100% Goya Gumbani: the rapper dissecting life, death and everything in between

As he releases his new five track EP, Truth Be Sold, the London-via-Brooklyn rapper talks misguided materialism and how we’re all just another piece in the puzzle.

Before Goya Gumbani dropped his first EP, the contemplative Morta & More Doves in 2018, the London-via-Brooklyn artist had already spent a decade honing his appropriately unhurried sound.

Following a period of construction work in his mid-teens, Gumbani landed a job at Billionaire Boys Club’s London shop. In its early 2010s heyday, the Pharrel-owned streetwear mecca would frequently turn into a makeshift studio and Gumbani spent night after night rubbing shoulders with the musicians who passed through its doors.

In 2018, he kickstarted a fruitful, late-blooming period with the release of Morta & More Doves, and since then the 30-year-old has worked his signature flow into four EPs, and been invited onto Berlin-based platform Colours not once, but twice. He’s even managed to squeeze in an appearance for THE FACE Issue 03’s Supreme showcase.

Now Gumbani’s releasing Truth Be Sold: a meditative, five track EP which dissects life, death, misguided materialism and the universe in an attempt to​“unlearn what isn’t important”. The EP’s warm, soul loop-based beats were crafted by UK producer Oliver Palfreyman, who’s also provided sounds for South London rapper Jadasea. And paired with Gumbani’s introspective brand of lyricism, you have the perfect backing to mull over life’s big questions. Big questions such as…

10%: Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?

Born in Brooklyn, raised in Brooklyn. Now in London. I first moved here when I was 15, but there’s been a lot of back and forth.

20%: When did you find your confidence as an artist? 

Probably five years ago. It took a few years. I was just doing it every day and trying to understand the technicalities of music. And then one day, it hit me. 

I learned a lot from people that were doing their own thing. So like, my homie that was doing R&B, he also could engineer music. So he kind of taught me how to sample and how to find BPMs. And then another homie showed me another technical part of it. They were kind of my teachers.

30%: What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?

Death, as much as that may sound dark… as well as new life. I would listen back to the shit I made and be like, Oh wow, you’re actually emotionally unstable, you’re feeling this way.” So yeah, it’s all emotionally led stuff.

40%: Break down your typical day at work…

Wake up, eat some food. Then I will just like to listen to shit and watch things on YouTube, a little bit of Instagram. And then I just start listening to something and start writing.

50%: What’s a bad habit you wish you could kick?

Probably smoking, first thing. It’s, like, ingrained in my lifestyle now.

60%: You rule the world for a day. What went down?

I would probably eradicate materialism. And remove the things that we are programmed to feel that aren’t really important.

70%: What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?

My uncle told me to pursue music fully, just do it and don’t let anyone project their fears onto you. I work with that every day.

80%: What can artists do to help save the world?

Oh my God. To be honest, I don’t really think it’s in the artist handbook. We’re just another piece in the puzzle. All you can do is kind of try and not conform if that makes sense, but not be a villain at same time. I don’t feel like the power is in the people’s hands.

90%: What can you tell us about your new project?

I got this five track EP called Truth Be Sold coming out with Oliver Palfreyman. It’s pretty much about my recent understanding of things that have become apparent in the last five years and understanding the importance of time. I came to an understanding of the things that are gained over time and everything comes with a price.

100%: How do you want people to feel when they listen to this EP?

I don’t really know. The way I do this shit, I’m just expressing myself. Really, it’s more to free my own demons, to free the things that are trapped in my mind and I don’t realise. It just happens to be that people can relate to everything that’s come out so far. The struggle of Black people and people of colour is something that can be related to. 

Truth Be Sold’ is out now


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