Chatting With Ghetts: “Grime Never Died”
Discussing Dizzee and Drake with Ghetts before his Camden Crawl show
By Tamara Roper
Since leaving prison almost ten years ago, Ghetts has had a slow burner of a career. Once involved with the likes of Kano and Devlin, he’s just released his much anticipated debut album, ‘Rebel With A Cause’, having played his first headline show earlier in the year. His involvement with grime music has started from the bottom and continued to rise, consistent and unhurried. MTV caught up with him to talk Drake, Dizzee and why grime still matters.
MTV: What’s up Ghetts, you’re playing Camden Crawl this weekend and we’ve heard your shows are crazy. What is it about them that people love?
Ghetts: I just try and bring a lot of energy, I kind of lead them. I believe that the best shows are the ones where you lose yourself, that’s when you really enjoy yourself. I try and bring that to the table, I give back to them what they give me. We’re working together.
MTV: What’s the best show you’ve played recently?
Ghetts: I did my first headline show at the O2 in Highbury for my new album. That was sick. When everyone in the room is there for your music, it’s really sick. You don’t take being at the top of a bill for granted.
MTV: How do you choose what to play on stage?
Ghetts: The fans decide that. Before a show they’re always @ing me saying ‘make sure you do this tune, make sure you do that.’ I know which are the crowd pleasers, so they’re always on the list.
MTV: You don’t get bored of playing the same stuff?
Ghetts: I make so much music that by the time I’ve played something so many times, it’ll be onto the next cycle, onto the next album.
MTV: So you had over 100 songs that could have been used for your new album…
Ghetts: More than that! There was like, over 200. I record nearly every day, if I can. If I don’t record then I’ll write something. Cutting down was the hardest.
MTV: Are you going to use some of the songs that didn’t get onto the album on your next one?
Ghetts: Not for my next album. I want to work on some mixtapes in the cycle between this album and my next album. I want to keep working, because I feel artistically the more I work, the better I get. I don’t want to slow down, I need to keep learning things. I don’t want to make music for any other reason than to listen to in my car. I need to know that when I put that CD in the car, I can go on the longest journey, and everything’s going to be alright. I don’t want to have to forward any rhythms. Do you know who makes perfect car music? Drake. It’s perfect. The balance of energy is brilliant. You don’t start driving too fast and you might end up at your ex’s house, but cool.
MTV: Haha, that’s so true. How do you feel about people saying grime is having a comeback?
Ghetts: It’s definitely having a moment where people who don’t necessarily want to support grime are having to take notice. You’re never going to have the golden era twice, it’s not going to happen again. But, grime never actually died for me. Now we’re having chart success, and people who wouldn’t normally take notice are, because it seems like it’s becoming lucrative.
MTV: There’s a notion that grime was the last underground genre to happen before the rise of the internet- now sites like Soundcloud make it available to everyone.
Ghetts: I love that. I’m not one of those people that thinks “we should all be underground in our music and it should be hidden”. I’m totally against that. On a serious note I think some of the best music in the world comes from grime, and I want the whole world to hear it. I don’t want people to feel like my music can only be heard by a certain amount of people.
MTV: What do you reckon is the best way to do that?
Ghetts: It’s always been the same way for me. It’s the slow and steady build- if you look at my career, it’s been a very slow build. Over the years, I’m still here, other people are not around any longer. I’ve not declined.
MTV: Could you see yourself going the same way as Dizzee and Chipmunk and signing to majors?
Ghetts: If you’re massive, people call you a pop star. What if I‘m making the same music as I am now, and I’m as big as Dizzee? Does that mean I’m a pop star? That’s what people do. If you’re in the limelight every day, people will automatically say you’re a pop star. But, what music am I making? There’s a certain look, and a certain sound to what you associate with pop music. Every once in a while you get someone who fits that certain mode, but their music is very different.
MTV: Dizzee is an example because the further in you get with his music, the more commercially viable the tracks start to sound.
Ghetts: For me, Dizzee has only been very commercial since he’s left XL in terms of his sound of music. Every album he did with XL sounded like a Dizzee album. Artists grow though, and they reflect their surroundings in their music, and some people don’t give much thought to that. Dizzee’s in surroundings that are nothing like the surroundings he came from, in terms of music. Now he’s being influenced by things around him, so his music might feel very authentic to him. Him doing grime now would actually be less authentic.
MTV: Would you want to go down that major label route?
Ghetts: It depends on if I had legs to stand on. Hopefully when it does get to that time, and we have got legs to stand on, we can say hey, this is what’s been done here, this is our return. It’s lucrative, this is what we want to do, we’d love to have you on board, but it’s on our own terms. I’m always going to make music that’s authentic to m, that’s how I can answer the question. I need to make music that’s authentic to how I’m living and how I’m feeling. It might change, and it probably will.
Ghetts plays The Monarch in Camden on 20 June, as part of CC14 (Camden Crawl)