For European Day of Languages, Youth Music NextGen Fund artist, Pat, discusses bilingual rapping and championing his Polish heritage.
The European Day of Languages has been celebrated every year since 2001 on 26 September, promoting the learning and appreciation of language as a tool for intercultural understanding.
The 2021 Census reveals that after English, Polish is the most common main language in the UK, spoken by 1.1% of the population.
Youth Music NextGen Fund artist Pat moved from Poland to the UK when he was seven years old. Although he began his career rapping solely in English, last year he began to include Polish in his music too, switching the flow and rapping in both languages.
We caught up with Pat to hear about the support he's received since debuting his bilingual flow, and why speaking two languages is his superpower.
You’re a bilingual artist rapping in both English and Polish. What does it mean to you to be able to showcase both languages in your artistry?
Being able to showcase my art in two languages means a lot to me because it enables me to fully expose every part of me. Being from Poland and moving to the UK at the age of seven led me to sort of lose sight of my Polish roots for a period of my life, however I always made sure to remember where I come from and keep the Polish side alive, and now I am able to do that with my music.
I also think it's important for me to champion the Polish side of me through my art as I want it to reach other young Polish people living in the UK and show them that there is a space for Polish people in the UK music scene - or any other creative scene. When I was growing up and starting of my musical journey I sensed a real lack of representation of Polish people in the music industry and so I really wanna show others that there is space for us in the world of music.
When you first began your artist career, you rapped only in English. What led you to integrate Polish into your music too?
To be honest, when I first started I didn’t feel very confident in my songwriting ability in Polish so I was very reluctant to incorporate it straight away, but a lot of my friends always encouraged the idea of rapping in Polish and so with a bit of reassurance and persistent nagging from them I started writing in Polish. The idea of merging the two languages was always at the back of my mind and so it definitely would’ve happened eventually and I’m just glad it happened at the time that it did.
How were you expecting your audience to react to your bilingual flows? And how have you found the actual reception?
The reception to the Polish bars has been crazy to be fair haha! I think at one point after dropping the first bilingual tune ("Who Knows") the city with the most listeners on my Spotify changed from London to Warsaw which was crazy. I always knew there was an audience out there that would connect specifically to the Polish and English tunes but I definitely didn’t expect the warmth and openness of the Polish music scene off the back of the releases.
Since rapping in Polish, you’ve seen a lot of support from Spotify Poland. How does this recognition feel?
It's always sick as an independent artist to get any kind of support, but when it comes directly from Spotify it definitely feels extra special. I'm super grateful for the team at Spotify Poland as they are very active and responsive to all the releases. They even made me feel like a superstar when they put my picture on the cover of one of the biggest hip-hop playlists in Poland. I have [also] featured on the New Music Friday playlist numerous times which was crazy! Overall, the support from them has helped a crazy amount as I’ve been able to discover new fans of my music and rub shoulders with some of the bigger artists in Poland whilst being completely independent.
You’ve got 1.5M followers on TikTok – the audience reaction on the platform is quite instant and there’s a short attention span - has it influenced your writing and production?
TikTok for me is a place to have fun talk a bit of rubbish, showcase my personality and promote my music, however I never even think about it when writing or producing music. I think as soon as you limit yourself to making music that will pop off on a certain platform you are no longer being creative but rather strategic. I'm very grateful for my audience on TikTok and very grateful for that platform for all its given to me but I will never aim to make TikTok music, I will only ever make what I wanna make and if it connects, great, but if not, then it wasn’t meant to be. In my opinion, good music always wins, so it will always find its way to an audience, so therefore I will continue using my TikTok as a place to have fun and promote my music but I won’t let it affect the way I write and produce music.
You switch flows effortlessly - how do you approach the bilingual writing process? Does intertwining the two languages come naturally?
It's super weird actually, it's like accessing two different sides of my brain, so its definitely a harder process than writing solely in English. It's something I really enjoy though, mainly because I think its cool how I can talk about one topic in two different languages all whilst making it fit the same rhyme, scheme and structure. It's like my own personal superpower. It definitely isn’t always easy though, so to say it comes naturally would be lying. I have to proper think about every line when writing and when it comes to recording it probably takes about 40 million takes to record one verse.
Who are some of your favourite up-and-coming Polish artists?
There's a lot going on in the Polish scene, and a goal for me over the next few years is to immerse myself more in the Polish music culture and really familiarise myself with the underground scene. For now though, I'm listening to artists like Mata, Schafter, White2115. Whilst these guys aren’t really "up-and-coming", I still highly recommend everyone giving them a listen.
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The NextGen Fund has been made possible thanks to generous support from Dr. Marten's Foundation and players of People's Postcode Lottery. We are also grateful for our vital support from the National Lottery via Arts Council England.