Blay Vision descends from a long lineage of lyricists hailing from the hub of grime, Tottenham. And he's worked with half of them, including Skepta and Pres T, as well as East LDN godfather Wiley, Lewisham rapper Fekky and North-West legend Flirta D. Having put the work in over the years, the visionary Vision signed to Lit City Trax -- the forward thinking label fronted by J-Cush -- in 2016 and got working on Turner Ave, a 13-track offering which features fellow N17 resident JME. Pitching himself as "brimming with indignation" and "a voice for the disenfranchised", Blay's Turner Ave is a powerful debut that is streaked with ruminations on today's socio-political climate -- perfect timing for today's election. With the producer-slash-rapper ready and willing to vote Labour, here are four others things we, you, the world, needs to know about Blay Vision.
1. Blay Vision's alter-ego is inspired by the Sega Megadrive. Sorta.
"My real name is Andre. Blay Vision is kind of an evolution of names. In school I started as Blaze. From Streets of Rage on the Sega Megadrive. As time went on, I'm not sure why, but I changed it to Blay-Z - pronounced BlayZee not Blay Z like Jay Z [laughs]. I was Blay-Z until one day when I looked on Grime Forum and someone had left a comment under my video saying, 'Where's Blay?'. I actually found it hilarious but it dawned on me, if someone said that to me in a clash, it could possibly do bits still, so I decided to drop the '-Z' and became Blay. The addition of Vision to my name came about because of how I feel I live my life. I've always chased my vision, even as a kid."
2. Frankie Boyle and Toys'R'Us inspired the JME collaboration, Gone Mad. Kinda.
"My favourite lyric from Gone Mad would probably be "You can join the army at 16 but you can't buy C.o.D [Call of Duty]." That lyric was actually the reason the whole song was made. I'm a big stand-up comedy fan and the line is actually from a Frankie Boyle special which was one of the realist shows I've ever seen. That line also reminds me of when I went to buy Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and got told that I couldn't buy it because I didn't have an ID. Bare in mind I had a beard and tattoos [laughs]. Anyway, I left Toys'R'Us pissed off and because of that I just started to think about everything else I felt didn't make sense in the world and came to the conclusion that everyone's gone mad."
3. He first met Jamie Adenuga at the studio of legendary engineer MSM. Probably.
"I'm trying to think back now when we would have met the first time. I can't actually remember the first time I met JME. It probably stemmed from using MSM's studio, which was where JME recorded too. Working with JME will always be sick because I know he has a nang taste, especially when it comes to making tunes. For example, with Gone Mad, the harmonies JME hit on the hook was a next ting! I genuinely didn't hear it when I was writing the hook and he added them right in. Fits perfectly. Badman!"
4. Blay just dropped debut album Turner Ave on J-Cush's Lit City Trax and it's rather great. Definitely.
"I'm influenced by a lot of things. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Tyler The Creator, the soundtrack to Sonic the Hedgehog and Streets of Rage on the Sega Megadrive, JME, Pharrell, and the work rate of comedians Kevin Hart and The Sidemen. If you put all those elements into a blender, mix it up, you'll have the formula that makes me want to create music, and my drive. Throughout the album, you'll clock that every track has its own emotion. I wanted to give the listener a taster of what I could do, as well as being able to connect with different vibes. I believe it's a solid body of work and I'm happy with all the feedback I've been getting so far. I've got production from MazzaBeats, Infamous Dimez, Teeza but mostly it's me on the bears. My favourite track… Hmm, it on keeps changing, literally, daily. Some days it's My G's but then I'll wake up another day and it'll be Normal but then sometimes Amnesia creeps in there and takes the lead. I'll just say my favourite track on there at this present moment in time would be Fully Involved."
5. Blay is headed to the polling station today and he's voting for Labour!
"Labour all day! I'm voting Labour because of Jeremy Corbyn. To be honest, I don't really know many of the other Labour members, but Corbyn is the most humane person I have seen in politics, ever. And for his realistic and empathetic views, he has my vote. What I really want people to remember is that even if my man gets in power and things don't change right away, don't just flip on him. This is a man that needs our support. You have to look at it like finally being able to plant a seed of goodness in a fucked up system. But yeah Corbyn has my vote. Bun the Tories."
Text Hattie Collins