Cadell Is The Rockstar Kid Grime Music Needs

Words: Joseph 'JP' Patterson
Photography: Hyperfrank

“Getting the help you’ve earned, the help you deserve, is a beautiful thing. But that’s why everyone’s ungrateful: because they’re all getting help. Not everyone’s getting help, but some people will be sitting at home like, ‘Ah, man! I want Skepta to retweet my tune.’ Then when Skepta eventually does retweet their tune, they’re the most complacent motherfuckers in the world.”

Those are the prickly words of 21-year-old grime emcee Cadell, younger brother of the godfather Wiley, who definitely knows a thing or two about the inner workings/politics of the scene he and his older sibling are in. First stepping to the mic at the age of fourteen—armed with a bullish flow and confident delivery—Cadell has released five strong bodies of work since, each one speaking starkly to London City’s underbelly, with his most recent one L.O.N.D.O.N (Lots Of Niggas Don’t Observe Nature), his most streamed and critically praised. “The next album will be 3 Is The New 6, and it’s going to be a way of showing that Bow, East London, is where it’s at,” Cadell says when he passes through TRENCH HQ. “Then, after that, I’m gonna come with the next one: Angry Kid. Even when I’m happy, people see me as being angry so I’m literally just playing off that.”

As you’ll find out in the interview below, Cadell is a complex one (just like his big bro, Richard Cowie) and his Twitter timeline’s only the half of it. But this artist knows what he wants, and he’s exactly what the current grime scene needs.

How do you feel about grimes current state? I wrote a piece for Complex back in April that basically said, culturally, the scene is more than healthy, but musically, we’re stuck in a bit of a rut. What are your thoughts on that?

Grime’s been where it’s been since I was about 15 years old.

Is that a good or bad thing?

It’s a good thing. It’s been in my hands since I was about 15. I ain’t seen it anywhere else.

Currently, though, it’s definitely lacking something.

Do you know what it is? Everyone’s cutting through. When I say cutting through, I mean as in everyone who’s been noticed, they’re doing what the hell they can to get some dough. Not me—I’m not classed in that category—but a lot of people are. But after that, when that’s done, they’ve just played the system and they’re gonna invest in it anyway. Everyone’s gonna have top labels; everyone’s gonna have the money to do that stuff. I definitely know it’s in that period.

We’ve already had two grime resurgences: 2011, for about a year, then 2014, and now it feels like were about to have another one.

No one’s got the fire in their belly, that’s why. I know this: between me, Merky Ace, Master Peace, SPK… There’s a few grimey people, but they’re not gonna get signed. They won’t get promoted.

You’ve experimented with other genres in the past, but grime is clearly your main thing. What made you stay around and rep it, instead of jumping ship like certain other MCs your age have done recently?

I realised what made me listen to grime the other day: I heard music and beats no one’s ever heard. I’ve heard things people have never heard.

And probably will never hear.

I’m not even talking about my brother; I’m talking about from bare people. I walk past people that other people would pay to walk into.

Do people ever assume that because Wiley’s your brother, you automatically get a bring-in? I’ve seen your grind first-hand so I know it’s not even that, but do you come up against that sometimes?

Nah, because if I was here because I’m Wiley’s brother, why is everyone else here then? Why are the people I’ve clashed here? Why are the people I’ve done tunes with here? Why are my mates here? My enemies? The honest truth is you can’t answer that. I’m a creator. I can change the answer to that tomorrow. I’m not really worried about it. I see more pressure in just being me: Cadell.

Obviously, you’re doing your thing and have been doing so for a minute nowbut do you ever feel like maybe something’s not connecting on a wider scale?

Yeah, but it’s in me! It’s nothing to do with my introduction. It’s within me and who I am, as a person. I take pride in who I am as a person—that’s who I am. I don’t separate my personal and music life. I’m not Cadell on camera and then my other name is something else. I don’t shut off.

Do you think that’s why people get a bit confused?

Yeah, they’re waiting for me to shut off and I don’t shut off. People say I’m too hyper, but that’s not even what it is.

How did it all begin for you, musically?

It started in my nan’s house. I always tell this story. I started at 15 Brabazon Street, E14 6BL. That’s where it started. My dad used to work in a youth club; from there, my brother introduced me to [photographer] Quann and Louis Serrano, and, from there, I was doing some recording with them, and also at other youth clubs in the ends.

How old were you then?

I was around 14 when I dropped my first mixtape.

Do you feel like you get enough props for your workrate?

Hell no!

because you have done a lot in your time.

My props are coming. Everyone that I see as the top level, they have to give me props in some way. The bigger they get, the bigger I get. Everyone with swag that I’ve clashed or everyone with swag that I’ve come across, I’d be like: “OK, cool. You can overshadow me.” But now I can see people are doing things so it’s only right that it’ll boil down to looking at me. But I can’t get complacent with that. You’ve got to keep it real, no matter what. You can never lack.

In terms of your contemporaries, whose work are you listening to and rating?

Usually, when I get asked that, I don’t really know who—but now I do. I’m not gonna go through everyone, but people I fuck with right now are: Suspect OTB, even before “PBG” popped off I fucked with him; I fuck with SafOne; I fuck with Potter [Payper]; I fuck with Merky Ace; I’m really fucking with Master Peace right now; I’m fucking with Mez as well.

Mez is different with it.

Yeah, I’m fucking with what he’s doing.

Would you collab with all of these people?

Yeah, course! And [Little] Torment. I’m fucking with Torment heavy right now. I watch so much musical journeys, especially recently where people are just… I don’t know who they are; one day they could be greaze—you never know—but then the next it’s like their life is so patterned they won’t ever have to be greaze ever again. I’m not in that position and I don’t think I’m going to get there. I’m not gonna put myself in a position where I’m not at risk, if you get me? I’m going to put myself somewhere where… No risk, no reward, innit? I mess with people who put themselves knee-deep in risks.

Can you see yourself ever signing with a major?


get a quick bag and dip?

Not even dip—I swear down! The honest truth is I’ve done three albums so I can talk like this now. I don’t want everyone to get the impression that my people around me just want to make albums and then not receive any benefits from it out of pride. It’s not that. It’s just that, sometimes, we might not want you around us. That’s all it is. But they’ve got to be around me, on the right shit.

Can you see yourself spitting until you’re in your 30s or 40s? Some people have certain cut-off points.

To be honest, I didn’t even see myself living to 30. So me saying I’m going to do this or that until I’m 32, I’m worried about breathing to next week. I’m worried about getting as much projects out as possible, literally by next week. If I could drop five albums in a week, I would—just to get it out.

Are the roads causing you to think that way?

It’s not even the roads; I can’t blame the roads. The roads ain’t on nothing! When I go to the roads, no one ain’t on nothing—not even half what I’m on.

The same sideroads, same corners...

It’s not even that because I’m on the same corners sometimes. I’m just saying, heart-wise, no one ain’t willing to risk it for a biscuit like I am so I’m not really worried about that. I’m more worried about that spliff being my last spliff. Or that Hennessy being my last Hennessy. My intake is different. That’s what’s going to kill me: what I do—not what nobody else does to me.

How do you feel about the UK drill hype that’s going on in the media?

The drill I listen to is different. I listen to Chicago drill. Everyone sounds like they just want to be G Herbo and Mundo because they worked with DJ L that one time. There’s a whole lot more to it than that.

There’s a few musically-inclined drill artists, though, but they’re few and far between.

I don’t really class anyone over here as drill. There’s so many different types of drill... If I hear any more of this DJ L stuff, I’ll discombobulate [laughs].

I’m oldwho’s DJ L?

He’s from America and he makes that kind of beat, but there’s different kinds of beats. If you knew, you’d know. But people don’t really know.

Do you feel music is linked to people going out and doing a madness?

I was doing a madness before Rondo done “Bail Out”. I don’t even know why they blame it on the music. First time I got arrested, I was 12 years old. I’ve been arrested 15 times since then, and I’ve only been convicted once. I’ve been arrested every year, except for last year... I think I might even be telling lies: I think I got arrested last year. This year... Every year except for this year. And that was way before drill, so you can’t blame it.

Grime caught the same blame a good ten years ago.

Opera had the same thing. What do they play when you go watch fencing? Opera. It’s all in the mind. Everything’s in the mind. That’s why disabilities exist, because you’re able to control a disability of your mind, but if you’re able bodied, everything else is in your mind. How strong you’re going to be tomorrow, how rich you’re going to be... Obviously, you’ve got your environment and then the next thing you know, you’re sitting in prison with everyone who’s got different environment’s to you but the same tracksuit! So you might as well put your mind to it.

So now you’re known in this scene, in the music industry…

—I don’t think I’m known yet.

But do you feel like life’s changed yet? Can you move the same way you used to move, or has it not yet got to that point?

I don’t think the money’s ever going to make me have to move a certain way, to be honest. But I can say that, recently, I’ve had more obligations. I can’t just wait for someone; someone should be waiting for me! Other than that, I can’t see hood money or hood fame changing me. When people do that, it’s all marketing. “I can’t go nowhere.” Realistically, unless someone’s really trying to take what you’ve got in your pocket right now, this second, it’s because they know of it, and they must be your friend. Even then, you’ve done that to yourself. It’s all marketing, like I said. People are gonna disagree with me and things are going to happen to me because I’ve lacked etc. etc., but that’s not going to stop me getting up when I’m well again the next time and go to work. So the more things I need every day, the more different I’m moving. That’s the way I see it.

So, clashes: you’ve clashed Novelist in the pastcan you see yourself clashing anyone else in the future? Do you care about clashing? Do you think clashing is important?

I’ve learned over the last few years that I’m too sensitive to clash.


Yeah, man. And with all the stuff that’s gone on in the last few years, I would just flip at you for talking about my ex. I’d flip at you for talking about my girl now! I’d flip at you for talking about girls I’m going to have. I’d flip at you for talking about my mum’s best friend. I’d flip at you for just the sheer fact that you can even say anything. I’m not saying people aren’t going to have wars with me, but when they’re going to have wars with me it’s going to be over something big. I’m not gonna go out my way to make someone make me go to jail today, so I’m not gonna sit here and pretend like I haven’t clashed and people haven’t said things to me—but it hasn’t ended well. Never. Not in anyone’s favour has it ended well, but mine [laughs]. So there’s no point me going out my way to ruin people’s day. If someone sends for me in a tune, depending on how real…

—has anyone sent for you on a tune recently?

I’ve had 10 people send for me on a tune in my whole career. Like, openly using my name.

That’s a lot! In six years, that is a lot of people.

It is, I know. And realistically, I haven’t done 10 dubs. I did Hotline and everyone cried. I went and done three dubs and everyone cried [laughs]. Everyone said: “Nah, I don’t wanna talk to him.”

Then you see those same people at radio and they probably spud you.

Yep! I’ve seen Eyez since he sent for me; he said “cool.” I’ve seen Mez since he sent for me. I’ve seen Nov since. I’ve seen Stormzy since. I’ve seen every single one of them since.

Oh shit! Yeah, Stormzy. I forgot that one.

Who else sent for me? Some people did send for me and they’re done for. Not even because of anything, just for the sheer fact that I’ve already had my foot halfway up your face—why you even talking my name? You’re going to run me over? There’s no point even doing that. I’ve been having my foot halfway down your throat so there’s no point even doing that. Other than that, I’ve seen people. I don’t care. Most of the time they just say, “You’re just big because you’re Wiley’s brother.” Whatever, man. I’m out here!

Do you look at Wiley as competition?

Nah, it’s not competition. It’s not. We’re talking about different things. We’re talking about completely different things. He’s at a different space in life to me. I’m 21, I have no kids, and I’ve had my heartbroken once. Other than that, I can’t really say I’ve got bare number ones, but I’ve got bare obligations, and he’s got a little brother called Cadell to deal with. He’s stronger in all ways because he’s got that pressure of life. I’ve got that pressure to come. He’ll only make music from his big brother point of view, and I’ll only ever make music from a little brother point of view, so we will never collide. If you’ve got a clash with a don and you’ve both got big brothers that are on, then that’s competition. I don’t really see that because the only big brothers I know that are on is Skepta with [younger brother] Jason, and that’s really it. He’s just a don in his own field. I’ve just got lots of support; no competition, just bare support that I don’t even use. But I should use it.

Do you look at anyone in grime as competition?

There’s no one that’s making me go out of my way and say, “I’m competing with you.” No way! There’s no one taking food off my plate. No one’s done that ever; since the first food come in 2012 to now, I haven’t seen any food retracted from my plate. I’ve retracted food from plates, though.

You’re a smart guy, Cadell. Just from speaking to you nowand how many times previouslyit’s evident that you know what you’re doing. What’s the next five, ten years looking like for you?


Family life, yeah?

Just kids.

You might not even be interested in music once kids come along.

That will be when I start doing separation. I’ve never separated from anything. I’m Cadell through and through. When I’ve got a child, I can start separating because you know what I’m like around my niece and nephews? I’m not strict with them. I love them! I love my sisters, I love my brother, I love my family, I love my dad, I love my mum. It’s one of those things. One thing about me is I’m hell on earth! I can cut you off and you won’t see me for a month and a half. So I need someone that’s going to cut me off and show me what it’s like [laughs]. No one else will do that. No one else can! I know my child will be more elusive than me. Much more attitude than me—everything.

Posted on June 08, 2018