For many years Hyde Park has been the heart of student living in Leeds; the dimly lit tattered streets have held students bursting at the seams. This tight-knit student community has provided a perfect intersection for creatives, with music being the glue that draws residents together here, it’s no surprise that the manic community has spawned some of the UK's most influential musicians. Let's look at how hip-hop has flourished in this red-brick metropolis.
Kosher (Asher Kosher)
Kosher is a co-founder of the music collective ‘the silhouettes project’ a community-based platform for the new generations of jazz, hip hop and soul music in the UK. Kosher studied at the University of Leeds, majoring in French studies, from 2011 to 2015. This convergence of jazz and hip hop is classic of musicians coming out of Leeds. This could be due to the prestigious jazz course at the Leeds conservatoire, which has produced artists such as David Newton and Nikki Iles. The densely packed closely entwined life of a student living in Hyde park brings about a boiling pot of musical collaboration, from which inspires the likes of the silhouettes project.
Yusuf Yellow, an ex-student of Leeds Conservatoire who combines hard-hitting lyrics and melodic jazz ballads, floating keys mixed with Yusuf's consistently honest lyricism pushes an open conversation on mental health into the forefront of his music. As for many musicians, their work is a venting method for emotions and Yusuf certainly follows this trend, with tracks such as "lost but not forgotten" discussing his struggles as an up-and-coming musician and his fears surrounding the art. One of Yusuf's strongholds is his live shows, in which he performs with an 8-person jazz band (The Energy Collective). Consisting of some of Leeds Conservatoire's best musicians, his gigs bring an element of immersion, creating the music live onstage rather than the typical rapper and DJ performance dynamic. Yusuf brings together an element of collaboration to his live shows, which hip-hop often misses the mark on.
Lausse the Cat
One of Hyde Park's more elusive characters, Lausse is easily the most mysterious artist to come out of the student community. Following the likes of MF DOOM and CasisDead, Lausse hides his identity with a mask and his obscure music and unrevealing social pages leave a lot to the imagination. Lausse’s debut (and only) album "The Girl, the Cat and the Tree" is a beautiful reflection of Hyde Park living. Lausse takes the identity of a womanizing, chancing street cat battling issues of drugs and alcohol abuse. Flowing over sampled and relaxed jazz hip hop, we follow Lausse's journey as a lost soul trying to find his voice. His storytelling lets each song take on a different persona, which collectively open a hatch into the mind of this troubled cat. Lausse represents the epitome of the hectic yet endearing life of Hyde Park living and has curated a dedicated fan base throughout the world with social media groups getting together to try and find out more about the mysterious artist. However, it is this mystery that helps him live on, giving him a special place in Hyde Park's manic history.
Nix Northwest attended Leeds College of Music, (now known as the Leeds conservatoire) and graduated in 2019. He marked his emergence with the release of his debut album, "Lifes a Bitch, I Just Need an Early Night": an indulgence of whimsical keys paired with smooth vocals. Nix explores love, lust and a craving for rest in a conversational yet free-flowing manner. His unique style of rapping keeps listeners on their toes, leaving lyrics hanging and picking them up with a swoop of melodic keys. Nix also represents something which I wish there was more of within Hip hop, a true honesty and open-minded approach to discussing mental health issues. Nix seems to have continued from where Lausse took off, which is no surprise considering Lausse sparked the emergence of his sound after freestyling together at a house party. In songs such as "love rum and ginger" Nix explores the battle with himself through heart ache and his struggle to make a name for himself in this hectic scene. Nix also specialises in production, producing "for south" by Enny off the first "Silhouettes Project" tape. Nix's new album is loading, and as he teases us with two singles: "Satan Doesn’t Swim" and "The Occasional L", we look forward to hearing what he does next.
B-awhe the post-soul jazz singer developed her craft in Leeds alongside Nix Northwest and Lausse the Cat. Out of the three, B-awhe is the most jazz influenced and has unsurprisingly supported the likes of Nubiyan Twist in the process, as well as being named Jazz Revelations Breakthrough Artist in 2020. B-awhe specialises in poetic storytelling, letting a poem unfold through perfectly crafted vocal strokes, balanced with melodic instrumentals. B-awhe has an almost angelic voice. "Blueprint", featuring Lausse the Cat, for me is the perfect example of this, Lausse’s spiritualistic production perfectly complements B-awhe's lust for change. This is a good example of the type of music that Hyde Park's interwoven streets can create.