By day, Leicester born Matt Robinson is a footballer for Dagenham and Redbridge FC of the Vanarama National League. By night, he takes on a completely different and almost surprising persona; the central midfielder becomes ‘Kamakaze’, one of the most highly rated up-and-coming grime artists in the UK.
Matt Robinson, who plays his football as a midfielder, started his career at his beloved Leicester City, playing two seasons for the Foxes’ youth set up before moving on to Luton in 2012 after he failed to land a professional contract at the Midlands club.
Not content to sit back, Robinson put his head in the game found a club that would allow him an opportunity to thrive. After signing for Luton Town, Robinson played a key role on the pitch as the Hatters were promoted to the Football League in 2012, playing 27 times and scoring nine goals. While Robinson made nine appearances in the EFL for the club, loan spells at Kidderminster Harriers, Grimsby Town and Woking allowed him to get more game time before joining his current side, Dagenham and Redbridge, in 2016 as the Daggers faced a period of major transition having just suffered relegation out of the Football League.
A quick search of his alter ego ‘Kamakaze’ on YouTube throws you straight into some of his most popular ‘freestyles’ (improvised rapping). One of the more successful videos, by JDZ media, has racked in over two million streams, with views and comments coming in as recently as this year despite being released in 2015.
Grabbing the name from the film Empire of the Sun that he watched when he was just 11-years-old, the most fascinating aspect about Robinson’s life is the fact he is juggling two childhood dreams for many people across the world; living life as a rockstar and a professional footballer simultaneously.
The connection between music and football can also be heard in Robinson’s music. In one freestyle, he throws out the bar ‘Cause I captain the pack like Connor Coady’ as a reminder of the unique blend between the two art forms. The lyrics and wordplay on offer through Kamakaze’s output means that a second listening of any of his songs or freestyle is almost certainly needed to grasp the brevity of his message.
Switching to Spotify, and Kamakaze’s listenership is just as impressive as his rhymes. The ‘Daggers’ midfielder clocks up over 200,000 monthly listeners. Robinson also has two songs with over one million streams, ‘Last Night’ (which included in his playlist) and ‘Coldeine’ with over four million and two million listens, respectively.
It comes as no surprise that Robinson’s playlist ranges across varying genres of music to have inspired him to date, material that has moulded him into the Grime MC and footballer that we see today. Kicking off his playlist with a song from the very beginning: “This is my first memory of music, listening to it on my dad’s sound system in my living room,” he explained with a warm sense of nostalgia. “So, I would have been about four.” Referring to the track, ‘Apple Tree’ by Erykah Badu, he added: “It is a timeless song. Erykah probably has my favourite voice of any singer.”
Moving onto his influences for his own music, Robinson references ‘Come Close’, a single by rapper Common which features guest vocals by Mary J. Blige: “Common’s lyricism is probably my favourite in hip hop. Beautiful song about love and it’s imperfections,” he explains, before referencing the specific line ‘I’m tired of living in the fast lane, I want you to have my last name’ to give us an idea as to where Robinson’s desire to be Kamakaze came from.
Then, moving onto one of the founding fathers of grime, a nod of the head to Kano and his track ‘How We Livin”. “A great debut album, I could have picked ‘P’s and Q’s’,” he explains. “For me, he was the first grime MC to spit with the content of the hip hop I listened to. The transition between chorus and verse is the nicest. And the content is deep. I love this song.”
As can be seen from his song choices, emotion plays a significant role in music for Matt Robinson, ranging from music when he is feeling sad, happy, or even nostalgic. To bring him happiness, Buju Banton’s 1995 track ‘Wanna Be Loved’ has always been close to his heart. “This song has always made me happy and his words are honest and uplifting. If I ever feel low, I will whack it on.” And for the nostalgia, Michigan & Smiley number ‘Eye of Danger’. “This song is close to my heart as is the whole Studio One Rockers compilation. My dad used to play it in the car to and from training when he used to take me. Sunday league and academy. Every Tuesday and Thursday,” he explained in what is a wonderfully fitting reference to tracking the influential combination both sport and music have played in Robinson’s formative years.
The Footballer/Grime star looks back a lot on his youthful days for inspiration for his playlist, picking out the track ‘Barcelona’ by D.Kay and Epsilon ft Stamina MC as one that couldn’t be kept off the list. “When I started hitting house parties and pre-drinks, I would always dash this on if I had the aux. euphoric and the energy is amazing.”
That same energy of taking over the AUX has transferred into Robinson’s music, he still wants to be the guy who is taking over and creating a party, but this time with his own music. Picking out ‘Last Night’ by Kamakaze x Massappeals ft Morgan Munroe: “This song represents every struggle I have overcome with music. I wrote it about my first UK tour, and it became my biggest song to date. It made me the first person ever to be a player on FIFA and have a song in it. And it is a banger.”
Two other tracks that the Leicester born footballer puts down as inspiration to his musical style are, ‘Round Here’ by James Blake featuring Chance the Rapper: “There was a point in my teens where me and my friends rinsed James Blake and Chance The Rapper and this gets them both in. A unique voice and production style and chance is a gifted rapper.” Adding to that sentiment, Klashnekoff effort ‘Black Rose’ arrives next: “When I started rapping it was songs like this that I took inspiration from an ode to his girl and the other half to his deceased Father. An underrated legend in England,” Robinson explained.
For Robinson’s final song choice, he brings back a theme that has been prevalent throughout the playlist, the influence from his parents. Many musicians grow up being moulded by what their parents listen too, with many songs sticking with them for a lifetime. The Ojays and ‘Backstabbers’ is Matt Robinson/Kamakaze’s last entry. “Most of my choices are influences from my parents love of music and soul and the Motown era was obviously massive for them,” he explained. “The theme of the song is truly relevant to most people, everyone feels like they got haters. ‘They smiling in your face, whole time they wanna take your place’ every footballer or musician can relate. Trust me.”
To hear more from Matt Robinson/Kamakaze, check out his recently released EP’ Memories over Money’ on all major streaming platforms. For now, find his full Player Playlist, below.
Matt Robinson/Kamakaze’s Player Playlist:
- Erykah Badu – ‘Apple Tree’
- Common – ‘Come Close’
- Kano – ‘How We Livin”
- Buju Banton – ‘Wanna Be Loved’
- Michigan & Smiley – ‘Eye of Danger’
- D.Kay and Epsilon ft Stamina MC – ‘Barcelona’
- Kamakaze x Massappeals ft Morgan Munroe – ‘Last Night’
- James Blake featuring Chance the Rapper – ‘Round Here’
- Klashnekoff – ‘Black Rose’
- The Ojays – ‘Backstabbers’