ISAIAH DREADS; FROM DORCHESTER TO THE WORLD words and fashion Sonia Akther - photography Filipe Phitzgerard
Dorset native Isaiah Hamilton - better known by his moniker Isaiah Dreads - at the young age of 20 can already call himself a veteran in the grime game. Growing up in Dorchester and away from inner-city London, traditionally seen as the birthplace of British urban music, his sound is a reflection of his eclectic tastes and offers a refreshing new (seascape) narrative to a genre dominating right now.
Already with a wealth of accolades to his name, Isaiah has been Zane Lowe's Next Hype, performed at festivals such Wireless and Bestival, has given his very first interviews while still in his school uniform and has been part of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition, all before the age of 16.
With a career which is rapidly going from strength to strength, F Word caught up with Isaiah to discover more about his creative beginnings, his thoughts on the U.K music scene and what influences his very own music style.
Sonia Akther: So Isaiah, growing up; what were your musical influences?
Isaiah Dreads: Everything, absolutely everything. I grew up with 4 brothers and 2 sisters, and each one of them likes different genres from rock to reggae, to rap. My mum listened to everything from Tupac to everything else, so I think that's why my music is a mix of genres as well. All these genres I grew up with have influenced my taste in music and then my own style of music.
S.A: What brought you into rap?
I.D: I think mainly because of the amount of music being played in my house such that if it wasn't rap, it would have been something else. I got into rap but it just so happened that my older brother raps as well, and he was doing a lot at the time when I was young, and when it's your older brother you always look up to them.
S.A: Who is your favorite rapper?
I.D: Growing up it was Kanye West, Wiley, Jay Z, kind of a mix.
S.A: How do you feel your experiences in Dorset shaped your style of music?
I.D: I think that by growing up in a different environment to other rappers my sound ends up being different than your usual rap; it’s not an inner city kinda sound. My whole sound is diverse; the things I talk about are different because where I am is different to a lot of other people.
S.A: How do you feel grime as a genre has changed since its early days?
I.D: I was listening to grime when I was so young and I feel like it's in a really good place right now. There was a point when no one really wanted to pay attention to it and then there was another point where it was going up but then it went down. It feels like right now everyone is looking at this scene, and everyone is focused on the U.K and what we're doing.
S.A: What are your thoughts on the media's depiction of grime and rap?
I.D: I think the media's thoughts on grime can be a bit hit and miss. There is a lot of ignorance there and sometimes in the media any black artist who makes music is suddenly labeled as ‘grime’, and I don't like that. I think sometimes they should do a bit more research.
S.A: Has moving to London changed your music in any way?
I.D: Yeah, definitely. I think since moving to London I'm way more confident in the way I do things and I'm around a lot of different kinds of music as well. I feel like when I lived in Dorset, by the time the music would get to Dorset, it wasn't as fresh as when it was first being played in London. Do you know what I mean? Obviously, it doesn't make a difference now because of the internet but it kinda feels like being in London, where a lot of it is happening right now, it feels fresh and motivating and inspiring.
Isaiah wears baseball shirt RUSSELL ATHLETIC
S.A: Starting so early with playing festivals and on Zane Lowe's Next Hype, in hindsight, was all the attention and support a hindrance in any way?
I.D: For me, one good thing happens and it's a motivation to make another good thing happen. If I write one good song, I wanna write another song, it's just a constant motivation. This motivation has always made me want to do more and more.
S.A: We know that you write all your own stuff; how did that start for you?
I.D: I write all my own stuff and I have done it since I started really. I started from when I was like 6 or 7 and looking back, it was never really good but it was something interesting and to build on and it just improved over time. I used to watch a lot of TV and I was inspired by movies and stuff.
S.A: How do you feel social media is changing the way the music industry works?
I.D: I think it is a lot about interacting with fans and putting out new music. Social media is changing everything because a lot of people can now do it without the help of another person. I feel like social media can really be your best friend, it can help you to push yourself and your music out there. When I first got into music it was MySpace and to see what it has all become since then is quite amazing.
S.A: If you could give one piece of advice to an emerging young artist; what would it be?
I.D: Don't be afraid to experiment with different kinds of music and again, use social media as much as you can because if you use that right then you've got it.
Isaiah wears tee and tracksuit bottoms ADIDAS; denim jacket SCOTCH & SODA; watch ISAIAH'S OWN
S.A: Who are your three favorite artists?
I.D: Kano. Kanye West - early albums are some of my favorite albums so he has to be in there and then Wiley.
S.A: Favorite film?
I.D: Back to the Future. It's a classic!
S.A: Favorite cartoon character?
I.D: That's a good question (laughs). Ed, Edd, and Eddie. I used to love those guys so any one of the three.
S.A: If the world was ending tomorrow, what would be the last meal you'd like to have?
I.D: My mum's roast dinner! (Laughs).
S.A: Dream day?
I.D: A whole day in a theme park without any queues.
S.A: Favorite piece of clothing?
I.D: Shoes. Or jackets. No one piece yet, but I would like that one jacket that I can throw on all the time.
S.A: How long have you had your Dreadlocks?
I.D: My whole life. I've never ever cut my hair. Top tip is to be patient. There were times before I cut the sides when they would feel heavy or when they'd get wet, but I'm glad I've never cut them.
S.A: Last but not least; favorite F-word?
I.D: Fuego. It means fire in Spanish. So like, "that's Fuego".
Words and Fashion: Sonia Akther
Photography: Filipe Phitzgerard
Grooming: Shamirah Sairally
Fashion Assitant: Katey Jackson
LEFT: Isaiah wears shirt ALL SAINT'S
RIGHT: Isaiah wears shirt ALL SAINT'S; shorts ADIDAS; shoes VANS
Isaiah wears yellow tee ADIDAS; black cargo-jacket CHEAP MONDAY; trousers GYMPHLEX; trainers Y-3; watch ISAIAH'S OWN
Listen to Isaiah Dreads 'BREAKTHROUGH'
SCOTCH & SODA