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Kwoli Black: New EP is "the cheapest form of therapy I’ve ever had"

Kwoli Black has a calmness about him that juxtaposes his new EP, ‘CAN I SPEAK?’

blurry image of a man gritting his teeth in frustration
EP cover for 'CAN I SPEAK?'

With a co-sign from Kojey Radical, having opened for the MOBO-nominated musician on his UK tour, Kwoli is letting his fans know he’s back in the studio and that big things are coming this year. 

“The project was the cheapest form of therapy I’ve ever had,“ Kwoli tells The Floor Mag. 

‘CAN I SPEAK?’ lays it all on the line, tackling themes like imposter syndrome, familial relationships and self love.  

For Kwoli the project was born out of a desire to be honest with his fan base and not necessarily make something that felt palatable upon first listen. 

In creating a project that sounded different Kwoli knew that he had to get longtime friend and producer JSTRINGS in on the action. Working together in the studio they fine tuned ‘CAN I SPEAK?’. 

“I feel like he knows parts of me that my mum probably doesn't even know, which is kind of crazy.” Kwoli states, regarding the process of working with his longtime collaborator and friend. 

And JSTRINGS isn’t the only collaborator on the project. 

Man poses with one hand on his face he has a ring on and grillz
Kwoli Black

After meeting Karl Benjamin’s “missus” at Rachel Chinouriri’s birthday party Kwoli connected with Karl Benjamin. 

“I hung out with him a couple of times. Heard some stuff and I was just like, “let's just have a session”, Kwoli explains passionately. 

At the same time he was working on fun, braggadocious track Pretty. “I needed someone who could really hit a note. So we did a session. He put his flavour on it.” And with a few more tweaks, Pretty was born. 

The accompanying music video is set in a barbershop. Kwoli and Karl are getting their hair done, firing lyrics like “I’m so cool. I’m so fine. I’m so perfectly divine” at the camera. 

It’s fun, showcasing Kwoli’s range and vision for the visuals that accompany his tracks. They’re purposeful and fun. Kwoli and BINA, skit on the Can I Speak video, unpacking Kwoli’s anxieties which trickle through the EP. 

On the flipside, Kwoli enlisted friend BINA, “Big Beenz” to come on board the personal track Son Down

“It's a very personal song that weighed very heavily on me until I got it out.” He states on creating the track which speaks to having an absent father and as a result wanting to be a better man. 

“When [BINA] came in and put the hook on it. It was perfect. It was done.” 

Kwoli is very obviously an artist who enjoys community. From perfecting songs with JSTRINGS in the studio to discovering BINA at a show and deciding that she had to be a part of his most vulnerable track on the EP. 

Kwoli doesn't hesitate to widen his circle creating opportunities for those he admires. 

Creating ‘CAN I SPEAK?’ has allowed for Kwoli to stretch himself and his capabilities. Already musically gifted, Kwoli played the guitar when he was younger and has since picked up the piano. 

The goal? “To be able to perform live. They put out a piano and it’s my moment to shine. Dave, who? Yeah me!” He exclaims jubilantly. 

Being able to contribute to the production process is something that Kwoli wants to achieve for sure, and picking up an instrument is way into that process. 

The EP is produced in studio but if Kwoli had to strip back one of the tracks and get acoustic with it? 

“There's a song on the project called Blow, which is like an alternative Hip Hop, Rock mash up. It sounds crazy, right?”

“I think this and Imposter are probably the most emotive songs on the project. I think that will be very interesting to hear it stripped back. Maybe with an acoustic guitar or piano and just me rapping and talking.”

The first part of a much larger body of work, Kwoli Black’s ‘CAN I SPEAK?’ is a project to shake up the scene and make you look at yourself a little deeper. 

‘CAN I SPEAK?’ is out now on all good streaming platforms.


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