A Look at London Courtesy of Kay Ibrahim

Photos by  Michael Salisbury

Outside of our own, London’s music scene is one of the most inspiring creative communities in the world. We tapped on the shoulder of Kay Ibrahim, a portrait photographer, graphic designer and director out of East London, to ask him to put together a playlist for us featuring a handful of his favorite local selections. We caught up with Kay while he was in town directing for an exciting upcoming Chicago collaboration. Some of his recent projects include music video direction for Scott Xylo’s “Hold On” as well as work with Adidas, Billionaire Boys Club, BBC and photography for artists like Chance The Rapper, Big Sean, Gus Dapperton, Anderson Paak, Lil Skies and The Internet. While speaking about some of the featured tracks, Kay touched on the rise of London acts and similarities to the Chicago scene. Be sure to check Kay out on Instagram as well.


Please give the These Days audience a quick introduction to yourself.

Hey, I’m Kay Ibrahim; a photographer, director and all round creative from East London

Being pretty familiar with what’s going on Chicago, do you see any similarities in the London music scene?

Similar to Chicago where there’s a lot of community work going on where a lot of artists are uplifting each other. We have DJ’s such as Semtex, Tiffany Calver and Jamx Supernova giving these artists a place to shine. Bigger artists such as Skepta and Stormzy give support to newer artists on a grassroots level. I think the way both cities have very hardworking ethics mirror each other too. It’s a place of passion

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London seems to be a city of sides: East, Souf, etc. - does each section of the city have its own sound?

It used to be very evident how each place had its sound. But just like a lot of music nowadays, we have artists that are influenced from everywhere due to the internet. So it’s become very harder to distinguish. I guess there’s just sounds that feel very London

Is there anything you’re seeing really inspire the music coming out there at the moment, fueling trends, etc?

I would say the afroswing vibe is a trend. It’s really inspiring a lot of music nowadays. Artists such as J Hus and Notes are on that wave. Although I feel like afrobeats is inspiring music all over, even in hip hop. I guess there’s always a prevailing trend, but it influences different parts of the world differently.

Whats it been like to see artists like Rex & Jorja have the years they have / reaching national audiences after being hometown darlings for a couple years?

Man it’s crazy. Last year was actually the first time I met Rex, he was doing a studio session with the Peter Cottontale and the SOX boys. He was always incredible but back then even a short while ago it wasn’t a name that rung bells with everyone. But he worked really hard and now he is where he is.  Jorja definitely had people out here excited for quite a while. And now we see her doing very well. Coming to the world with a package, and amazing experiences from the shows to the videos. I think both her and Rex do that very well. It’s amazing to see, because talent past Grime is being observed in the UK and I think it was definitely about time

What’re some good publications we can follow to keep up with rising London acts?

Good publications to check out rising acts out here are Clash, Push Magazine, And Nation of Billions. Although The Fader, Complex and Pigeons and Planes put some great acts on. BBC 1 Xtra and Beats 1 (Julie Adenuga) is great

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Tell us a bit about the artists in your playlist.

Skepta - He’s a legend to us. My first actual CD was a boy better know CD. He’s been able to reinvent himself quite a few times over his career. He’s just legendary. I’m sure there isn’t much I need to say about him- We going to see you in Chicago again soon?

Sam Wise - Cheeky, infectious and catchy. There’s something about his raps that always make me sing along.

Bakar - Indie rock and alternative music isn’t  what you’d think of as being the top genres anymore, but Bakar has managed to bring his interpretation on those to the world this year. He clearly has influences in r&b and hip hop but he displays it in such a different way. He now has a track on Fifa as well as having a project I consider one of the best of the year period. Camden based. Ready to take over.

Kojey Radical - Artistic genius, who is the package. He marriages phenomenal hip hop, spoken word and visuals together amazingly.

Scott Xylo - Production genius for Leicester. Very experimental and meticulous it’s always hard to tel what he’ll do next, but it doesn’t matter because you know it’ll be good

Slowthai - Just pure energy and phenomenal percentage. His relationship with producer Kwes Darko is a marriage made in heaven.

Vicktor Taiwo - One of the most creative voices in the UK. His voice is beautiful and his music takes you on journeys. One of the strongest r&b voices out

MTMBO - Beautiful. Just beautiful. Textured music that takes you places

Cosmo Pyke - We won’t always hear music from Cosmo. But when we do. It bangs. With music that leans more in the indie realm. He dabbled in alternative as well as rap with his group Ammi Boyz. I haven’t heard music from him in a while but I am excited for when he next releases

Octavian - He blew onto the scene at the tail end of last year with the infectious song ‘party here,’ u think his melodies and uniqueness of his voice are really strong. His consistency is great. Whilst new I think he’s defo be up there when you hear UK music.