‘It’s okay not to be okay’: The moving story behind this Leeds rapper’s music

The rising rapper-songwriter blends self-aware, forceful lyricism with catchy hooks and a distinctive flow—he shares his innermost thoughts.

C.Wood, who grew up in Huddersfield but now lives in Morley, started writing when he was 14.

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C.Wood is a conscientious rapper and songwriter from Leeds (Photo: James Hardisty)

“I must have been about six or seven years old and it was the time of Akon, Eminem and that kind of American rap.

“When I started writing, it was part of what I do now, related to mental health, but for the first six years of writing I didn’t think much about it.

“It was when I went through hard times in my life and things got harder that I started to write with more meaning.”

Connor, who is bipolar, lived in a “state of constant depression” before the pandemic, battling overwhelming negative thoughts and feeling trapped in his own mind.

The rapper has teamed up with mental health charity Andy’s Man Club, releasing a single written after losing friends to suicide (Photo: James Hardisty)

While many found comfort in having extra time available during lockdown, for Connor, it felt like a curse.

One night, she found herself putting pen to paper and all her thoughts spilled onto the page, and melodies and hooks soon followed.

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“It was a way to completely break free,” Connor said.

C.Wood hopes to connect with his listeners on a deeper level, helping them know they are not alone (Photo: James Hardisty)

“I’m not the best at talking about my matches, so it was therapy for me.

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“When I was writing, it took me to another place and I escaped from reality.

“It was a way to get away from certain situations and problems in real life.

“At first it was difficult to be vulnerable, it stopped me at first.

“But the more I do it, the more I see it as a positive thing. It can be daunting beforehand, but there’s a sense of relief when it comes to launch day.

“Being lost in my own thoughts at home, locked inside for many months, was a boost. I had more time to sit down and think about the songs I want to do.”

Connor released his debut single, Inner Demons, on Soundcloud in June 2020.

The song met with a warm reception, with listeners reaching out to tell Connor how the lyrics had connected with them.

“That was my inspiration to keep going,” he said.

“I have had a few times where people have told me that my lyrics helped save their lives, helping them know that they are not alone and that they are not the only ones who feel this way.

“That’s the best feeling I could have. I’d rather have 10 listeners who can resonate with my music, rather than thousands who just listen but don’t take it in.

“I want to focus on the influence I can have on other people.”

Connor released his debut EP ‘Illest’ in January 2021, featuring remastered versions of his debut song and follow-up single ‘Inner Spirit’, as well as five previously unreleased songs.

His raw and honest lyrics, packed with melodic hooks, are making waves on Soundcloud, where he has amassed over 70,000 streams.

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Connor draws inspiration from the Soundcloud rap generation, including American artists Juice World and Lil Peep.

His music helped Connor know that he wasn’t alone during some of his darkest moments.

But he’s proud to represent leeds and he hopes his music now has the same effect on his listeners.

Connor added: “A few years ago, there wasn’t a lot of attention on the Leeds music scene.

“We’re close to opening that door. We’re not quite there yet, but it’s definitely about to get somewhere.”

Connor plans to release his debut album at the end of the year.

He recently played his first gig in Huddersfield to a crowd of around 100 and his first big goal is to perform at the Leeds Festival.

“I want to be recognized for the right reasons,” added Connor.

“My goal is to help as many people as possible with what I talk about in my songs.”

Connor is still finding his way as an artist.

He’s putting his time, energy and creativity” into his craft, and it’s starting to pay off.

It has been endorsed by BBC Radio Introducing and has plans for more live shows over the summer.

Connor says his latest single No More, released last week, is his most inventive release yet.

“It’s about friends who aren’t really friends,” Connor said.

“People who are in the background who are trying to bring me down.

“It was a way of saying, ‘look, I can see what you’re doing, I can see your movements.’ I can’t take it anymore, it’s time to isolate myself from certain people and surround myself with positivity.”

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“I’d say it’s my biggest release yet, in terms of production and mixing.”

Connor recently partnered with the men’s mental health charity Andy’s Man Club.

The charity was formed in early 2016 by Halifax rugby league player Luke Ambler after his brother-in-law took his own life. runs support groups in Leeds.

Their goal is to break the stigma surrounding men’s mental health by creating a safe and confidential space for men from all walks of life to come clean about their struggles.

Connor has lost friends to suicide and wrote his single Lost while dealing with his grief.

He released the song last month and all proceeds will be donated to Andy’s Man Club, to help them continue their vital work.

Connor said: “Initially I wasn’t going to release it, it was too moving and I didn’t have the courage to go into the studio and record it.

“But there’s always been a stigma about men, that they shouldn’t fight and should feel perfect at all times: toxic masculinity. I wanted to make a change to that.

“I contacted Andy’s Man Club and told them I was looking to get the track out and it meant a lot to me about the people I’ve lost. They appreciated it very much.

“It’s a message to everyone else that it’s okay to not be okay.”

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