Exclusives Interviews 9 March 2024
Author: Ore Bolarin

Not3s talks UK GOATs, lessons learned from Dave, new single & more

9 March 2024

Not3s has been a staple in the UK music scene for close to a decade now. Bursting onto the scene in 2016 when afroswing took the UK by storm, he emerged as one of the genre’s biggest names, dropping hits like “My Lover”, “Addison Lee” and more, that helped propel the it to insane heights.

After taking time away from music, he has returned to the scene with a renewed energy and a commitment to delivering a consistent supply of new music. As part of this new drive, Not3s has stated he aims to drop 52 songs throughout the year.

We spoke with Not3s to talk about his new single, “OMW”, his career and what comes next.

What does the new single “OMW” mean to you?

“On My Way is like my build up song. It’s like I’m just, letting you know that things are incoming. You know what I mean? That it’s not necessarily a song where I just, I felt like, oh yeah, I’m releasing this to be a hit or anything… Shout out Choisez, the producer, first time we bucked up he’s hit me up for a session, gone to the session, I’m wearing what I’m wearing, the videographer’s with me, and we ended up making a video out of what I just made, at that moment.

“It’s more so how I just felt at the time, that Not3s was on his way. No matter what anyone says, I’m on my way. I’m 25. I haven’t died. I’m still alive and I’m grateful for it, you know what I mean? So that’s my way of just letting people know that I’m still here, still here to stay and I’m on my way. And even if it’s gradual, even if it’s slowly, it’s still surely. So I can’t complain.

How does it feel for you now to be putting music out there again consistently?

“It’s definitely different, like getting into the swing of consistently releasing and stuff, especially when there’s no structure to it. It’s just improvising, like, in sense of how I’m releasing, where I’m releasing. I’ve started releasing on GRM again for example, which I hadn’t done in a while.

“So, I feel like I’m going back to the basics of everything. It’s kind of refreshing doing so because now it’s done without a major label and without management even. Like I’m doing everything. When they use the word independent, I’m really like extremely independent, you get what I’m saying?

“To the point where, even the OMW artwork, I made it myself. The song before that, the POP artwork, I made it myself. The mixing and mastering for the POP record, I’ve done it myself off a website, like, I’m just messing around.

“But I genuinely mean it in the sense of, I genuinely love what I’m releasing. I’m definitely trying to give it as much as I can. However, I’m not doing this with like some machine and you know, people around to make it magically happen and a magical genie that man rubs the lamp and then tell him, yeah, I want top 40 in the charts, it doesn’t work that way. I’m how I’m doing it. I’m just improvising until something sticks to be honest.”

You’ve said you want to release 52 songs this year, what made you want to attempt that?

“There was a point in last year where I’d realised that I dropped, or I’m on, 99 songs. Whether I released it or I’m featured on it, the amount of songs that I have out in the world  at that time anyways, it was 99 songs.

“So it was like, I just want more. Like how is it is that I’ve only got 99 songs out in the quote unquote, seven years of man doing man’s thing? I mean, that’s 365 days. In a year, you know what I mean, there’s 52 weeks, it’s like surely for them seven years, man should be on like 350 something tracks, if man done the maths correctly. However, it’s not correct, so I’m just here to try and correct it, you know what I mean.”

Can we expect a project this year as part of the goal of dropping 52 songs this year?

“As I’ve said, it’s all improvisation, innit? But at the same time, I’ve been improving through improvisation. So, there’s definitely bodies of work that I’ve set aside that are sitting there just catching dust. But then, at the same time, I don’t even know when it’s going to happen.

“It’s just vibes. I’m just vibeing. I got bare features, from your favourite rapper’s favourite rapper to bloody new school people. And that’s the blessing that I’m kind of grateful for is the fact that I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of people in this scene. People that people don’t even know that man’s worked with, if that makes sense.

“It’s all just timing for me and, and knowing that no matter what, even if man finishes last, at least man has the last laugh. And I’ve been grateful to work with a lot of people that I’ve worked with and people that people don’t know. And then on top of that I’m just vibeing it. If it happens it happens. You know what I’m saying?”

In terms of collaborations and stuff, is there anyone who you want to collaborate with, who you haven’t had the chance to yet?

“The only two people in the UK that I haven’t worked with that I really want to work with – and it’s surprising that I haven’t worked with one of them because we’re actually proper cool, he’s all looked after my dog before and everything – Stormzy’s one of them and J Hus is the second one.

“I wanna go head-to-head with the GOAT. I wanna literally butt heads with the GOAT. I want us to clash on the track, not in a way where we’re going at each other or anything, just in a way where we see who’s really got what it is.

“I feel like that would just make the track, proper, proper sick. But Hus is the GOAT, I can’t ever deny it. In the sense of the sound that man has come up off on and people have built up off on, he’s definitely had a major impact to a lot of people’s career.

“You know what I’m saying? There was a point in time where man was actually genuinely a fan of his work, and Stormzy, so yeah. Oh and the last one, Craig David as well, man. Let me just dash that in. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Labrinth and Craig David, those are the two different lanes.

“In our scene, Stormzy and Hus, in the other lane, Labrinth, Craig David. Those are, those are people I really want to work with.”

You’ve been in the game seven, approaching eight years. How is it for you, looking at this new wave of UK music? Is there anyone that you’re tapped into that you think is really good at the moment? 

“You know what yeah, like Central says, I’m not a newcomer though. I’ve definitely made my stamp  in this thing in its own way. I still feel like man’s got bare years to go fam, like a football contract. I’m 25 fam, this thing ain’t even close to ending, you know what I mean like, so I’m definitely not an OG, but in a way, I am in a weird way. Like man’s an OG, but I’m not an OG. I don’t see myself as one. I still feel like man’s underrated. I don’t feel like man’s rated to the extent that I should be, especially with the stuff that man’s done for a lot of people in this scene. A lot of things man’s done for people in the background to make people whoever they are in this scene, respectfully, you know what I’m saying?

“The people that I rate in the scene right now and that have got something about them that I actually like… there’s a girl called Chy Cartier, she’s cold. I like her. There’s some new TikTok thing that she just put out recently. And I really like the song. People might have thought that she was like a one hit wonder girl, but I don’t think she is. I feel like her flow is sick. And she’s got something dope about her.

“There’s another kid called LeoStayTrill.  I rate him. He brings something fresh and different to the table. The way he raps is slightly more intellectual than a lot of other drill youths. He’s bringing something different to that drill sound. He’s staying true to himself at the same time as well, so I gotta appreciate it.

“And Leah, Leah Music. She’s very, very good. Her voice is so soft. She gives me that Tink era vibe. But it’s very British. It’s just dope you get me, young black girl doing her thing.  She’s in her own world with it. Her music videos are dope and different. She’s very cool.

“One more person, AntsLive. He does some sick music videos. I ain’t seen concepts like that in the UK. Yeah. He’s certy. But yeah, that’s the new gen there.”

Over your career, what would you say has been your favourite moment, or moments since you started out?

“I’ma keep it a buck, you know. There was a show that I had and this was at the O2 Islington, I believe. This was my first ever headline show in 2017.  At the time I had brought out Young Adz and LB, I brought out a couple of other people.

“But it just felt like the beginning of something, if that makes any sense. Even when all of the mandem were backstage and I’ve got my first plaque and all of these things, it genuinely felt like the start of something new. Because at that point, I hadn’t done any of the biggest shows yet.

“I hadn’t done my own crowd that are buying tickets just solely for me yet. I hadn’t done all of that yet. So it really felt like the beginning of something and that’s one of the moments that I appreciate the most.

“Then I went off to do stuff like Parklife which was like 60, 000 people in the crowd, or Wembley Stadium, which is like 90, 000 people or something. So I’ve done stuff but at that point in particular, at the very beginning, made all of that stuff make sense.

“Then also the first time I went to Nigeria was while being Not3s. And that’s where man’s from. It was felt like a proper homecoming because people are singing my song and dancing and like, it was crazy. So from there I went on to go and build like waterholes and water projects and whatever, just because of my first time ever being in Nigeria and seeing what it was, what it was really about. Now it’s like I’m on my seventh one as well. So that that’s really.  I don’t know, that’s been a real vital, key part of my life as well that I appreciate a lot. Being able to do all of that and give back in that way.

Regarding your sound, like you’re quite a versatile artist, you can do a lot of different things. How is, how important is it to you to keep on showcasing that fact?

“Let’s say, if this was war, right?  How many weapons would you step out on the battlefield with? Just one?”

Probably not, no. 

“I’m sure you wouldn’t just step out with a flick knife and just think that you’re good. That’s how I see it. I see the game as like, Battleship or something, you know what I mean? How many skills, or how many flows, how many melodies should I really be going out there with? Because anything can happen on any day of the week.

“Somebody can hear something, like Calvin Harris can hear something in my voice and be like, bro, you’ve got the voice.  But the tune that he wants to put man on is not what I might go for typically. But he can hear what he’s hearing, and he can’t get it out of his head. You understand what I’m saying?

“So it’s like, am I equipped enough to go to the booth with Calvin Harris? Am I equipped enough to be in the booth with David Guetta? I met a guy called Martin Garrix, he’s massive, massive in that world. I don’t know if it’s EDM or whatever, but yeah, I was in his house. That man was walking up and down in his house. Crazy ass house. Crazy. It’s an apartment, but you think it’s a mansion. It was mental, insane swimming pool in there. Yeah, everything crazy. Got to the studio a bit, he’s playing stuff, we’re chilling, but it’s like I didn’t know what I was capable of bringing to the table in the studio, in the yard, therefore I didn’t really make anything, but I could have used that opportunity to actually create something big.

“That’s just an example. I was there with Tinie Tempah at the time, but I’m just trying to show you that the main point of the story is just being ready at all times. It’s like being able to have the ability to jump on any type of tune.

“Another time, this random weird time, I was in LA and I was chilling with Dave. He was just talking about how it will be awks if anybody wanted to get in the studio with him. As an artist he feels like his blade is sharpened and he has every right, you know, to feel like that and every right to have that confidence.

“Obviously, me and his things are completely different, two ends of the spectrum. My man’s there rapping about whatever he could be rapping about and I’m there singing about whatever a man could be singing about.

“So then, now is the thing where he’s now trying to show me, he’s telling me put on any beat, put on any beat, guarantee you man can spin it. So I’ve put on any beat and he’s actually doing his thing. I can’t knock it. He stuck to his word.

“Now it’s a thing where I couldn’t go there and start freestyling raps on the beat because I’m not prepared. But then, if man was in the studio all the time building that before it got to that point, whenever that point was, it’s like, man could look at me and be like, bro, you could spit like that too, you know what I’m saying?

“So it’s always important to kind of sharpen your blade and learn different kind of abilities. When I say sharpen my blade, I don’t mean it in a violent way by the way. It’s just an analogy that I try and use and those moments in my life were just examples where I realised how important it is to make sure your blade is always sharpened.

“Your blade, your grenade, everything. You have to have everything, your gun, whatever it is, you just need make sure you’re equipped when you step out of the battlefield, because you could drop your blade by accident, then what do you use? You know what I mean? You could drop your gun by accident, your gun might have no more bullets, then what do you use? You always gotta be prepared.”

Final question, how do you want fans to react to this new period in your career? What do you want the fans to take away from all the music that you’ve got to come out?

“The past helped me get to this present moment, but there’s so much that man’s built for the future, that I want us to just leave the past behind us. Man’s done what man’s done in the past, I hear it, that’s great stuff. But I was a kid back then.

“When I listen back to lyrics and that, man’s not even trying to put anyone off of my old music, but when man listen back to certain things, my blade was blunt. Compared to how it is now, where I know for a fact man’s thing’s sharpened. So it’s like I’ve grown within this properly, I’ve become seasoned.

“So just take it in. Just take me in. Don’t go off of hype, don’t go off of some BS popularity contest, that rat race that everybody’s in. Man should actually just appreciate music for what music is.  All of the backstory and all of the BS and the chat and everything, that’s all dead. That don’t make no sense. I just want fans to genuinely appreciate my music for what my music actually is, not what everything else around it is, you know? Because that’s just a whole bag of noise.”