The adidas Originals City Series presents the opportunity to find the creative pulse of four cities within three separate collections of the distinctive three stripes. With another two releases set to come this year – following on from the London release in July – Liverpool’s SEVENSTORE is focusing on the abundant musical creativity that triangulates through each European hub that give its name to these classic, heritage conscious designs. 
 
The project will culminate in a bespoke 10’’ vinyl that places music from four cities in one place, taking a passport stamp style trip across Europe and recounting the sights and sounds through prevailing musical scenes and cultures. Starting the musical odyssey in our home of Liverpool, a city that has cut large parts of its fashion identity through adidas Originals discovery and celebration, the 10’’ will feature the music of local Liverpool rapper MC NELSON – an artist whose stark lyricism paints a picture of contemporary Liverpool and the reverberating echoes of its past.



Nelson, the first of four artists on the record, gives us his take on Liverpool and how it has informed his musical practice.
 
I grew up in South Liverpool. In Aigburth, predominantly, in touching distance of the river. The places where it sweeps round, down by Otterspool on the promenade. The landscape there is a huge part of my childhood memories. I have quite a strong affinity for the entirety of South Liverpool. In the South, there's a lot more breathing space; you're never too far from greenery or the river. For me, it's a landscape that offers so many opportunities for reflection.
 
I first started writing lyrics when I was really young. Like, really young. Some of them were borderline gibberish; basically just words that rhyme. You know, the mechanics of writing, song structure and flow can be quite hard to pull together, regardless of the content. It takes work. When I started making a conscious effort on the content of my lyrics –  that being the thing that was going to set me apart from other musicians in the city, the other rappers –  then it was more about reflecting my surroundings and telling the story of Liverpool in a way that other people weren’t doing. 
 
At the point in my career where I released By The River, I wasn't overly aware of the other local rappers that had gone before me. It was great to discover. You know, all the early 2000s Liverpool rap that had a serious conscious edge to it. My attitude and approach to rapping is, quite strangely, a continuation of that, without knowing anything about it when I was making music. It's only recently as I've met more people in the scene now, those like First In Command, that were doing a similarly consciously edged thing. There’s a strong continuity. I feel it's something that resides in the South Liverpool energy. It’s an outlook that I've subconsciously delivered without ever using the music as a reference point. It's quite weird, but something that speaks a lot about the shared feelings in the city and the music it can inspire. It wasn't so much a case of regurgitating the musicians I was listening to in a Scousified sort of way. It was a process of subconsciously taking on their traits and doing it in my own way. So there's definitely a sense of shared lives in different eras, and Liverpool music speaks a lot about that.
 
“My music is a time capsule for the moment – and if you're not honest about it then it's almost pointless recording it.”
 
Lots of the music is defined by the landscape, the lives that exist between it all. The city has changed massively since the early 2000s. Mostly for the better. The regeneration that's been pumped into the city has changed how the city is perceived from the exterior. It's probably one of the most defining factors. Liverpool is a changeable city. It went from the boom of 2008 [European capital of culture year] to austerity in two years. I remember being 15-16, quite formative years; the coalition government came in and the cuts were hard. I still remember going to a couple of youth clubs when I was younger. That's all gone now, completely. All that infrastructure is gone, and this feeling comes out in drill music in London. It's just a pure, desperate cry for help and attention from the austerity generation. Even now, my generation are still a little bit too young to be the defining voice of the city. We don't call the shots, yet. We haven't had our time yet.
 
There’s a sense of being uplifted by the struggles you’re in. Working towards something, a common goal. For me, the best music comes from conflict. I don't mean physical. But more a conflict of ideas, feeling, identity or understanding; music that's determined, willing to go through the upheaval to be where it wants to be, or change things for others. It's the only thing to think about for me when making music. It can be nice to writing a song about how everything is great and how happy everyone is. But, you know... channelling conflict in songwriting is where I get the best results. The best basis is when you're trying to figure something out. The process of writing informs your understanding of yourself and what's around you. When you’re writing a song, especially a rap song, it's so lyrically dense that if you're going to tackle a subject, you can't get away with just skirting over it. It can be a bit like a self-inquisition, where you can come to understand things better during the process. Obviously your opinions can change, but it's like planting a flag and putting your thoughts out there and you had to deal with them in a definitive way. To put thoughts and feelings out there you need to come to some sort of conclusion. 
 
Ultimately, Liverpool is a united city. You know, we can divide it between red and blue, or north and south, or race or whatever, but compared to other cities, generally speaking, there's a unified mentality that prevails. But when it comes to settling on what that identity looks like, there are still elements of preconception it. When people think of the quintessential Scouser, you get the image of the white, Irish football fan. For me, identity is something that's a reflection of your home life. I've always felt like I had a good understanding of my own identity. Sure, I noticed I was different to a lot of other people growing up, but I never had insecurity about it. I always just found it quite easy to accept who I am. I guess that's quite lucky. There were these two aspects of my identity colliding, but it was never ambiguous. I always understood my story, my family's story –  even from a very young age. So I never really had any question marks around it. 



“For me, the best music comes from conflict; music that's determined, willing to go through the upheaval to be where it wants to be, or change things for others.”
 
I think when you're growing up, your identity is always in relation to people around you. It's not really until I left Liverpool that I got the opportunity to get the full picture of the city's identity, what it means to be from here. When you take the time to reflect, you start to see yourself as more of a part of it, and your place in the community. You know, when you're just here, day in day out, it's easy to just think everyone is Scouse, and by taking time away you come to appreciate it more.
 
There’s lot to uncover, even if you’ve been living here all of your life. Having an understanding of the city's past, its shadowed side and the country’s history is one of the main undertones of my music. The stones that are unturned in Liverpool, or at least not widely talked about. Its decline from being a major port, its influence on the slave trade, the charged atmosphere during the riots. Just knowing more about these things changes a lot about how you perceive the city. If you do your part to spread the message it will foster cohesion. The more that's known, the better.
 
Liverpool is that a city has been chastised in its own way, by the media and the ruling class. So it’s no wonder it’s got such a strong identity, something to protect itself with, something to help others see it in a positive light. My music isn’t necessarily about unearthing guilt for elements of the city or the country, but more about presenting a clear picture of what's gone before. Something that everyone can learn from. There's no retribution that's going to be served. By dealing with these themes you get a wider picture of the city and its past, how we've arrived at where we are today. If the entirety of the history is taught and understood by more people, it can only be a positive. In school you learn about Henry XIII, but you don't learn about what moments actually shaped Liverpool for what it is today. You don't even learn any local history, which is madness given the abundance of stories that are able to be studied or looked into. Everything informs where we've come to today. It's just important to shed some light on it. My music is a time capsule for the moment – and if you're not honest about it then it's almost pointless recording it. 
 
MC Nelson
 
SEVENSTORE x adidas Originals 10’’ record will be gifted with purchases of the London City Series and the following two city series releases in 2019. The further three artists included on the record are set to be announced in the coming weeks.


About adidas Originals:

Inspired by the rich sporting heritage of adidas – one of the world’s leading sports brands and a global designer and developer of athletic footwear and apparel – adidas Originals is a lifestyle brand founded in 2001. With the adidas archive at its foundation, adidas Originals continues to evolve the brand’s legacy through its commitment to product innovation and its ability to filter the creativity and courage found on courts and sporting arenas through the lens of contemporary youth culture. Marked by the iconic Trefoil logo that was first used in 1972 and championed by those that continue to shape and define creative culture, adidas Originals continues to lead the way as the pioneering sportswear brand for the street.

Words by Bido Lito!
Imagery by Keith Ainsworth
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