Milton Keynes hip hop artist on his latest album release, live performances and inspiring the next generation

Milton Keynes has a thriving creative music scene and an abundance of raw talent just waiting to be carefully encouraged in the right direction.

And one of the newest names on the MK music scene – Lopes Kiala – is hoping to bring his expertise and experience to bear, to help shape the upcoming generation of voices in the city.

His name and his unique sound is becoming more well-known in the UK and his music is about to hit the city in a big way. With an album almost ready to drop, and live performances planned for April this year Kiala is about to share his voice, his messages and his ethos to a wider audience.

Working with his producer – Raphael Frank of Milton Keynes’ SoundhutMK– Kiala has been putting together a new studio album. He’s also been reworking and rehearsing some of his back catalogue for upcoming live performances and setting up his own recording business – Danamar Records – a minefield of legal processes and paperwork.

Vibe and virtue

Rap music can have negative connotations but for Kiala and Raphael, it’s very much a positive musical genre which speaks from the heart, from learned experience, and something which can have a lasting message of hope.

Creating Danamar Records is a ‘phoenix from the flames’ project for Kiala, who has had to watch his first music business destroyed by war. Before coming to England he was in Ukraine, where he had met his wife and where they were raising a family. He was making music in Ukraine, and making a living from that business, but when shelling began he and his family, like many others, fled to Poland – they lost their home, their security, their livelihood and, for Kiala, for a while he lost his music to more pressing and urgent demands.

Born in Brazil, Kiala is of US and Angolan heritage. He’s lived in many places in the world but when Ukraine was attacked, he was among many Angolans offered the chance to be repatriated there. It wasn’t an option he wanted to take. He knew the country and he knew it could not offer he or his family the kind of life and opportunities he could find elsewhere. So he came to the UK to rebuild his life from scratch and has been working tirelessly ever since to support his family with any kind of work, including warehouse shifts, as well as reconnecting with his music and formally setting up his new business.

Raphael was one of the first people he reached out to, even before he came to the country.

Production values

Raphael is a kindred spirit. Kiala says he’d heard some of the music he had produced and knew this was a man he could work with.

“I loved his production style and I loved his music!” he says. The pair have been collaborating on Kiala’s latest album now for about a year.

“He just phoned me up out of the blue,” says Raphael. “And he said, brother I’m coming to you!”

It was the start of a creative process, a partnership and a friendship, which has brought something to both of them. Raphael says he listened to Kiala’s music and, although he liked it, he didn’t ‘get’ it at first. Those African influences, those extra touches and beats and tweaks which have been absorbed into Kiala’s music thanks to his eclectic life and experiences were at first slightly ‘alien’ to his producers’ ears. At the same time Raphael was introducing Kiala to the ‘London’ sound and thus bringing in a new influence to him.

“It was quite exciting at first to me, hearing it was difficult for me to ‘musically’ get it,” explains Raphael. “But the more we worked together the more I came to understand him as an artist. And I try to bring out the best that he can create.”

The result – Kiala’s first UK album – is in the finishing stages but before it drops Kiala wants to introduce Milton Keynes to some of his back catalogue and has a couple of venues lined up for live gigs. He’s just finalising the details but it’s likely to be the end of April.

So, what could you expect from his music? According to Raphael it’s more “Afro trap based hip hop” – Kiala’s friends call him ‘Vibe Deliverer’ – no matter what your mood you are in, he will have a song to speak to it. A talented rapper his musical genre cuts into rap, RnB, ghetto-zouk, and Afro but it all has one thing underlying it; it reflects his own experiences and emotions.

He recently released video clip of his song “What you gonna say”. This song is about relationship commitments, and once the video had hit 100,000 views Kiala celebrated by buying food for homeless people in the city and offering to get them haircuts. He always wants to give something back to the community in which he lives.

Lost in music

Both he and Raphael want to help support and encourage younger musicians and rap artists to grow and thrive, to believe that they can make a living from this, and they both give their time and resources for nothing to help people achieve this.

Raphael, who has a 10-15 year history of connections to the MK music scene believes the city could be a catalyst for a musical explosion. Both he and Kiala believe music, making music and being part of that creative scene can help pull young people away from becoming ‘lost’ to drugs, crime, poverty and the many other socio-economic challenges which are prevalent in parts of the city.


“There is a real musical community in Milton Keynes that’s growing. As soon as there is some space for performances I believe Milton Keynes will have a real shot at superstardom.”



This ‘hidden talent’ is seen at the SoundhutMK, Raphael’s music studio. It’s becoming a hub for people to connect, and for young people to hear and see the success of more experienced musicians and learn from it.


“I have been talking to local musicians and rappers and I realised not all of them can understand how to make a living from this, so I’m trying to give them some tips and help in what to do to make this a living. If you do something that you really love and can make money then that’s everything!”


For both Kiala and Raphael this means hard work and doing this properly. Setting up a proper company, learning, teaching yourself, knowing about recording rights and royalties and putting in a lot hard graft.

“It’s not about being famous, it’s about making a living,” Kiala says. And Raphael agrees, a very small percentage of musicians hit the ‘fame’ jackpot, but many, many more can make a living.

Both Kiala and Raphael are happy to be seen as people the next generation can look up to – when you have to see it, to be it, these two are showing MK youngsters the way to go.

For a taste of Lopes Kiala’s music have a listen here


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