Lately, the UK’s R&B scene has been coming into its own. Cartae symbolises the versatility of the genre in its new age. With her sweet, melodic sounds countered by her honesty in her lyrics, the singer is bringing something unique to the table.
Cartae is described as the first lady of North London’s Mini Kingz collective made up of BenjiFlow, Ragz Originale and Oscar #Worldpeace. Joining their expertise in production and rapping, she was introduced to her fellow members by a mutual friend. By her own admission, becoming a part of the collective was a pivotal point in her career: “That’s when we looked at it and thought I could really do this, we can all do this together.” For Cartae, being in a collective has allowed her to be surrounded by like-minded individuals: “It’s important to have good, strong people around you, that have a vision and a dream, and encourage me to have my own dream.“
Long before joining the Mini Kingz, Cartae’s singing was a talent that was identified by her grandmother at a young age. She encouraged Cartae’s mother to send her to singing classes which would lead to her being classically trained. Growing up in a Caribbean household also meant the singer was always listening to reggae or the R&B her sister played.
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Despite her singing abilities, this wasn’t Cartae’s first passion. Drifting away from the classical sound, she became obsessed with rap music and found an ambition in wanting to be a rapper. But those around her felt Cartae’s exceptional singing ability was clear as day and encouraged her to pursue this as a career.
Even her name, ‘Cartae’ was created from her love for rapper Lil Wayne: “When we were younger we used to all have screen names. I used to put Mrs Carter, Wayne’s last name. So many other girls had Mrs Carter. But I wanted to make something different.” As a result of a spelling mistake, Carter turned into Cartae which would become her artist name.
The days of Cartae’s rapping are long gone, and she’s created a musical identity that is visually psychedelic but full of honesty and vulnerability. You only have to watch her video for “Long Time” to notice this. For Cartae music was an outlet for her feelings from a young age: “I wrote my first song at 12. I used to sing in private. I’ve always been a vulnerable person when it comes to music. I’ve always believed that that’s the place that you put your emotions, and if you can’t show them publicly, then you can show them through your music.”
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Listening to Cartae’s songs, you wonder who may have influenced her music. First and foremost she cites herself as her inspiration: “I go back and listen to my old demos.” But in terms of artists, she looks to the Queen of Pop: “I’m really a big fan of Madonna actually. She really inspires me to be strong as a woman, with her writing style and her strength.”
The singer has a particularly famous fan of her own though. Skepta, who she met a number of years ago when the Mini Kingz were putting on a show is also a supporter of Cartae’s music. Observing his career in music has gifted her with a few seeds of wisdom: “Just by watching his [Skepta’s] journey, I’ve been able to see that you need to just to keep going, and to stay true to who you are.”
Cartae is just making the first steps of her career, with her EP, ‘Minutes’ due out this month. We can expect a versatile body of work, with it covering “different perspectives of love”. But beyond this, the singer is setting her bar high, and hopes to make a long-lasting imprint on the music scene: “My goal is to make history, to really affect the culture and society in a way where they can say, ‘We need to remember this person for 100 years to come and beyond.”
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Words: Nikita Rathod
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