Exclusive Interview: Rita Ora talks Section Boyz and grime collabs on her forthcoming album
Our few minutes with the star had some eyebrow-raising revelations...
RWD was recently invited down to the new JD store on Oxford Street, where UK Platinum artist and new X Factor judge Rita Ora was due to have a meet and greet with a horde of excited fans. Before their hugs, screams and smiles, though, we were able to have a quick chat with the singer who, in a reminder of her many ventures, was dressed in her latest (and ninth) collection with adidas originals.
With time precious – it was only five minutes until she was due for her in-store appearance downstairs – we thought we’d take the small window of opportunity to get an insight into some tweets (since deleted, although Snapchats have emerged online) from late July, in which Rita posted lyrics from the infectious Section Boyz track ‘Trapping Ain’t Dead’. Now we know Rita is no stranger to working with British rappers, but her vocal support for the South London group still took us a little by surprise. Have we underestimated her ear to the streets?
In our brief talk with Ms Ora, we found someone who seems keen for such acts to reach bigger audiences, and wants to play her part in the next few months. Also noteworthy is Rita’s use of ‘grime’ – Section are referred to as a grime act – which, not long after BBC 1Xtra’s Grime Symphony line-up, adds further evidence of how the UK rap and grime scenes are, for better or worse, increasingly intertwined from a mainstream perspective. Here’s what she had to say in full…
We saw you recently tweet lyrics to Section Boyz ‘Trapping Ain’t Dead’…
…My connect’s still breathing!
See that’s the sort of music we listen to.
That’s the music I listen to.
Tell us about where or how you came across that tune.
Because I came from the streets babe. I grew up listening to grime, and I never ever lost it. I feel like if you start losing that, then you start losing yourself.
Grime has been like…an escape route for me. I’m not a grime artist, I don’t spit bars, but I love it. I love listening to grime. This Section Boyz mixtape is going to be…the sickest. ‘Lock Arff’ and ‘Trapping Ain’t Dead’, those tunes for me are like ‘thank god’, because I feel like what we need to do now is connect those dots, do you know what I mean? I went for the pop route. If I stayed in the grime route I feel like I probably wouldn’t be where I am today, but I feel like if we connect those dots together and maybe do a tune, and that’s my plan with Section Boyz for example, it will just get people aware of the culture.
Being in the States, I’ve seen people listening to grime, it’s slowly leaking in over there. The Drakes of the world and the Kanyes of the world, these rappers are starting to acknowledge us finally, and they’re trying to tell me about them when I see them. When I saw them at the VMAs, they were like ‘yeah man, we know you listen to…’ and they start even using our lingo. I’m like ‘hold on a minute! Calm down, we’ve been going a good 20 years.’ It’s them lot thinking they’re discovering something new. We’ve known about it for so long, but the reason why no one will know that is because you have someone like Drake and so all of a sudden he’s a genius because he found them. But you know it’s ok, whatever helps them because they deserve to be heard.
— simi • haze (@samahaya) September 8, 2015
— PreOrderDontPanicNOW (@SleeksSection) September 7, 2015
Who else from that world are you listening to at the moment?
Just them, at the moment.
Have you made contact with those guys?
Yeah we’ve spoken, and the Stormzys and all that. I’d love to do a tune, a remix with all of them on it, but we’ll see what happens because it’s hard to get them down in one room!
You worked with Bonkaz too, right?
Yeah. So ‘Body On Me’ is the single for my album, and in that album there’s some grime in there. That comes out in November.
Is that album finished?
Kinda, yeah, the majority of it.
Is there anything you’re most excited for people to see or hear?
The tour, because my support acts are going to be surprising. When you lot see who supports me I feel like it’s going to add a whole other kind of culture to the UK tour. I remember when I was supporting DJ Fresh doing Uni tours, kids weren’t even listening because they were so mash-up, and I was like ‘hello? Anyone care?’ and that’s what I don’t want other artists to feel like.
Get the adidas originals by Rita Ora collection at jdsports.co.uk