Spoken word music is a tough genre to get right. Mastering rhythm over melody is a complex art. Achieving that, and giving meaning to the words too, adds a whole other dimension, requiring authenticity honesty and courage. Yorkshire-based P.O.P.E. took on this challenge just three years ago. It was borne out of difficult times when he found himself broke, with nothing but books and a writing pad for company. Turning adversity into a challenge, P.O.P.E. explains that he:
“spent months writing tongue twisters, rhymes, stories, anything that kept my creative juices flowing. Or maybe it was nothing more than the scribblings of a mad man! Either way, I took these words on a page and decided to write an E.P.”
The result of his efforts is Kings, a five track EP released on Scottish label Capasso Records.
Before you read on, P.O.P.E. is giving a FREE download of “Just Breathe”, from the EP, to Angry Baby readers. If you’re not already subscribed to Angry Baby, just pop the email address that you’d like it delivered to here and it will be on its way to you straight away, together with a bumper collection of music that has been shared by Angry Baby. The music comes from outstanding artists that you may not have heard before. With a mix of rock, pop, folk…you name it…there’s bound to be something new that floats your musical boat, and all for free! What’s not to like about that?!
Starting, appropriately, with “An Introduction”, P.O.P.E. sets out his theatrical credentials. There’s a cinematic quality to both music and storytelling, as the opening bars draw the listener into a sinister world. Questioning experience, motivation and control, P.O.P.E. makes it clear that this will not be an easy album to listen to, but compelling nevertheless.
Bringing a character to the centre of the story, “Just Breathe” combines a litany of life challenges with a meditative arrangement. There’s an aura of spirituality to the song, which P.O.P.E. acknowledges:
“I have been told that many have a religious feel to them which is the intention to a certain degree, because I have a fascination with religions and beliefs.I also want people to take any meaning they want from within my lyrics as that is what music is about and enjoy writing a verse that has several different meanings within it.”
The acoustic remix of “Just Breathe” feat Mikay Mcternan (not on the EP but available on Soundcloud) is also worth a listen, especially to explore the contrast that can be achieved with a different musical approach.
This is also brought home in the opening section of “I Am Not”. Perfect poetry set to lightly orchestrated piano, this is a letter to someone wronged: “I am sorry for all these things I have done..I used lies to cheat and sometimes stall”
Or is it?
The story develops it’s second side, so we know – if we ever needed telling, that relationships are never that simple : “Are you listening?…You made me feel worthless, you made every one of my steps seem so average and pointless…I looked upon you as my angel, you just looked down on me…”
This is powerful stuff, alarming yet relatable, questioning where power, victimhood, and redemption rest.
Raising the energy, “Tick Tock” is a percussive call to action. Words flow at speed, challenging perceptions of allotted positions. P.O.P.E.’s passion for lyrics is front and centre, as he explains:
“I have always looked at forming words within a song/poem as a kind of puzzle. In my opinion lyrical value is often overlooked in much of todays music and that is one of the reasons within my music I try to open the door to wordplay whilst attempting to adopt a hard hitting feel within them.”
Hard-hitting is certainly the term for “Nemesis”. Unforgiving and demanding, claiming retribution as a right, this is no happy-ending story:
“Remember I own your dreams,
So enjoy that well-earned sleep,
When you wake I’ll be there to guide you toward certain defeat”
Closing the album, “Kings” challenges the establishment head-on:
“Basically I just enjoy playing words and also have a distaste for conformity. Not in a “Burn everything and fight” kind of way but I want people to hear my music and for them to know that we as people should never be afraid of questioning anything, even if it does tread on peoples toes.”
P.O.P.E.’s lyrics are predominantly centred around subjects that he feels are neglected by many singer songwriters, so in “Kings” he offers an anthem for new populist politics, exposing the conspiracy at the heart of the system “has every human slipped a sedative or have we all just lost our minds?”. Marching fervently towards the close, there’s no holding back, every beat and every word is placed to maintain attention and make a point.
His music may not be mainstream, but P.O.P.E. is making waves. As well as being featured by BBC Radio 6 Music’s Tom Robinson, he played the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe festival this year.
The advice that he gives to anyone who is starting out in music is both inspirational and down-to-earth:
1.NEVER TRY AND SOUND LIKE ANOTHER ARTIST.
Don’t get me wrong there are many great Beyonce/Cheryl cole sound alike out there but if you look throughout history the ones that are remembered are the ones that break the mould.
2.EMBRACE CRITICISM AND THANK DOUBTERS
Sounds strange I know but use criticism as your inspiration.
If somebody criticises you on your lyrical ability then use it to get better and blow them away the next time you write something.
Doubters are those people who say things like “Grow up and get a real job!” “You will never make it in Music” Or simply don’t encourage you. They are your fuel so thank them and use them as your drive to prove them wrong.
3.DON’T BE TO HARD ON YOURSELF
Creative people are always striving for perfection and beat themselves up if they can’t sit down and write a phenomenal verse or compose a crescendo that would make Beethoven Weep in Pleasure! But remember that old saying Rome wasn’t built in a day? Well take heed to it and let it come naturally.
4. WATCH OUT FOR SNAKES
Keep an eye out for money grabbing, dodgy, to good to be true “Labels” Or “Agents” out there. If you get attention from one of these regarding one of your creations and they say something like “We would love to get you in the studio” Always ask this question. “What will it cost?” If they respond saying you have to pay ANY amount of money then hang up the phone. Also these managers and agents who ask for upfront payments before they have done anything are scammers so beware. Remember, If these people really do want your track then they should be paying you!
Kings was released in March 2017. P.O.P.E would have been happy for us to give away the entire EP, and it’s available to download via Soundcloud. But work of this calibre deserves an exchange of monetary value, so do the right thing and buy your copy here for just £3.99 to show you care.
Then follow P.O.P.E. and drop him a message to tell him you’ve appreciated his music and poetry, at:
And get your free download of music from Angry Baby now, including P.O.P.E’s “Just Breathe” – just pop your email down below.