Scribz Riley

Selected by: James Keith

Name: Scribz Riley

Where He’s From: East London

When He Started: 2013

Genre: Soul/Rap

File Next To: Ragz Originale, Kadiata, Miles From Kinshasa

Sounds Like: “Progressive, authentic, experimental and multi-genre, inspired mainly by rap and R&B.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “When I was around 11, I would see the older boys MCing in the playground: they would battle with one another, which got me really interested in grime. The first song I properly listened to from then would have been ‘I Can C U’ by Crazy Titch.”

As a singer-songwriter, crafting richly textured soul music and kneading our hearts with tales of heartbreak and love lost, Scribz Riley is a relative newcomer — or so it may seem. However, before he’d even released his debut single, “East Side” (released in April this year), Scribz was a two-time Grammy winner and certified hit-maker with songwriting and production credits for A-list talents like Cardi B and J Hus. Now, though, he’s putting himself in the spotlight, with sounds that might seem unexpected from someone whose history is so steeped in rap. However, the truth is his upbringing always had one foot in each camp.

“My mum was very religious so she would always be playing gospel music and African music,” he tells TRENCH. “Kirk Franklin, Fela Kuti, all them vibes.” Meanwhile, at school, grime’s first wave was worming its way through Bluetooth signals in playgrounds across London. A few years later and he was MCing and producing for himself, although he remains tight-lipped on any pre-Scribz aliases. “I made bare beats when I started producing,” he says, “but the first song that got released was ‘Reload’ by Wiley.” His prolific output soon paid off and he scored an early Top 10. While the Chip-assisted dance-pop sound may be a far, far cry from his current output, it’s clear some invaluable lessons were learned. And, more importantly, an instinct for hits had been uncovered too.

With his solo material, Scribz Riley has managed to parse that into something much more personal. Recent single “Mandy”, for example, stands as some of the most incisive songwriting in recent years and its tale of watching a relationship crumble before your eyes is gut-punchingly relatable. Perhaps more impressive was that it started life as a throwaway freestyle. Fortunately, with touring off the table, or at least a fragile prospect, Scribz has all the time in the world to keep breaking our hearts.

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on September 10, 2020