After A Five-Year Absence, Blade Brown Is Ready To Reclaim His Crown 👑

Words + Photography: Jesse Bernard

It’s hard to imagine a UK rap scene without Blade Brown coming to mind. In the five years since his last absence, new faces have emerged, fostering the growth of UK drill—road rap’s offspring—and as one of the originators of the sound, it’s timely that Blade Brown made his return this summer. During our conversation at the Disturbing LDN studios in Stratford, East London, the South London native tells me that there’ll be no more stop-starts in his career as he’s determined to stick around this time.

Blade sits in a plush maroon chair, the kind you’d find at an antique store and blow a month’s rent on. In my mind, it’s a symbol for the throne he’s sat on as the king of British trap-rap. Fresh names who weren’t popular when Bags & Boxes 3 dropped in 2014, such as Fredo, K-Trap, Knucks and LD, not only have those collabs brought around younger audiences who might not have heard his joint mixtape with Giggs, Hollow Meets Blade, in 2007, the features are emblematic of Blade’s enduring legacy that has survived these past twelve years.

Giggs, on the other hand, took the momentum that was built on the first mixtape, ran with it and the rest is history. That said, Blade doesn’t have any regrets; he tells me that he can’t go back and rewrite the past, but what is within his power is to commit more of his life to the music, which is something he never quite considered a career. His career can be likened to that of former Arsenal player Abou Diaby who, throughout his time at the club, showed signs of promise and was considered the second coming of Patrick Vieira. Unfortunately, his injury-prone body meant that his career was cut short, but when he did play, Diaby changed the fabric of an Arsenal team that desperately needed some backbone.

Blade Brown is no baller, in the sporting sense of course, but the brief spurts he’d have before retreating from the spotlight meant that his name is often left out of conversations that include Giggs, Krept & Konan and Skrapz. This time, however, he’s determined to change all of that.

“I’ve been doing a lot of reading and researching over the past few years, and it’s helped me become much wiser.”

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO PUT THE MIXTAPE OUT, FIVE YEARS ON FROM YOUR LAST PROJECT?

It was well overdue and I wanted to put it out sooner, but life got in the way. Like you said, it’s been five years since I put the last one out and that’s a long time in music—a lot has changed in the scene since then. Five years is a long time! I’m approaching music more seriously now so I’d definitely say it’s a new chapter in my life.

WHAT WAS KEEPING YOU BUSY AT THE TIME?

Life, really. Been doing a lot of business stuff and other bits here and there, but I did start the tape a few times. A lot of distractions got in the way which stopped me from getting the job done.

DO YOU FEEL PART OF THAT IS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH MUSIC, AT LEAST WHEN IT COMES TO RECORDING?

I’ve seen things that suggest music could be my career. When I dropped the tape with Giggs, the first Bags & Boxes didn’t come out until three years later. It’s been a recurring theme in my career but I feel like this time around, things are different and I’ve put things in place to ensure that music is what I should be doing. I’ve got tunnel vision at the moment when it comes to music.

WHAT DIRECTION DID YOU HAVE IN MIND WHEN YOU STARTED RECORDING?

I just wanted to keep the rawness that was on the first three tapes, and I always feel like I need to raise the bar—especially when it comes to production, writing and the structure of the songs. I just felt like I wasn’t really going to be happy until I outdone the last mixtape. I’m always trying to be better than my last effort.

WOULD YOU SAY BAGS & BOXES 4 IS BETTER THAN THE PREVIOUS DROPS IN THE SERIES?

It’s not to say that it’s better, because they each mean a lot to me, but this one’s definitely a notch up—which should always be the aim.

I GUESS HAVING THAT TIME AWAY GAVE YOU A LOT TO PUT INTO IT.

Definitely! If you listen to all of the tapes from 1-4, it reflects my mindset and life at the time. Some people say that not much has changed, but if you really listen then you can see how my ideas on certain things have grown. I may talk about the same subjects, but I’m approaching them with a different thought pattern now that I’m older.

SO WHAT’S YOUR OUTLOOK ON LIFE THESE DAYS?

I just feel like the more years I’m on this earth, the more I’m becoming open-minded. I’m always learning. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and researching over the past few years, and it’s helped me become much wiser. I’ve been watching a lot of history documentaries, and stuff. I just watched this programme on the Maroons and it’s important that we learn where we come from and the world that we live in.

“When you’re an originator, it shouldn’t be difficult to come back and start a new trend.”

WITH THAT SAID, DID YOU APPROACH WRITING THIS PROJECT IN A DIFFERENT WAY?

Nah, I’d say I have quite a set way of approaching a song when I’m writing. Not a lot of people know that I don’t write my lyrics down; it’s only recently I’ve started to do it when I’m in a rush. Moretime, I write in my head. That’s the only process I really take into the booth when I’m recording.

WHEN YOU STARTED WRITING STUFF DOWN, HOW DID THAT PROCESS FEEL?

For me, I feel like the lyrics have to be important if I’m writing it down but, most times, I’ll voice record it so I have an idea of how it should flow.

WHEN IT COMES TO THE BAGS & BOXES SAGA, IS THERE ROOM FOR MORE?

I always said I was going to end it on the trilogy but I waited it out and listened to what people wanted. When they started asking for another one, the fans named it Bags & Boxes 4. It’s the fourth quarter of the year and there’s four sides to a square so it made sense to end it here.

AFTER THIS, DO YOU RECKN YOU’LL BE WORKING ON AN ALBUM?

Oh yeah, definitely. That’s something we’ll be working towards, and I’ve been having talks about doing a collaborative project with another artist.

GIVEN THAT THE SCENE’S CHANGED SO MUCH IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS, YOU MUST’VE GENERATED NEW FANS WHO PROBABLY NEVER LISTENED TO YOU BEFORE.

There has to be, because everything’s been growing over here and the collabs I’ve been doing have helped build a new fanbase. I feel like the younger crowd who probably weren’t checking for UK rap, have now tapped in. I’ve had people tell me they’ve heard one of the new songs and later went back through my catalogue. The tracks with Headie, K-Trap and Fredo fit that age group so they were able to tap in through those.

DO YOU FEEL THAT’S PART OF A LEGACY YOU’VE CREATED, HAVING CREATED NEW AUDIENCES?

Yeah, definitely. Part of being a musician is understanding trends and what’s going on but also understanding that you don’t always have to follow them. Looking at what’s missing and adding your own print to it. There’s guys that don’t make drill and they’ve jumped on a drill beat, and it works—sometimes it doesn’t, but if you’re staying true to who you are as an artist, it will work out.

DO YOU RECKON THAT’S BECAUSE THE SOUND BACK THEN SET THE FOUNDATION FOR NOW, SO PEOPLE WILL STILL WANT TO HEAR THE OLDER STUFF?

Of course and, to be honest, a lot of the stuff when it comes to videos, styling, even production, originated from our era so it all comes back around. When you’re an originator, it shouldn’t be difficult to come back and start a new trend.


Posted on September 05, 2019