Exclusive Interview: Yizzy talks about new project ‘Welcome To Grime Street’, milestones reached this past year and future hopes in music
Following the release of 'Welcome To Grime Street', Yizzy talks about taking the masses to the sound
In terms of the younger generation in grime, Yizzy is that guy.
From cutting his teeth on the sets of Radar Radio, to releasing his debut EP, This Is Life in 2017, the young MC has slowly but surely been rising through the ranks, positioning himself as one of the new faces of grime. This culminated in him releasing his 2nd EP, S.O.S (Save Our Sound), with him staking his claim to save the sound of grime and now with his latest EP, Welcome To Grime Street, he’s not only attempting to save the sound, he’s now “taking you to the sound.”
So we caught up with Yizzy on the release date, ahead of him playing the Dr Martens Boot Room stage at Field Day earlier this summer, to talk about milestones he’s reached this year, his latest EP Welcome To Grime Street and to find out where he’s looking to take the sound next…
Well done with performing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, that must have been a big moment for you?
Performing on TV was crazy because I didn’t know what to expect, I’d never done anything like it before. Also if I messed up, there were a lot of people tuned in, so that was a scary thought. I did actually mess up, but I styled it out so no one saw it. If you can work out where I messed up on the show, props to you and if you can’t, then I’m doing my job right. It was amazing though, because my mum would tell her friends, my aunties and my grandad about what I do, but it’s one thing telling them and another thing seeing it. My grandad who doesn’t really understand technology, all he knew was that he switched on his TV and saw his grandson on ITV. It meant a lot to me for him to see me perform, because he’s quite elderly now. It wasn’t something that was planned, it was last minute, but I’m so so glad it happened.
You also did your debut ‘Fire In The Booth’ recently and I liked how you mixed in the grime with some drill and rap – what was the thinking behind that?
I understand that grime doesn’t necessarily do well on every platform and I see on ‘Fire In The Booth’, people like to see something that they’ve never seen before and also they want to be surprised. Everybody that knows me, will expect me to do a grime set, so first thing I did was start off the set with rap and those were some of the best rap lyrics I’ve ever written. It’s a lot of people’s favourite part, because when it comes to the grime bit and you hear me skipping double time, if you know me, then you know I do that already and if you don’t then you’ll be super impressed. Then the drill part is the icing on the cake, because it’s funny as I’m not really talking about things that drill rappers do, I’m more taking the piss with my lyrics and just being me. The culmination of it all is something that you haven’t seen before and hopefully it’ll keep you interested throughout.
Between doing radio sets and performing live, which one do you prefer?
I used to love sets a lot, more than performing, but then when I started performing properly and doing more shows I learned that my heart is on the stage. It’s one thing listening to grime, but then the experience of watching it live is something else.
I saw you did your headline show recently, how was that?
I was struggling not to get teary, because I had my mum and my family there as well, so it was a real moment for me. But it went perfectly, exactly how I wanted it to go. I can’t even put the feeling into words. Then after the show Wiley gave me a shout out telling me ‘well done’ on his instagram. The whole experience was amazing.
On the business side of things, what made you want to do the label link up with DMY?
The collaboration worked for what I wanted to do, as I had the ideas for everything I wanted to achieve in music, I just wasn’t able to facilitate them all myself. Thankfully DMY was and is able to, in terms of the level I want to reach. They are really good people, I get on well with them and they facilitate me with everything I need. It was a natural link up as well, as Dummy Mag have been supporting me from day one, so the relationship was already there before the deal. I also liked the proposition because it’s a partnership with my label Livin Legendz, which I built from the ground up at age 16. The fact that it’s a partnership is really important to me.
Your first project with them, Welcome To Grime Street is now out, what was the inspiration behind that name?
I came up with the name when I was watching Straight Outta Compton for the first time. Dr Dre was talking about how he needed a name for his album and then I think he went past a sign that said “Welcome To Compton”, which is when a pin dropped in my head. I thought to myself, ‘what would I do if I named my album’, because originally it was supposed to be my album name, but then I thought ‘nah this is not quite album ready, my album name I won’t just think of like that, it’ll be a journey’. So in the end I decided it was the perfect name for an EP, as it accurately describes what I want to show people. I showed you S.O.S, which was about saving grime and the sound and now I’m not just talking about saving the sound – I’m taking you to the sound! – Welcome To Grime Street.
You’ve got some bad boy producers on the tape, how was it working with the likes of Teddy and Terror Danjah?
It was great. I’ve done songs with them in the past, so it’s always love when we link up and they’re really easy people to get on with. They know what I like from instrumentals, so we sit down together and build up the riddim from when they first send it to me or when I first hear it. We work on the songs together, so at the beginning of the session we just have the instrumental and by the end of it, we’ve produced a song.
In terms of the tracks on the project, ‘3 Minutes to Live’ is a deep one, how did that song come together?
I’ve had the instrumental for ‘3 Minutes to Live’ for two years, pretty much from when I first started music, it was made by one of the first producers I linked up with. At the time, I knew it was special, I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. So I sat on it and said to myself ‘when the time is right, I’ll make proper use of it’. And at the time, I was in a really weird place with a lot of stuff that was going on in my area and people that I knew getting into situations in terms of knife crime. I feel like with the media this stuff is trivial to them, whereas I would think about if you knew the victim personally: you won’t see them again; you won’t go shop and bump into them anymore; that mother will never see her son lying in bed again and be able to tell him to wake up. I saw the little things when I was thinking about a stabbed youth only having 3 minutes to live – I don’t think I’ve heard anyone do it from this perspective – so it was only right to make it into a song. It’s all about how precious and valuable life is, but with this I’m talking about something that is going on in my area. I thought if I’m going to talk about a topic, it should be something that I’m experiencing first hand in my ends and that way it really comes from the heart.
Another track I really like is “Bow” with Double S, Maxsta and Manga – that’s a big line up! – who do you think took it on that one?
I think my favourite verse is Double’s, just cause I like his style in terms of his skippy flow. Then the best verse on the whole EP for me is Scrufizzer’s on ‘Deh Suh’. But I proper rate Double S’s verse on ‘Bow’, I think it’s sick – metaphors, with punchlines and with the flow – perfect 16. The link up, I’ve not seen one like that in time, which is what I wanted to make. I don’t really do too many features, so I thought to myself let me do THE feature. You’ve got Manga who’s a legend in this ting and Roll Deep original. You’ve got Maxsta who’s been around from early in grime and other than Chip was THE youngster. Then you’ve got Double S, the flow farda, who is a pioneer with his skippy style and then you’ve got myself on the hook and Teddy on the production which is always going to be a madness.
On the project you seem to explore more genres than just grime – what was the thinking behind this?
Every song has to be different: you’ve got your straight grime bangers like ‘Yeah’; you’ve got your conceptual tunes like ‘3 Minutes to Live’ and then you’ve got something a bit different which is ‘On a Low’, where I’m not only singing, but I’m singing in Spanish as well. A lot of people don’t know that I can do the Spanish ting, but I’ve got a lot of Colombian and South American friends, so they’ve helped me to incorporate the Spanish into my style. I’d say ‘Deh Suh’ is the catchy song that you can shake a leg to, whereas ‘Deh Suh Remix’ has the yard man element to it, which is also part of my Caribbean heritage.
I’d say if you want a track that is the definition of grime, then listen to ‘Freeze’. It’s got that dirty bass, horns and Devilman as well. I can tell you such a story about who was meant to be on that song: At one point there was a version with Griminal; at one point there was a version with Frisco and at one point there was a version with Wiley. So that one has the most history behind it other than ‘3 Minutes to Live’.
Maaaaad, are those versions going to come to surface?
What versions?….I don’t know what you’re on about….(says laughing).
On the topic of madnesses, your back and forth with Chip earlier this year set Twitter alight and you two have since reconciled which is great, but what did you think about some of the negative feedback you received from the back and forth?
I don’t watch face. I’ve seen some mad sh*t and been through some mad sh*t in my life. A couple of people with their fingers tweeting and texting stuff does not affect me. I’ve been through some horrible things in my life, so this is nothing. Believe me, I don’t give a sh*t about negative opinions. I give love and respect to those who show me love and respect, and even if you don’t agree with me, but you still respect me, then I’ve got nothing but respect back to you. It’s from when you try put someone down or take the p*ss and be negative, that’s when I stop caring about the person and ignore them.
On a positive note, what are your hopes with Welcome To Grime Street and with music in general?
My hopes are that people will appreciate lyricism a bit more, because I feel like a lot of music nowadays is very vibe heavy and I appreciate that a vibe is a big thing, but lyricism goes along way, that is what rap is about at its core. It’s an expression of an art form through words combined with instrumentation. It’s poetry as well, spoken word – I just hope that people start to value lyrics again – because anyone can tap their foot to a beat, but how many people can craft an amazing piece of work that actually has a message? So I hope people take that in from my project and from me in general.
Do you have anything else that you want to leave for the people?
Long live grime!
Interview by Denzil Bell