Editors' Notes Revealing a London rarely seen on the big screen, Blue Story is an ambitious film. “It’s like a modern-day Romeo and Juliet,” writer, director and musician Rapman tells Apple Music. “It focuses on gangs and the peer pressure around knife crime. I wanted everyone to see that there’s more to life than getting caught up in the streets, to watch it and think, ‘You know what? I’m going to put this knife down. What I’m fighting for is not really as important as I thought it was.’” The accompanying album he’s curated, with JAY-Z’s Roc Nation team, is just as ambitious, featuring original tracks inspired by the movie from some of the UK’s biggest artists.
Rapman—real name Andrew Onwubolu—opens the album with the autobiographical “The Real Blue Story”, detailing events that influenced his film, before the carefully selected guests take over. Many hail from South East London, where the film is set. “I wanted the album to be as authentic as possible,” he says. “The RAYE song was originally called ‘South West London’, and I said, ‘No, I want to change it to ‘South East London’.” There was no shortage of rap talent rom the area to choose from: Brixton’s LD shows why the drill genre continues to grow on the raw, hypnotic “Dirty Digits”, while Gipsy Hill duo Krept & Konan contribute the tough, brooding “Greazy”. “I’ve loved all of Krept & Konan’s albums, to be honest,” he says. “They’ve never disappointed me when it comes to their ability and talent, so it was only right that I reached out to them.”
The film was shot across Peckham and Lewisham, so there was one MC who had to appear on the record. “Giggs is a Peckham legend,” says Rapman. “When Roc Nation called me to ask who I wanted, the first thing out of my mouth was ‘Giggs’. When I spoke to him, he said, ‘You know what? I need to see the film first,’ and he loved it.” The effort pays off on one of The Landlord’s best tracks of recent years, “Dark Was the Case”, where Giggs compares his street beginnings to his current success and blissful life with his family.
From further afield, Buju Banton adds the dancehall sound so prevalent in the British capital on “Bring It On” (“A treat from Roc Nation,” says Rapman), while sultry, reggae-flavoured Jorja Smith closes the album with “Make It Right”. It’s a project that heeds the advice of JAY-Z, who signed Rapman after the success of his online drama series Shiro’s Story. “Jay’s always so supportive,” he says. “He told me, ‘If it's something you believe in and you feel strongly about it, just go for it,’ you know? So I’m just excited to have these people in my corner, rooting for me.”