Stokes and I first met in a bar in New York some years ago; early January about four years ago I guess. He was a friend of a friend of a friend, and we all hung out and had some beers and talked about music, as music lovers are prone to do. At the time I was producing and presenting and online radio show via the University of Edinburgh's "Fresh Air" station and lined-up a phone interview with Stokes for when I got home. It wasn't the best phone line, and maybe the production side of things wasn't as good as it could be if I'm honest, but it was a good interview. Here was a US rapper on an Edinburgh-based online radio show, discussing how he was working with an Australian music producer/DJ. It was very global, very digital, and reflected how a new generation of artist would start using social media to develop their fan-base. We played some of Stokes' tracks (or Flukie Stokes as he was then known), including a rap over an instrumental of "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley - the first track to go to number one on the UK charts predominantly through digital sales and one of the drivers for Stokes to choose that track.
Some years later, during a period of personal boredom and a frustration at the fact that I was no longer producing and presenting a radio show, no longer DJing, and no longer promoting any events, I found myself looking Stokes up online and discovering that he had a new album available to own via iTunes. "Death of a Handsome Bride" blew me away. The production was amazing (courtesy of Lazerbeak), and the rapping was far more honed than it had been a few years earlier. I found myself making comparisons to Kanye and Jay-Z as I listened and I maintain a belief in those similarities to this day. I got in touch with Stokes shortly afterwards and expressed admiration for his album and an eagerness to put on a show or two when he finally came to the UK. It turned out he'd been very busy touring around the States and Scandinavia. In fact, he is fairly relentless in terms of his work, constantly touring, making videos and fresh songs. In recent months he has opened for acts such as Del the Funky Homosapien and Talib Kweli, and has just returned from a trip to Paris where he opened for The Clipse.
Now I'll confess to having failed to find the funding to get him over to the UK for a series of tours and, quite frankly, can't afford to put on more than one or two from my own pocket. However, I hope he'll get to these shores soon and I hope to be able to get involved. A quick YouTube search will show you just how good a performer he is and I strongly recommend you check out his album.
In the meantime, you can see an interview with him on web-based YRB TV.