Andy Kayes, an up and coming France-based British rapper, released his indie-album, 2012’s Alone in Numbers to little notice. So it’s surprising when you take one look at the neon-saturated glow of his promo video, “The Man Without a Face”, a stylish exercise in decadent glamour and cutting street-smarts. While Kayes certainly doesn’t have the kind of major-label cash to throw around, the video’s intelligent sense of style (an ingenious use of colour, clever effects and skillful editing) easily trumps the marketing efforts of his far more financially-endowed hip-hop contemporaries. The number’s lean, stripped-to-the-bone beats on which rivers of verbal flow ride atop give ample room for Kayes and his cohort, Copywrite, to demonstrate their rhyme-technique. Sized up against Kayes anxious, nimble and textured verse, Copywrite’s no-nonsense rhymes slice like a serrated blade.
Kayes’ brand of hip-hop recalls the glory days of the genre before it was unceremoniously disrupted by bling culture. But his bicultural upbringing is what gives his music an atypical perspective not often found in a lot of hip-hop today. “I’d say England is where I developed my style of writing and France is where I found the perfect team. It’s harder to make it here (in France) because of the language barrier but I trust the people I’m working with and they understand what kind of music I want to make,” Kayes says. “My English is better than my French in terms of playing with words or getting my point across so it wasn’t hard to make a choice. When I compare both cultures, I’d say Britain has always had its own style whether it be on a mainstream level or underground. It used to be like that in France in the late ‘90s but in my opinion, that slowly disappeared with the influence of American rap. It’s funny when I hear some rappers slow down their flows like Rick Ross or mimic any U.S. gimmick they hear. Thank god the underground scene in France is gathering pace.”