On the back of his first ever London headline show at the O2 Academy in Islington last week we went backstage with Blade Brown to talk about the Battersea rapper's music, inspiration, football upbringing, and his love of Manchester United.

As Blade Brown prepares to take his career into a new decade he looks back at his journey to date, taking us way back to win all that mattered was the names on a team sheet rather than his lyrics on his notepad. With mixtapes dating back to 2004, Blade Brown is a prominent figure in the UK rap scene, and his latest mixtape ‘Bags and Boxes 4’ makes waves we caught up with him on a landmark night in the capital, just a few miles from where he grew up.


Can you tell us about you as a football fan? How big is the game for you?

As a kid I didn’t really care about music that much, football was my main passion. I played before school, in breaks, after school. I went to the park on my own to play with anyone who was there. I could probably name every premiership player at the time. At that age football was everything, I was obsessed.

You're a Man United fan. Where did that start and what was it about the club that sucked you in?

I used to love football anyway so while watching TV at age 5 or 6 and watching Man Utd play, I really liked the way they were playing so started supporting them.

Which players were your idols when you were growing up?

Cantona, Giggs, Paul Ince, Kanchelskis.

Are there any players you have a lot of respect in the game right now?

I've fallen a bit behind with watching football after Ferguson left Man United. It made me lose a bit of my interest and passion but some of my current favourites are Hazard, Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Mbappe.

How does that compare to the United of now... do you still have that connection to the club?

After watching every single game when I started supporting, the leaving of Ferguson was a big changing point, I lost touch with watching and I feel like the team spirit isn’t the same. Sometimes now it feels like players feel like they’re bigger than the club which wasn’t the case back then, and it made me lose my love for watching football.


How about when you find out which players are listening to your tracks?

It's crazy sometimes, because they’re in a different field of work you’d forget they’d keep up with music, especially music like mine. Then again it's not surprising because a lot of players may have come from the same place, just took a different path. When I found out Timothy Fosu-Mensah was listening to my music, it was a shock but now we’ve become good friends.

Where do you stand on the crossover between the two worlds? A lot of people say football players want to be musicians and musicians want to be football players.. is there truth in that for you?

It's definitely true. A lot of people come from the same place a lot of the time and the two options are either music or football, at one point I wanted to be a footballer myself and I was a 30 goal a season striker haha. In recent years, I’ve seen footballers that you could potentially mistake for rappers outside of the pitch e.g. in a club. Nothing wrong with the two cultures merging together because a lot of the time the players themselves come from the same backgrounds as rappers.

How much do you live for that performance element of what comes with being an artist?

Performing is important but I don’t think it’s the most important part of being an artist. I take the craft of writing very serious, wordplay and lyrics are most important to me. Then I would probably put performing.

It’s been a strong decade with award nominations. How do you reflect back on the last few years?

Rap, grime and drill is developing and is being accepted more every year across award and radio platforms. The scene is growing now, whereas before when I started making music, there weren’t that many opportunities or money but now rapstars are able to become popstars so I think it’s a great time.

You’ve released a lot of music in that time, do you feel like you’ve got more fire in the tank thanks to the experiences you’ve had?

It’s evident with my new tape dropping that making music is something I’ve not had a problem doing. I took a 5 year break from my last tape, but I have more life experiences to speak about. The anticipation from fans has been great and proved to me people want more music. That’s why I got back in the studio.


Do you see your music as a way of you expressing yourself?

100%, music is probably one of the best forms of expressing yourself, it’s a reflection of somebody’s character and how they see the world. Sometimes you can’t give away everything in your music, but I like hearing different artists and their experiences and their content about things I may not have experienced and I hope people feel that way towards my music.

Do you try to send out a message through what you put down lyrically?

I definitely put a message in my music and I hope that people realise from my music that there aren’t any rules and you can go and do what you want to do and shouldn’t let anyone limit or hold back what you can achieve. Your success is in your own hands. I have people message me saying they’re doing university courses and are playing my music and it’s motivating them to do better with their grades. It makes me feel proud of what they can achieve.

What is the creative process for you like? Has it changed over time?

Definitely, when I first started out I was writing lyrics down in a notepad and had random verses ready to rap over beats. As time went on, I learned how to write on the spot in the studio to a specific track, after that I learnt how to recite lyrics in my head without having to write down which I saw Jay-Z do in the ‘Fade to Black’ documentary. I thought it was cool so I tried it and it worked.

Do you see comparisons between the life of a player and the life of a musician? You have to be dedicated to the lifestyle don’t you?

Yes and no. A footballer’s life is probably more routine, disciplined and strict, whereas in music you can be in the studio at all times of the night, no specific diet, no sleep pattern but the things we find attractive may be the same in terms of cars, jewellery etc so that may be the only similarity.

What does the next year look for you?

It's looking like one of the most successful years in my music career so far, I spent a few years in and out but now I’ve decided to dedicate my life to music so I’m starting to see changes, and I want to achieve what any rapper would, e.g. top 10 albums, sold out headline shows and my music reaching new audiences and as many people as possible.


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