I am Joel the Custodian. That’s me in the specs. I live in Birmingham, England. I’m a fan of rap.
I’ve been a rapper myself for 24 years.
I’ve performed all over the UK and parts of the US and Western Europe. After hearing me rap, people who are clearly not fans of rap music will sometimes approach me and claim:
- that they were surprised that they understood most of the lyrics
- that I’m the first ‘positive’ rapper they’ve ever heard
This last point has always disturbed me. Seriously? With rap being one of the most pervasive artforms on the planet, I’m the first ‘positive’ rapper they’ve ever heard? How can that be?
For years UK hip-hop listeners have discussed just who’s responsible for the lacklustre attention given to our diverse, sharp-witted, painfully honest, killer delivery, home-grown hip-hop lyricists. While others talked and talked and pointed fingers and lamented, a group of us spent our time championing rappers we liked and collaborating with younger rappers we saw potential in. So really, I’m more than a rap fan, I’m somewhere between a rap coach and a cheerleader.
From 2008-2010 myself and my friend Elai Immortal hosted a monthly hip-hop night in Birmingham called The Unseen.
We recognized that the collective consciousness within hip-hop was not been nurtured on a local level. So the rappers we invited to perform at the Unseen had a sense of hip-hop as a living movement and not as a mindless hedonistic jukebox. The Unseen was a hip-hop night where positivity, quality and community were central.
Our mantra was and still is: We’re living in a new golden age of hip-hop right now! We need to recognize it, breath it in and enjoy it!
As for my latest projects, I’m still trying to get people to watch my medieval rap film The Quickener as well as writing and making films both fiction and documentaries.