For the past few years, Arthur Bayele, also known as Kiing Arthur, has been carving out a lane for himself by creating quirky hip-hop and animé inspired mashups and posting them on social media. A cursory look at his Instagram page will show you Drake and Future depicted as Naruto ninjas, whilst another portrays Kendrick Lamar stylised as a Kung Fu fighter from a retro video game. His art is geared towards being fun, bright and is frequently nostalgic.
Hailing from North West London, Bayele also doubles up as a rapper and music producer and is part of music collective OvaAndAbove. In October this year, he dropped the video for his debut song, Rollin’ (Pink Raiinbow).
Recently, we caught up with Bayele to discuss his music, artistic vision and of course, animé.
On your debut song, Rollin’ (Pink Raiinbow)you said, “they don’t know that the guy drawing cartoons coming with the bars”. I think that’s a great statement of your creative outputs. Can you give us an idea of how many creative things you’re involved with?
I tend to dip my hands in a lot of things. I spend most of my time drawing, animating or designing graphics for various things, but apart from that, I produce music for myself and others. I sometimes experiment with photography and videography as well, most of the things I know I taught myself through trial and error. I’m open to trying new things when it comes to creativity and I enjoy doing them, there’s still a lot of things I need to learn, and it takes a lot of patience, but with time I’m getting better and better.
Who are your artistic and musical influences?
When it comes to music, I’m influenced by a lot of different sounds, like 90s R&B/Jazz, Garage, Neo Soul just to name a few. When it comes to the people who heavily influence my sound, I’d have to say A$AP Rocky, Isaiah Rashad and ICYTWAT are the people I take inspiration the most from in today’s music.
Artistically, my style is influenced by a lot of animé as you can tell, I like to take inspiration from the works of Shinichirō Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop/Samurai Champloo) and Hiyao Miyazaki (Studio Ghibli).
Your art on Instagram blends hip-hop and animé and has garnered you a lot of attention. Can you describe how you approach your art?
I take in a lot of what I see and the main thing I like to do is combine real life with my concepts. I usually take inspiration from music videos and photos of artists that I listen to and try to twist it, like turning a scene from a video into an animé. A lot of the things I do are out of curiosity and I try to re-create the artists I draw as their own characters. Once I have an idea of where I want to go with it, it can take me from 3 hours to 2 or 3 days to finish.
You have a pretty eclectic production style — for instance, on your track Green Hill Zone, you sampled the video game Sonic Adventures. Can you tell me about your approach to music production, particularly sampling?
There’s something I love about ambient synths and chords, and those are the sounds I tend to use in a lot of my production. I try and bring people to my world.
When it comes to sampling I gravitate towards a lot of jazz from the likes of Sade, The Blackbyrds and Roy Ayers just the name a few. With Green Hill Zone I got a bit lucky with the Sonic sample, as soon as I heard it I grabbed it and didn’t let go. Most of the samples I use I come across in the same way, otherwise it gets lost. Once I find something I like, I play around with it till I find something that I think works.
As you’re a pretty avowed fan of animé and manga, what’s your favourite animé/manga series and do you have a favourite manga artist?
I’ve got to say Fullmetal Alchemist is up there for me, but Attack on Titan and Boku No Hero are contenders. I can’t say I have a favourite manga artist, but Akira Toriyama (Dragonball Z) is the one I liked the most when I first got into manga.
Do you have any ambitions of creating your own manga or graphic novel one day?
I do and it’s still a work in progress, so I can’t say too much, but one day I hope to bring it to life. I also hope to have my own animé production studio years down the line, but one step at a time.
Can you tell us about your artist collective OvaAndAbove?
OvaAndAbove was a blog I that started in 2015 but since then the team has grown and this year it’s progressed into a collective of artists, DJs and producers. Apart from me, there’s Bam who’s our DJ, JD Cliffe, Doogie O’ Fella and Chucks who’s a producer. We’re a strong team, we all have our own sounds as individuals and different skills that we bring to the table. Most of us are based in North West London, and the music we make is essentially hip-hop/rap in different variations from old-school vibes to dark melodic trap. We all graduated from university, but this is something we’re all passionate about and we want to pursue it ‘til the end.
2017 looks like it was a good year for you. You graduated from university and dropped your first music video, along with two other songs on your Soundcloud. What’s next for 2018 on the creative front?
I’m planning to go much harder, being at university held me back creatively, but now that’s done I’m planning to release more visuals and an EP that I’ve been working over this past year. I’m also currently working with the Marbek clothing line, so I’ll be putting my art to different uses.
Next year the team and I have plans to grow and cause a shift in the UK music scene. We want to bring people into our world in creative ways. The world hasn’t seen anything like OvaAndAbove and we’re going to change that.
Check out Kiing Arthur’s Work Below: