Seven things you didn’t know about South London’s Kamaal Williams

12th March 2019

The music of Kamaal Williams, and his electronic music alias Henry Wu, comes up in many conversations about South London music. Despite the number of records he’s released – more than ten – the artist continues to carry an air of mystery. 

Finding his most public platform with Yussef Kamaal record ‘Black Focus’ – a collaborative album with drummer Yussef Dayes – Williams has moved forward, creating music under his own name. ‘The Return’, which dropped in May 2018, features Pete Martin on bass, MckNasty on Drums and engineer Richard Samuels. Six months later, Kamaal dropped a 12 inch, featuring new track New Heights (Visions of Aisha Malik). The accompanying video, featuring Kung Fu artists, has just been revealed – watch it below. 

Kamaal Williams headlines Love Supreme @ Roundhouse on 13 April, alongside a line-up that includes Laura Mvula, Melt Yourself Down and Neue Grafik. Here’s seven things you didn’t know about the man with the hat…

1 \\The son of a British father and Taiwanese mother, Kamaal refers to his mum’s front room and kitchen in Peckham as his “studio” – he recorded his album ‘The Return’ there on a Clarett 8Pre. 

2 \\ Inspired by his parents’ careers and interests in graphic design, Kamaal learnt Mandarin and Chinese calligraphy whilst growing up – and also drew graffiti around London. Refusing to reveal his tag, he told Champ Magazine, “I wouldn’t want to incriminate myself”. 

3 \\ The name Kamaal was adopted upon converting to Islam in 2011: “Henry Wu is my ethnic background, and Kamaal is my spiritual background“. 

4 \\ ‘Execute’, the 2001 album by Garage duo Oxide and Neutrino, was a major influence on Kamaal. 

5 \\ Kamaal used to be as part of Katy B’s band, touring the UK alongside fellow musicians including Tenderlonious and drummer Joshua McKenzie – who would later feature on ‘The Return’. 

6 \\ Kamaal went to Bermondsey Centre of Southwark College, also attended by fashion designer Ozwald Boateng OBE and Clive Efford, Labour MP for Eltham. 

7 \\ Kamaal describes drums as his first instrument, telling World Is Music Magazine; “I see the piano as a drum, for me it’s a percussion instrument. That’s why playing with the drums is such a key foundation of our music, the two rhythms – a melodic rhythm and the percussive rhythm together”. 

Buy tickets for Kamaal Williams, 13 April

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