Dublin hip hop artist Ahmed, with love. first flew onto our radar through a collaboration with Bitten Twice affiliate Rory Sweeney on what is undoubtedly one of the Irish collaborations of the year. A creative storyteller in every sense of the label, and inspired by Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler and MF Doom, Ahmed is ready to take the world by storm with his refreshingly laid back take on the hip-hop format, although he’d never admit that, such is his not-so-serious demeanour. It’s a refreshing up-take on the typical male bravado that rears its head traditionally in hip hop, and one that contributes to the artists infectious energy.
We caught up with the Dublin wordsmith on the dawn of Full Plate‘s release – a post-breakup story featuring collaborator KhakiKid. Get to know one of the most exciting talents in Ireland.
So, what is Full Plate about? What was the inspiration for it and what was it like working with KhakiKid?
The song kinda morphed its way into this real laid-back anthem of how you’re not responsible for dealing with someone else’s issues even if you have had history. It’s that awkward post-breakup feeling of thinking you still owe someone your support and your presence when you really don’t. You don’t need to still be that pillar of support. My favourite part about making the song is just how it came about. I was on a Zoom call with a few old friends at like 2 in the morning just playing beats and freestyling. I found this instrumental Tape Eater sent me and I remembered some random hook I was humming in the kitchen a couple days ago, so I thought I’d record it so I didn’t forget it. That ended up being the hook for the track. Then I had a few bars and verses from unfinished songs that I knew I’d never finish and they all just fell into place. It was like a perfect storm of about three unfinished tracks making this one little bop. I think I recorded like 90% of the track whilst on that Zoom call.
I was already a big fan of KhakiKid so I was happy out to get to work with him. We were chatting on IG and I sent him over the track looking for a verse. He sent it back and it fit perfectly so I was chuffed. The first time I met him in person was for the music video and we just got the same stupid jokey energy so it was great to chill with him. Imma work with that kid again whether he likes it or not.
Your style of hip hop has a sense of humour to it, what is your inspiration? Who influences you, and has this changed over time?
Humour-wise, I don’t think I really aim to try and make jokes or do something funny. It’s moreso just a result of me really not taking myself too seriously when I make music. I’m just having fun and I think you can tell by the way I deliver lines, I don’t think I’m hot shit or better than I am and I’m a naturally not-so-serious person so I just let myself be honest in that regard. In terms of musically, I’ve always taken influence from the likes of MF DOOM or Earl Sweatshirt, people that can tell stories in interesting ways. They’re also honest in their presentation like they’re just being themselves when they rap and you can tell that. That’s something I really try and strive to do. Artists like Tyler, The Creator help out too cuz growing up on the likes of them was refreshing in letting me know that it’s ok to be weird and just do whatever.
There is much attention to detail in your videos, they are very creative. How closely do you work with directors and filmographers in creating these, or do you leave most of it to them?
I always want to make sure I’m helping out in my videos as much as I can. I’m normally a lot more hands-on with things just because I usually have a good idea of how I want stuff to look like in my head. These past two videos though, I did put a lot of trust into the director. Pippa Moloney is someone whose work I’ve admired for years so when I got the chance to I knew that I could be comfortable with letting her creativity take charge. There really wasn’t anything she suggested or did that I wouldn’t have done cuz we were pretty much on the same wavelength with a lot of things, and any time I thought of a suggestion or an idea she was very accommodating. Her, the DOP Carlos Moguel and the whole crew are legit doing some of the best work in Ireland in my opinion. That’s not even me being biased like I genuinely believe that.
You have linked up with Rory Sweeney before on track, an artist that really excites us at Plain Sailing. Are you planning on linking up with any other emerging producers in the near future?
Rory’s a great dude. We’ve always been on the same vibe whenever we link up so I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have some exciting stuff on the way. Tape Eater, the guy who produced this track, is highkey one of the best people I met during lockdown. I think we instantly hit it off over Instagram DMs so I’m buzzing for yous to hear what else we’ve got. I won’t say anyone else though. Gotta keep the mystique.
As we slowly come out of lockdown, what would you like to see change, or what can be done better, within the Dublin scene?
I found that through lockdown, the creative scene in Ireland really got a lot more open to just reaching out and working with one another. Like, I’ve met so many people through just following them on social media that I don’t think I’d have had the chance to if Covid didn’t force us all to just stay at home, which is kinda bizarre. This track probably wouldn’t have come about if it wasn’t for Covid seeing as everyone who helped me make it were people I met online initially. So I hope that with things opening up and people being freer, that same energy of just working together with people and pushing the Irish scene as a whole doesn’t fade. It’s actually such a fun time to be an Irish creative.
Is 2021/2022 Ahmed season? What’s coming next from you?
You’re gonna have to find out. I’m just gonna continue doing what I’m doing which is have fun making chunes and maybe somebody will listen. Might even do a gig or two, who knows? Couple collab tapes, maybe? Only time will tell.
Full Plate production credits: Starring Ahmed, with love., KhaikiKid, Lauryn Creamer and Craig Chiko. Directed by Pippa Molony. DOP Carlos Moguel. Produced by Lauren Cullen. Edited by Jack Doyle. 1st Assistant Camera Grainne Galvin. Track produced by Tape Eater. Mixed by Noisy House. Mastered by Kylté.