Hailing out of Tottenham, North London – enter Wretch 32 (pronounced 3-2) – a grime MC turned rap star that recently shot to the top of the UK charts with three, Top Five singles, including ‘Traktor’ entering at number at 5 and ‘Unorthodox’ entering at #2 and ‘Don’t Go’ at #1.
He has fans in Diddy and Ian Brown from legendary rock group, The Stone Roses. His debut album, Black & White, entered the chart at #4, making him one of the biggest stars of 2011.
AllHipHop.com caught up with Wretch in during promotion for his single “Unorthodox” for a Q&A to get his opinion on how the scene has developed here in the UK, the link up with Example, his influences, and his Top 5 MCs in the UK & U.S,, and more:
AllHipHop.com: How did you start emceeing?
Wretch 32: I was brought up around music but never actually took the steps to create music until I was 17, with encouragement from my friend Calibar that was spiting at the time to join in. It was an outlet on the estate and a good way to pass time.
AllHipHop.com: Who have been your main influences from any genre of music?
Wretch 32: My main influences are Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, and later on, a few later, after discovering rap – Jay Z and Kanye West.
AllHipHop.com: How much of an influence has the rave scene (jungle and garage) – raves, pirate radio etc. – been on you and your style?
Wretch 32: These are the foundations of the scene we have today – just being on pirate radio back in the day made me feel like I’ve accomplished something, and it gave me the hunger to push on.
AllHipHop.com: Were there any specific MCs that you looked up to from the jungle or the garage scene?
Wretch 32: Yeah, Swiss from So Solid Crew, Mighty Moe from Heartless Crew, I can go on but the list is too much to mention.
AllHipHop.com: How much do you think So Solid Crew have had to with the evolution of grime?
Wretch 32: So Solid played a big part in the whole scene, they were the first to do it big. They had the music videos and albums that fans across the UK actually went out and paid money for. I can remember watching them on TV performing at an award show. It was inspirational.
AllHipHop.com: How much of an influence have Wiley and Dizzee been on your style?
Wretch 32: I am not really influenced by Wiley or Dizzee, I am more inspired by what both have accomplished.
AllHipHop.com: How much of an influence has reggae/ragga sound system culture been to your style?
Wretch 32: It has been a big influence, as my dad was a reggae DJ – I grew up with it. I can remember waking up to my dad’s music thumping out of the speakers in the early mornings.
AllHipHop.com: U.S. artists/MCs previously dominated the commercial arena of Hip-Hop in the UK. Why do you think that has changed so dramatically in the last seven to eight years?
Wretch 32: There’s a lot of inspiration in the UK scene. There are artists achieving goals we thought were impossible (a few years ago), making it easier for the next big artist to learn from.
AllHipHop.com: Who are your Top 5 UK MCs?
Wretch 32: In no order – Ghetto, Chipmunk, Scorcher, Bashy, and Tinie Tempah.
AllHipHop.com: Who are your Top 5 U.S. MCs?
Wretch 32: Jay Z, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake, and Joe Budden.
AllHipHop.com: If you could work with any artist from any genre worldwide, who would that be?
Wretch 32: That’s a hard question to answer. I’ve got a big list I would like to work with, but at the top would have to be Jay Z!
AllHipHop.com: Where do you see the UK/London MC going from now?
Wretch 32: I can’t predict it, but the future looks bright. There’s so much talent coming through.
AllHipHop.com: Tell us about ‘Traktor’ and how that came about. heard that was recorded prior to the label signing?
Wretch 32: Yeah, the beat and chorus was already [laid] down when it got sent to me by the producer Yogi. It sounded cool so I put my verses down and asked for a little tweaking with the words, so that the chorus fitted me, we added a soulful bridge and after approached the label with it they loved it.
AllHipHop.com: Tell us about the new single “Unorthodox,” your relationship with Example, and how the tune came about?
Wretch 32: Before “Unorthodox” came about, I used to bump into Example at festivals, but we didn’t really have time to chat. But when I heard the “Fool’s Gold” beat, I knew Example would be perfect for it.
AllHipHop.com: “Unorthodox” samples The Stone Roses (anthem), “Fools Gold.” Are you a fan of the band?
Wretch 32: Yeah, they had a look to them that made them look like cool gangsters.
AllHipHop.com: Who are you tipping to be big in the UK in 2012 other than yourself?
Wretch 32: Scorcher.
Follow Wretch 32 on Twitter at @wretch32 and on the Web at www.wretch32.com.
Jamie B-C is a writer and online music marketer, who has been passionately involved in UK underground music since the late 90s. He currently writes a blog which follows UK rave and Hip-Hop culture. Follow Jamie B-C ON Twitter at @beatcultureldn and on the Web at www.beatculture.net.