On the 22nd April, Proton took over the Relentless Store in Soho for the launch party of his mixtape Until Next Time, which was released on the 21st. It was an energetic affair to say the least. “Until next time is a common conclusive phrase used by most ringmasters” and was chosen after creating the music to “sonically fit the concept of a Circus/Freak Show” says Proton.
When I think of The Circus I think of variety, bright colours, masks and a huge stage fit for an array of stunt orientated artists. When I think of a Freak Show, I see a fascination with distortion, the extraordinary, the disturbing and the abnormal. What the two have in common is the adoption of alter egos, the idea of darkness being represented as a form of entertainment, a strong element of surprise and adrenaline. These themes all have some form of manifestation on Proton’s project and he also exhibited them during the performances at the launch party.
“This project has layers to it that I find myself lost in”
I had to ask Proton where exactly his mind was at when he was making this project, to which he replied: “I had to imagine myself front row at Zippos Circus and if what I was creating could accompany the flamboyancies of the performers.” A refreshing concept painted by the rapper from Croydon, South London who says that he “had to put [his] mind in a place where nobody else in [his] field could have been,” thus carving out his own lane.
The mixtape has a healthy number of songs on it, enough to really get stuck in but not so much that any of them start to sound like throwaways. Proton tells me that he “had about 45 demo tracks aside for this project” and these were the ones selected for the vision. The quality remains consistent all the way through to the fourteenth track.
Proton demonstrates variety in sound and delivery. Shifting between rapping, singing and all that lies in-between. He experiments with his tone and cadence in ways that are exciting to listen to. The production for the most part is intricately layered, eerie, dark and energetic. However, ‘Rari’ and ‘Wishes’ featuring Flowzart (for example) add a more laid-back feel to mix.
The adoption of alter egos manifests in the writing, as on ‘Magic Boy’ where he calls himself David Blaine (the magician and illusionist), whilst on ‘Circus’ he takes on the role of the ringmaster, which “was relative to [him] as the artist letting the music put on the show.”
The idea of darkness being re-presented as a form of entertainment became most prominent during Proton’s performance of ‘Kingdom Come’ and ‘Coffin’. Picture a vigorous moshpit of people shouting “our master, who art in devils!” and “bring them a coffin!” Mad.
It was an intimate show with the stage being on level ground. Some stood by the wall, heads bopping, watching the festivities unfold and then were the participants. The participants heightened the atmosphere, as it should be. It was like watching Proton’s great energy being reflected by a multi-faced mirror.
I asked the artist how the show went from his perspective, to which he answered: “The show went extremely well, I felt anxious before as it was all new material and I was letting it out for the first time in such an honest exchange. While performing, it was almost as if I was getting a performance back from the crowd; taking in their reactions and vibe was more entertaining for me than anything [else]”
“We’re about to get real ignant, make you wanna slap someone on the tube on your way home. Yeah? Yeah? Yeah!”
An important question to ask when listening to music is “what is the artist talking about?” Proton talks girls, materialism, sex, money, his skill as an artist etc. It’s ignant rap to put it simply. However, his authentic delivery, his clever use of metaphor, his wit and quality of sound is what sets him apart in the vast pool of the ignant.
“She likes to call it single, I like to call her everybody’s”
Words by Charisse Chikwiri
Photos by @GraysBS_