Henry Wu aka Kamaal Williams
Contrary to his low profile approach, the 25-year-old beatmaker isn’t shy or a recluse. Something I found out when we met a couple of weeks ago outside Peckham Rye’s Sports Direct – newly purchased Nike slippers in hand and like me, craving lunch. He’s just uninterested in the glamour that surrounds music, and in particular, the celebrity status that can get velcroed alongside it.
Similarly, Henry has gone through his own metamorphosis. As a session player for a particularly successful local songstress, he ended up alongside Tenderlonious, a supremely talented sax player. When the group went on to support none other than John Legend & The Roots, Tenderlonious entered the fray to beef up the horns section. Albeit a useful learning experience, the industry politics eventually got too much and at the start of 2012 Henry decided to quit music. “I sold 80% of my equipment, and at the time I was just really disillusioned with the music – playing music is one thing, but the extra baggage is unavoidable.” Islam would prove to be his moral compass.
“Religion plays a big part in my life, definitely. In Islam, there’s a term which explains the way we look at religion. Dīn describes a way of life as opposed to a religion. At least in the west, people see religion as something you do every Sunday or a weekly thing. It’s the foundation of my beliefs and that also translates to the music. I’ve realised that when you’re an artist, there is this whole understanding that people will follow your work