I am happy to present an interview with Wretch 32, the king of the Fire of the Booth and one of the most succesful UK rappers in History
I understand you’re working on a new album, tell us about it…
That’s one of the strangest questions to answer. I suppose most musicians are always working on something and it’s hard to talk about it until you’ve got it. I have been working and recording and I kind of didn’t stop since Growing Over Life. So it’s an exciting time. Being Wretch 32 and becoming 32. There’s something magical about this year so I’m taking a great free-spirited approach to making music.
It’s the words to your tracks that get me. How important are lyrics to you?
Everything. Once I’ve found the right beat with whatever producers I’m working with, it’s up to me to say the right thing. There’s nothing worse than an amazing beat and a shit verse. You never want to get outweighed by the music. I just want to think about what I’m putting down, how I’m compiling it, how I’m putting it together and I always want people to be able to interpret what I say in different ways. There’s my way, there’s what I meant and there’s another way for what you think it meant. At the end of the day I’m just one person. I’m a vessel and I’ve been blessed with this gift. This thing travels through me so it’s about people taking what they need to take from me to better their lives.
What do we need to know about this album?
This will probably be my most free project. Not that I’ve had cuffs on before or chains on but I think I’ve learnt all the tricks of the trade and I’ve learnt the business, I’ve learnt the music. I’m more experienced than I’ve ever been and I think that can only come out through the songs. With the last album, I had a massive chip on my shoulder. I had the frustration of not releasing an album, frustrations of what was happening with police brutality and it was all through the record. So now when I go back and listen to that album, I love it ‘cos I can hear where I was at. Those sentences have been documented, they still stand and I stand by them but today I’m not there. I’m in a different place now.
Sonically how is this album going to sound?
It will be a lot more colourful than the last one. The last one had a very black and white palette… this one has more colours added to it. That message has already been stamped and I don’t feel like I’m going to reiterate it.
Let’s talk about Stormzy. He has had the most insane year…
And it’s going to get bigger!
His come up has been quick. What do you think it is about him that’s connected with people?
He’s very direct and very honest. People relate to him because he just cares about his music. He doesn’t care about all this sexy shit and buying 50 million chains or a Ferrari – there’s nothing other than the songs. When you take away everything else, that’s the only thing that’s important as a musician, your songs. He speaks up when he’s supposed to and he made a great body of work. We needed a Stormzy in this generation. I got a lot of respect for that kid.
Drake has fallen in love with the UK and he’s been given a tough time for it. What do you think about it?
I’m happy. It’s nice that he’s humble enough to shed light and collaborate. Giggs has been doing a tour with him, coming out smashing it up… and Skepta. I don’t know why anyone can see it as a negative.
Let’s talk about new artists. Who do we need to keep an eye out for?
I really like Kojo Funds and Yxng Bane. Avelino, that’s my guy. There’s a young group of rappers/producers called 808ink. I always come across their stuff, they’re amazing. So much talent.
For anyone who wants to be in your position, what advice would you offer them?
Fall out of love with sleep. That’s the first step. Being in this position is a gift but it comes with a lot of sacrifices. Sometimes your life becomes more about other people that you don’t know rather than the people that you do know. You’ve got a lifespan and all of us were born to do something. If you’re born to make music, you’re going to make music. While you’re making music you’re not going to be at home with the Mrs, you’re not going to be at home with the kids or Auntie or Uncle.
These are our sacrifices and it’s hard to find a balance. Not to go deep but if this is what you’re sent here to do then you have to do it. Sometimes that’s you being selfish to someone else but being unselfish to everybody else. In general, work like tomorrow ain’t promised, listen more than you speak.