Franz Von is one of Sheffield’s brightest talents and the lead MC of K.O.G and the Zongo Brigade, a jazz-infused afro-futurist band.
Originally from Jamaica, he moved to the UK to pursue his studies and his career in music, becoming one of the steel city’s classic acts.
Francesco Munari had the chance to sit down with him for Motive Magazine, prior to one of his gigs at the 02 Academy…
Your name is always on the list when rappers bring their tour to Sheffield. What was it that got you into Hip-Hop in the first place?
I think the first time I came across hip-hop music was when I heard the F*ck the police song from N.W.A. back in Jamaica, but it wasn’t until I moved to the UK that I really got into it.
I started listening to the whole West Coast stuff first, thanks to this friend of mine from school who gave me an Ice Cube cassette tape. Then I switched to East Coast, listening to Nas and that’s what solidified my interest in this genre.
But at the time I hadn’t heard of any UK rapper until I found out about London Posse and Rodney P. They were among the first ones from the UK rapping with a UK accent and that just made me realise that people from this side of the shore could do Hip-Hop as well!
I’ve been listening to them for a long time now and I can say they’re like heroes to me…
From Jamaica to the UK, listening to American Hip-Hop and performing with an afro-futurist band, how important is it to have a truly international hip-hop scene, in your opinion?
We have people all over the world who are struggling, there’s poverty… all sorts of issues and
I believe hip-hop and music, in general, are a good way to express yourself and communicate with each other. Therefore if there’s a strong global scene people can realise they are not the only ones dealing with certain problems and that just makes everyone stronger.
Speaking of International sounds, tell me a bit about the Jazz and Jungle take on your music.
I love that genre of music anyway but just being able to do something different from hardcore, minimal beat rap music, helps me deliver my message in an enticing way.
You know hip-hop is born out of struggle but there’s beauty in that struggle and that’s why I want my music to have a beautiful sound.
Putting Jazz and African rhythms into it compliments my raw voice and makes it more accessible to even more people!
Franz Von is performing tonight at the Hyde Park Book Club in Leeds.
Follow him on Facebook for updates on his gigs and his tour with the Zongo Brigade.
You can listen to his latest album Escapism below: