Selected by: Blessing Borode
Photography: Alpha Bravo Studios

Name: Strandz

Where He’s From: South London

When He Started: 2017

File Next To: Mowgs, Rimzee, Clavish

Sounds Like: “A modern and experimental take on the old-school hip-hop we know and love.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “‘Tears Dry On Their Own’ by Amy Winehouse. My parents used to play this every Saturday morning and it always made me start my day with good vibes. This essentially inspired me to start finding ways to impact people’s emotions through art—which, in turn, led me to start making music.”

Strandz is a rapper with a vision. The South London native finds innovative ways to present his bars by pulling from influences of the past to create something entirely new and unique to his expression. Penning stories of everything that encompasses his experience, from street life to his romantic relationships, he doesn’t plan to recreate what’s current or popular in UK music; instead, he wants to “push hip-hop to progress even further and create something that future generations can call classic music.”

The political cries and polyrhythmic grooves of Fela Kuti trained Strandz to rely on his creative intuition and make music on his own terms, free from genre barriers and outside opinions. Although the influence isn’t entirely visible in his music, he admits that it was indeed the most impactful. “Fela broke the rules,” Strandz tells TRENCH. “He took influence from genres like jazz and injected his own soul and culture into the music.”

At a young age, Strandz travelled between different styles of music, having been exposed to the likes of Amy Winehouse, Bob Marley, Feist, 50 Cent and beyond. These artists are the root of his adept musicality, which translates into the timeless feel of his music, seen in tracks like “Don’t Let Them See You Cry” or the aptly-titled “4eva Timeless”. Working with a range of producers like Blueboy and Lex1k, over time, Strandz has stretched his sound to incorporate bold touches of live instrumentation that carve new layers of melody and rhythm. For example, on last year’s “4 The Money”, a rolling bassline cuts through the crisp percussion, channelling elements from Pharrell WIlliams and, more accurately, 50 Cent.

Strandz has come a long way from recording covers on his mum’s laptop; using the free trial of a recording software and a sub par microphone, the first he recalls was a remix of Chief Keef’s “Don’t Like”. While he continues elevating into mainstream consciousness, he’s completely tuned into his own frequency that allows his love for the craft to shine through everything he creates. “I deeply understand the music I make,” he says. “I see creating music like cooking with instinct over using a recipe. It always excites me to see what I can come up with next.”

Strandz ended last year with the romantic “Us Against The World”, which he co-produced with Blueboy. The track has garnered the most attention so far, which adds fuel to his fire as listeners pour in with positive feedback. “When people reach out to me and tell me how my music has had an impact on their life, that feeling is why I will never stop.”

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on February 10, 2023