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“Manchester has a history of rebellion, and my music reflects that”

Manchester-based rap artist Persia has been making some noise in the city with her unique style and powerful lyrical content.

In a recent interview with I Love MCR she shared insights into her journey as a rapper, the inspiration behind her latest album “The Alchemy of Pain,” and the challenges she faced along the way growing up in Manchester.

Persia’s love for rap music stems from her early days as a fan, where she absorbed the lyrics of 90’s rap albums and admired the artistry behind them.

The Alchemy of Pain is littered with old school Griselda style underground sounds, along with Joyner Lucas-style trap beats and conscious J-Cole-inspired instrumentals, all thrown into the mixing pot to create something truly unique, resulting in an in-your-face demonstration of Persia’s agility as a writer and a creative.

 Recorded and released by Manchester’s own Midication Recordings, and fully produced by the legend of the scene JSD, this album showcases Persia’s wordplay, multi-syllabics, assonance and skill level, throwing a much-needed breath of fresh air into a genre riddled with copycats.

Persia is a serious lyricist, bringing together a sound of her own in a project which has taken years of hard work to actualise

Influenced by her mother, a writer and poet, Persia developed a deep appreciation for the written word and its ability to create meaning.

Combining her passion for rap and her fascination with multi-syllabics and punchlines, she found her calling as a rap artist, using writing as a form of therapy.

The Alchemy of Pain

“The Alchemy of Pain,” Persia’s latest album, holds a special place in her heart.

Seeking to create a project she could be proud of, she aimed to showcase her versatility as a lyricist.

She said: “I wanted to create a project I’m proud of, something unique, authentic and shows my versatility as a lyricist.

“The Alchemy of Pain is about turning your pain into power, for me that was by transmuting that energy into creative energy and making something beautiful from it.

“I really believe in the power of words to connect with people, either in an emotional or intellectual way.

“I wrote a lot of it during COVID lockdown and through some really traumatic personal experiences, sometimes when you are trying to create something, it feels like there are so many obstacles and when you achieve your goal you can feel that sense of accomplishment.”

Turning Pain into Power

The album represents the transformation of pain into power, a concept Persia embodies by channelling her own experiences and emotions into her creative work.

The power of words plays a crucial role in Persia’s music, allowing her to connect with listeners on an emotional and intellectual level.

Reflecting on her unique style and sound, Persia describes herself as an underground rapper, distinguishing herself from the mainstream pop-rap scene.

She said “Over the years I have fine-tuned my style more, I’ve got quite a deep voice and I always liked really dark moody boom bap beats where you can show off lyrically, or really thoughtful ones where you can really tell a story.

“I would say my sound is quite underground, I’m not really a pop rapper.

“I’m a rappers’ rapper if you know what I mean. I didn’t really approach the album with a particular theme or message.

“I think it’s a display of my ability as a rapper but it’s littered with my real thoughts and bits and pieces of my life and personality.

“One of the songs “Magic” talks about overcoming adversity, the song “Alone” deals with being comfortable alone and learning to love yourself. Some of the tracks are more about lyrical ability than a theme, it’s just me doing lyrical gymnastics!”

While “The Alchemy of Pain” doesn’t adhere to a specific theme, it offers glimpses into Persia’s life, thoughts, and personality, showcasing her lyrical ability and storytelling prowess.

The journey of creating “The Alchemy of Pain” was not without its challenges.

Persia faced financial obstacles, as she self-funded the project while working full time.

Additionally, a significant setback occurred when she suffered third-degree burns to her legs during the album’s recording in 2021.

Determined to complete the album despite the physical and emotional pain, Persia used the experience as fuel for her music, embodying the album’s title and turning adversity into creative energy.

She said: “There were the usual financial challenges as I funded this project myself while working full time.

“Also finding the time to write when I can.

“I had an accident in 2021 and received 3rd degree burns to my legs during the recording of this album, It really caused me to have to push everything back, and get myself back to health before I could even think about releasing anything.

“It did however give me a determination that I wouldn’t let it stop me from completing this album and releasing it.

“It’s ironic that the title was The Alchemy of Pain as if anyone has ever had a burn injury it can be the most painful experience, and the scars it leaves behind can really affect your self image.

“I again took that energy and put it into recording, writing and performing, so the title “The Alchemy of Pain” really was more about how I created the album rather than being a theme in every track. I took all of the challenges that came my way and channelled that into my music.”

Manchester has played a significant role in shaping Persia’s music and lyrical content.

Growing up in Manchester

Growing up in the city, she was exposed to its rich history of rebellion, socialism, and cultural icons like the Pankhursts.

She said: “Being Mancunian definitely influences my music, obviously my accent gives it away but I think it’s more than that.

“Manchester has a history of rebellion, socialism, the Pankhurst’s, the remnants of the cotton factories, there is a rich history in Manchester and I think all Mancunians are affected to some extent by that context.

“I grew up around a budding rap scene in Manchester in the late 90’s/2000’s, it was during the time that Manchester Rapper Shifty was big, he was one of the only Mancunian rappers who was known outside of Manchester which was rare.

“A group of us used to meet outside contact theatre and spit bars to each other, it was a way of sharpening your skills, bouncing off each other.

Manchester’s Artistic Backdrop

Persia’s Mancunian identity seeps into her music, intertwining with her personal experiences and the city’s artistic backdrop.

Storytelling is at the core of Persia’s music, allowing her to delve into her own life experiences and share relatable narratives.

Songs like “Magic” and “Alone” explore themes of overcoming adversity, self-love, and the acceptance of one’s individuality.

Through concept tracks, Persia challenges herself by adopting different perspectives, keeping her artistry fresh and dynamic.

The album concludes with a surprising departure from rap as Persia ventures into the realm of R&B with the track “Work It Out.”

Collaborating with JSD

Collaborating with producer JSD on “The Alchemy of Pain” was a natural choice for Persia.

Having known each other since school and later working together, their similar personalities and shared musical vision made for a seamless creative partnership.

Their collaboration consistently yields magic in the studio, elevating Persia’s music to new heights.

Manchester’s Rap Scene

Reflecting on the current state of the Manchester music scene, Persia recognises its growth and the increased accessibility for aspiring artists to self-release their music.

The success of artists like Aitch, Shotty, and Bugzy Malone has contributed to Manchester’s rising prominence in the music industry.

However, Persia believes there is still untapped potential within the city’s rap scene, with numerous talented artists yet to receive recognition beyond Manchester’s borders.

She said: “The Manchester music scene has definitely grown, I remember when there were only a few people who even attempted to pursue music, now it’s accessible to anyone, obviously with the introduction of things like Ditto and Tunecore, artists can self-release, it’s definitely a positive thing.

“Manchester’s music scene has definitely grown and artists are becoming more recognised outside of Manchester.

“I think the popularity of artists like Aitch, Shotty and Bugzy Malone definitely contributed to that. Manchester has always had a vibrant music scene but I think with rap it still has so much room to grow and there are so many talented artists who still remain unrecognised outside Manchester.

“Artistically I think it helps being in a city which has always been musical, from factory records to the hacienda, I think as a Manc, we all incorporate a bit of that context into our art.”

She draws inspiration from Manchester’s rich musical heritage, incorporating elements of its rebellious spirit into her artistry.

Persia’s journey as a rapper and the creation of “The Alchemy of Pain” exemplify her ability to transform personal pain into powerful artistic expression.

With her unique style, thought-provoking lyrics, and captivating storytelling, she continues to make her mark in the rap world, solidifying her position as one of Manchester’s most promising rap artists.

As she continues to evolve creatively, Persia’s music promises to captivate and inspire listeners with its raw honesty and introspective depth.

You can check out her new album, which was out on the 9th July, by clicking here.

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