In an age where most rappers claim to have come from the dirt, rapper/entrepreneur Mark Henry truly has. Escaping the civil war in Nigeria in the 1980’s Henry and his family came to the UK in search of a better life. One where warfare and gun fire would not be the norm…… a life that would shape who Mark Henry was to become…..
Growing up in North London Mark Henry always had a fascination with music. At home his family would play classics from Fela Kuti, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Otis Reading and the Motown and Stax stables. However it was whilst at school in the mid nineties that Henry’s passion for music truly developed when he was introduced to Drum and Bass. Listening to the famous Cool FM to catch the hottest lyrics, scribbling them in his notepad to go to school the next day and spit for his peers, Henry had begun the journey that would eventually lead to his career.
It was 1996 when a family friend introduced him to Hip Hop that the life of Mark Henry would never be the same. After being played some Cool G Rap, Henry fell in love with the music. Inspired by the likes of Nas, Mobb Deep, Tragedy Ghadaffi and more Henry became obsessed with the life and the rhymes that the Queensbridge rappers were spitting. “I was obsessed to the point that I felt like I knew them. When some of those artists passed away it affected me like they were part of my circle.”
The more Henry got into Hip Hop the more he discovered, finding the mic skills of Tupac, Big Pun, Biggie, Big L, Wu Tang and mic Geronimo to be the level that rappers had to reach for. “These guys were lyrical monsters. If you weren’t on their level there was no point in spitting. They just ate the mic….. Lyrical monsters”
Henry began to form friendships with local rappers such as Skinnyman and Akala, hanging out at the local parks and barber shops where he would get the opportunity to unleash the skills that he had been honing on the low in rhyme battles.
Unlike most rappers henry decided to get an understanding of the industry as a whole as well as rapping and made his first move into promotion. In the nineties Henry formed Incarcerated Entertainment. A of 12 man crew, who were determined to make it in the music industry. The marquee artist was Henry who was then operating under the moniker Thugzy. Meanwhile Henry formed a firm friendship with an A&R named Ben Wynter at Sanctuary Records. Henry discussed his ideas for being an artist but expressed an interest in learning the industry. He formed a street team on behalf of sanctuary and promoted on a street marketing level, getting heavily involved in the event coordination, guestlist, event planning and marketing of an event called The One!.
Thanks to Henry and his team the One! went on to become one of the most successful R&B club nights in London seeing the likes of Warner Musics Kevin Liles, Lyor Cohen and Eminem attend events..
The success of this event lead to Henry’s promotion of events such as Café Latte, a weekly party aimed at city workers that saw the likes of BMG recording artist Joe and 112 attend the event and Emerald City which saw Henry put on club nights in the heart of the West End which became a launch pad for DJs such as Hotstepper, DJ Steady, Dj Browning from Cold As Ice and more who have gone on to become fixtures on the London club and radio scene.
Though Henry was learning the business side of the industry and skills such as Marketing and promotion his passion still lay with the music and continued his pursuit of stardom through recording. Dropping mixtapes such as sample and the now infamous Dust Off The Pavement. Though successful around his neighbourhood, Henry felt like there was more and decided to spread his wings, recording with the likes of 2G Entertainment, So Solid Crew, Mykil Million “the streetz A&R” and featured in more than 13 DVD’s that were put out on the underground making him a recognised face in the underground hip hop scene in the UK.
In 2003 Henry was invited by an old college friend biggz to guest on a track with him, the track featured sincere, biggz, sway and Henry. Little did he know that this track would be the seed that planted the start of a friendship that would turn onto a business partnership.
Henry and Sincere amazed each other with their lyrical prowess and the mutual respect for each others talents meant that Henry and sincere began to hang out together as friends spurring each other on to achieve more. The two would begin travelling together to video shoots to support other artists such as sway, sas, baby blu and others.
In 2003 Henry began writing with an up and coming artist/producer called Natty. It was during this working relationship that Henry began to push his boundries, listening to a mixture of music from jazz, to indie rock. This took his writing to a whole new level.
It was here that Henry found the inspiration to write Ibo Soldier, The song tells the tale of his fathers journey fighting and then fleeing the Nigerian civil war and heading to the solace of the UK. It compares this with Henrys own story of fleeing Nigeria as a child and his adjustment as he arrives in a country where the natives are of a different skin colour to his own. The song comes full circle showing Henry’s own “cival war” on the rough streets of North London.
In 2006 the friendship with Sincere developed into a full blow business relationship as the two agreed that through their mutual experiences they could help each other to succeed. Henry became a part of Young Entreprenurs Entertainment not only as an artist but as an owner.
With this partnership in place Henry is ready to drop his mixtape and follow it up with his first album. Henry has just finished recording his first mix CD on Y.E called No Grind No Shine which is released in August 2008. The first track from the mixtape is Me and My Music, an ode to music, and an explanation of Henry’s affection for it. “I felt like it was the best way for me to introduce myself to a new audience, explain who I am and what music means to me.” Me and my music breaks down all that music means to Henry and the way in which it has saved his life.
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