More than a decade old, and Nas’ “One Mic” is still one of the most poignant songs in hip hop history. The opening line struck a chord with his audience, becoming a landmark phrase within the culture at large.
For artists looking to break out today, the thirst is more than real. The idea of being able to shake up the status quo through their sound sits at the forefront of the ever-evolving landscape. This idea that one person can make an impact, that all they need is “one mic, one beat, one stage…” still resonates.
Mass Appeal asked our favorite musical acts “What’s one item they can’t live without?” For some, it’s something they always take with them on stage, for others, it’s just something they got as a kid and can’t let go. Join us, as we shine the spotlight on these artists’ stories and photos behind the item they can’t live without.
London’s sunniest afternoon, in song form
Plastic People, Shoreditch, London
Photos By Robin Mayes
Why we love her:
Sunny days spent basking in the hours that came before, that’s how Swedish-born, now London-based singer Fatima wants you to feel when you listen to her sultry drawls. Like a warm embrace enveloping you whole, there’s a word for a sound so pure: Timeless. Filling her musical horn of plenty with a lifetime of genre-spanning influences, late nights in underground clubs, and grin-inducing memories of her childhood in Sweden, Fatima explores the depths of history with her words.
“I moved to London seven and a half years ago, so during those years I’ve experienced a lot of different styles here in the city. I used to go out to club nights like Deviation, for example, run by a DJ over here called Benji B. And a club called Plastic People, which used to have all kinds of club nights. They used to play Broken Beat, Dubstep, and all kinds of things before it was popular— when it was just raw, really fresh and inspiring. I used to go to a lot of these nights and get all these new influences, and it really opened my mind to a lot of new sounds.”
On her debut LP, Yellow Memories, the Eglo Records artist blends soul, synths, and raw talent, to create a sunny glow over unexpected beats. Fusing new with the old, the result is something extremely special— something that holds you tight and promises to never let go no matter how often the tides change.
“It’s like my whole life. It’s like everything that I listened to, from when I was a child to now. It’s like all my past experiences listening to stuff. All the soul music, to stuff I listened to growing up like Lauryn Hill, SWV, Aaliyah, Erykah Badu to more present stuff. A lot of R&B music and I listen to a whole lot of hip hop. So it can be anything from Wu-Tang to Madlib, Tribe Called Quest, all the stuff from the ‘Golden Era.’ The list is so long.”
Drawing on the vast sounds of her surroundings— instead of trying to imitate what she was hearing in the clubs and on the radio— Fatima absorbed those influences into a world of her own.
“I’m just a fiend for different sounds and new artists. I’m always checking out new things, I just love music so much. There’s too much music to check out. Plus most of my friends, they are DJs, so they always put me on to a lot of new, and old stuff. I know some people do that, they just listen to their own stuff, and maybe it’s a good thing. But I’m just addicted to checking out new stuff all the time. You just want to stay inspired you know?”
“All I need is… my cassette tape player. Well basically, there’s a few different things I can’t live without. But to be honest, when I was thinking about this one… it’s like, I’ve had this cassette player since I was really young. I don’t even remember how old I was when I got it. It’s basically got like crazy effects, and bomb sounds [Laughs]. You can basically talk into the microphone and record on it, or just listen to cassettes and play around with effects. I always used to do loads of recording on cassettes when I was a kid. So for me, it’s kinda like a little nostalgic in that sense. It symbolizes analog sounds, and I just really miss that, in general.
It just takes me back to the time when you used to sit and make mixtapes and the sound was sometimes a little bit crackly, sometimes the cassette got a little messed up so you have to pull the whole thing out with a pen [Laughs]. So it just takes me back to that time, and I don’t want to let it go, because I love it so much.”
“Gave Me My Names” Resident Advisor Live Session
“I’m not against digital, analog— I just always gravitate to that more. I just feel like in general, it feels warmer and it’s got a little bit more soul to it. It’s got like a little more charm and feels a bit more alive in a way. It’s just not as cold and perfectly clean.
I still love today’s technology and the speed of it and what you can do with it. I think it’s amazing. You know, I think I try to find a balance between the two, but I think analog is always going to be close to my heart.
Fatima’s Yellow Memories LP is out this week via Eglo Records.