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Baker's Dozen

Ceremonial Worship: Gonjasufi's Favourite Records
Elizabeth Aubrey , August 17th, 2016 08:23

Before the singer, DJ and producer releases his third album, Callus, this week, he talks to Elizabeth Aubrey about the 13 songs and albums that have had the biggest impact on his life, emotionally and spiritually


Gil Scott-Heron – I'm New Here
During his last show, I performed my first in Europe – it was his second-to-last show ever in Italy. I opened for him and I had dinner with him the night before. Over dinner, he didn't speak much. He was very quiet but smiled a lot and asked me about where I was playing. Hearing this record just reminds me of being in his presence during his last days; I got to share some pretty special moments with him. When I hear this record, I just sob. I'm so grateful to have performed with him, and to have spoken with him; just to have been in his presence was an honour.

The day he landed, we were at this centre. He didn't know he was going to perform, he just thought he was going there to fucking chill. He starts playing and says, "Are there any poets around here?" He looked directly at me and I was so fucking shook: I was scared. One of my biggest regrets was not just going up there and grabbing the mic and just improvising the spoken word with him. He looked around and kept looking at me like, "Come on, man!" I allowed my fear and inexperience to get in the way, but I learned from it. Poets like Saul Williams, and what Gil Scott Heron was doing that day – I looked up to those guys. When you're up there and it's just the spoken word, you're so exposed. Poetry is like a lost art right now and it's actually a space I want to revisit. It's easier for me to go on stage and sing because I can hide behind the music a little bit. But there's not enough poets anymore; I would like to see an era of poets again.

We had this one moment, too, where I was getting ready to leave the hotel and I had this crown on my head that my friend had given me. I walk out waiting for the car to pick me up and I have the crown on my head when all of a sudden he came up behind me, lighting a cigarette before starting to bow down to me and shit. He bowed with one leg on the ground and put his hands like they were in prayer – he bowed to me again and said, "I came to bow to the king!" And I just looked at him and I felt like such a fucking idiot man. I was like, "Oh man! You're the fucking king bro!" I took the crown off and smiled and we took a picture together.