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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

#OtisMensahExists

Sheffield poet laureate and hip-hop hero Otis Mensah presents a new project combining music, animation and international collaboration. #OtisMensahExists is an ongoing series of songs, accompanied by original animations by Sheffield illustrator Jim Spendlove.

There'll be ten songs released in total, split into two seasons, with one song released every three weeks starting on 26 May. First up is the song Breath of Life, an international collaboration with Hemlock Ernst of the US-based band Future Islands.

See below for each video in the series as they're released, along with introductory words from Otis.

Get to know Otis in our Meet the Locals interview.

1. Breath of Life
"Being the first Hip-Hop artist in the UK to be titled poet laureate, I wanted to create a series of songs that stand testament to my poetic influence. Peculiar for an artist in the north of England, growing up I gravitated towards Aesop Rock, The Roots, Blu & Exile and, later, Open Mike Eagle, Quelle Chris and Billy Woods. I felt a unifying and powerful community was created by engaging with art transcending borders through its vulnerability, social commentary and nuance. These artists not only became my favourite poets but urged me to create music that could represent vulnerable and philosophical lyricism in Europe.

Honoured by a guest verse from one of my favourite artists, Hemlock Ernst, this track explores themes such as anxiety, fear and claustrophobia on a backdrop of soulful, mellow instrumentation painted with aesthetic language and zestful flow."

2. Internet Cafe
"The song takes journey into a feeling of disconnection and millennial malaise, on a backdrop of mellow and minimalist instrumentation. Inspired by the 2013 documentary Web Junkie, a film about internet gaming addiction and a rehabilitation centre in Beijing, China, claiming to treat it, the narrative poetry that runs throughout acts as a critique to the constant pathologizing of young people living their lives online."

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