WHY I RATE: Skeamer

Selected by: James Keith

Name: Skeamer

Where He’s From: Clapham Junction, South London

Genre: UK Rap

File Next To: Suspect, Rimzee, JB Scofield

When He Started: “I started making music from 2008, but I started taking it seriously in 2016. I wasn’t really taking it seriously before then, so not that long. To be honest, I used to go studio a lot with all my friends and they would just be like, ‘Come on! Rap, man.’ We used to do garage back in the day, then grime, and we were good as a group. When it moved to rap, my friends kept pushing me to go studio to the point I just started loving it and started going studio by myself. I eventually got to a level where I felt this was what I want to do.”

Sounds Like: “Just for the streets, for real people, people that are going through things and aren’t afraid to say that they’re going through this and they’re going through that. Everything I rap about is real. Sometimes that means you hear a lot of pain in my songs, but that’s the reality of this lifestyle. It’s not as glamorous as some people make out.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “The first song that made me want to make music was Styles P’s ‘Alone In The Street’—that was a big track for me. I’m not sure if it was the first, but it was the first tune that I paid attention to. He was just speaking about real stuff, and I connected with that.”

In 2016, Chicago drill rapper Lil Bibby put out the dramatic visuals for “Can’t Trust A Soul”. Centred around a sample from the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack, it landed like a sledgehammer and proved to be a landmark moment for South London rapper Skeamer. Just two months after Bibby’s video hit WorldStarHipHop, Skeamer had emerged with his own spin on the track and with it, the first rumblings of his rap career. “That was when I thought, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna take music seriously,’” he tells TRENCH. “When I got to the video shoot, they’d booked out a residential space and there was, like, fire in the bins and this pyrotechnics stuff and I thought it was wicked for my first video.”

That may have been the trigger that kicked everything off, but Skeamer’s influences are sprawling and, in some cases, surprising. Growing up, his white grandfather and Black grandmother would take turns on alternate Sundays to control the stereo. “On one]Sunday, my grandad would be playing The Beatles, some UB40, some Rod Stewart. The next week it would be Bob Marley and all these other people that my nan would play, like Stevie Wonder. It was always different in my house on Sundays.” The rapper is still relatively young, but he’s already thinking about his own legacy. “My proudest achievements so far are the plaques I’ve got for my videos,” he says. “It’s something I can show my kids and grandkids and they can be proud of them, too. It’s only the start but it lets me know I’m moving in the right direction.” And he’s right about that.

In the five years that followed the “Can’t Trust A Soul” remix, Skeamer’s maintained a tireless work ethic, releasing at least one tune every two or three months. He’s collaborated with UK rap royalty—Scorcher, JB Schofield, Snap Capone, Clue and more—but it’s with his OJB collaborators, Sai So, Skore Beezy and Reepz, that he’s scored some of his biggest wins to date, comfortably notching up six or seven figure streams every time they drop a video. And that’s to say nothing of the near eight million views he racked up for a remix of Gunna’s “Toast Up”, which surpassed both the original and Fetty Wap’s version.

The OJB lynchpin has achieved a lot in the last few years, but the best is yet to come. He wants to keep building that legacy, to make his daughter proud (“I brought my daughter on stage with me, to rap with me, at Clue’s O2 show; that was a great moment for me. I could have shed a tear.”) and leave something monumental behind when he’s gone. “The next big goal in my career is to have plaques all around my house,” he adds, “just be someone from my area to make something good of what’s going on right now. I’m just gonna keep pushing.”

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Posted on April 08, 2021