Exclusives Interviews 13 October 2023

Slim Talks New Mixtape, Life Lessons & How It Feels to Be Back

13 October 2023

It’s fair to say that Slim’s journey hasn’t been a straightforward one. But often, the greatest inspiration and most memorable art comes in the midst of adversity and is created in the calm after the storm. Following his memorable entrance into the music scene in 2018, Slim built up a strong following and a solid reputation in the UK rap game, releasing hit singles including “Different”, “Magic” and “Again & Again”. He was signed to our very own GRM Records and dropped his debut mixtape, Still Working in 2019, garnering raving reviews, charting in the UK Top 40 and cementing his place as one-to-watch in the industry. However, six weeks after the mixtape’s release and shortly after beginning his headline tour, everything ground to a halt. Following an arrest in 2018, it was time for Slim to fulfil an outstanding prison sentence which led to him being behind bars, for the second time in his life, between May 2019 and April 2023. 

But in the leadup to this prison sentence and during those years, Slim was able to take the time for some deep introspection. By the time he was released, he’d experienced personal growth and built up the motivation to pick up where he left off, this time with even more grit, wisdom and determination. He graced his patient fans with three releases earlier this year: the exhilarating “Double R’s”, dripping in “fresh home energy” and inspired by the process of “coming back from a bad situation”, followed by his unmissable “Daily Duppy” and a hard-hitting collaboration with M Huncho, “Any Minute”. And now the Lewisham rapper is solidifying his return with brand new mixtape, “Still Working 2”, triumphant in its rawness, gripping storytelling and brave candour.

Perhaps it’s his authenticity that has led to Slim’s success. The South London rapper is proud of where he’s from, keen to embrace his Lewisham roots and the support that he has always received from his community, crediting them for his rise to success. But despite this humble perspective, Slim’s manager is quick to emphasise that it is his integrity that always made Slim shine. From the very beginning of his music career, Slim spoke about the harsh lived realities that his peers could relate to, standing out from those around him. It wasn’t just luck or blind support, but an acknowledgement of his talent and honesty that led to his increasing popularity and ultimately to his skyrocketing success. And that hasn’t changed; Slim is still leading with truth, telling important stories and boldly sharing his experiences through his art.

With a wealth of wisdom built up during his hiatus and a hot new mixtape on the table, Slim sits down for an exclusive chat with GRM; there’s a whole lot to catch up on. 

First of all, how are you doing?

“I’m good, you know. Worked out, worked up, but I’m good. I’m excited about the new music.”

Let’s start from the beginning. How would you describe young Slim?

Hmm… The same but I had a bit more energy. I was very motivated, I was always trying to be the best out of the bunch. Not in a bad way, but I was always trying to be the first to do stuff, trying to be different. That was me growing up.

You’ve had some run-ins with the law and recently left prison, which you talk about in your upcoming mixtape. What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt over these years?

To make the most of your time because you don’t know what’s round the corner. You don’t know what could happen tomorrow. And to just appreciate who’s really there for you, who’s really got you during the hardest of times… prison gave me a lot of time to think. I had a lot of time to think in there.

How have you evolved?

“Of course, I’ve changed as a person, everyone changes, I had to change. I had a daughter during that time, other things happened in life. I had to grow as well. When you go prison, especially for a longer time, if you don’t learn to grow, that’s how you end up back there. If you don’t progress, you end up stuck, you stay the same person that you were before. So yeah, I feel like I grew a lot whilst I was in there.

There are a lot of young boys with stories similar to yours – they have a lot of talent but get caught up in trouble. What would you tell them?

“Everyone’s situations in life are different and it’s all about dealing with whatever problems are on your plate. But I’d tell people – make the decisions that are right, listen to advice and take accountability, don’t look around for people to blame for the decisions you made. It’s easier to move on that way.”

Wise words. And how does it feel to be back now?

“Surprisingly, it feels kind of normal, you know. There were a lot of changes, but because I came out and had so much going on straight away, it didn’t feel like I’d been gone for four years. It felt good to get back to work and try to move on in life.”

And before we dive into the new mixtape, tell us about some of your earlier memories of music?

Growing up, my dad used to pump out music every Sunday, reggae and lovers’ rock and that. But my first personal memories of music were when I was in Year 4 or 5, grime was in. We used to write lyrics in primary school. I grew up with grime, that was what first truly interested me.

Did you always know that you wanted to be a rapper then?

Nah, nah… but I’ve always liked music and I was recording music since I was in school, I was doing it for fun. It was only as I got older and I met new people who told me I was good at rapping, it was then that I took even more of an interest. Then certain situations happened in my life and I was left with thoughts like, ‘what am I gonna do? Where am I going from here?’ I needed to make some important decisions in life. My manager and friend, Desperado, used to do music as well, so it made sense. He supported, tried to make things happen… It was a year before I went into prison. I went in 2019 and 2018 is when we started. So it wasn’t a big build-up – there were certain things in life that happened which made me look towards music and it happened pretty fast.

Were there any times where you doubted whether you would make it in the industry?

Realistically, yeah. At first, I didn’t really know what to expect. It was just a different avenue. By the time I realised [that I was going to make it], I was already knee-deep in it. I was doing my headline shows, I was touring with M Huncho. But it was 2 days after my headline show that I ended up in prison. But once I got my prison sentence, I wasn’t too sure what was going to happen. But as time went on and people were still asking for me, I realised that, as long as we dropped good music, we’d be good. That’s what kept me going. But either way, I knew had to keep going.

And let’s talk about the new project, “Still Working 2”. What was the inspiration behind it?

The inspiration was that I was getting back out of prison and that I literally still had to work, no matter what. No matter what the situation is, whether bad or good, you still need to be working, you still need to be going hard. I’d been inside for four years and I came out, and all I could do after missing four years of freedom and life, was to go hard and work harder. That was my motivation. Showing people that no matter what, you’ve got to work hard and that’s the solution to a lot of problems.

What do you want people to take away from the project?

“Firstly, I want them to believe that the tape is good music, I want them to like the music. Secondly, anyone feeling kind of stuck, I would like for them to get some motivation from it. That’s how a lot of people responded to the first tape, they said it motivated them through difficult times. I just want to reiterate that same feeling in this tape. And thirdly, I want people to see that there’s been growth in my music over this time. As long as I can get those three things, I’ll be half-satisfied.”

Overall, how important is the tape to you, what does it mean to you as a body of work?

“It’s very very important. I’ve come out of prison… in another world, I could have shut myself off and gone to do something completely different. But I’ve dedicated this time to my music. It needs a good response to show that the work I’ve been putting in has been paying off. That’s what it means to me. And it’s something different, I’m not trying to go back to who I was before. I’m trying to take a new route, to keep myself away from the old stuff.”

And do you have any favourite tracks?

“‘Picture Me’, featuring Potter, that’s my go-to right now, it gets me going. And ‘Having a Laugh’, maybe cos it’s a bit different for me, a drill song. But it depends on my mood. My favourite song might change every day. And you know what, if I’m having a problem picking a favourite then I think it’s a good thing – if it was too easy, I’d be worried!

How do you want people to remember you? What do you want people to say about Slim and his art?

That he was a real guy, that his music was good, I want them to actually like the music. For the street guys, for the guys who come from where I came from, I want to set precedents; I want to show them that there is another way out, there are other things you can do. I wanna be an inspiration to the young guys.” 

And if you could leave some words of wisdom with your fans, what would you tell them?

Tomorrow is another day, so whatever you’re going through today, you work through it and when you wake up tomorrow, it’ll be different. As long as you make the changes that need be made, things will be different, because you worked for it.

Make sure to take in Slim’s new mixtape, Still Working 2, here on GRM Daily.