Otherwise known to his mother as Maxwell, Lethal Bizzle is one of the biggest Grime artists to come out of London since the scene began. As well as having an amazing music career, Lethal Bizzle has made cameos in films, worked with some of the best rappers and is soon going to be supporting the one and only 50 Cent on tour. We spoke to him about all things music and er… Judy Dench!?
What have you been up to?
I’ve just been releasing loads of music. I released a single in April with Mr Eazi, Mavado and Zie Zie called 'Flex' which is a remix. Before that, I released an EP with Skepta called I win. So I’ve just been putting out music basically.
Tell us about your single 'Don’t Believe You'?
It’s a message for this new generation and it’s trying to portray things that are not actually real. And I just think it’s quite wrong I feel. The way that people are manipulating their social media. They are giving off the wrong signals to people watching and people feel like “Okay, they’ve got this much money, ah he’s got this car, he’s got that.” And I just wanted to put the message across that you know Instagram is just a part of your life. Don’t over-do it to make it look like it’s all rosy.
In the video, you are stamping on the faces of politicians. Is it political as well?
Yeah, I threw that in there as well because I felt like it was quite relevant to the song title. The Tories are lying all the time and it has been quite an eventful few years for this country and the events that have happened, like Brexit, and I just don’t believe them anymore. I never believe a politician anyway, they just keep lying. Most recently was Grenfell, they are coming out and not telling people the truth, so I thought it would be a good little prop just to have them in there.
Do you think that Grime, and music in general, play an important part in today’s politics? Particularly thinking about Jeremy Corbyn’s’ involvement with the Grime scene.
There’s a real identity for the youth when it comes to Grime music and influence, and a lot of these kids’ heroes who are in music are either from this scene or the scene just evolves from us. The kids and the youth are the future of our country and Jeremy Corbyn knew that which is why he tried to tap into that to try and speak to the youth. Because of the culture that they are from and what they’re into, as much as he tried, it’s always going to be hard for a politician to speak to the youth in areas like where I’m from because they’re not from these areas, but I think it’s quite smart for him to do that. How genuine it is, I don’t know, but it’s a good sign for him to acknowledge that people from his day and age listen to a totally different genre of music, now it’s a new age, everything evolves, and I think it’s good that he’s acknowledged that.
How did you get involved in working with Lady Leshuur?
I’ve known her for quite a while now and I’ve been a fan of her music for so long. This opportunity came up and I was like, you know what, I feel like I need a female MC on the track. I told her the idea behind it and she was up for it. She literally recorded her verse and emailed it over. I recorded the song back in March or April and I had my other single out at the time, so I was waiting for the right time to drop it, it was all organic.
The video was like a bit of a throwback to the Risky Roadz DVDs – one of the early Grime DVDs that I used to showcase before there was social media, so I wanted to do a little nostalgic throwback to that which is why it kind of looks old skool. It’s a one-take video, there’s not many chops and it just looks very raw. It’s shot outside of a car and I’m just saying my lyrics, and that’s kind of like the foundation of how we used to promote our music back in the day. No one’s really doing that anymore, this takes it back a bit.
What was she like to work with?
Yeah, she’s sick! Regardless if she’s a female or not, she’s one of the best MCs in the country. She’s really, really good. Her style’s so unique and it’s refreshing to see that she’s not from London as well because a lot of the artists breaking out, especially from the streets, are from London so it’s good for her to rep her city up in Birmingham. She’s really nailed it and I think it’s even harder to break through as a female artist. She’s just really, really good, man! She’s going to keep going places like she already is.
Does this new single mean we can hear a new album from you sometime soon?
Yeah, the goal is to get to the album but I’m looking to drop an EP sometime in September. It’s like a bit of a taster of what the album is going to be like, and then hopefully towards early next year I’m going to try and drop an album. That’s the long-term goal, to build momentum to try and get that album out.
You and Judy Dench came together last year through your coining of the phrase ‘Dench’, will she be on any future albums?
You know what, that’s actually a good idea! I think she definitely would be up for doing something because she’s really cool and when we met up and did that little rap together she was so up for it, and I think I could probably get her involved in some capacity, in what capacity, I don’t know yet, but I might have to pick my brain a bit.
In the past, your single ‘Pow’ got banned from having airtime in relation to you talking about guns. What do you think about music like Drill music and do you think that music does have an influence on the way that people use violence, or do you think that it’s just the media looking for a scapegoat?
Well, firstly, I didn’t get banned because it talks about guns, that’s just what the media portrayed it was about. It got banned because it used to cause a crazy reaction. It used to cause mosh pits and back in those days mosh pits in an urban environment was quite a new thing. Because of the mad reaction, club owners didn’t understand it and they didn’t really want that kind of environment in their venues, so they put banned signs up because they didn’t get it. It looked a bit aggressive and intimidating towards them, so they just didn’t want this type of stuff happening. This just spiralled towards it being banned and then people started saying that it was to do with the lyrics.
I feel like music is very influential in all causes, but I think with the Drill thing, their situation is a little different because they’re talking about events that they are actually going through and I feel like regardless if the music’s there or not, these events are going to happen and they’re going to continue to happen. It’s almost like the music is a release for them to explain their story. From my example, if you listen to ‘Pow Pow’, it’s very aggressive, talking a lot of violent stuff because I was in the streets at the time, frustrated, and I just felt angry, like a lot of other people in there. Everyone just wanted to release their pain through their music and what’s happened now is that music took me away from that environment, and that’s exactly what would happen with Drill if they gave them time. Obviously, they have to take responsibility for their actions because the stabbings need to stop, but, it’s a deeper solution. I think taking the music away from them is just going to make it even worse.
So, what do you think can be done to help people?
I think it starts from home, it starts from parenting. I definitely think the government need to get involved, they need to give these kids something to do. I think a lot of what’s going on is partly because they haven’t got much to do, and they’ve found music as an outlet, whereas before there were community centres, the government was investing in activities for kids to come away from any kind of option that could get them in trouble.
What advice would you give to young artists starting out?
In this day and age, I think social media is a good start for really getting your music out there and seeing how it connects because it has a big part to play in the music industry all over the world now and it’s good to speak to your audience. You can see what’s connecting and what’s not connecting, whereas before you left it to your record label, and if you didn’t have one it’d be hard to be heard or be seen. Now it’s a totally different ball game, a lot of the power is in the artists’ hands, so I’d just say if you’re making music just put it out there, man. Let the people decide because they’re the people who are buying the music, they’re the people who are going to get you where you want to go.
You have also appeared on Anuvahood and Bad Education, have you ever thought about going into acting as a career?
You know what, I’ve actually got the appetite for acting again. I did a Sky show recently, a car show called Carnage with Freddie Flintoff and Vick Hope, it was kind of like a real movie set up with the show, it was long days and I think what put me off the acting was the long hours. Like that scene in Annuvahood, I must have been in it for a minute, that after scene took the whole day, and I was like, mate, this type of thing is not for me. But, after the TV show I did, it was quite intense, but I really enjoyed it and when you see the outcome of it, your like “Y’know what, this is actually really cool.” So, yeah, I’m definitely up for doing more TV acting, TV presenting, but again, I think it just needs to be the right thing for me.
What was it like being on Mastermind?
To be honest with you, that was terrible because I wasn’t prepared at all! I kind of wanted to pull out of it because I was just so unprepared [but] I had to just take one for the team. The subject I chose, (Wu Tang Clan) I am passionate about, but for some reason, it didn’t go as well as I wanted it to. The experience was great though! I just wish I had prepared myself more.
It has recently been announced that you will be touring with G-Unit and 50 Cent. How did you get involved with working with these guys?
Me and 50 have a mutual friend and he was like, “Yo, 50’s coming back to Europe and he wants to do a tour and he wants you on it”. At first, I thought he was joking because he was naming some other big USA rappers and he was like, “nah, nah, nah we need a UK guy, let’s get Lethal Bizzle on it”. And I was proper 1000% down, so it was just one phone call and the next minute I was announced on the tour. 50’s a big, big influence and I’m a big fan of him so I can’t wait for that, man.
Are you excited?
100%. And it’s the original Die Tryin’ tour which was a big influence on my career, so I’m chuffed that I’m going to see him perform. I’m going to be in the crowd watching the show as well. Performing is one of the favourite parts of my job so, I’m really going to go hard and put on a good show.
If you could play a gig anywhere in the world, where would it be?
It would probably be somewhere hot, firstly. I’d probably want to do it somewhere like Barbados because I love Barbados and it would just be like an outdoor festival vibe.
What is the worst job you have ever done?
I used to work in a factory and put graphic folders together. I was just banging nails in each of the corners and it was the most boring job.
What is your best moment in life?
I’ve had so many sick moments. Building my mum a house, actually. When I started making my own money that was the dream and I finally managed to do it.
What do you have a reputation for?
Banter. I love a bit of banter. I’m always the joker. If you come around me, be prepared for a bit of banter because I’m always up for a laugh. I’m not too rude, but some people can’t take it. If you are around Bizzle, just make sure you are sharp with your tongue.
Where do you get your news from?
Social media. That’s where I find out everything. I don’t even watch TV, I don’t know why I have it. I find out everything on Twitter or Instagram.
Lethal Bizzle will be touring the UK and Ireland with 50 Cent and G Unit this September and you can keep up to date with everything else he is up to on his Twitter and Instagram.