AJ Tracey

Dev­il­ishly tal­ented west Lon­don rapper who’s ready for the big leagues

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It’s been just three years since Aj tracey first stepped on stage as an MC. tag­ging along with a pal to a jme trop­i­cal club night in bris­tol, Aj only went be­cause he’d never been to any­thing like that be­fore. soon, he was the star of the show. “they let me spray a bar on stage,” the west Lon­doner rem­i­nisces. “I didn’t have my breath­ing right, didn’t know how to project my voice and I just freaked out!” but this meant he caught the bug. “I thought, ‘this is a crazy adrenalin rush! this must be the best life ever.’”

And now, in 2017, this is Aj tracey’s crazy life. he’s just fin­ish­ing off a huge uk tour and his lat­est ep, the blis­ter­ing ‘se­cure the bag!’, hit num­ber 13 in the al­bum charts. but while it’s all sun­shine and big-time col­lab­o­ra­tions now, his cur­rent suc­cess is down to years of hard graft. “I started rap­ping lyrics when I was six years old,” Aj ex­plains. “My dad used to just rap with me, like, lit­tle jokey vibes.”

since then there have been count­less nights freestyling on pi­rate ra­dio ses­sions, five stel­lar eps and a brief stint at univer­sity. now, aged 23, Aj is se­ri­ously in de­mand with fel­low mu­si­cians and even brought it back full-cir­cle by col­lab­o­rat­ing with jme. “It was like a grime mile­stone, work­ing with him, ’cos he’s one of the old guard.”

but while mu­si­cally he’s of­ten pi­geon­holed as a grime MC, Aj tracey wants to avoid be­ing branded as one genre. “I’m def­i­nitely not grime and I’m not rap… I’m just an artist, I just make what­ever I think is good, and there’s not re­ally a la­bel for it.” he’s also a huge rock fan, in­flu­enced by bands such as thirty sec­onds to Mars and bul­let For My Valen­tine. “that mu­sic made me open up a more emo­tional path. now I put more emo­tion into my mu­sic rather than just let­ting peo­ple hear what they want to.”

On ‘se­cure the bag!’, this blend proves his cre­den­tials – like on ‘blacked Out’, a cock­tail of brag­gado­cio and fer­vent can­dour, that sees him as­sertively de­clare he’s top of the pack. Who are we to dis­agree? Han­nah Myl­rea

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