Razor made his name as someone whose live sets sound the same as his recordings.
It’s early March, we sit for a quick coffee close enough for Razor’s other plans for the day. After his chat with me, going just down the street to discuss the release of The Sharp One with Sir Spyro, and spray on a Grime Originals Set.
You DJ for places like Reprezent, do you think the lack in mainstream radio support gives an opportunity for other creative spaces to thrive?
If the platforms don’t exist for you to express yourself, then there’s nothing wrong with creating those platforms. Once upon a time, Rinse didn’t exist, Risky Roadz didn’t exist, SBTV didn’t exist. Slimzee, Jamal Edwards – these are the sort of people who took it upon themselves to say “right I want to have the space for this stuff, I need to put my time, effort and money into it to make it happen”. Often without getting paid, or seeing any sort of return on it for years. The biggest take away from that is to go make your own platforms and spaces where your art is appreciated in the way that you want it to be.
Where do you feel your work fits into that?
I think I like to sit where I want to sit. I can go to pirate radio and spit bars for hours with upcoming MCs, or I can play an acoustic set in Shoreditch House. It can be difficult if you’re pigeonholed, but we sometimes stay the same to be liked. People say that they don’t care about being liked but people want to be liked, you can’t switch that off in your body. A fundamental part of MCing is ego, wanting to be a somebody or the somebody.
Do you have many people around you in music who you’re coming up with? I’m thinking 237 vibes.
The thing with 237 is that Kish! has galvanised an underground energy within a sensible timeframe, so they’re all coming up together. A lot of the guys that I started off making music with had very different journeys to come to where we’re at now.
There’s a collective of musicians who are my guys, that’s Over The Edge. Over The Edge is more like a family unit with people in there of varying levels of musicality. Our thing is very different in that sense but its very important to me.
If you put a tune in our group chat that you just got back from your engineer, you’ll get: “I feel like the first 8 bars of the second verse are sick but you start to lose that at the top”. The producers and engineers will give their feedback, you can put a tune in our group chat and you might get one of us saying “go and get your money back from the engineer, I’ll come with you, we’ll go fight him!” It’s vital to have that space for critique, especially the bigger you become in your career.
Any producers to have our eyes on?
Chamber 45 from his bootlegs to his original productions he maintains that energy, and the energy of mixing stuff at 144/145 BPM. Hamdi, like Chamber he’s very young, 20-21 years old. Both very positive attitude towards the actual making of their music. Both very skilled DJs as well as producers. I have 4 or 5 tracks with him. I’ve got a Southpoint: Introducing release with Tintz on called ‘Facts’ that he’s produced with a remix of a really well-known Fifa anthem. I like a lot of MJK and grime mixer style instrumentals. OH91, from Bristol. Filthy Gears – he’s just a machine.
You don’t take yourself too seriously (especially with the promo for The Sharp One) and you also used to do a bit of stand up. How do you feel comedy fits into your music?
I like finding fun in things. When I write bars, I like to write punchlines into them, from playground days. You’ve got so many rappers who take themselves seriously, “you can’t talk to me, can’t talk to my friend, can’t look at me, don’t stand near me, don’t stand on my shoes”. Give over, mate. Maybe it’s cause I was small, I’ve been beaten up before (bare times), rushed and stabbed. I’m not saying that to say “oh I’m a bad man” but just to say I know the consequences of life and part of that is that I don’t take myself or anything that seriously 24/7. You can’t maintain that persona constantly.
What about the way you get personal in tracks like ‘OverThinking’ and ‘Love’s Gone’?
I hate that image that men have about love where you can either be Ollie Murrs or Giggs, there’s no in-between. In ‘Love’s Gone’ I zoom in on that aftermath of a toxic relationship.
Then in ‘OverThinking’ I’m looking at imposter syndrome, “am I good enough to make it in what I want to make it in?” You are. It’s your mental barriers that stop you. It’s literally a stream of consciousness, which is what rattles me about sharing that song with the public. But I know that this is how a lot of artists I know feel, and where a lot of black depression and mental health issues come from in the musical community, and amongst creatives in general.
Who or what do you write for?
I still write for the same reasons, those 8 bars to spit with the mandem on the block, to gas everything up and get that “what did he say?!” To entertain.
It’s interesting though because I feel like what’s coming through now is more grime for your purists or ‘classic’ than what we were seeing, say four years ago.
I also feel like that. I think that there’s a disconnect between grime music and grime culture, and between the people who make the music and the people who consume the music. Now that is becoming more profitable we are also seeing a tension between the people who market, commission and produce the music. The labels and the pluggers and the people who are working, are the same people. I work in digital media marketing and I’ll go into these places like UMG for a job interview, and they’ll understand everything I’m saying. If I go back in as a rapper, it’ll be the same me, same tone but they’ve placed this barricade in their head of what they’ve preconceived I’ll be like.
How do you see The Sharp One now it’s done?
The Sharp One has me drawn in comic style for the cover. It’s supposed to be a collection of mini-stories about the character that is Razor AKA The Sharp One. I think on this project you get me being a lot more honest and open than I’ve been in anything else before, talking about the scene (industry) and the idea of the fake badboy. It’s commentary on the grime scene and the way people contend to be kings or dukes or whatever of the thing. I was tempted to make this an album but I didn’t because there’s another level I want to reach when I put my album out, but I am feeling happy about this.
Words by Tice Cin