There are some people in life who take the bull by the horns, who were born to succeed and more importantly were born to be a star. Maxsta - the youngest grime artist on the scene - is one of those people.
Going through more anguish as a teenager than most people do in a
lifetime, Maxsta is well on his way to triumphing over adversity.
Expelled from his first secondary school and being stabbed and attacked by his peers, he's fought hard to beat the cynics. Working with some of the best names in his field and becoming the face of Adidas is just the start of his journey.
After lighting up the grime scene with 2010's incendiary street anthem 'East London is Back', Maxsta has returned as the first signing to Jamal 'SBTV' Edwards' new label, Just Jams - an offshoot of Sony RCA, one of the biggest labels in the business. Renowned as one of Britain's most innovative rappers, the 19-year-old's trademark sound has a new target -the mainstream.
"I've always wanted to be a big artist," Maxsta says in his usual laidback manner. "I'm not selling out. Selling out is when you make cheesy music. My music deals with bigger issues than what's happening on grime forums. Everything I write is like a little piece of me because I make sure it comes from the heart."
BornIan Koromah in Lewisham backin 1992, his parents came to England to escape the horror ofSierra Leone'sbrutal civil war, raising their son in Peckham before relocating to East Ham. A precocious musical talent from day one, Maxsta started rapping at the age of 14, inspired by the intricate cerebral flows of his heroes Eminem, Big L, Dizzee, and Roll Deep. He attended the same school as Kano, but by his own admission wasn't exactly a model pupil, preferring to daydream about performing on TV rather than brushing up on algebra.
"Iwas a pretty hyperactive kid! I liked messing about with my friends, egging people, you know, pulling pranks.The only class I was interested in was music. I studied piano, cello, guitar and then recited my lyrics in the playground.Music showed me a different world. I'm glad it did. Now some of thepeople who were in the same class as me are in prison or on the road doing all sorts of bad things."
After briefly running with Bow's Mucky Wolfpack collective, Maxsta went solo, stealing the show on tracks with grime luminaries like Dot Rotten, Jammer, J2K, and Wiley. He appeared live on Radio 1 with Tim Westwood, recorded tracks for Voltage's'Currently In Charge Vol 1 & 2'andTarget's'Aim High'compilation,as well as makinga cameo in the video for Ghetts and Doller Da Dustman's single, 'Skadoosh'.
Never one to bite his tongue, Maxsta's reputation as the grime scene's most visceral young firebrand was firmly cemented in 2010 with 'East London Is Back'. A braggadocios battle rap anthem about "representing the thugs in the flats" Maxsta called out anyone who dared to think that they were better than him. A critical smash, it made his mixtape-'The Maxtape'-one of the scene's biggest sellers of the year. Then everything came crashing down, in the worst way possible.
"Everyone started to hate me because they thought I was too bad. I'd be sitting in my house with my parents and a brick would come through the window. I became the one that everyone hated and wanted to do something to. I got stabbed and two weeks after that I was riding home on my bike and someone smacked me from behind with a big 1.5 litre Bailey's bottle. I needed to get away from all that, so me and my family moved out to Essex."
In much the same way as Kanye West's car crash gave him the confidence
to step out from behind the boards and into the spotlight, Maxsta's
violent run in brought him to the realisation that being a rapper
doesn't always need to equate to being the baddest man on road-it's
about telling a story that resonates with as many people as possible.
The first hint at his new direction came in the form of an acoustic cover of Tracy Chapman's 'Fast Car', which has racked up over 45,000 views on YouTube in less than a month. 'Spit Fire', his official comeback single, promises to bring things back to the dance floor, with lyrics that embrace the ideology that hip hop was founded upon-namely, to squash the beef and have some fun.
"'Spit Fire' is a very cool, almost retro Beastie Boys type beat. It's a
record for all the people wearing Adidas tracksuits and bucket hats.
It's who I really am, not a persona. Being real feels much better for me, it's more interesting. That doesn't mean I'm some preacher now, I'm still a kid who's messing about, but I have grown up and I want to show that in my new music."
As for leaving the grime scene behind, the young Londoner feels no qualms about declaring his desire to follow Devlin, Tinchy Stryder and Tinie Tempah up to the top of the charts.
"It's a different dream now. Oneday I was in school listening to Wiley and Kano's songs, the next I was working with them. I've done all the things that I wanted to do with grime.I've done things that I thought I could never do. That makes me think that I can do more, that I can take this much further than I ever imagined. Everything is about going forward, onwards and upwards. There is a bigger story to tell now."