Reason To Smile is Kojey Radical’s debut full-length album and its release follows a purple patch since the previously independent rapper signed to Atlantic in 2019. It placed in the Top 10 in yesterday’s Midweek Sales Flash.
Speaking to Music Week for our March issue, alongside Radical, his manager John Woolf and Asylum Records A&R Kevin Christian-Blair, Daboh heaped praise on the East London MC.
“Hip-hop is the genre of the oppressed,” Daboh said. “The best protest music comes out of oppression. When you look at what’s happening in the world and all the social injustices and racism that exists, then you see Kojey speaks for a generation that wants better. He gives a voice to the voiceless.”
Kojey Radical has 850,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and a growing profile, with the rapper signing records and CDs and meeting fans at a pop-up in Shoreditch during release week. Daboh opened up about the parameters for success within the team.
He’s saying something about class and identity that no one else is in hip-hop
“Obviously, we have commercial targets and we operate alongside Kojey as both a partner and a business,” said Daboh. “But Top 10 albums and singles aren’t how we really judge success here. I want to sit down in a year’s time and this record to be played as a cultural bookmark at schools across the country. That’s more interesting.”
Daboh described Kojey as a “long-term artist” and said he is capable of moving beyond music: “In 10 to 15 years, you might be talking to him about his new fashion range or a hit movie.”
Speaking further about the 15-track record, which features an array of guests including Wretch 32, Knucks, Kelis, Tiana Major9 and more, Daboh suggested that Kojey Radical is a unique proposition in UK rap.
“I truly believe that Kojey’s album will be the most important hip-hop album of 2022,” Daboh said. “He’s saying something about class and identity that no one else is saying in hip-hop.”
“Hip-hop is a protest genre, steeped in getting an opinion across and pointing out injustices, and it’s using whatever platform is available to do so,” added Daboh. “Maybe people stereotypically think of young teenage girls and pop music when they see TikTok, but scratch under the surface and there is a complex ecosystem of opinions and the analysis of deep lyrics.”