“It’s so fun to be a kid, it’s so fun to be young. It’s the best time right now to be young, we can do anything.”
Earlier this year Sony announced the signing of Nottingham artists, Young T and Bugsey, to their Black Butter label. The rap duo are fairly new to the scene but are already making waves with videos featuring Stormzy and signing to a major at just 19 years old.
Young T and Bugsey have been rapping together since they were 16, and despite their pending mainstream success (signing to a division of Sony is no mean feat) they’re still set on remaining in Nottingham, at least for the time being.
They’ve never worked as solo artists, instead starting as part of a crew which eventually got smaller until it was just to two of them. Unlike a lot of groups signed to major labels, their origins were totally natural, in fact they never even discussed it. “We never said ‘let’s do this you and me’… We never spoke about it. I don’t even think we even spoke about it to this day.” Bugsey tells GRM.
It’s clear to see from chatting with them that there’s a long term bond between the pair that is impossible to manufacture. On the verge of finishing one another’s sentences – when asked who inspired them growing up they answer ‘my mum’ in such perfect unison that it could have been rehearsed – the duo are certainly on the same wavelength when it comes to inspirations and where they see their careers going.
GRM caught up with the lads at Sony headquarters to chat about how far they’ve come and what the future holds.
Who were you were musical influences growing up?
Young T: “Kanye West.”
B: “Snoop Dogg.”
YT: “Yeah, Snoop Dogg.
B: “Obviously we learnt for Skepta, too.
YT: “Skepta and JME, all of BBK.”
B: “The first grime mixtape I ever heard was Blam by JME.”
YT: “For real? Nah, I knew JME before that, boy.”
B: “That was the first project I ever listened to that was from a UK person and it was lit.”
YT: “I think Skepta’s hard. Even though he does hard grime now I know Skepta can rap. Blacklisted as well, I think that’s crazy, that’s hard.”
B: “Chip! Oh my god! Chip is my favourite artist. Everything Chip, from before he got signed to making “Oopsy Daisy”.”
YT: “You can’t criticise the guy, he was working at the time. People trying to say he went mainstream and weren’t rating it. Mainstream is not crazy right now, like things you may think are mainstream are actually underground.”
B: “Underground is the new mainstream.”
With independent UK artists are doing so well, why did you decide to go mainstream?
B: “It was just that time in our career.”
How do you think not being from London affected your sound?
B: “It made us not sound like people from London. That’s all it is really.”
YT: “We’re just Nottingham, that’s what we do.”
Is that what a lot of the music in Nottingham sounds like?
B: “Nottingham used to be heavy rap, but it’s more of a grime city now. Obviously we’re not grime artists but we just make our ting. The sound of Nottingham is just that nice grime you know, that’s the sound of Nottingham. Our sound is different because everything is made by us, we produce everything ourselves.”
YT: “Our music mentors in Nottingham weren’t really grime, they’re more musical.”
B: “I don’t classify us as grime at all, the tempos, the waves, the bars – it’s UK rap.”
Do you think you play on the fact that you’re young in your music with the references you make?
B: “Yeah, yeah yeah. Everything we do we know why we’re doing it.”
YT: “We know the lines that we say.”
Where did the name “No Mickey Mouse Ting” come from?
YT: “We got it from C Biz.”
B: “I just remember writing the hook, because he [YT] made a beat. Boom, we were in the studio, wrote the hook. Then obviously the first four, and that was the catch. Then we just made it into something fun.”
On that note: thinking ahead to your careers in the future, how do you think your sound is going to evolve over time?
B: “I think it’s going to be more… mature?”
YT: “Yeah more mature.”
B: “Still fun though.”
YT: “We’re gonna try and make it as current as possible.”
B: “As we get older, how we even think about life is going to be different. Even now and over the last year…”
YT: “Our opinions have changed.”
B: “We’re different. We’ll be a bit more mature or whatever but we still want to make sure that we can cater to as many people as we can because our music is fun music. Anyone can like fun music, no matter what age you are, as long as it’s not too explicit or too serious or whatever. We’ll have more serious music as time goes on but for now we’re just sticking to our wave init.”
There’s always been fun rap, just look at Jme’s “Serious”, but in general the old school stuff seems to be a bit more deep than the newer stuff. What do you think of this attitude divide between the different generations?
B: “I don’t think that’s due to music, I think it’s due to life.”
YT: “It’s due to the time. Because now…”
B: “It’s so fun to be a kid, it’s so fun to be young. It’s the best time right now to be young, we can do anything. Everything was a bit more serious back then but now it’s just banter.”
YT: “We’re on the internet! Something so serious can be made a joke out of. Everything is just for the laugh. Everything is memes.”
B: “We are the kids of the internet, we grew up on it.”
If you were to collaborate with an old school UK artist who would it be?
YT: “We’re creating the history now. But Dizzee Rascal and Skepta, that’s who we look up to.”
B: “And Wretch!”
YT: “Yeah Wretch is in history. I’d love to do a song with Wretch, like a lyrical ting, like a proper old school with a sampled beat.”
B: “It could be something, like all of us on the beat trying to outdo each other. Like a proper old school rap ting.”
YT: “Definitely Skepta, too.”
Stormzy is in the vid for “No Mickey Mouse Ting”. What is the story behind that?
B: “We met Stormzy like two years ago when we were about 16 or 17.”
YT: “In Nottingham there’s a community centre that does projects and that.”
B: “As part of a work experience thing, they took us to this community centre. They picked us to go to London and shadow Link Up TV. We ended up at Section Boyz crib session, which never got released in the end.
“So we were there and then Stormzy came, this is just before Stormzy was big, before he was nominated for the MOBO. He was still popping though, still bubbling, so we were gassed to see him. We started talking then we just started rapping and then he started rapping as well! So we’re all rapping then we exchanged numbers. We lost contact after that.
“Then two years down the line we had a song called “Glistenin’” and this guy called AbdiTV shared it and Stormzy must have seen it and shared it. He didn’t remember us but must have thought ‘oh this is hard’ and shared it. So then I tweeted a pic that we took back in the day and he’s like ‘oh it’s these two!’
“We were just gassed because it’s not something you’d expect, we were just two knucklehead kids and now we’d done this. From then that sparked a genuine relationship. Then the day before the shoot he had a show in Nottingham called Detonate and then he asked us ‘what you doing tomorrow?’ and we told him we were shooting a video. We didn’t tell him the time or location though.
“Then on the day of the video everything was going wrong, we had a venue but lost the venue because people were smoking outside. It was moving mad and then the police came. There was so many people that came through so we took everybody to some side road next to the venue. Then Stormzy just popped up!”
YT: “There’s a guy in Nottingham, an older. He knows all the celebrities. I think he might have told him.”
Who are your favourite artists right now?
B: “Chip, number one.”
YT: “I like Steflon Don.”
B: “Miss Banks is hard! I like Dave.”
Both: “AJ! [Tracey]”
B: “I like UK music a lot but I don’t bang it 24/7. That’s not what I listen to when I’m getting dressed or when I’m flexing on my own. Other than that, I like Lil Uzi Vert yeah, the guy that done “Uber Everywhere” is good too. I like 21 Savage as well. Drake is crazy! J Cole.”
YT: “I like Yung Thug, I think he’s amazing. I like Migos a lot too.”
Bugsy: “Frank Ocean’s first album is crazy, he’s crazy. He goes haaard! That “Bad Religion” tune is so deep, there is some many levels.”
B: “We’re gonna still be dropping tracks until it’s time for the EP or mixtapes, we’re not pushing an album. If the people want an EP we’ll do it, but right now we’re focusing on the singles and making sure all our tracks are bangers.”