Seriously, this is up there in the top five of our favourite UK projects this year. A few weeks back, Canning Town emcee Ayar dropped the uncompromising Off The Corner, his third mixtape, after Good Is Getting Better and collaborative project with Rageouz Authentape. Describing the new work as “a reflection of my past and present, which displays my growth both sonically and mentally”, we were immediately struck by the project’s honesty and soulful and R&B inspired vibes. We caught up with Ayar to talk about the release, and introduce you guys to an emcee who is surely set to light up 2016!
Check Ayar talking influences, Off The Corner and the future with our exclusive interview below:
Tell us a bit about Ayar – What ends are you from? Where did you grow up/ where are you based now?
My parents were born in Nigeria, from a state called Enugu. They moved here in the 90s and had their first child in London around the same time. I’m one of 4 siblings all born and raised in East London. I’ve been at the house I’m at in particular since I was 1 so that make it 21 years now.
How old are you + any other interesting personal information –
I’m 22 now – not too sure what comes to mind on the spot when I try to think of something interesting about me, erm, I’m a twin and we feel the same thing at all times haha. Not really but people tend to ask that when they find out I have a twin sister.
Where’s the name “Ayar” come from?
Like a majority of us I had a few tag names growing up in secondary school. “Switch” and “Blizzard” were the ones I can remember. The one before Ayar was Switch which came about from the temper I had. Ayar was given to me by a friend in my team – I wanted to come up with a name that was similar to my real name but not quite that. It comes from the first two letters in my name Arinze – nothing too complex about it.
Are there any crews/ collectives you’ve worked with in the past and/or work with now?
No crews you may have heard of, all really just people in my school and people I grew up with. We had our little crew in secondary but everyone grew up basically and went on their own paths. Right now It’s mostly in house with a few exceptions – I’m constantly working with people in my camp one50.
Give us a basic outline of your journey through music so far – when/how did you come into being an artist, and what has happened up to this point?
I enjoyed rapping/rhyming/mcing from a young age as most of the young boys in my age bracket did. This just tends to develop and continue in some more than others. I wrote my first lyric in year six around eleven years old. Once I got into secondary school it became an enjoyable hobby. As the years went on I decided to take it a bit more seriously and paid a bit more attention to my craft. By the time I was around sixteen I decided I wanted to make a career out of it somehow and have been trying to do so ever since. I made my first mixtape in my first year of uni while studying Graphic Design, during those three years I made a project every year with the last one being Authentape, a joint mixtape with my brother Rageouz. My previous bodies of work were good but not as detailed and intricate as our joint project, from there we received a lot of positive feedback and have been just continuing to make more material
Are there any specific artists from back in the day that particularly inspired you?
A lot of them. To name a few Kano, Dizzie, JME, Wiley, Skepta, Jay Z, Outkast, Ja Rule and Nas. A lot of R&B has influenced me as well, Aaliyah, Ashanti, Brandy and a lot I can’t name but am starting to recognize from my older sister playing while I was a little younger.
What are your plans for the next year and further? Are there any upcoming projects you want me to shoutout?
No projects as of yet but I aim to begin my next one before the end of the year – whatever it develops into is for time to tell.
“Off The Corner” has a very defined sound, almost like a concept work – can you tell us about its influences and what it represents for you as an artist?
I have many influences from the grime scene but mixed these with a lot of American rap and R&B as I got a little older. I don’t tend to think about it that much but just rap on what I like, and haven’t heard of in the current musical climate we’re in now. I like to keep the ideas that I think make classic music and mix it with new influences and sounds. Once I had a couple tracks down I started to see the pattern in sound and, what I wanted to add and maybe already have enough of. Conceptualizing it became a lot clearer and easier to get across from the artwork to the visuals, and content
Have you/ are you currently doing shows? If not, are there plans for shows in the future?
No shows have been booked as of yet but I would like to get some bookings in as soon as possible.
If you could work with any UK MC or producer right now that you haven’t already, who would it be?
Right now, to name a few: Kano, PBGR, Naira, Rageouz, Prechersoul, JME and S-X .
UK urban seems to be going through a very healthy patch at the minute – are there any artists nationwide that you’re particularly feeling right now?
I like what Tory Lanez is doing with his sound, Bryson Tiller, Nipsey Hussle, Isaiah Rashad, Vince Staples TEdness – the list goes on.
Grime and the UK sound is finally properly taking off overseas recently – if you could perform in any other city in the world, where would it be?
I’m not too familiar with the culture and environment overseas but the first place that comes to mind is New York. I’ve been told I have an East Coast type of feel to an extent and would like to perform in a place that is so hugely known for birthing such talent as Nas and a lot other legends.
Make sure you check out Ayar on his social media connects below: