Born in Manchester, Rona Claire Wignall, aka Arcee Rapper, moved to NZ at 12, and we are lucky to have her. Arcee’s ‘Piano Rap’ EP is six tracks of bold rapped and sung vocals that pendulum between slower tempo pop ballads and conscious hard-hitting rap spits, over nothing other than acoustic piano.
Musically self-taught, her early piano idols included Elton John and Ray Charles, though her style is much less busy. She started writing poetry from a young age, subsequently teaching herself the fine art of MCing. The combination of clever lyrics and lightly melodic piano tones create storytelling music that holds you in thrall from the first track On And On to the last. Near the end of the EP’s closer Holiday she spits hot-fire freestyles with energy and perfect flow, the quality leaving the listener feeling motivated to get on with good things.
Arcee raps about the kinds of issues we can all connect with. Her lyrics are inspirational and emotional without being preaching or cheesy, all tracks including catchy choruses that you can’t help singing along to.
Released at the beginning of 2018 the video for On And On shows her in an old Nissan, and on foot, at secluded spots around Dunedin. The feeling conveyed of being a lonely rap artist in the music industry is backed up with Told You Once, a touching song that emphasises feelings of despair, frustration and loneliness, “…my rapping is calm but I’m screaming inside.”
In Like Me she talks more specifically about herself in the fundamental emboldened hip hop manner. “The radio play nothing new so here’s what I’m gonna do.” And she’s done exactly that. This is something quite different, the stripped back simplicity of separated piano chords complement her super dry-recorded voice, showcasing what a talent Arcee really is. Her EP is a refreshing reminder that rap can be simple and poetic, and personal, all of which NZ hip hop needs more of.