TE dness has made serious waves in the grime and rap scene this year, with his laid back and spur of the moment approach to music. He refuses to limit himself to one genre and ventures out into the alternative.
The rapper's versatility and vulnerable approach to his lyrics are carried through a mixture of killer beats and base. Guestlist catches up with TE dness to talk fatherhood, Brexit and UK Grime.
So let’s begin, if you could describe yourself in three words what would those words be and why?
I'd say persistent, just cos of the length of time I’ve been working on my craft, I’d say energetic, cos I’m always up and bouncing around with my thoughts, to be honest, and passionate.
So you grew up in West London, what was that like?
Well I grew up in just like the outskirts of West London, so it was like mixed, like the culture was mixed, it was rough, there was a lot of obviously bad influences growing up, but there was a strong musical influence as well, because a lot of people around me were doing grime and stuff, so it was easier for me to nurture my talent.
You started performing at the age of thirteen, what inspired you to start pursuing a musical career at such a young age?
I dunno it was just my love for music, it was my best form of expression, so it was just a good way for me to express myself really, and I kinda just honed into it and that’s how it goes and I never let it go, to be honest.
You come from a strong Jamaican background, has your heritage influenced your music in any way?
Yeah definitely like a do a lot of bashment songs erm I do a lot of Jamaican twangs on raps and stuff, you know what I mean, like speech here and there.
What rap inspired you when you were growing up?
What rap? I used to listen to a lot of Jadakiss, Styles P, a bit of Mase, I used to listen to Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne. I used to listen to a bit of Mike GLC, listen to him back in the day. So just the people that were kind of on channel U, that was just the most UK rap that we used to get.
How do you think grime and rap have influenced Britain’s music scene today?
Yeah, I think like heavily obviously like we are popular music now, there’s no such thing as pop, it’s kinda just popular music, which obviously grime and rap is the most popular music now, might not be the most, but I think it’s the underdog with the most, you know I mean like most uprising grime culture. So yeah I think heavily influenced but it’s good though.
Where does your inspiration for your music come from?
Just everyday life, some of the things I’ve been going through and sometimes certain concepts come from just other people’s lives, maybe a story that I’ve heard or something but mostly just influenced by life. I know everyone says that but it literally is something might happen around me and I just take illustration from that, so literally, it’s just my life, to be honest.
So the album Trap Nominated is a banger and it went down well with loads of listeners. Were you expecting this kind of success or was it just out of the blue?
No I wasn’t, it wasn’t something that I had planned for a long time so I wasn’t really knowing what to expect, I kinda just started working on it in my room, at my old apartment back then. I kinda came up with the mixtape, most of it within a week. So I didn’t really expect much from it do you know what I mean?
It was just a relief, a lot was happening at that time it was like a concept to take, at that time it was just easy to get a concept of tunes that were on the same wave, do you know what I mean, and just put them together, so that’s what I was talking about something influencing me. But I didn’t expect it to do what it did to be honest, which is probably bad to say. Not to say that I had low expectations for it but I didn’t plan too much.
How has life changed for you now?
Well, I’m not as well known as I’d like to be so I guess it’s good I’m earning a bit of money off my music. I’m obviously connecting with influential people and influencing people at the same time, obviously just showing what I have to offer to the world. So err I guess as I get more known I ’ll have more influence and obviously learn more from more people. But life’s good man it’s not a stress you know what I mean.
And one of your songs obviously discusses EU politics, do you think that kind of uncertainty in your music reflects Britain’s current political issues?
Yeah, I think it does, I think Britain’s is in a very unique place when it comes to politics and just the whole EU situation as well. I think they kind of underestimated what they were getting into. And I think it just proves, that it doesn’t matter what position you’re in, and how important your position is or your job people make mistakes, people rush into things. I don’t think that that whole thing was very well thought out and I think that was kinda displayed to the public. Like usually mistakes happen behind a closed door and they try to fix it. That was just a public array of adults just abusing their power
Now we’re just in a position where we still have to outsource so much work and products and talent and health and staff from Europe, and they just have the upper hand, because they have the leverage now. Like as well as before, we were part of the European Union and we had some kind of leverage now it’s just on our own and everything we need from them they can leverage that against us, cos we’re not tied into them anymore. But I just feel yeah, it was just a public mess!
So did you vote in or out for Brexit?
Did I vote for Brexit? Nah, I voted to stay. I guess I just wanted to do my part, to do what I could. Whenever I see voting systems, go and see things that are like ahh if there are more people voting it’s gonna make a difference. A lot of things are planned, you know what I mean. I just liked to feel like that was me playing my part you know.
Going on to another topic, do you feel the rap scene in the UK is becoming more or as successful as the American rap scene?
Never, not for now, it’s not as successful. Just cos the culture innit, rap is American culture. Over here there’s a certain amount of people that are involved in the hip-hop cultural urban music culture. But in America that is the culture, hip-hop runs America, like a lot of politics run on hip-hop and just a lot of companies, a lot endorsement, bills that happened in America, like a lot of it is just hip-hop based and a lot of these big company owners started off as hip-hop artists. So yeah I think we’re not as big as them not yet.
Do you think we’ll ever be as big?
Nah cos they’re never gonna slow down, we’ll get as big as they get to but we will never get as big as them onto level playing field because they’re never gonna stop. They are always going to develop quicker than us because they’ve got ruddy twenty times the amount of bloody space we have in order to express themselves and obviously promote that culture. It’s where it was just developed the most, and where it’s most widely spread like hip-hop culture.
What do you think you bring that’s special to grime and rap?
I bring the alternative like I feel it’s very introspective when I rap, and I tell people about things that I am feeling. I might be aligned with a lot of other artists and be seen as similar, but I know I’ve always got like a flip side to what I say, and I just show people like a different angle on a lot of the same subjects. But even though I touch on a lot of things that a lot of people wouldn't, I know I can be vulnerable in my music, maybe sometimes too vulnerable, but it’s part of my character now.
And you’ve recently become a father, to a thirteen-month-old baby girl, am I right?
Yeah, she’s one and a bit.
How have things changed since becoming a dad?
I won’t lie to you it didn’t automatically help me focus on music. It helped me focus on my life overall just knowing I had to focus on my long-term goals and solidify myself into certain situations so that she’s good. But it didn’t help with the music automatically, it kinda just got me focused with everything, health eating better like help cut down on meat and things like milk, you nah random things like that you wouldn’t even think of that would happen. So yeah it helped me with that.
How are you handling fatherhood, do you think you’ve settled right in?
It’s a breeze, it’s natural. It’s a lot easier than a lot of people think. A lot of people say it’s about parenthood in general, it’s just about being with the right person and finances and you’re never going to be financially ok. Like if you’re rich growing up you’re rich. But waiting to be financially ok, there’s no such thing because there’s never a number that’s ok when it comes to financing. Because a lot of people think “Oh I need a quarter of a million in the bank before I have a baby or a hundred grand or I need a house before I have a baby.” That’s ok but you don’t know when these things are gonna come.
So when you have the right person in your life, it’s just there, you have a kid. Obviously, have your life planned and don’t rush anything. But there’s a lot of things people wait for, and a lot of things that have got a lot of people apprehensive, but kids man I feel like I was very fearful but I had nothing to be scared of, like now that I am a father and my daughter’s in my life I just realize there was nothing to be scared of, and I think we project our fears a lot more than we need to when it comes to parenthood.
If you could play anywhere in the world where would this be and why?
Río De Janeiro because the people are amazing, it’s just somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, I’ve always seen like the festivals look amazing, the colours, the food looks amazing.That’s just actually somewhere like a sick place I reckon.
What's been the worst job you’ve ever had?
I haven’t really ever had a shit job. (Laughs) I haven’t always been blessed with the ability or opportunity to make money, but I haven’t had a shit job I’d say.
And what’s the worst thing you have a reputation for?
Reputation for? Falling asleep. My body takes rest when it can, so if I’m awake I’m tired basically that’s my concept, if I’m awake I’m tired. So like if I stop, for example, this is a good example, if I stop at the barber shop and I get a haircut, I’m definitely falling asleep
So what ideas, you think changed your life?
Coming back to the country after a holiday abroad, and reconnecting with my pal six. That was an idea that changed my life. So, obviously, that started our whole movement, you know what I mean.
So tell me something that no one really knows about you?
Something no one knows about me. I dunno, I’d say I’m an open book!
Where do you see yourself next year and what’s next for you?
Next for me, is to conquer the UK and just branch out more in terms of live shows. So I just wanna get performing more around the country. I say conquer, I mean I just want to go out more and perform more and just be more consistent with my music man.
I’m in a good space where I just have some consistency and just release good music consistently I’ll be able to take it to the next level. I feel like a lot of people know who I am, they’re aware of me, they know I make good music, but I feel I just need to be more consistent with that and that’s it really.
You can find the rapper on Twitter // Instagram