Izzie Gibbs is wise beyond his years.
The Northampton star took the whole MC talent as a past time. Now 21, he’s one of the most exciting rappers to come out of Northampton; with his freestyle videos exceeding the 1k mark.
Many of you remember seeing him on the panel of Radio 1Xtra on the debate of ‘Being Black and Mixed Race’ in Britain’. To date, he’s releasig a new EP that features his fellow friends who are also artists under Dice Recordings. His latest track ‘OK’ has reached 200k views. His Mad About Bars on Mixtape Madness – 390k. What about Daily Duppy for GRM Daily? Well, that went to 145k.
These few Youtube viewing statistics show that the young man from Northampton has something to deliver in the UK’s new infatuation with Grime. We’re seeing more artists from the Midlands to the North coming out delivering the same lightening spirit felt with London artists whilst bringing their versatility of other sounds to their own music.
Izzie Gibbs shares his thoughts about being the first generation who has witnessed the golden age of Grime and digital media. He provides more details about his upcoming EP ‘Ying Yang’ and check this – tells us the top five singers in the UK that he’d love to work with.
1. You was raised in Northampton but you were inspired by the Grime movement in London, which is based on street culture and life. Would you say the culture in Northampton is different?
I think it’s the same still. Obviously there’s things that are less in Northampton because it’s not a major city in terms of being inspired by the London culture (because that is the place where grime started). I guess that’s the reason why London specifically has inspired me to a certain extent. There’s nothing different, just the fact that London is bigger. You feel me?
2. Has the vibe in London developed a new generation of talent in Northampton? As more artists across the UK are diving into this latest and newest music genre.
I think it’s just music in general because not everyone does Grime. That’s not the only music that’s in London. However, it must have some sort of inspiration – a vast majority is what I think is the correct the terminology.
I think it depends. You have those towards the ages of 27-30 who are inspired by American rappers such as D-Block and Jadakiss as well as Eminem, D-12… I think it depends in terms of age groups. I feel London has played a big part for our generation because I’ve seen Liverpool, Manchester rappers who don’t tend to alter their accents. I know a rapper called Shogun who’s from Scotland that doesn’t change is accent at all. He has that raw Scottish accent tone to his voice and has used it to make it work for him. If you’re not from London but come to London you have a sense of an advantage. People always say that being not from London is harder to be seen when really, I think it’s an advantage because it means that you can bring something new.
3. You got signed to Dice Recordings in 2014. What has changed from being independent to signed? Has it been an easier road or more pressure?
You know what it is – before I got signed I wasn’t classing myself as independent because I wasn’t taking it seriously. I was just doing it as a hobby; something to past the time. I never made music with the idea of getting signed; I literally was doing it on the basis that I was enjoying it. It was never a thing that I wanted to a make a career out of it.
When I met with DICE, they were telling me that ‘Yo, you can really make a career out of this and actually do something positive and not just being on road.’ So I was just like ‘Why not? Who wouldn’t?’
Being with DICE has helped me still.
4. We see that majority of your video content reach a viewership of over 100k. Do you consider yourself as an established UK artist?
You know what’s mad? The whole views thing.
When I was younger, I remember before I made my first video that I was walking to school with my friend. I told him that I was planning to make my first video and asked him whether I get 10,000 views, because at the time 1k was a lot. Years later, I did my first video and it took me almost years to get 10,000 views and I was like ‘RAH’. When I started getting 100k for a normal one I was shocked. At the time I didn’t class myself as an established artist. I didn’t see it like that. I always saw the massive viewership as ‘Yeah, they’re starting to take me seriously’, meaning that I must be doing something right. Now I do freestyle videos and I get nearly half a million views…
I stay humble. I don’t let that get to my head. The whole thing of being an established artist and these things – I feel like artists allow that (viewership thing) to get to their heads. You can have a million views but that can’t pay rent! So for me the views are just minor, as it’s just showing that people are catching on to my music. To be honest, I’ll be happy if I had 10,000 views consistently if the content was on my own channel. I’d know that it’s 10k people coming to my channel; in comparison to the platforms that have half a million subscribers and then get million views – all of that advert money is going to the company. Whereas I can channel 10k views with my own channel, as I’d know that the traffic can be enough to organise a headline show.
5. You’ve been compared to Dizzie Rascal, one of the pioneers who started the whole genre in the first place:
a) What similarities do you share with the legend?
b) What makes you different from Dizzie Rascal that set you off from other Grime Artists?
What I clocked about Grime yeah…and it’s not just Grime but the scene in general, is that you get these mad comparisons. I don’t think we are similar at all. I don’t think our voices sounds the same, our music sounds the same… I don’t even think the way we spit sounds the same. Obviously, I think it’s some sort of compliment as he’s successful. However we’re not similar. Personally I think I’m better than him! I respect him and what’s he’s done but I don’t think we’re alike.
6. There’s been a debate as to whether artists should consider themselves as just ‘Grime Artist’; seeing that Stormzy, J Hus and Cadet are among the many who dive into other genres. Do you consider yourself as a Grime artist or you’re just a music artist in general?
I wouldn’t be able to say this before I did my ‘Mad About Bars’ that I released the other day. I’ve realised that I’m a person whereby when another person makes a mistake, I’m going to learn from it. I’ve seen a lot of artists whereby they’ve been doing good with something else but because they’ve started with another genre and they try to jump ship, people perceived them as ‘sell-outs’. You have to take time in order for people to feel cool for you to dive into another genre.
With me, I was doing Grime at the time. When I was doing other interviews for different platforms and they ask me whether I’m a Grime artist, I’ll just look at my management in astonishment like ‘RAH I don’t only do Grime.’ They (the management) were like ‘Well, we know that you don’t only do Grime music but none has heard it.’ So I started thinking – ‘What could I do that will allow people to round the idea that I do other stuff?’ When I did the ‘Mad About Bars’ I did half and half. So you hear me spitting bars, which isn’t the stereotypical flow but you can hear the Grime influence like the 140 (and so on) while on the other half I was singing. I released my track ‘Okay’ just two weeks ago and that’s just rap. It’s just because I brought the same energy that I gave to Grime for that song. So I’ll say that I’m just a music artist.
7. One word to describe your win at the Urban Music Awards last year.
Unexpected. I don’t think nobody yeah…if you saw the names that I was up against…
I personally am my biggest critic. I feel that I put in a lot work.
8. Last year you released your EP ‘Jutsu’. This year you’ll be releasing ‘Yin Yang’, featuring Young T & Bugsey, Big Narstie and Tremz. What’s the one thing that you admire about each of these featured artists that made you decide to have them on your new EP?
When I did the tune with Young T and Bugsey, it was when they very first started. They were from Nottingham and I was from Northampton so it wasn’t to far away, plus I respected them for what they were doing. I hollered at them and they came to the studio and literally, it started super-popping off. I’m so proud of them as they’re so super wavy…
I want to do tracks with people that I feel can bring something to a song that I can’t personally wouldn’t be able to do. With them, I feel that they’re super-wavy. The way that they plan tracks is that they come from a different angle, and with my style (because at the time I came from a very aggressive when I did a song with them) and their nice, calm and wavy approach, I felt that we complimented each other. As for Narstie – he’s just a legend. I’m 21 now and I’ve listened to Narstie since I was ten years old when he used to have a big afro. We’ve already done a tune together so I knew what he could do. He’s very sick.
With Tremz, I just like the whole fact that he doesn’t care. He started off doing the Drill. A lot of people that do drill music sound the same to me, so that’s why I don’t bang that kind of music too much. When he (Tremz) did it, it was something different. I think this why he stands out, and he built a buzz quick because he doesn’t sound out everyone else. I like that fact that he’ll hop on a track and do the Scouse accent without the care in the world as to whether he’s rated or not. If he rates it he’ll do it and I wanted to bring Me, Narstie and Tremz on the same track as I felt that it would work well – and it did.
Can’t wait for everyone to hear that song.
9. You feature a lot of Grime artists! Any possibilities of collaborating with a host of UK singers in the future? We’d love to see a more charming side of you.
You know what? There are actually singers in the UK that I’m rating that people know, but not a lot of people know about.
b) Great! Which singers are you feeling right now that you’d recommend to us as the ones to watch out for?
I feel when I do another big project like an album…or even before that like singles I’m going to show people. As I stated to before, when I do a project I look for people that can bring something to the table. So JGrrey and Wolfie are the two singers from the UK that not everyone knows about but they’re still doing their thing. Then there’s Ohema X on Dice Recordings- she’s super cold as well. Another singer that I’ve being listening to who’s super-cold is Dua Lipa. She’s so cold! I’ll definitely want to work with her. Am I’m sure that she’s from the UK…
There’s another girl as well! Is it Jorja Smith? She’s cold! I’ve seen her on BBC’s Live Lounge.
So them five I’ll be interested in working with.
10. Will we be seeing you on the festival circuit this year?
So far, I’m put on for Glastonbury. It’s MAD. I was gassed but I wasn’t too gassed. Me yeah, I’m not ignorant but I never sat down and watch Glastonbury on TV. However before I go there, I’ll do my research. Just like when I work with artists from a different era, I’ll go an do my research about them as means of respect.
I’m on the V Festival kine-up as well. Jay-Z’s headlining. That should be good as he’s super sick.
So yeah. Glastonbury and V Festival.
11. Give us one random fact about yourself that you’d like people to know.
I’ll never ever ever use the public toilet.