Having inadvertently made his presence felt, having pushed for social change in the capital since his youth, Poet’s voice has emerged as a unique force in representing the humble everyday inner-city dweller over the last decade.
A 33 year-old north London native of mixed Jamaican heritage, Poet boasts many-an ongoing chapter in his growing book of faculties. In an age of vacuous celebrity, he brings the mundane to life via podcasts, webisodes, documentaries, music and ultimately, relatable conversation.
Using the now-coveted Anna Scher drama school as escapism from a turbulent home environment in his teen years, where fellow pupils included Dizzee Rascal, Reggie Yates and Daniel Kaluuya, Poet also sought solace in football. While he went on to study Sports Science, a degree he walked out on opting instead for the university of life, youth work and coaching held his attention. At the age of 18, having taken on the council over youth club closures, he transformed the local Ferry Lane project while holding down work in a shoe shop and going to college. The reinstated club birthed a football team, music events, and elevated a new generation ripe for the world of challenges that lay ahead.
All the while, Poet dabbled in music, sparring at local pirate radio stations such as Heat and Axe FM. With partner in rhyme Skribz, he went on to score a no. 1 in 2007 on the now defunct grime-go-to Channel U, with ‘Never Gonna Blow’. But amid the disarray and chaos of the industry in the early 00’s, the flashings of a life in the recording studio didn’t fit. Opting for a different, more soul-satisfying experience, his foray into what was to be the beginning of his now career was largely an accident. Adopting grime’s DIY ethos, it was a humble Facebook video series named Poets Corner, deigned a passion project that sowed the seed for what was to grow into a life of its own.
“I knew I wanted to do social commentary and that I had to wear a uniform – Bart Simpson wore the same outfit in every episode, so did Inspector Gadget… By using my work outfit, I thought, ‘if I’m out in the street maybe people will talk to me about the same things I’m talking about’”.
Striking a chord with his peers, his next creation was That’s A Rap, where Poet interviewed music artists. But it was 2012’s creation, Kebabs, Lads & Shinpads, that saw the ball rolling towards the net. Signing on at the Job Centre and with a nothing to lose mentality, Poet turned his living room into a set and contacted cult music channel GRMDaily to host the webisodes. Quickly garnering a cult following, it soon caught the attention of Copa 90 (where Poet later introduced a fresh female presenter, Maya Jama). But not one to rest on his laurels, nabbing his first consistent pay cheque made Poet go harder.
“I felt like I was being conditioned and not representing myself properly, so I started Filthy Fellas. I wanted to change the way people looked at football. It was too clean cut. Let’s change the tone – if you turn on the TV and see a man in a Nike tracksuit saying he’d just listened to Kano, that’s relatable.”
As well as propelling the careers of all involved, Filthy Fellas changed the landscape of how football was reported, commentated and discussed.
“We unstuffed it. Culturally, we get onto musicians all the time and we need to do the same with footballers. If you’re not playing well you need to be told. That’s the working class voice we’ve been missing. We’re all equal so our mistakes should be highlighted.”
In 2015 he started the Halfcast podcast with Chuckie, a weekly series that enjoys a loyal listenership as they dissect pop culture, society and life’s great woes. Presenting was a natural addition to Poet’s CV with the now award winning 2016 NOISEY Blackpool documentary he fronted notching up nearly 6million views. His latest foray, Gasworks with Alhan Gençay, hosted by the revered Boiler Room channel, has seen guests discussing everything from Meghan Markle to creative voids.
Noticeably, what unites Poet’s work is the need for honesty, zero forced opinions and a lifelong ambition to inspire individual freedom. In a media landscape often lacking authentic voices, Poet’s a unique thinker. Weekly meditation sessions and reflections on the phone with his dad his main ingredients for grounding, forward planning and philosophical growth.
Further inspiration comes from strong male leads; those he cites range from street poets turned stars like Wiley and Kano to Atlantic Records Alex ‘Twin B’ Boateng to actor Tom Hardy, Russell Brand and footballers Ian Wright and Thierry Henry, both of whom he’s now had the pleasure of working with.
Having recently got back on a music tip with 15 of his friends, under the alias Vibbar (meaning vibe in Swedish, his spiritual home and where the mother of his twins is from), are coming more like an art collective, as concerned with the physical aesthetics and ideas around the music as the music itself (some of which you might have heard in the Copa90 series). Recent release ‘The Package’ saw the group taking it old skool, hand delivering CDs before shutting down the club.
With a Puma trainer collaboration imminent, thankfully the primary aspiration remains to be real.
“It’s so important to enjoy the moment. We live in an age where it’s secondary. The most important thing is that I find cool, inventive ways of expressing my views with the world, cause I’m not going to change the world but I want to be remembered for good things and be happy doing so.”