The music industry is happy to have artists release tracks and projects at a speedy pace so they remain at the forefront of our minds. We see so many musicians strike while the iron is hot after a hit.
South London rapper Blade Brown has preferred to take a different approach, taking his time to craft his projects. Intentionally or not, this has worked in his favour. Brown released his first-ever mixtape back in 2004, ‘Nothing Long Volume 1’. Since then he’s produced a career spanning over a decade which has been made up of multiple mixtapes which have lasted the test of time, including his 'Bags and Boxes' series and ‘Financial Times’.
Today he is highly respected in the UK rap scene with not a studio album in sight. The rapper has proven there is no carefully designed method to success. His latest mixtape, ‘Bags and Boxes 4’ peaked at number 12 in the UK’s official album chart, a difficult feat for any UK rapper.
We caught up with Blade Brown to discuss the new mixtape, record deals and his approach to making music.
- - -
- - -
Congratulations on the release of your mixtape. Your last month has been crazy with the release of ‘Bags and Boxes 4’, peaking at number 12 in charts. How’s it been for you?
It’s been good especially to get the reception that I’ve got after a five-year break as well. It’s been crazy.
Chart success doesn’t always happen for rappers, how do you think you’ve managed to achieve this?
I just feel that over the years through the ‘Bags and Boxes’ series and also ‘Financial Times’ that while I spend quite a lot of time making my mixtapes, they stand the test of time.
Through not really making commercial music or trying to make songs for the radio, I just make raw music. I think I’ve built up a cult fanbase. I feel like they always kind of step out and when I want to release something they always come through for me. So this time, I think it’s actually pushed me into the charts.
Your career has been going strong for more than a decade. But you like to take time with your music - this tape came five years after your last. Why is that you like to leave us waiting so long us?
Usually I’ll take a year or so, so it wasn’t purposely a five-year break. Sometimes with life you get distracted, sometimes your life takes over the process of making music and stuff. Also on top of that, me being a perfectionist doesn’t help.
If I’m not happy with something, I’ll scrap it and start it again. I’d be going through a lot of beats, picking a lot of beats, making sure the songs are right, getting rid of songs, adding songs – this is what has longed out the process to be honest.
- - -
- - -
You’ve remained independent throughout your career. Have you turned down deals to stay like this? For you, has it been important to stay this way?
Before this tape dropped and I had probably like about 70-80% of it done, a few people heard a few songs from the tape. I had a few offers put my way and I turned them down, I declined them because it was important for me to put this one out myself. That’s my usual formula.
I feel it is important to know that you can do stuff independently and know what you would need help in, and what you don't need help with because a lot of people just rush into deals. A lot of artists I know, they rush into deals and aren’t happy after a while.
I feel like putting this out independently was important but if the right deal came along… it’s more about what type of deal it is. It’s not always about the money. If the right deal and the right money came along, I wouldn’t refuse it straight away, I would consider it.
You have some of the new generation of artists on your tape, like Fredo and K-Trap. South London is obviously a big hub for talent. Is there anyone that you still want to work with among the new generation?
There’s definitely a few guys. I’d say D-Block Europe and Dig Dat. I’m feeling what they’re coming with. There’s even a few not so well known guys. As long as the music feels good and it makes sense, I’m not the sort of guy who’d be like, ‘We're not from the same age group or generation’ or turn my nose up at them.
A lot of the kids that are coming through now, they’ve got a new sound, so you can’t really dismiss them because they’re the new generation. I like everything they’re coming with so I stay open-minded when it comes to that.
It’s also artists like you that opened a lot of doors for the newer artists…
Yeah, it’s a beautiful thing to see. To see what we used to do, to not really get that much love and attention. No one was getting deals or cheques handed to them. To see all these people coming through and eating now, it’s a beautiful thing.
You’ve have Giggs on the mixtape as well. You both have always had a good relationship. Is there any chance of you making another ‘Hollow Meetz Blade’ like we saw in 2007?
You can’t rule anything out. If it makes sense, it will happen. You’ll just have to wait and find out.
- - -
- - -
Your career is made up of incredible mixtapes. Can we expect an album any time soon?
That’s naturally the next step to go towards. I feel like they’re ready for a Blade Brown album now. The album will have different kinds of songs. I’ll maybe speak on different parts of my life that I’ve never spoken about. The album would have a different kind of feeling.
You’ve been very active in supporting the streetwear scene with BXB London and your recent collab with Trapstar. How much is clothing a passion of yours and what more do you have in store?
From when we were kids, whatever the latest trainers were, it was always very high on the agenda. And as we got older we started to get into designer clothing. It’s a part of our culture. It’s always been something that has been very important.
I’ve been working closely with Trapstar for over a decade. From ‘Financial Times’, I was wearing Trapstar on the front of the tape, we’ve always been working closely together. We spoke about a collab a few years ago, now it feels like the right time to do it.
It’s just to give the people something as well, it’s to celebrate the release of ‘Bags and Boxes 4’. The reception was crazy. We released it in Selfridges and it was all sold out in one day. It’s one of most successful collabs they’ve ever had. Everything happens in time and for a reason.
What’s coming up for you?
Expect a few videos from the tape, we’re definitely going to do that because people are asking for those. I’ve got a few collaborations lined up. I’ve got the tour starting on September 19th in London. Before the album comes out, we might even have another surprise project.
There’s a lot of stuff coming, I’m not going to go missing for another five years, unfortunately for the other artists!
- - -
- - -
'Bags And Boxes 4' is out now.
Words: Nikita Rathod