The past year has been huge for Skepta; as we wait on the cusp of the release of his upcoming album #Konnichiwa, ‘Shutdown’ blew up on a monumental level and the rest remains thrillingly unwritten. When the last leg of the Red Bull Music Academy UK tour took over Manchester, the BBK MC kickstarted the weekend in an appropriately riled-up fashion as part of the Tropical takeover at The Ritz. Alongside JME, C4 and Flowdan, and with beats provided by Todd Edwards, Preditah and Logan Sama, cuts like ‘That’s Not Me’ and ‘It Aint Safe’ granted floor-rattling receptions with reloads aplenty. But before shutting down The Ritz, Skepta stopped off at the Albert Hall for a two-hour interview to a sold-out crowd. Sat on a large, plush, red sofa amongst the grandeur of the Grade II listed chapel, there was plenty to be discussed. Here’s some of what we learnt:
Skepta has an eclectic array of influences: ranging from UK dance music pioneer DJ Zinc who he describes seeing live for the first time as “like seeing Jesus” to Barrington Levi (“Broader than Broadway – that’s just like so fucking big”). He cites dancehall as having a pivotal impact on grime, as both are “all about the reload”.
He also finds inspiration in more obvious places: one of his first verses on Wileys scars “go on then go on then draw for the ‘chete” was literally inspired by Skepta looking around Wiley’s kitchen and seeing a machete (as you do).
Skepta is a self-proclaimed nerd: his first DJ set, as ‘Moschino Joe’ , was intended to impress the girls at school, and when the old sports hall venue he had planned to use was locked up by local authorities, he quickly relocated the night to his front room
His new album is going to include some stateside names: from Ratking features to recent studio sessions with Earl Sweatshirt, while Skepta kept details on his upcoming album under wraps its clear we can expect some interesting transatlantic collaborations
But he’s not asking American rappers for anything: He dodged questions on Kanye and Drake and nonchalantly remarked that despite meeting big names, he wouldn’t even ask for a ‘fucking rizzla’
He is also set on expanding the UK Grime scene out of the capital: citing Trigga is his favourite mancunian rapper, he also claims that his battle with Devilman was really a strategic ploy to highlight the Birmingham grime scene
D Double E is the best MC out there but you’re probably not going to realise until he’s dead.
Skepta regrets nothing: No, not even ‘Rescue me’ (which we should probably all just forget about), he also renounces the notion that Grime has ‘returned’ to its earlier sound, instead it is defiantly moving forward.
Words: Ruby Atkin & Josie Roberts