Since bursting onto the scene with the viral “Party Popper”, BackRoad Gee has gone about establishing himself as one of the most unique rappers in the current UK rap scene. Whilst the majority of his eclectic, adlib fuelled music has come under the umbrella of drill, he has made his goal to cement himself as an all-round musical star. Tracks such as “My Family” with Pa Salieu and “After OT Bop” with NSG further demonstrated his versatility, illustrating how comfortable BRG is on both bouncy rap cuts as well as afrobeats. Reporting Live (From the Back of the Roads), seeks to portray even further how BackRoad Gee is more than just a charismatic rapper who speaks in aggressive and unique vocal barks. BackRoad Gee is a genuine artist, always looking to push himself outside of his musical comfort zone whilst also feeling that his musical output should be a reflection of his own diverse influences and sonical reference points.
Ahead of the release of Reporting Live (From the Back of the Roads) I sat down with BackRoad Gee over zoom to talk all things music. We discussed his come up, the process behind the making of the project, and what his plans for the future are.
How has life as a rapper been with Covid restrictions coming to a close, and more opportunities to go studio with other artists and clubs opening up again been for you ?
“I don’t know how to explain it man, obviously happy, you know what I mean. But for me, it’s really no different, I just look at it like now I’ve got a different arsenal, I just go with it with the same drive, same effort as I would do anything else.”
Have you felt like you have more opportunities now with everything opening up again?
“100%, 100%. I’ve made songs with people I grew up listening to now. People who I never even imagined I would make a song with, now I’ve made a song with, you know what I mean? That’s crazy to me. That’s real crazy to me. From Lethal Bizzle, JME, Dappy. The list goes on, it’s amazing init. People stop me on the street, now they wanna take pictures. It’s crazy to me.”
“Party Popper” was most people’s introduction to you. Can you tell us a bit about the background behind making that song?
“Yeah that’s when the people really started gravitating to me. One day I went to the studio, linked up there and was working on a couple other tunes there. I sat down with Finn Wigan, and he was trying to show me some beats, and man managed to lock in a session with him and sit down. I said to him I wanted him to make a different kind of beat, I wanted him to mix drill with some garage sort of sounds, you know what I mean? We started cooking that up, and then boom he presented me with the beat. As soon as I got the beat, it was over. I wrote the bars, already having the chorus in my mind, and went over to another studio over the road to record it. It was over from there.
“I didn’t think the song was going to be that big. I had my heart set on another song which I wanted out at the time. It was only my manager who was really pushing for “Party Popper” and saying: ‘just trust me, this song is the one’. Plus, the song which I really really wanted out instead, I ended up shooting two videos for it, there was something wrong with the video as well, it just didn’t go well. The beat was already sold, so it just wasn’t working. Ended up going with “Party Popper”, and yeah, it changed man’s position.”
You were saying just then you were involved in the production process of the beat. Are you often heavily involved with the beat like that? How hands on are you?
“I’m very involved with the production side of my music, it has to sound right in my head. I’m hands on, I can be hands on, more time I’ll give the producer some direction, and he will give me some back, like it goes both ways. I produce as well, I make my own beats, whatever the weather we make it work.”
Who’s your favourite producer to work with?
“I don’t have a favourite, but there’s a few that I really like working with man. Kel P Vibes, Jay Weathers, Nick French, my head’s going blank! Every producer I work with, I love them still. There’s loads of people.”
I recently spoke to Kwengface, who you collaborated with on “Woosh!”. He said he would really like to collaborate further – any chance there’s anything in the works with him after the tape? I think your styles really suit each other.
“Of course, that’s my guy. We outside for real. Kweng is hard still, he’s doing big things. Big shout out to him wherever he’s at.”
Everyone knows you for your party bangers, but you also make some quite introspective stuff. Are you hoping this album will establish you as a more well rounded artist?
“The way I see people react to that music, I appreciate that. It gives me the motivation to get up and do more of that type of stuff. This is not a drill album; there is drill there, there are drill bangers, but this is everything. Dancehall, rap, all you can imagine is on there. We are literally working, working, working.”
I noticed the album starts very drill-focused and then gets more melodic, with you experimenting a lot sonically throughout. Was there a thinking process behind that?
“Not really too much thinking about it, I mean that music is what I really do. All the drill stuff, I wouldn’t say its come to man recent, but I never jumped on a drill beat until I came out of jail two years ago. So what was I doing before? All these other sounds, that people think I’ve been experimenting with now, I’ve been doing them the whole time. The sound that people have got used to me with over the last couple years, that’s what the experiment actually was.”
I feel like your run of features over the last year and a bit has been a bit under appreciated. From Ghetts to Chip, NSG to Sneakbo, you’ve had some massive features over the last couple years. Which one was your favourite?
“I can’t lie, every feature that I do is special. The one’s that people love the most are always the most organic, literally off of pure vibes. They are special to man, because how can I favour a next moment over another one? It’s all unbelievable to man, you know.”
Any funny stories when you’re meeting some of these legends?
“When I met Burna Boy for the first time, my heart was just so fast everywhere, I didn’t expect him to just grab me and put me in the booth and suddenly I’m side by side recording with him. Funnily enough, when I met Steff, she did the exact same thing, it was crazy. I found that funny.”
I really enjoyed your performance in “The Convo”. Any chance we’re going to see you in more of these interesting projects where you can flex your acting skills? Seems fitting since you have a track on the new project called “Top Boy”
“Cmon man, I don’t want to talk too much! You know me, many occupations and many surprises. So trust me, just keep an eye on your boy!”
I’m always curious what artists think of the current direction of the scene. What are your thoughts on the wider UK scene at the moment?
“It’s in a very good place now you know, there’s a lot of people winning. I’m just grateful that we’re in this position right now where everyone can be heard. I’m a big fan of the whole ting, so watching it from a fan’s side and now being in it as well, I can only appreciate where the game is at now.”
In what ways would you say Reporting Live (From The Back of the Roads) is different to Mukta vs Mukta?
“It’s different man, very different. Reporting Live (From The Back of The Roads), not to say that Mukta vs Mukta isn’t a proper body of work which I put a lot of time into, but this one is more of a proper art piece for me. Man’s showing man certain things, certain vibes, which comes only from me, you get what I mean? It’s more of a show of who I am, where man’s come from that kind of thing.”
What’s the process been like behind making this project?
“It’s been crazy, lots of ups and downs. But you know what, we finally got it, it’s finally here. I started recording for it properly around December times til now.”
What were the main inspirations for Reporting Live (From The Back of The Roads)?
“Really and truly it’s just what I’ve come from to where I am now. Basically now I’m able to tell the story, being something like a hood journalist. I feel like a lot of people can connect to this, a lot of people can take something home from it and say this song is for me, you know what I mean.”
“Enough is Enough” has been a gym banger for me over the last few days. What was it like making that song with Lethal Bizzle and JME?
“We didn’t make it together in person, which made it even crazier for me. With that song, I was just on my estate, chilling with the guys, doing what we do, and Finn sent me that beat. I’m sitting in the car, playing it out of the speakers, and I just go ‘fuck this, Enough is Enough!’. And I start writing it all down, get it ready, and then my friend just starts recording me you know, on a little sly ting.
“I’ve slapped the video up on Insta, and the big dawgs started hollering at man. Saying they need it asap. I sent them the tings, three or four days later I got Lethal Bizzle’s verse back. I fucking lost my mind! I lost my mind bro. I even think I dashed my phone. Yeah…I did still, I dashed my phone. I lost my mind, I was going crazy.
“Another two or three days passed and JME sent me his bit. Then I said ‘No, my lifes done, I’m finished’. You get me? The way JME ripped the floorboards off the beat, I said ‘yes, I’ve got something mad with my big homies’ that was mad. And then, we shot the video, and these two guys actually came out of their house and came down side by side with man and my whole block. We were really out there with JME and Lethal B bro. Big shit you know.”
That sounds like a dream. Did you listen to them much growing up?
“Of course. Whenever I would go to my Uncle’s house, it’s all they would be playing. Man’s just always seeing JME, Skepta, Lethal B on the screen, you get what I’m saying? That’s how I found out about these guys, from my aunties and uncles from when I was a little juvie. So it’s crazy; for them it’s even more crazy, because they were their favourite artists. Imagine how it was for them to know I got a JME and Lethal Bizzle feature?”
What song on the new project are you most excited for fans to hear?
“I can’t lie, I love all of them babies, every song on there is like my child. They all represent something to me, they all represent something different to me.”
You experiment a lot with melodies on this album, especially songs like “Mbote” and “Bad Mind”. Are you excited for everyone to hear your versatility?
“Yeah man, literally. There’s things that people haven’t heard before, some people would imagine I wouldn’t do certain songs, but it’s all there man, the proof is in the pudding. Other bodies of work after this, you will just keep getting a better understanding of me and who I am.”
Where do you see yourself in five years?
“Big time, I don’t know where but big time. Big time, doing very big things. I don’t know, but just know big things.”
Be Sure to stream the new BackRoad Gee album below right now, and keep it locked on GRM Daily for all the latest news and exclusives.