If you know Rude Kid, then you know. If you don’t think you know Rude Kid, you probably know him too. Ever heard a track start with ‘Are you ready?’ That’s Rude’s signature and it appears on tracks from most grime MCs you can think of, not least his most regular studio partner, Ghetts. Having started working together almost a decade ago, it’s an artist/producer/DJ relationship that most musicians covet. With the legendary 653 EP under their hats, the duo is back for another round with Banger After Banger, exclusively premiered (and pulled up) on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra by Mista Jam, which just got released on Friday with the video. Trust me when I say it’s full East London x East 17 vibes – take a look for yourself below.
From making beats at home in Essex, to playing Glastonbury and hosting a weekly show on Kiss FM, Rude Kid has risen with the genre. He’s worked with pretty much everyone in grime, but he’s breaking through again, this time on the global stage. With grime continuing its upward trajectory and Rude Kid’s management also representing the likes of Chase & Status, it seems he is set to be the next big British export. We had a chat over some proper Texan brisket at SXSW, the day after his first ever US set, to talk about the rise of grime overseas, why bigging yourself up is so crucial, and why 2016 was his happiest year to date.
UHH: I hear this is your first time at SXSW and in the US, how has it been so far?
Rude Kid: Yeah, we were meant to come a time before to LA, I will not say what happened…! But even getting in the country I was gassed, I Snapchatted like, ‘Man’s in! Donald Trump, you let me in!’
How was last night at Musicalize Presents Kano & Friends – your very first US gig?
We got in from the airport, straight dropped the bags, changed the clothes, and went straight there. It was good because we were seeing American people with ‘American Grime’ shirts and stuff, that’s sick. They’re like ‘Rude Kid…’, and I was like, ‘how do you know?’ The show itself was intimate, which is good, and the people were watching and taking in the sound, which was great to see. It was sick man, I loved it.
You just mentioned the guys with ‘American Grime’ t-shirts, what’s your impression of how grime is received in the US?
I think people are more open to it now, they’re paying attention to it. Maybe not even because of the likes of Drake, I think that plays a part. People are genuinely interested in new music, I think grime is cool and I think London sets trends – the way we dress, the way we talk.
Skepta has broken through for the genre in the UK and globally. Why else do you think the US might be into grime – maybe it was Kanye at the Brits as well as ‘the Drake effect’?
Nah I’ll tell you what it is – it’s the power of social media. You’re talking to me but you’re in a different country, but you’re still following my career because I’m updating everyone on what I’m doing – I’m on the Twitter, the SoundCloud, the Instagram, the Snapchat - so you can just follow what I’m doing. You can tell your mates, ‘listen to Rude Kid, he’s sick’, and they’ll be like, ‘yeah he’s sick!’ So they start following you, they tell their mates and it becomes a domino effect, and everybody just starts paying attention. It’s the power of social media, it’s very important. I’ve only just started to use it more, but now I’ve started wearing the cool shit and taking the cool pictures…
I read an interview where you said you would most like to collab with Drake. Is that still true?
Yeah, that would be sick man. Drake on a proper grime beat, yeah why not? I’m picturing it now, it would be sick. I’m the type of person if I want something, I’m going to get it. I’m that person
Speaking of Drake, he has an infamous partnership with his producer 40. It seems producers are getting more credit and name-checked more often, not just the Timbaland’s of this world. Is that the power of social media?
It’s the powers again, man. I’m not just Rude Kid the producer anymore, labels want a remix from me because of the name. When they plug that, it’s like, ‘we’ve got a sick grime remix from Rude Kid’. I did a remix with Chase & Status and Annie Mac [BBC Radio 1] made it her “hottest record in the world”, and bear people just wanted shit. I’m a producer but I’m not a background guy. There are a lot of producers who make music but they stay in the background and that’s cool, but I’m going to show the character I am, I want to do the interview, I want to be in the videos, I want the Rude Kid featuring – it’s the brand. I think that’s why more producers are following those steps, and why more producers are becoming DJs and they’re getting those opportunities. Like me, I don’t just make music – I’m a DJ, I’m a radio presenter, I do other things. I think producers see that and think, ‘I can do that as well’. I feel like producers are getting love but not that much love yet…That’s a good question, I like that question. I like it because I think about shit like that all the time – like ‘am I getting appreciated enough?’ Because sometimes I feel like I’m not.
It’s so easy for producers not to be appreciated enough and you’re the only one that can change that and make people listen.
Exactly. And producers make the music, so I feel like they’re the most important. Without them, there’s no music. But then, without MCs or artists there’s no song, and without DJs there’s no parties. Everyone does their own part, but without producers there’s no music, and that’s number one.
You see both in grime and hip hop these incredible MCs with lyrics for days but they have awful production, so their stuff sounds awful too.
How do you go about working with people? Do you make beats with someone in mind or do you have an archive you share which the MC chooses from?
Sometimes. I’m a workaholic, so if I’m not doing anything I always think to myself, ‘why are you chilling watching TV? There’s another producer who’s working right now while you’re lying in bed.’ So I think fuck that, I’m getting up.
Rude Kid’s phone starts ringing and it’s actual Ghetts FaceTiming him – the man’s in demand.
You’ve been doing this for a long time. How did you get into production at the beginning?
At school and radio, and listening to the beats and thinking, ‘Shit man. The feelings those beats give me, I want to give that feeling to others’. I was the type of guy that didn’t really listen to MCs’ lyrics, I always used to listen to the beats. Even now I do that, I might not listen to the lyrics of the song but I will listen to the way they’re singing and the beats.
I guess you tried MCing at school like everyone else?
Yeah, everyone did. But it wasn’t for me. I think Logan Sama came to a youth club once, and he was there to pick out some MCs that he thought was good, and I was one of them still.
Really! So you can’t have been that bad if Logan thought you were good?
Nah I was shit!
How does it feel being one of the grime producers and DJs, in a genre that’s only getting bigger?
It’s good man. For the other people who were in it from the beginning it was a struggle. There were times when I didn’t have money but you still stuck at it for the love of it, and now everyone that stuck at it is getting the rewards now. It shows, all the work you put in over the years wasn’t for nothing. Never in a million years I thought I would have a show on Kiss 100. My goal in life was to get played by Logan on that station. Big up Logan because I got too much respect for the guy, but it’s mad that now I’ve got that show. Sometimes I just sit there and think, this is crazy shit, but like I said, I never put a boundary on anything.
How did you feel when you got that call from Kiss FM?
I was in Ibiza DJing. But I knew about it in Feb/March and I wasn’t allowed to tell anybody until June.
You had to keep it a secret for 3 months?!
Yeah man it was hard. There were times when I wanted to scream like, ‘Yo I’m on Kiss, doing grime!’ It was hard for sure.
How’s the show going so far?
It’s good, I’m learning at the same time, it’s only been for 6 months. But my radio voice is sick, I’m not going to lie.
I guess you’ve been DJing for a while though so you’ve had a voice going already?
But that’s the thing, when I DJ I’m not really the type of guy to talk. I might do the hype thing but not continuously. Logan does it really well, that’s his thing, but it’s not my thing. Just let me run the tunes and get on with it.
You have guests on your show, how is it interviewing them when you yourself are an artist and get interviewed by other people?
It’s mad. It’s kind of hard but not really. For example, I know Stormzy so it’s just like me talking to him. I had Big Narstie on last week, I know them so I just talk to them as normal. It’s cool, I love it.
Do you get them to come on the show yourself?
Yes I do. I pick what I want to play, I say what I want to say, I get the guests I want to get on. Kiss are really good like that. My show gets amazing listeners, I can’t say how many but it’s good and I want it to grow, of course it’s going to grow.
How long do you want to be at Kiss for?
For long. I’ve only been on for 6 months and we’ve got a lot of things to do.
What do you think the role of mainstream radio has been and will continue to be for grime in the UK?
I pay more attention now. The only think I don’t like are the clean edits. In my new single, Ghetts says a lot of things that are punchlines but we can’t have it in there. He says a lyric like, “punani so wet, man got a baptized willy”. You’ve got to take out the word ‘punani’, you’ve got to take out the word ‘willy’ so what are you actually hearing? But that’s a sick punchline to make people laugh. That’s the only problem but I get it, because I do radio.
Do you feel like you saw a whole new appreciation for radio once you got on the other side?
Yeah, so now what you do for a single is you have a clean and you have a super clean. The super clean is without the cussing and the mention of drugs, and clean is just with the swear words out. But radio plays a big part because they’re supporting the music now. It might not be the daytime radio play like breakfast shows, but it is what it is.
Kiss play people like Stormzy in the daytime shows, right?
Yeah of course. Stormzy is grime but you might as well call him a pop star, he’s like a superstar.
That album is ri-diculous. It’s so emotional!
That album is sick. Even the slow down tracks, you can relate to things he says. Even the tune he did with his mum – 100 Bags – I’m thinking everybody wants to do that. Everybody wants to achieve and make sure their mum is good. That’s some motivational shit man. He’s the first guy in grime to go number one with an album. Congrats to Stormzy, he’s a lovely guy as well. I think that’s why everyone wants to support him. Someone like him could be a diva if he wanted to, but he’s so down to earth, and I love that.
You’re probably most well-known for working with Ghetts. ‘One Take’ is one of those tunes that makes everyone in the club go mad when it comes on.
I don’t even mix that tune anymore, I just press play.
Did you know when it came out that it was going to be one of those tunes?
Nah we didn’t know. When we did that whole EP , me and Ghetts were on a low point of our careers, both of us. So that EP is a blessing.
Tell us the story behind ‘653’?
In 6 days we did 5 tunes and 3 videos.
That’s madness. Why did you aim to do that?
It was spontaneous.
So the name came afterwards?
We were going to call it something else but someone at the meeting named Simon, part of the Relentless team, said ‘what about 653?’ We were like, ‘fuck that’s cold!’ For me and Ghetts both, it was a turning point. It was spontaneous, we went to the Relentless studio, he said yes let’s do an EP, and I said let’s do it man. But I don’t think we knew it would do what it did.
In my notes I called it “bullet-proof” because every song is fire, every song.
In my videos we’ve got ‘764’ subliminally in there, that’s going to be our next one, one up from ‘653’. Even my new single, Banger After Banger, Ghetts was maybe thinking too much, ‘are people going to like it?’ But the sickest thing Ghetts said was, “the tunes I think like this, always do well”. And the tune’s getting love man.
Why do you think you both work so well together?
I don’t know…I get along with him. I see people say, ‘the best duo in grime’ and shit. But to us, we’re just doing what we do. If you see us perform, check out the Eskimo Dance footage [below]. People talk about the chemistry but it’s natural. He’ll praise me and if I drop a tune, he’ll be like ‘yeah sick’ and same for him. I think he understands my music and I understand him.
Grime is a wide-ranging genre. Ghetts’s style is towards the gritty, harder end of the spectrum, around where I would place your sound also.
For me, I’ve had different styles of grime. That’s why the ‘are you ready?’ came about. People like Teddy and shit say like, ‘we heard Rude Kid do it’, and now every producer does it, which is great, why not? This is the truth, I used to put a thing on my beats called ‘Rude Kid Productions’ but MCs used to be like, ‘nah man, that sounds shit, take it off’. And I was like, ‘how are people going to know I made this beat if they’re not bigging me up? I know how they’re going to big me up, ‘are you ready’s’ sick’. I’ve been saying ‘are you ready’ since I was young and now everyone knows Rude Kid made this beat without saying the name, you just know.
It’s a sick signature.
You did a track with Skepta a while ago, Get Busy – any plans to work with him again?
I’d love to work with Skepta, always, Skepta’s Skepta. But last time I saw Skepta was at the Rated Awards. It would be good to work him again. He did text me a little while ago.
How is it working with someone like Skepta who understands production and makes his own beats too?
I think like how me and Ghetts gel, me and Skepta used to gel like that. We just drifted apart and he started doing his thing. But he’s the type of guy that will understand my music, he would be like ‘this is sick man’. I’m on JME’s album [Integrity], he sent me a plaque the other day – that’s the first plaque that I’ve got. Silver independently is mad. But I’m open to work with anyone to be honest.
Is there anyone in the grime scene you haven’t worked with but would like to?
I would like to do another tune with Stormzy. Obviously he jumped on One Take but I’d like to do something properly with him. Dizzee – I’ve spent a lot of time in the studio with him but I’d like to have something out. Dizzee is an inspiration, trust me, even just talking to him and listening. I take it in when people talk and it stays with me.
You mentioned Logan Sama earlier, are there any other producers or DJs that inspired you or you look up to?
Look up to I’d say Chase & Status, and we’ve got the same management team, so I’ve got the right people around me. There’s loads of people I look up to, that may not be doing grime but I want to be where they are.
Chase & Status for one, who else is there? You know what, I watched a documentary on Netflix about Steve Aoki. Listen man, that guy’s work rate is mad. In one day, 3 countries, 3 shows.
What country do you most want to conquer outside of the UK?
I would say America but that’s a bait answer. So I would say Japan.
Grime is big in Japan!
I would love to go to Japan. I even saw a video of grime people MCing and wheeling a tune, it’s mad, watch that.
But with the producers, I’m rating Spyro, I’m rating Preditah, I’m rating Heavy Trackerz, I’m rating Swifta – I’m rating a lot of people. I feel like I need to put that in there because for me, it used to be a competition thing like, where it’s almost like you’re bitter and jealous. I know a lot of producers go through that, and I went through that but it comes down to work and how you work. And now I’m doing my thing, but I’ve never hated on those guys. I’m the nicest guy, I don’t have a problem with anyone. But I feel like there’s producers out there that might even be like, ‘Rude Kid’s doing bear man, I’m better than Rude Kid though’. It’s cool if you’re better than me, that’s great, but show people. Bear people are better than me but you have to show people. I’m more of a person that likes to help people.
2016 was a huge year for grime. Where do you see 2017 heading?
2016 was massive for everybody I think. It was my best year. I’ve never had a year where I’ve been so happy. This year it’s just going to grow. I feel like the more things you achieve the harder things get, and the harder you have to work. So grime, because you’ve got the likes of Stormzy and everyone doing well, it’s just going to get bigger and bigger. More people are going to pay attention to it. I just want to see it do well.
Last question – what is success for Rude Kid?
To make sure my family are good, that is success. You can have money now but if your family are not secure…to me, I will never stop working until they’re blessed. That’s success to me. The only way you can make sure that happens is if you work and achieve.
Find Rude Kid and his music right here: