Closer To Me: Uncovering The Real Wretch 32
Five albums on and Wretch 32 is still a living UK rap legend.
Making his way into the mainstream with the album ‘Black and White’ (that spawned three Top 10 hits), his previous presence in the underground scene confirmed that Wretch would be another pioneer to bring UK rap to the spotlight.
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Today, this is still confirmed with numerous artists citing Wretch as a huge inspiration to them. His fifth studio album ‘Upon Reflection’ - which was a surprise release just a few days ago - reiterates his talent and gives listeners a new dose of the intensity as well as feel good songs that we’ve grown to love.
Clash managed to catch up with Wretch just before the album dropped to learn more about the process behind this unexpected project. “I always try to have a powerful narrative and a powerful statement. In terms of depth, there are songs on this album that delve into relationships and more topics especially the record ‘Last Night’.”
“More than anything, I just want people to understand where I am as a person at this time. Which makes me understand what I need to say and what needs to be said. Once I got gripped with myself, I understood the narrative and I just managed to let the music lead.”
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To be able to convey feeling and make the listener relate, is something Wretch does all too well. He intends for his deeper music to comfort them and make them aware that issues they may be going through, they’re not going through it alone. “I want people to use this music as they need to. Whether it’s for the gym, or if you’re going through something similar at the time, or if there’s things you’ve been through in the past.”
In an industry where consistency is key and content is constantly asked for, this could add pressure for someone who is seen as a pillar of bringing the underground to the light. However, Wretch only feels this from himself rather than the observing and impatient public.
“I feel more responsibility against myself rather than pressure from people or from the streets. Because of what I’ve done, it’s me that puts the most pressure on myself because I’m the one who understands what I’m capable of. So if I’m not living up to my own expectations, then me and myself have got a big issue. I think that it’s important that everyone in their own lane still sticks with the quality of their music and I know that in my sector, I definitely take care of that well.”
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With a list of powerful features on this album - including Giggs, Ghetts, Burna Boy and more, he refrains from conforming to collaborate with others just because they’re popular and always ensures he works with people he can converse with about other topics rather than just music.
The closing track on the album entitled ‘The Baton’ also confirms this. It’s a way of Wretch 32 putting his trust in these young artists, Knucks and Avelino to carry on the UK rap legacy that he created. “I like to introduce people to people. We’re all running a long relay and the people I’m running towards are who I’m going to hand the baton to be able to run a better lap than I do.”
With this album just released, there is also a book in the works in case fans want to delve in deeper into the mind of Jermaine Scott. “I think as of late, people have been telling me they’d love to know how my mind works and that’s not a simple conversation to have over a tweet, email, phone call or text. I thought the best way would be to put everything in a book and give it to everyone and as I’ve always wanted to write a book so this kills two birds with one stone.”
With that being said, even with a guide, it’ll be quite difficult to truly evaluate the mind of Wretch 32 and the talent within it, but until then the music he creates will be the closest thing.
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'Upon Reflection' is out now.
Words: Debbie Ijaduola // @debbiesthuglife
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