This “Track of the Day – Arthur Fortune” article was written by Bee Adamic, a GIGsoup contributor
With his appealingly unique hip-hop vocals, Arthur Fortune comes across at times like the mutant love child of the Streets’ Mike Skinner and Mac Miller. An evocative songwriter who can express the brutality and banality of everyday life in simple and moving terms. We caught up with him to find out what he’s up to…
1. Tell us about how you got into hip hop?
I got into hip hop really young. My older brothers were both in the UK hip hop scene (Salvo & 184/ Button Eyes). So I was always listening to the big voices that dominated the UK scene at the time like Mark B (RIP) and Blade, Skinnyman etc.
When I was a kid that’s when US rap really blew up commercially in the UK, so I was going to HMV and buying records of guys like 50 Cent and Dr Dre. Hip hop was like this gateway into these exiting lives going on in other parts of the world. You’re just 10 years old sitting bored in school learning about geography, but when you get home you’re learning how guys in Queens and Compton roll blunts and sell crack.
These guys made music to get out of bad lives and though I didn’t have much of a rough upbringing, making and listening to rap music was always a gateway to making your life more interesting. Cut to me shutting down the Year 5 Disco with a rap group I started in primary school (hold tight the Toxic Crew).
From there I just started making stuff with mates and my brother 184 throughout the years for fun. I started putting stuff out toward the end of uni and that’s basically where I’m at now.
2. What are your thoughts on the current UK music scene?
The current UK music scene is looking good. Grime is getting huge all round the world and you have guys like Stormzy charting off freestyles in the park. I wish things were that way when I was freestyling in the park haha. I just hope Grime can stay true to what it’s all about and hold on to it’s current relevance without this wave of great artists selling out.
Grime aside you have the whole High Focus crew doing amazing things. I think they’re really carving their own lane right now using videos and social media to make a new kind of positive youthful British hip hop that hasn’t been seen like this in a while. Again I just hope they stay true to their sound and don’t try and hop onto any trends. I was at the main stage at Outlook festival when Four Owls played a year or so ago and seeing that made me really hopeful for the future of organic UK rappers.
3. How do you go about writing a new song?
Every idea, thought or concept I have day to day goes in the notes page on my iPhone. When I’m writing i’ll play a beat and it will usually take me back to one of those ideas. I’ll pick the idea and start forming a solid hook around it until I’m happy then just freestyle ideas and jot anything good that comes down for the verse.
It feels like a lot of rappers don’t like talking about their writing process or want to make out like it’s effortless or just comes to them. But really I see it as laying down a framework of the idea you want to express and putting those first words down. I’ll then go away and tighten up each line until I think every word expresses an idea I believe in. That takes as long as it takes.
4. Will there be any future collaborations, we should know about?
I’m really just starting out. I’ve been messing around at music for years but only this past year (if that) have I been taking it seriously. So I haven’t got much planned and I’m open to anything that comes my way. I’m big into the rap scene in Brighton so loads of dudes there I want to work with. I’ve got a tune with Mrisi called ‘Spielberg’ I’m trying to finish and get out ASAP. Other than that I’m just focusing on getting my own ideas out and letting people know what I’m doing.
5. What next for Arthur Fortune?
I have a bunch of songs recorded for my first release ‘Last Day Of Summer’. It’s a free project comprised of songs all about the experience of moving back to London, starting to take music seriously, relationships and looking back on how much everything changed in those years.
It’s really based on sitting on the grass on the last day of summer, thinking about what’s happened and where you’re gonna go from here. Whether it’s back to uni, back to work or moving back home with your mum, the last day of summer is always an emotional moment where everything is ending and beginning at the same time.
That project is entirely produced by my bro 184 and the next singles/ videos to come off there will most likely be ‘One Life’ and ‘Those Were The Days’.