, Blue Lab Beats have crafted a sound that is both experimental and accessible. The two joined forces a few years ago meeting at WAC Arts in Hampstead. Since then they have released plenty of singles online, EPs and remixes along with their 2018 project Xover.
Hailing from Golders Green and Hendon, members NK-OK and Mr D.M both had a musical upbringing, (NK’s father previously managed Laura Mvula), learning instruments from a young age and falling in love with jazz and hip-hop music. Meeting each other at a youth arts organisation, WAC Arts in Belsize Park, the two formed a musical connection and in 2016 began making and releasing music under the name Blue Lab Beats.
When they met, NK-OK aka Namali Kwaten was only 14 and making beats using an old computer program on an old laptop, when his talents caught the ear of instrumentalist David Mrakpor. They began making instrumentals for other artists, combining Mrakpor’s instrumental prowess with Kwaten’s beat-making ability. Fast forward a few years, they’ve signed a publishing deal with Believe Digital and are one of the leading forces in the London jazz scene.
Xover is a 16 track project featuring artists like London R&B artist Ruby Francis, exciting Rapper Kojey Radical and many more. This project demonstrates everything Blue Lab Beats is about, with its swinging modern boom bap beats combined with neo-jazzy instrumentation provides a perfect look into the future sound of London jazz.
Blue Lab Beats Blue Skies EP- This was most peoples first introduction to the duo, this EP is a perfect introduction to the London beat-smiths.
Pineapple feat. Moses Boyd, Nerija – This deep electronic jazz song is a favourite, combining elements of afrobeat with jazz and hip-hop, this unique cut is perfect for the dance floor as well as being a perfect sonic depiction of the young jazz scene in London.
Where can I see them live?
Catch Blue Lab Beats live at the Jazz Cafe, London on the 16 and 17 March 2019, performing a tribute to the jazz-rap classic Jazzmatazz, by the late great Guru.
Tickets are available now through TicketWeb.uk