There is something incredible about Bashy’s music and background. The London rapper has come a long way since he swapped his day jobs as a postman and bus driver for a taste of the music charts, but you would never know this by his stance. He is modest, remarkably straightforward, and exceptionally engaging, which shows exactly why his 2007 introductory breakthrough, “Black Boys”, distinguished him as a fully formed force. The single garnered acclaim and saw him evolve into a rising rap star in a matter of two years. Even more impressive was that while he developed into a completely unique musician, with trademark flow and his own, idiosyncratic style, he also starred in movies.
He swings through all his tracks in a forceful and expressive way that is addictive and equally chilling. His music is not about drugs, money, politics, or materialism. It’s about providing inspiration. Perhaps one of the most obvious qualities about his sound has been his growth and reinvention, with no mixtape or album sounding anything alike. We spoke to the lyrical soprano at a moment when he is poised for a another great run. Read below to find out why he’s probably not going be tripping over any stones.
RESPECT: When we first met, you were a young, fresh-faced rising rapper. But within a few years, your life has changed. In your head, where are you right now?
Bashy: I guess in my head, I’m in the same place. I don’t really think about the achievements, but when I speak to someone and I’m reminded of everything, that’s usually when I look back and think how blessed I am.
You’ve seem to have developed an interest in time travelling since the last time I saw you.
Yeah. My new single, “These Are The Songs”, is about me looking back in order to move forward and really tuning in with where I’m from and making sure as an artist I’m constantly evolving and reinventing myself. In terms of being an artist, I’m in a comfortable place. I feel really creative and at the moment I’m dipping into grime, hip hop, jungle, and enthusing them all together with my style, while creating a lane for myself.
Do you think music is nature or nurture for you? Were you born an artist? Or were you raised to become one?
I think I was born to become one. There are pictures on my Instgram where you will see me as young as three with a microphone in my hand. In terms of nurture, I feel it’s around me and my mum more than anyone didn’t shy away from it. If I wanted to do something, she would encourage it. She wouldn’t force me to do anything as it was always down to what I wanted to do, so I think both nature and nurture has allowed me to do this.
So what kind of conversations did you have around the dinner table growing up?
There was always encouragement about doing whatever and being anything you want in life. My mum always said that she thought I’d do something special, she even told me before I had established myself. So, I guess this is my special thing.
Did you ever have any proper jobs, before you became a rapper?
I used to be a postman and after that a bus driver. I think some people in society don’t want to work because everything seems to revolve around their image, which is what everybody worries about. Some people think it is uncool to work, but I just think if you need a job you should get one and not worry what people think.
You’ve also done some acting?
Yeah. I mean, I’m an actor first; that’s what I started out doing. At the age of 14, that was the direction that I wanted to go in but then the music took off.
What can you tell me specifically about “These Are The Songs”?
It’s a fusion of grime with a really nogalistic feel to it. I’m rapping about an era that meant something to me and I’m also referencing other songs from that era. Every so often, in the UK a really dope sound tends to emerge whether that be garage, grime or dubstep; things come out of this country that sometimes spark a global phenomenon. I’m taking a snapshot of one of those episodes and just hitting it with fire, wordplay and delivery. First and foremost, I’m an emcee so I care a lot about lyrics and how things are structured and that was something I thought about including on this single.
Your past singles were less playful and much intense in content than “These Are The Songs”. How did you loosen up?
I think I’ve always been a happy person, but anyone who listens to my full body of work will tend to hear the conscious side of me. On the rear, there is another side to me, but maybe the singles that I have put out haven’t really reflected that as much. I feel more liberated with the direction that I’m now taking. I’m in a situation with a new management team [He is managed by his cousin], we’re just keeping it real and in the family. I think that for me in return contributes good music.
There’s this moment on “These Are The Songs” where you’re just talking to the listener, the bit about “I was a little man, chocolate boy and the girls knew the sugar was sweeter.“
No one has not done that yet, you’re the first person who has said those lyrics correctly [laughs]. If I’m honest, I’m just writing from the heart about stuff that comes to me. I think people can now relate more to me because I’m being real to myself. I believe if you’re real to yourself as a person, you’ll be able to feed off that.
I feel since you’ve emerged a cult following has grown around you. I want to talk to you about your debut single “Black Boys”. I love the message and the themes featured in that song.
I’m an independent artist and for the best part of ten years I’ve been doing this on my own, and I think that’s why people really believed in the song. We’ve never had a major label behind us and even up to this point we’ve done everything on our own. In terms of what “Black Boys” was representing; I wanted an inspirational song that people could always listen to and feel like they could go out and achieve whatever they want. I also wanted to send a message to black boys to know that there are other routes in life. They don’t need to be feeling down like how the media and society want them to feel.
As you mentioned, you release your music independently, but if you could make a record, with no limits on the budget, what would you try to make?
I would make a critically acclaimed album that is fully focused on music – no gimmicks. It would be straight talking material from the heart. I don’t think a big-name producer would be necessary, there are loads of people coming up who are also great.
In your music you sound like a defender of the underdog—someone who has constantly been on the side of working much harder than others. What has your crossover brought you so far?
I think if you believe in yourself, and you work hard you can literally achieve anything. I don’t want to say cheesy lines or anything, but I’m here giving hope to people. You don’t need to wait around for people to give you a hand – get up, work hard and do it yourself. That’s how I feel. I came from nothing, like a lot of other people have, but I just want to inspire people to shift society’s perception and believe in themselves. Even though, we’re living in difficult times people need to know it’s not the end.
You’ve talked before about wanting to merge different genres of music. What do you mean by that, and what does it mean to you?
It’s about me being as genuine as I can and using influences that first got me into music. I’m a lyricist so things that are interesting to me, I will talk about it. I don’t want to try to be another artist. I just want to be myself and make music for everyone.
But it takes someone with a great deal of front to knock down that wall for people to really take notice.
I think I’ve always been flying the flag for creativity and doing things myself. I always do the best for my career, pushing the boundaries and achieving more than what people would expect. I’ve always done that, so now I’m just going to continue to go even harder.
Do you carry around a notepad with you to write lyrics?
It depends where I am because sometimes I’ll have my lyric book with me and if I don’t I’ll just record a voicenote. I think I’m quite creative in always finding a way to drop down my ideas.
What’s your ultimate dream collaboration?
Bob Marley. I loved everything he stood for musically, and I love the fact that his music is still relevant now.
Did this just feel like a therapy session?
Yeah. It was actually really hilarious because after each answer you were constantly saying, “Hmm”. [laughs] That was funny.
Bashy’s single ‘These Are The Songs’ will be released on September 8. For more info, click here.
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