Exclusive Interview: Craze 24 – “I want to be someone who gave back and tried to create change”

South London rapper Craze 24 is aiming to galvanise disenfranchised youths and make them better citizens for society

Denzil Bell

2 months ago

By Denzil Bell

Craze 24 is a South London rapper, who is imbedded into the origins of the UK rap scene, from having seminal songs on Channel U like ‘Young Guards’, to heavily pushing his hip-hop/grime collective GX (Generation Unknown).

But after some time in the music industry, Craze went on hiatus, using this period to refocus and come back with, ‘Everybody’s Got 2 Learn’, a track which attempts to steer at risk youths from the negative side of the roads. Off the back of this, he has also started two youth programmes in South London; with the first one, Always Progress, offering free studio time to youths aged 13-21 and the second one, Everybody’s Got 2 Learn, serving as a workshop for at risk Youngers of knife and gun crime.

So in the run up to properly getting things off the ground, Craze 24 spoke to RWD about the positive impact he wants to have on society.

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Talk to me about the Youth Programme that you’ve set up with Big Ven; why now?

We’ve got two workshops; the first one is called Always Progress and we offer free studio time for between the ages of 13 to 21 and basically you can come down, we show you how to record, how to write lyrics, we teach them about the music industry, the management side of things, PR; basically give them an overall insight into the scene and that’s been going for about six to eight months, based in Croydon. Then our other workshop is called Everybody’s Got 2 Learn, which we established off the back of the the release of the single and that programme more focuses on those effected by knife and gun crime.

What effect do you think music can have on these at risk youngsters?

I think music, just like everything else, can influence and we as artists, say myself for instance; if all I’m doing is just talking about my negative experiences in life – which I’m entitled to and which I’d never judge anyone for – I’m killing a lot of the hope that the next generation looking up to me have to move forward. I think we need to have more of a balance. I would never take away the music where man are talking about their negative experiences, because that is just a reflection of society. If someone else is going through the same thing, then hearing man talk about it might help them get through their problem. But on the flip side of it, we need to balance that out with music that also gives hope for the next generation, so that they know that it’s not as bad as it seems; there’s ways out.

I think music has a lot of power to heal; your most recent track ‘Everybody’s Got 2 Learn’ is a hard-hitting tribute to the victims of knife and gun crime – would you say it inspired you to create the workshop?

Yeah definitely. The song itself I wrote from the perspective of an older brother talking to a younger sibling or a father talking to their son. And again it’s all about hope, it’s saying, you don’t need to get caught in these traps. There’s ways around it; don’t get lost in the drinking and the smoking, because you’ll get distracted and find yourself declining mentally.

Why did you choose to speak on the darker sides of the street life on ‘Everybody’s Got 2 Learn’?

Growing up myself I experienced a lot of the darker sides of the streets; I was quite a bad boy; I was in prison quite young; I was in gangs; I was quite associated with a lot of the South London gangs. So with this song, I thought if I could talk to myself back then, what would I say, hence why it’s written from the perspective of an older father figure giving advice to a younger. It’s like future me talking to past me.

Some people would say your song, ‘We Run The Roads’, preaches the opposite message – what would you say to them?

I would agree. The message on ‘We Run The Roads’ is more about us being in charge of the roads, we’re not getting pushed over my anybody; so it’s a totally different message from ‘Everybody’s Got 2 Learn’. I would definitely have to agree that it’s the opposite side of the coin. But then I’m not against reflecting on the negatives situations that we experience in society. So when I’m talking about on ‘We Run The Roads’ you might get a leg shot, you might get a head shot, be careful when you’re around here because their’s serious things going on; this is a real representation of the environments I grew up in. Even though it might seem like it’s from a glamourised perspective.

What is the main message you are trying to push in your music now?

An honest message that change can happen and in order to create it, you need to be disciplined & work hard. We as the village/community need to pull together to help make a difference.

When it’s all said and done what do you want to be remembered for?

For helping; for contributing. I want to be someone who gave back and tried to create change, rather than contribute to the problem. I believe everybody has a purpose in life, we were all born for a reason and that reason wasn’t just to get married and have a house. I believe our purpose is something to do with our contribution to society and that is what I’m trying to do, is make that effort to contribute something positive. And more so stop the youths from going through the negative experiences I had to take on at a young age, because I went through a lot of things which could have been prevented, if I’d had someone to show me the way. So rather than me corrupting them and pretending I don’t know the correct path, I aim to share my knowledge. I think a lot of the older generation should be doing the same thing. We shouldn’t be just making music to glamourise the roads. We should also be making music to show them another angle.

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Interview by Denzil Bell

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