the records that changed lethal bizzle's life
As one of grime’s originators releases his new single, Fester Skank, we find out which songs have soundtracked his life.
From his original More Fire Crew hit, Oi, to last year's pumped-up gym anthem, Rari Workout, Lethal Bizzle knows how to make a track that will have you shouting "Raaaaah!" His new single Fester Skank (featuring Diztortion) is set to be one of the summer's catchiest abtgens and might well have you hunching your shoulders, flipping your arms and dancing like the deathliest Addams Family member, Uncle Fester. "Robbie Williams, Nicki Minaj and footballer players doing their celebrations have all been doing it," he reveals, going on to tell i-D about how important it is hitting different people with his tracks. "It's really good to be able to make music that touches people in different genres. They may not be into urban music, but they appreciate what I do. I think me and my fans have got a really cool relationship. We're into banter and I try incorporate that, so they feel a part of it." We met up with Walthamstow-born Bizzle to find out what makes him tick (beyond the bantz).
What's the first record you bought?
The Cypress Hill album on cassette tape. The one with Insane in the Membrane on it. I used all my pocket money to buy it. I felt like it related to me and talked to me, because I thought I was a bit weird. The good thing is that my dad was a DJ, so we had everything already, but Cypress Hill was maybe a bit too gangster for him. I think that's why I liked it. He played Michael Jackson, Motown, Madonna, Phil Collins.
What song reminds you of your parents?
I'd go for The Commodores, Easy Like Sunday Morning. I remember every Sunday my dad played that because he used to work six days a week, so every Sunday was his day off. I'd wake up and hear that song without a doubt. He'd be having his vodka straight, or with half a centimetre of coke in it. He'd be there nodding away.
What track reminds you of going out when you were younger?
Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock's It Takes Two. That old skool record. I was really young at the time, so wasn't really partying, but was going to lots of functions with my parents and cousins and stuff. Also, Michael Jackson was a huge part of my childhood. When he came on, it was about who could do the best Michael Jackson moves.
What track reminds you of the beginning of the grime scene?
There's a track called Melody by a guy called Master Stepz. It was just a beat and I loved it so much that I skipped school at lunch to go spend my pocket money on it. It was the record that taught me my craft. I used to play it on my dad's vinyl player and practise and practise and freestyle. It's like pre-grime, post-garage days. I loved it. I didn't think I'd make a career out of it. I just thought it'd be a hobby.
Did you listen to much Ghanaian music?
All the time. I never knew what the fuck they were saying! I remember I used to be shy man, because my mum used to play it LOUD in the kitchen and my friends would come round and be like, "What's this music, man?" I'd be like, "Mum, turn it down, man." It was really the cool music to listen to. My mum'd be like, "Whatever man" and turn it up louder in the kitchen. Anything from Daddy Lumba - he's like the Michael Jackson of Ghana. And a guy called Kojo Antwi.
What's the best track to get pumped to before a gig?
It varies. Queen We Will Rock You gets me high. That gets me in the mood. Wiz Khalifa, We Dem Boys, gets me really high. I love Kanye and Jay-Z's Paris record.
What kind of music do you work out to?
I listen to the gym music. I need to see what's going on around me. I don't deal with the headphones. But I do a lot of pre-workout music to get ready for the gym. In the car, anything from drum'n'bass, old skool jungle to some real house vibes, Prodigy. Energetic, bass, drum, loud music. I turn it right up, get in the zone, hit the gym. Then after the gym, if I've had a really shit workout, I don't really play anything. But if I have a good workout I just want to keep going. That's how Rari Workout was born - I was so hype, I was working out in the Ferrari still.
What track that makes you sad?
That Coldplay record "I used to rule the world" used to make me reflect on how the grime scene had died. Now everyone's loving it again, but back then, it was like, "Fuck! Why are we not getting accepted?" Radio wasn't really supporting the authenticity of artists who started it and other people who came off the back of our hard work were making this other music and it was being called grime. Now social media has helped, because before there was always a middle-man and we didn't know how to communicate with fans. Either you had to be signed, or on the radio, whereas now it's like Tweets, Snapchat, Instagram a new song. You're hitting your fanbase directly. We got thrown in at the deep end and had to figure a way out and survive. It's not just about the music. The fans want more now - the music's not enough. They want to know what you had for breakfast, what you're doing.
What's the last track you listened to on your iPhone?
An old skool jungle song. It's called The Burial by Leviticus. "Big bad and heavy!"
Lethal Bizzle, featuring Diztortion, Fester Skank is out now.
Text Stuart Brumfitt