novelist is the future of grime

The XL signed, Mumdance collaborating, Lewisham repping rapper is going to take 2015 by storm.

by Hattie Collins
11 March 2015, 1:20pm

Fresh from performing at the BRITs with Kanye, 18-year-old Lewisham MC Novelist is one of Grime's most promising new names. Whether via his solo work with producer Mumdance, or as part of his crew The Square - who often invite people to clash down at Lewisham's Maccie D's - this self-described 'mic man' is telling a story that we really, really want to hear... 

I make music because…
My uncle is a producer and he had a software program called Reason, and so I was always on Reason as a young one. From there, it formulated into a career.

A brief musical history would include…
Me rhyming from about 13 or 14 years-old, but just in the ends. The thing that has defined me as an artist is pirate radio. I met my DJ, Grand Mixer, at pirate radio and we bonded. That really helped me with my mic skills. I started getting booked in Bristol, and then I started getting local bookings in London in late 2012, when I was finishing secondary school. Then I met Mumdance through Slack, who runs Boxed. He was like 'Come around to my gaff, let's just make tunes'. So I went and we made Take Time in the first session.

Grime had a great 2014, but…
I feel like we haven't even started. Me and Stormzy, we haven't even started. We've got so much more to do - people are going to see more new things. Everyone compares it to the past, but there are so many things that haven't even been done yet. 2015 - I'm going to release a lot of music.

I think one thing behind the recent mainstream interest in grime is…
Radio; there was so much radio, the platform became so much wider. I was on Flex FM, I've done Rinse FM, NTS Live... With all the radio, people started releasing tunes, and networking, and linking up at the raves. Everyone just started coming together and forming new ideas, which is sick.

The three biggest influences on me as an artist are…
1) Lewisham. It's mad. M.A.D. It's such a mixture of good and bad, it just makes the story. I don't hate it or love it; I just think Lewisham is sick. 2) My life as a whole - my personal story - everything I see everyday. I could see a bus go past and write a lyric about that bus. 3) Girls. There are so many girls in the world, how could you not be inspired by that?

Recent life highlights include…
Going abroad to perform at a festival; I've never even been abroad before. 2014 was wonderful, so eventful. It was a bit like a flower opening up. Loads of crazy things have been happening, and it's all been spontaneous. I've done loads of radio, loads of shows, I performed with Boy Better Know at Culture Clash. Me and Stormzy were grateful to be put on that platform.

As an artist I stand for many things…
But mainly, I'm a storyteller. I'm called Novelist because I like to tell stories. I've always been a spokesperson - if I can't be a spokesperson, I feel waste, because I'm here doing nothing. Sometimes people can't say things themselves, so there has to be someone to bring it forward. I stand for the guy who can't relay a message.

One song of mine you should listen to is…
Either Take Time or the JDZMedia freestyle because they show contrast. I'm very contained in Take Time; my diction and everything is clear, but on the freestyle, I'm just spazzing out with abandon. So you can judge me and make a fair judgment.

My goals for this year include…
Making a tune, directing the video and putting it out completely by myself. One hundred percent me. I believe I can do it. I see it like me becoming a man - this is my job, music is my job. So if I can't do it myself at some point, I'm just going to be a floater, and I don't want to float. Everyone else is floating. I don't want to float.

Something about me people might not know is that…
I skateboard. I'm a skater boy from early. I can bust a little kick flip. I'm a street skater. I can do ramps but I don't like them. You break yourself too much.

The first record I bought was…
JME's Serious. It reminded me of myself. That's why I liked it. I just thought 'Whoa this guy reminds me of me. He's sick'. I was in.

The last live show I went to was…
Boxed. But that's not like a gig. It's DJs playing sets of their own music and their artists' music. I proper love it, because I just go there and vibe off everyone.Boxed has been way overlooked in what it's done for grime. It's one of my favourite raves.

If I were stranded on the moon for eternity, I would want the entire catalogue of who and why…
Barrington Levy because he's got a golden voice and he made people look at music in a different way. The vocal tones he was coming with, you weren't hearing other guys doing that. He had a different vibe to him.

The song I would you like played at my funeral is…
My own tune, Take Time [laughs].

If I could work with anybody, it would it be…
Pharrell, or Timbaland because they're good at listening. I could relay to them what I want done and they could make it happen, without putting it in a box of what genre it is, or whatever. I wouldn't mind working with Drake as well. I like his vocal tones.

My style icon is…
The man dem. We just get our tracksuits on, and we're comfy, talking to the girls.

My celebrity crush is…
Tinashe. I'm definitely going to draw her number when I see her. I like her style, man.

I used to work at…
Boots. I liked working there. It made me see that when you pick something up in a shop, you put it back in the right place, because otherwise it's long for the people who are working there. Mad long. Bare long.

For 2015, I'm tipping…
Little Simz.


1 Sec, Novelist's joint EP with Mumdance, is out now on XL Records


Text Hattie Collins
Photography Matteo Montanari
Styling Max Clark
Hair Kei Terada at Julian Watson Agency.
Make-up Jenny Coombs at Streeters using NARS.
Photography assistance Nicholas Riley Bentham, Nicola De Cecchi.
Styling assistance Bojana Kozarevic, Kristofj Von Strass.
Hair assistance Takuya Uchiyama.
Make-up assistance Mona Leanne.
Production Joe Streeter at Streeters London. 

XL Records
The Music Issue
hattie collins
matteo montanari
max clark
1 sec