WHY I RATE: ayrtn

Selected by: Ezra Olaoya

Name: ayrtn

Where He’s From: South London

When He Started: “I started producing on garage band around Christmas 2015, and started rapping on my beats in late 2016.”

Genre: Alternative Rap

File Next To: Finn Foxell, Knucks, SL, Bawo, Denzino

Sounds Like: “I don’t know how I’d describe my sound. I’m a product of my environment, so my sound is probably just an extension of that.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “When I was 15, I was listening to MF DOOM, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Roy Ayers, Tupac, Biggie, Nas, and then I got into the likes of Drake, A$AP Rocky and Skepta, who all and still inspire me today.”

Home to big names ranging from Stormzy to Loyle Carner, South London is no stranger to producing prolific rappers. With a style that refuses to be confined to a box, 22-year-old ayrtn is next in line. The young talent’s maverick approach to creating music has helped him to carve a lane for himself in what some may consider a saturated pool. Despite the ease with which he flows on beats (the majority of which he produces himself), he didn’t initially set out to be a rapper. “Nobody used the beats I was making,” he tells TRENCH, “so I just hopped on them myself.”

In a time when the TL is lamenting over a UK rap scene that seems to be creatively bankrupt, ayrtn is proof that the innovation that lies at the heart of the genre is still alive. His diverse musical palette is evident in the songs he makes, unafraid to venture into new sonic territories at a whim. A prime example of this can be found on the track “Alone”, which has elements of house music sprinkled throughout. The term “alt” or “alternative” has become increasingly popular to describe music that doesn’t fit into the mainstream box, but there is some dispute over what exactly this term means due to its broad nature. “I’m not opposed to that categorisation,” ayrtn says when asked to describe his sound, which he notes is “a bit of everything.” This combination of diverse styles is unsurprising when he describes his studying of the craft. “Before I went forward, I went back,” he explains, before reeling off a list of the artists he’s studied, from MF DOOM to Erykah Badu.

After taking a year’s hiatus from releasing music, ayrtn seems incredibly self-assured and excited about the music he’s set to release. “I just want to make great music and express myself as much as I can,” he says. “Anyone who truly understands themselves can fully express themselves.” Watching him perform recently at SZN Settings—a student-organised event highlighting UK underground talent—ayrtn’s presence on stage captivated the entire building, with everyone on the way out saying: “That guy was sick!” There’s a new wave of innovative rappers in the UK waiting on their time to shine and with such a level of understanding of self, don’t be surprised if you see ayrtn’s name everywhere in the next 6-12 months.

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Posted on April 12, 2022