We talked his come-up, influences and trap-rap in part 1.
(This article originally appeared on BespokeMag)
The British rap scene is undergoing a serious revival following the resurgence of grime over the last two years. But grime isn’t the only popular genre in the UK. Everybody talks about how ‘grime’ is spreading, which it most definitely is, but under that umbrella exists other forms of British rap beyond grime that are also growing in popularity at the same time. ‘Trap-rap’, i.e. rapping about the life of a ‘trapstar‘, is increasingly finding a market in the UK, manifesting itself as a legitimate money maker for those artists who know how to get it right, like Blade Brown. It’s safe to say Blade Brown has pioneered the movement of ‘trap-rap’ in the UK, so Bespoke sat down with him in a 2-part interview to talk with him about how he’s gone about creating his legacy within trap-rap in the UK.
In part 1, we talked about how Blade’s gone about creating his legacy within the UK trap-rap scene.
When did you first start rapping?
We used to mess around when we were younger but I started seriously rapping when I was 19-years-old. Probably like 2004/05.
What was the scene like around that time? Who were some of your earlier influences when you started off?
UK rap wise, there were a couple of UK guys like Schemer and Big P, but there wasn’t really a street rap scene. Most of my influences came from America. I used to listen to a lot of down-south music like Master P as well as New York artists like Styles P, Nas and Mobb Deep.
Do you feel like coming from an earlier era, that struggle of not having the internet to promote your music made you a better artist now, in 2015?
Yeah, like you said there was definitely a struggle to get yourself out there. At the same time, I think it was a bit better because there was more quality control. I used to get songs played on Choice FM. Not anyone can get their song played on Choice, the DVD guy isn’t gonna holla at anybody to come rap on their DVD kinda thing.
Mixtapes and magazines were the only outlet, so they weren’t just gonna let anybody come in. Now with the internet, you could even make a freestyle today, record it, and put it on the internet tomorrow. It was definitely harder to get yourself out there 100%.
Why do you think it took people longer to catch on to UK’s ‘trap-rap’ scene, when it’s been popping in America for quite a while?
In the earlier days, a few artists had problems finding their true British identities, but when we started portraying our culture and rapping our experiences, they had to relate to it because we’re telling their story.
There’s always been a bit of a thing with rap, grime & garage as it was then, because obviously grime was a UK based style, that’s always kind of got the look over to UK rap, because rap didn’t start over here.
Definitely. For me, I saw the difference in my music when things like GRM Daily and SBTV came along. When I did my first F64, it felt like the whole grime scene was like “who’s this”, because before that, they didn’t really know who I was.
On GRM Daily you had grime videos, back to back with rap videos, then they’d be like “who’s this”, click on it, and find out more about UK rap. Merging the two scenes together and understanding it is all actually one scene, I think that’s what kind of helped, with my career anyway.
What do you think your influence has been in making trap-rap as popular as it is?
If you go back and check the dates, I feel like I was one of the earliest ones to do it. People say I rap about the same things, but I’m telling a story. Anybody who comes with 20 different stories, you have to question it.
My story has changed as I’ve grown as a person, but I’m just telling them about a side of London that I experienced and know. Trap-rap is popular at the moment, everybody comes out talking about ‘trappin’, trappin’ and trappin’’, but if you go back and check my music, it’s something I’ve been talking about before we even labelled it ‘trappin’ or ‘trap music’. I’ve always told the same story.
Within the UK scene, you have guys like Skepta pioneering the movement, then also newer artists breaking through all the time. Where does Blade fit in within the scene?
It’s not really a case of where I fit in, because I don’t try to fit in. I’m in my own place, you take me how you take me, if you like me, you like me, and if you don’t, then you don’t. I’m not the kind of artist who sees someone blowing and tries to jump on their wave to keep myself alive. At the same time I’m not saying I wouldn’t work with new artists, but it has to make sense. It devalues your brand when people can see your jumping on whatever the new wave is.
Like I said I’m in my own lane. Where Skepta is, right now he’s literally taking grime on his shoulders and bringing it around the world. So when it comes to people like that, they’re pioneers, and I got nothing but respect for them.
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