VIBE.COM catches up with London's 'King Of Trap', Blade Brown...
Blade Brown: I got into music from a very young age. I think it was more or less because of what my dad used to play in the house when I was growing up. He would play a lot of rap music, so I used to hear a lot of the old school artists, such as NWA and Ice Cube, just a lot of 90s rap. That’s what really got me into rap when I was young. He also used to play a lot of reggae, that was a big influence for me, too. I was probably about 17 when I knew that music was something that I wanted get into on a serious level. I’m 26 at the moment, so it’s been a little while! I made my first mixtape, Nothing Long, in 2004 and when I started to get some good feedback, that’s when I started taking it seriously.
I used to do a bit of grime as well! Actually, it wasn’t even called grime back then, it was garage. When it made the transition from garage to grime, it kind of got lost somewhere. Everyone would jump on it and just start talking nonsense! Present-day grime, I don’t know. Again, there’s not really a scene, because there used to be pirate radio back in the day and that doesn’t really exist anymore. The grime that I used to know doesn’t really exist anymore. I think grime, where it’s more of a younger thing now, needs to be restructured. I would say, in recent times, people like Skepta and a few others have been doing their thing. Skepta’s Community Payback mixtape was the perfect balance between grime and rap. I would play it to people in my car – who have never really listened to grime – and they’d be like, 'Rah! This is kinda sick!'
UK rap music has a big buzz around it at the moment. You’ve obviously got people like Giggs and K Koke, whose street following is undeniable – it’s even bigger than some of the people who are signed! I think there is still a lot to do, but it’s gradually getting there. Obviously, if a label came to me with a deal and said that I had to change the person that I am, I wouldn’t take the deal. But if you listen to my mixtape, I have actually made songs that crossover. There are different parts to your life, you can’t just talk about the same thing all the time. You can talk about girls, you can talk about when you’re down, and you can talk about your family. If you can’t tap into those other parts of your life, then there’s no way that you could become a successful artist. There are different ways that you can do it, it doesn’t have to be a stupid commercial song.
I know there are a lot of people out there who think that my lyrics glamorise the street lifestyle, but it doesn’t. Just make a judgement on my music after you’ve listened to it properly! I talk about different sides of life. Another thing is that it’s not always going to be for everyone, that’s just how it goes in music. When I talk about money and things like that, personally, I find it motivating. If that doesn’t motivate you, then me and you are clearly different people. There’s a lot of intelligence in the lyrics and wordplay in my music, you have to read between the lines.
I'd say that Bags & Boxes is probably the best mixtape that I've made so far. It took three years of living and a lot of people getting on to me about making another mixtape before I actually made it. The anticipation was high! When it dropped, it went crazy and people still talk about it to this day. Even though I’ve done a mixtape after that, people still love that one. Now that I’ve shown that I can do the mixtape thing, when I make my album, the bar has to be raised. I enjoy making mixtapes, but I think it’s time that I take the big step and do the whole album thing. I feel that I’ve got the right producers around me right now and I'll also get to do things that I haven't done on mixtapes before, so I’m actually looking forward to making it.
When it comes to having competition, I just think that everyone has their own space. I think we need to stop watching what others are doing too much and focus on your music and your career. It’s healthy to have a little look to see what everyone else is doing, but I’m not really a rapper that listens to everything that everyone’s doing, comparing myself and saying, ‘I’m better than them.’ All of that doesn’t really matter. There are a lot of younger rappers coming up who are very good and I know some of the older lot look down on them, but I personally think it’s healthy and it’s good that they’re busting through. But I’m just focused on my movements right now. I’ve got my mixtape, Financial Times, out now and it’s doing really well. I might release a free mixtape soon as well, so I’m going to get that out of the way and then start thinking about my debut album. Blade Brown, remember the name…