Wrap Up And Watch Out: Lifelines
You may recognise LifeLines from Channel 4's ‘Seven Days’, the programme that followed the day-to-day lives of London's Ladbroke Grove residents. Since then the producer and rapper has been on his grind. The Wrap-Up's James Walsh caught up with the man from West London to discuss his musical influences, performing poetry for Quincy Jones, working with Angel and what exciting things the future holds...
The Wrap Up: Hi LifeLines! Lets go back to the beginning - who were your musical influences growing up?
LifeLines: My mum always had loads of vinyls around the house and my first taste of music came through listening to a lot of Motown - the likes of Berry Gordy, The Commodores and Aretha Franklin. Then as I got older US Hip-Hop really spoke to me. Artists like Common, Nas, Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Lupe Fiasco; all very soulful hip-hop artists.
TWU: You produce and rap. Which came first and how did each develop?
LifeLines: I definitely started producing first! I was so young when I started I had no real production equipment; I just had a computer with a recording device. I'd steal my mum's vinyls, play them and hold the microphone next to it to record the song. I'd then chop the recording up in the computer and make music over the top of it. Then I started doing poetry in school, performing in plays and winning poetry jams.
My mum and I go to the US for Thanksgiving every year for an event that the poet Maya Angelou holds. Quincy Jones and Oprah Winfrey would be there and I'd have conversations with them without understanding who they were at the time! I had a friend who was doing the same thing as me but he had a lot more rhythm to his poetry, you could hear a beat and move your head to the way he recited it and that's when I went back to the producing. I got all my old files and started practicing rhyming to a time signature and started doing faster and faster songs. For about 2 years I didn't perform, I just practiced getting a flow to my poetry. The producing definitely helped me enhance my rapping skills and I've felt I'm at a strong level for some time now.
TWU: How would you best describe your sound?
LifeLines: The rapping I'm doing now is an extension of my poetry and there's a very soulful element to the music I make, whilst the bars in a lot of the tracks I've done are hard with real depth and intricate wordplay. I really rate artists like Klashnekoff and Sway; all of my inspirations have had a part to play in my sound. Saying that, I am an artist in my own right. Alongside the deeper, soulful stuff, I like doing upbeat songs too.
TWU: When did you realise you could make a career out of music?
LifeLines: I became a qualified engineer at my studio in Ladbroke Grove back in 2006 and I've been grinding hard since then. However, it was when I first hooked up with Progression from Parallel Music that I really felt I was moving in the right direction and could do this for a living. He took me under his wing and we made 5 tracks together; through him I met people like Angel.
TWU: Your track with Angel 'Love’s Crazy' caused a fair bit of noise! How was it getting such a good reaction to the song?
LifeLines: It's been incredible. I played Angel the instrumental and he went mad for it! Angel's a huge talent, so I gave him the track. Later, I asked if I could have a verse on it and they let me do my thing! Island Records loved the track and there was talk of it being on Angel's mixtape '7 Minutes', but there were clearance issues with the Anita Baker sample and they had a deadline, so it didn't happen. But the love for the track has been amazing; it was a massive moment when I heard them playing it on BBC 1Xtra! I ended up putting the track on my 'One Love' EP. Wretch 32 recently did a sick verse for it, so hopefully I can get that cleared for my album! [Laughs]
TWU: Cool! Can you tell us about your new EP?
LifeLines: Yeah! 'One Love' was the first in a trilogy of EP's. 'One Hope' has just dropped and is available for free download on my site too. I've done a song with Etta Bond called 'Condition' which people have been feeling and a track with Shakka called 'Caught Up'. I do a lot of work with both artists, they're hugely talented. There's also a track with SWV and I've done a song with my boy Curious called 'P***y On Toast' which a lot of people in West have been going crazy for! I wanted to do a song about a subject that people are often too scared to mention and the feedback's been really positive. The EP has also been mixed by DJ Scream of Maybach Music, so shout outs to him.
TWU: What's next in store for LifeLines?
LifeLines: Off the back of 'Love's Crazy' BBC 1Xtra said they'd support the 'One Hope' EP so hopefully you'll hear a couple of the tracks on their station. I want to give each EP its own space, but the third instalment will be 'One Faith' and that'll be showing my more conscious side.
I'm always making music and while we're pushing 'One Hope' I'll also be putting 'One Faith' together. The 3 EP's will show off the different sides to my music; then after that I'll be coming with the album. I've done about 10 tracks with Angel so hopefully he'll be on it as well as Etta and Shakka. I've also reached out to Daley and Cleo Sol and we've recorded some songs together which are sounding really strong. I've been lucky to work with so many great artists. In the meantime you can check out my music for free on my website. I’ve also re-launched my Facebook page, so you can check out my upcoming live shows there.
Stay up to date with LifeLines on Twitter – https://twitter.com/#!/LifeLinesMusic
Words: James Walsh (@JW_DittoMusic)