This U.K. Rapper Is Making the Pandemic Work for Him

This U.K. Rapper Is Making the Pandemic Work for Him

This U.K. Rapper Is Making the Pandemic Work for Him

This U.K. Rapper Is Making the Pandemic Work for Him

These accomplishments are all the more impressive given that, a year ago, the rapper wasn’t sure he would live to enjoy a music career at all. In October, Salieu was shot 20 times in the head and neck during a drive-by shooting outside a party in Coventry. Sixteen bullets remain lodged in his skull. “They can’t take them out, it’s too deep,” he said.

At that point, Salieu was still involved in street crime, he said, but soon after the shooting, he left Coventry for London. He used to carry knives “for my defense, just to feel safe,” he said. The police picked him up while he was armed with one, he said, and a criminal record had made it hard for him to find a regular job.

“Music saved me,” he said, adding that without it, he’d have gone back to crime.

Salieu was born in England, but moved to Gambia when he was two. West Africa has a strong influence on his music: His song “B***k,” includes samples from his aunt, a Gambian folk singer.

When he was eight, he returned to England, and moved to Coventry. In Britain, “to send someone to Coventry” means to ostracize them or give them the silent treatment, and Salieu said he wanted his debut album to reflect his feelings of being an outsider, especially at school, where he was one of the few Black students in his class.

“When I came back, I knew I was different,” he said. “I’ve got a dark skin shade, and my African accent is very strong,” he added.


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