Rising 11: Big Zuu
This article is an excerpt from the Rising 11 feature from Issue 01 of GAFFER: ‘England’s Finest’. Available from our online shop now.
Grime MC, bon viveur, Twitter troublemaker and part-time Grenfell activist, there’s a lot to like about Big Zuu. Cousin to AJ Tracey and firmly established in UK urban music culture’s elite, Zuu is part of the MTP collective, whose members include Ets, Sketch, Wax, D7, General Courts and his cousin AJ. With a coarse, enveloping and brazenly humorous lyrical style, Zuu is carving out a path as an outspoken MC with plans to use his influence for a greater good, having once harboured plans of being a social worker before music started to take off.
The larger than life West Londoner caught up with us on Liverpool FC and how football can learn something from Grime…
What’s your relationship with football? Do you have a team?
I support Liverpool because it’s my dad’s favourite team. He’s from Lebanon but lives in Sierra Leone, where my Mum’s from, and that’s been his team from young, so from when I was young I always supported them and people always say cause I’m from London I should support a London team but guess what… YNWA.
Has it inspired your work, and have you their mutual paths crossing at points?
I do have a bar that goes ‘pushing the sounds mans ever so physical Mans in the champions league out ere
Come from behind win dat Liverpool’ which is a remix of AJ Tracey’s bar, so yeah it’s influenced couple bars and through music I’ve been able to watch more games, which is always sick.
How did your upbringing growing up influence what became your sound?
Growing up in the ends, music was always a big thing because everyone was trying to spit a couple bars in grime instrumentals and people had little 16s sitting on a computer in a youth club, but, for me, I never really had any lyrics or recorded any music, I just loved listening to it until I was like 16 and started freestyling when we was just bored chilling in the block as you do when you’re a teen with nothing to do. So, yeah, it influenced my sound because being bored in my ends made me start writing music, which lead to me trying to actual record songs.
We feel there is a tribal energy to football that also exists in music, notably Grime. Do you agree?
Yeah, one-hundred percent. People have their like cult following, grime’s a thing where you can have a fan who loves all grime music, but they have that one MC who is their favourite regardless of anything, and that’s similar to people supporting a club because you love football but that club is just your favourite through win, loss or draw.
How do you see the future relationship between football and music developing?
More football adverts are using grime or UK rap music and people are working with sporting media outlets so it’s definitely growing and hopefully we will continue to see it build because music and sports do go hand in hand.
What helps you get into the headspace to create?
Studio, good loud instrumental, snacks and the TV on mute in the background.
Who is, or would be, your ideal artist to collaborate with?
I would love to make something with J Cole. We would make proper joints for the people to listen to without a doubt.
The UK is undergoing social and political tension on unprecedented levels. Do you feel this is a difficult time to be doing what you’re doing, or the opposite?
Nah, man. UK music is at its best place it’s ever been for people like me, so I’m just trying to keep working and not stop!
Which artists are coming through alongside you right now that you admire?
A guy called Wax. He’s in my crew called MTP and he just put out an EP called “Energies”. He’s an amazing artist and also the guy that first recorded my music back when I was young, BIG UP WAX!
Do you have a favourite football kit from the past?
You need to create a 5 a side team with four other musicians. Who’s on your team?
LD (67) in goal, Avelino in defence with Jaykae (the two big lads), P Money in the middle, and me upfront being the fat Mo Salah I am!