Hey XXLMag.com readers! It’s your boy Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson here, back with the second instalment of The UK Underground Report. So yeah, it’s snowing in the UK at the moment, like heavily, and I’m sure most of us would love to be in some American sunshine right now, but unfortunately we’re not, so let’s keep it movin’. Last month I introduced you all to UK rapper Giggs, but this time we’ve taken it down the grimey route with an artist who goes by the name of Wretch 32. Happy reading and Merry Christmas!
Wretch 32 is a lyricist from north London who has become one of the most sought-after MCs within the underground music scene here in the UK. His conscious lyrics, matched with a laid-back flow, has set this artist apart from the rest of the gun-clapping-drug-selling storytellers out there (which I’m not knocking, by the way) and this is something that has earned Wretch a different kind of respect, and like he explains: “I want to make the type of music that my grandmother could listen to without her falling out of the rocking chair.”
Having started out in 2005, Wretch used to attend pirate radio stations with friends who always used to encourage him to pick up the mic and spray (no JME); those same friends are some of the people he classes as inspirations today. “The people that I was around inspired me to get into music. But when it comes to life influences, I’d have to say a lot of reggae artists like Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Dennis Brown etc., that’s what was being played in my house when I was growing up and that’s what really got me into music.”
The question of this lyricist being a grime MC or a UK rapper, well, let’s just say that it’s a question that many fans and critics have been trying to answer for years, but as he explains, he’s just an amalgamation of both: “I’m a grime-rapper-soul-musician. [Laughs]. For the people that say that I make [obvious] hip-hop, they clearly don’t know about music. If you listen to my music, you’d hear my influences. You can hear the reggae vibe and you can hear the grimey influences as well. I’m super-London in all of my shit. I don’t even know what bait hip-hop is! What do they mean?”
Regardless of genre titles, Wretch 32 has been very consistent when it comes to releasing mixtapes over the years, but you know when an artist releases something and you just know that they’ve finally arrived? Well, it was his 2008 Wretchrospective album that really solidified him as artist to be reckoned with. “I’d say releasing that album was one of my biggest achievements to date,” says the MC. “It never sold that many units, but I feel like it was significant in so many ways. Just the feedback from that alone was a proud moment for me. I don’t want to say that I’ve had big achievements though, because I don’t want it to sound like I’m getting comfortable. My achievements are being able to achieve more achievements.”