Music x Road

Music x Road

Headie One is one of UK rap’s most compelling figures. He’s had legit hit singles, endured three prison sentences and carries utmost respect from his peers while often cast as anti-drill agitators’ chief target. “That’s why this tape is called what it’s called,” the Tottenham MC tells Apple Music. “It’s about living with both: music and road. I have to walk that line and try and stay focussed on both equally.” Music x Road powerfully documents that daily struggle: The production explores UK rap’s most dynamic borders, the samples are thrilling, and lyrically, Headie is brutally reflective. “I was writing over a longer period than I’ve ever written before,” he says. “I wasn’t rushed and overthinking. I was writing the music as I moved forward with life.” Read his track-by-track guide to the tape below.
”Music x Road” “This track set the rhythm for the whole tape. I got into the studio with Nastylgia [London producer] and he started making a beat that just made sense to me.”
 “This one’s been getting good feedback. I was in with [producers] Nastylgia and Pipe It Up PJ and we were running through a few options before literally coming across the Ultra Naté sample (‘Free’). That sample with the heavy bass just really worked.”
”Ball in Peace”
 “I really liked ‘Kodak Black’ by Cardi B—the sound and the concept, too. I had that song in my mind one day and put my own little spin on it for this track. It worked well with the beat as well.”
”Rubbery Bandz”
 “I was in the studio with Ayo. We were working on a few song together. He started making this beat and the catchy hook from nothing. He went with the summery vibe. I like the Afro music and that tempo—Ayo does that really well. It was just a vibe—we didn’t take it too serious.”
”18Hunna (feat. Dave)” “I had written this quite a while before it got to Dave. I had the lyrics but there was no beat in particular to put it on. I made a little demo and got in with Dave to work on a few different bits and bobs together and that. I played him this demo and he decided that was the one. As soon as he heard he loved it. The song was all then done and finished right there on the spot. Dave is different because he’s focused on detail. He is just a genius. He knows what he likes and how the way he likes things to come out and pays attention to making that happen. He’s definitely different to other artists because his attention to detail. Some people don’t focus on nothing apart from their lyrics. Dave is all over everything. He inspired me. It’s a good look.”
”Back to Basics (feat. Skepta)” “I had this beat from a producer called Nige and had it for ages but knew I needed to do something with it. It was too catchy and jumpy to ignore. Skepta has always showed me a lot of love so I shouted him and in a similar situation to Dave, he came through to work on a few sounds in the studio. As soon as he heard this beat he rated it too. It had the same effect on him. Skepta has always given me positive energy, positive advice. It’s good to be around that. To be completely honest, growing up—even growing up in Tottenham—Skepta wasn’t one of the guys I looked to musically, but as I got older, I respected the come-up. But more recently and since we’ve started connecting I’ve realised just how good he is. It’s a good relationship.”
”All Day”
 “This one goes off at live shows. M1 gave me this beat—he’s one of my favourite producers. He knows what I like. We made this song in a couple of minutes basically. One thing I’ve learned though, is that you never really know when you’re in the studio. I’ve come out the studio thinking I’ve done something fairly normal for me, but everyone else has loved it. The bar keeps getting raised by artists around me and I’ve always got my ears open. You can’t rest. When I hear new sounds and new styles and new ideas, it’s refreshing and keeps me on my game. Artists now have confidence to try new things.”
”Kettle Water”
 “This is more my original style. It’s one for the streets. A lot of people are telling me this is their favourite. There’s a nice Fire in the Booth lyric in there too. Charlie Sloth always shows me love.”
”Interlude: 100 Bottles” "I was in the studio with Guilty Beats and he was playing all sorts of things for me. Everyone in the room was surprised when I wanted to play around with this. It fits in nicely with the concept of the tape. I want people to understand some of the struggles that there are during the come-up.”
”Home” "This was a tough one to put together. This took the longest to get together. How would I describe this one? It’s for the ladies, innit. I think it’s a song that girls will quite take to. I think a lot of guys will be able to relate to the situation I’m talking about, too.”
”Swerve (feat. Stefflon Don & NAV)” "Steff is good to work with—she’s got a great energy and brings a lot of ideas to the table. She’s a hard worker. She had the idea to do something a bit different and go back-to-back. We were then discussing who could bring a bit of a wave to the song and came up with NAV. He came through strong. Everyone brought their own creative craft nicely to the tape.”
”Chanel (feat. Lotto Ash)” “This is one of my favourites. The production on this is crazy and Lotto Ash has a sick voice. I think the ladies will take to this one as well. You can’t leave the ladies out now because they’ve showed me a lot of love so I got to make sure I return the favour musically.”
”Let's Go (feat. RV & Krept & Konan)”
 “I’ve done so much with RV in the past and it just comes naturally to us—we bounce off each other. We felt like we needed someone to come in and match the vibe and bring some humour, too, so reached out to Krept & Konan.”
”Nearly Died”
 “This is a lot more recent than some of the other songs and it reflects the stage I was at, which is why I think it sounds so natural and honest. I tried a little melody here and I like to think it came through nicely [laughs]. I was working with Rex on this one—he brings a lot of ideas and gets involved creatively. Working with producers can be a bit like first dates. Sometimes they just understand which way your mind’s going and it fits into place. Rex is one of those guys. But if you don’t have that connection, you try to be as understanding as possible and work regardless. And you don’t know: sometimes you might not strike on the first date, but need to give it second or third date…”
”Numbed Down” “This was with my guy SYKES. He’s got so much in his locker. The title and the place it is on the mixtape work so well. It’s relaxing. It couldn’t be anywhere else on the tape.”


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