Born and raised across borders, between Africa and Europe, the young rapper is in the process of becoming the next sensation in the music industry. Currently working on an EP due to be released soon in Europe and another one due for Africa, the Brussels based artist chose the single “Where’d you go” to come out today in honour of his father’s birthday. On this special occasion, Kriticos accepted to share with us his artistic world for a moment during an interview.
Airplane Mode: Based on what we have read about you, you arrived in Belgium in 2004 when you were just a kid. Was it easy to acclimate yourself to this new environment?
Kriticos: I was bummed about leaving my friends in Zambia, as a kid, but I moved here when I was 8, so I was still growing up. I’ve always been very social, so I made new friends quite easily . Plus I went to The British School of Brussels where every class is in English, so it was smooth sailing. Then my parents put me into a French school, a year later. I learnt French when I was 9 and here I am.
A.M: How did you get into Rap music ? Was it thanks to Will Smith ?
Kriticos: I’ve always been into music, but although Will Smith was the first musician I ever gravitated towards, I always preferred to sing. However, the person that made me want to start rapping, was my cousin. He was rapping when I was 12 and I thought I could try rapping too. Turns out I’m not too bad.
A.M: You apparently share your life between Europe and Africa, multiplying musical projects here and there, do you wish to be well known on both continents?
Kriticos: I already managed to make a name for myself in East Africa. My first single made the top 10 East African music videos on EastTV & got 200k views in a month. I plan on making music that caters to both markets, so I’m working on two projects. One I recorded in Africa with nothing but African producers and African vibes. The other, with European collabs and European/American inspired vibes. My goal is to go global, though. Not just Europe and Africa.
A.M: One of your songs is called « Gold tooth », and I can see you have two silver teeth. Aren’t you disappointed not getting golden ones ? (laughs).
Kriticos: My grills are 18k Gold, actually.
A.M: You previously declared that you have no problem rapping on different (rap) styles, is it to stay flexible depending on the musical project you’re working on? Wouldn’t you rather have a specific register when it comes to making your own album?
Kriticos: I am actually very flexible. I grew up listening to different styles of music so I internalised it all and now I am able to perform well in a lot of different genres.
My African EP will have one certain “African” style. The executive producer is a good friend of mine named Taz, he’s from my home country, Zambia and lives in my 2nd home country, Tanzania. So he’s the perfect producer to work with. I think I found my musical soulmate in him. We have some great music in the vaults.
My European EP, however has a mixed style. It is all good music, though.
A.M: Did any other artists influence you in your music ?
Kriticos: I’ve got quite a few influences. André 3000 is one of them, his ability to completely disregard the norms in hip hop and make “The Love Below”, my favourite album of all time, is groundbreaking and made way for people like Kid Cudi, Tyler The Creator and Travis Scott.
In Africa, I am really inspired by Maleek Berry. His EP is flawless every song is a banger. He’s slept on but incredibly talented!
A.M: What inspired you to write “Where’d You Go” ?
Kriticos: I got ghosted by a girl. The thing about being ghosted is that you don’t really know what happened. It’s not a rejection but it also isn’t a yes. But I’m a very optimistic person, so I’m like maybe someday she’s gonna talk to me. She’s probably just busy. Etc.
I decided to write this song about how I felt. In the first verse I talk about how I’m falling for this chick and I’m ready to do whatever it takes to make her mine. Second verse is me coming to terms with the fact that it’s over and I move on. I’m getting money, got ladies hitting me up but I don’t want none of them and I try to distract myself by being busy but I still can’t get her off my mind.
A.M: The name of our association, Airplane Mode, refers to these moments when we need to be alone to think, get some rest, escape from the outside world, etc. In other words to be disconnected. What about you? When do you switch off to Airplane Mode?
Kriticos: I’m usually never at home, so I rarely have time to myself, but when I do arrive home after a long day, that first few hours of being in my bed on my own, is heaven.
Interview by Len, Kevin and Lea.