When travelling to Liverpool, thoughts always crop into my head about its history, whether it comes down to football, music or art; or its constant topical place; the River Mersey and its famous docks. Whilst making my way through the cobbled streets of Central Liverpool en route to the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT), an award winning media arts centre featuring exhibitions, film and participant-led art projects, I was curious as to how Nelson was going to present the premiere of his new song "By the river". MC Nelson, the alias of Nelson Idama, is relatively new to the scene although with a strong Soundcloud background and having supported some established artists such as Ghostface Killah, Loyle Carner, Pharaohe Monch, and having performed at festivals in Europe, he's hardly inexperienced.
As I entered this prestigious FACT building on Wood Street, I was unsure if I was about to listen to another artist express their search for money, or to someone who actually had something to say about society. Before seeing any footage I was greeted by Nelson who began to talk about his music video. He struck me as a calm but confident individual with a well spoken but (in my opinion) thick Liverpudlian accent. Moving into the first stage of his presentation was a short documentary created by him and his clearly very supportive creative team, opening with a shot of him standing in the middle of a dusk Liverpudlian street. His intentions were made clear from the start - his lyrics and video were an interpretation of Liverpool and the mersey through his eyes, with reference to the river bank not only being the street he grew up on, but what he grew up beside.
He first started spitting grime bars, influenced like so many others by Dizzee Rascal's Boy In Da Corner album that his brother gave to him. Time has now allowed him to focus on writing what he calls "more completive content".
He opened with a selection of lyrics from his forthcoming video, "You should dip in the river in Liverpool, scuba view through the bodies of slaves and Charles Wooten too". This was a powerful message that resonated throughout the room, leading to a discussion of how slavery and racism is something that is so obvious to many in today's society, yet still not fully dealt with - a "known unknown",
This then made way for the highly anticipated premiere. Nelson had made an impression - he had a clear focus, inspired not by the materialistic profits of the music game, but instead by the foundations of himself and the place that shaped him. I was then hit with a calming jazz saxophone, followed by a symbolic opening scene of Nelson sat on a makeshift raft made out of plastic bottles. Throughout the video, Nelson is constantly surrounded by water - completely engulfed or stranded in the middle of the sea. This visual element explicitly links to Nelson's lyrics, despite the lyric's impressive ability to, at the same time, also cover topics such as the meaning of life.
After watching the premiere, Nelson then proceeded to do a live performance of mostly unreleased songs. The strong following of family, friends and fans stood to their feet as Nelson really got into the swing of things, showing his amazing stage presence. He really impressed and I would like to see some of the easy flowing bars that were on show condensed into new tracks. As the river of time streams on, I look forward to watching Nelson rise through the ranks of UK Hip Hop.
The night was an undeniable success. The premiere was impressive and the addition of his "Decoded" documentary added an extra level to the night, allowing the participants to gage where his influences and passion came from. The production of the video (Leech) was a highlight and showed that Nelson has a hard working and supportive team behind him. 2018 is a vital year.