A local rap artist has encouraged any record labels scouting for unsigned urban acts to take a look at the talent in Sheffield.
Simeon James, 26, known as Critic, is currently at the forefront of the city’s somewhat unrenowned hip-hop scene and believes that there are plenty of local rappers deserving of greater attention.
”I’d just say give us a chance because it’s not just London where the talent is. Someone looking for Sheffield’s urban music can look at the RTD Productionz website and find just about anybody who’s doing something for themselves.”
RTD Productionz were a Sheffield duo who have gradually expanded from merely making music to also acting as a platform for many local artists to showcase their work through their website.
Critic, who has himself had his work displayed on RTD’s website, produced a 2007 mixtape entitled ‘Chronicles of Critic’ which he initially sold copies of before making it free for download in 2008.
Pitsmoor-born Critic is proud of the mixtape which he describes as ‘one of the best underground CDs to come out of the city.’
”It had a good response. Another accomplishment I took from it was where I put the link up if it isn’t downloaded in a 30-day period it deletes itself.”
”Today three years later the same link is still going strong. So even now it is still being listened to.”
A particular highpoint of Critic’s career was performing at the 02 Academy in 2009 as one of Grammy Award-winning American rapper T-Pain’s opening acts.
”I’m not going to lie, it was quite daunting, more because of the crowd than him. It was different when I met him backstage, you have to carry yourself properly when you meet these people I guess.”
Critic names New Jersey rapper Joe Budden, best known in the UK for his 2003 hit ‘Pump It Up’, as his biggest inspiration for including deeply personal issues such as depression in his music.
One of Critic’s most emotional tracks is ‘Dedication’, inspired by the death of his cousin Brett, and he believes that being able to vent his feelings in such a way is one of his main assets.
”I like to rap about things I’ve been through and how I feel. In my opinion, if you’re talking your heart out people can’t do anything but relate to it.”
”Dedication is probably my deepest track, the song is pretty self-explanatory. That’s the thing with my music, I try to make it as easy to understand as possible, no encryptions, it is what it is.”
After a meeting in the past with an A&R from a new label said to be related to Universal, Critic has continued to work as an independent artist in the hope of eventually gaining the recognition he feels he deserves.
”Any music I do or have done has all been out of my own pocket. I have a close friend as a graphic designer, another who’s a web designer and one that shoots videos so I have most things at my disposal.”
”When I started rapping I wanted my older brother’s seal of approval. I think it’s the same now, just that my audience is wider than my brother and my friends.”
Critic’s YouTube channel is SHEFFCRITIC and you can follow him on Twitter @SheffCritic