12 Songs, 35 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Something of a rap veteran approaching 30, Chip almost gave up on the idea of a joint project with friend and fellow Tottenham MC Skepta after a decade of false starts. “I told him, ‘You always say that, though, it's been 10 years,’” he tells Apple Music. “This time, he’s like, 'No, I'm serious, man, and we need to get [D-Block Europe MC] Young Adz on a couple of tunes, too.’ I was working on a joint thing with Adz, kind of, just making tracks. They didn't know each other, but I made sure we all met up the next day at 6 pm, and it started.” The product of these sessions is 12 tracks which blur creative lines and crash through the current UK rap atmosphere. “Skepta's the triple OG, Chip’s a double OG,” says Young Adz. “And me? I’m the Young OG.” Insomnia is a celebration of all three’s ability to outlast, adapt, and reinvent in the most cutthroat of environments. Testament to this, Chip explains how the trio pushed themselves through a gauntlet of intense recording, pushing boundaries and testing out new elements. “There's no trace. There's nothing, no pens, no writing down, just straight off the top,” he says. “The three of us have a tattoo that says ‘PAIN,’” Chip says. “I don’t think that we’ve ever spoken about it. I've got it on my shin, A's got it on his forehead, and Skep's is on his wrist. I think there's something a bit deeper that aligns us, more than just the music stuff.” Here, Chip pulls back the curtain on the trio’s connection, revealing the all-night workings behind Insomnia with a track-by-track guide.


Mains
“This was the first beat that Skep sent me, and I thought, 'Yeah, Adz will like this,' so I told him to park it. Adz came to the studio late—that was the first day. The first song we made. No one had spoke. No one said, ‘Wagwan.’ Bear in mind those two had never met. Adz went in, we just kept going back to back, off the back of it. And after the first song we had a chat. ‘You all right, mate? How are you doing?’ They're both more…anti. I'm the middle generation that connects them both.”

Golden Brown
“When we decided on doing this, we realized we needed different dynamics for songs like this. As soon as I ran the beat in the studio, everyone just started gliding, arms like wings, flying. Skepta put down that hook, but he kept saying, 'It's the intro. It's not the hook, just an intro.' I did my verse after, Adz did his verse, and then we lived with it for a few days. Once we'd all lived with it, we said to him, ‘Listen, bro, that's the hook,’ and he was like, ‘I know, man, I was just shook, ’cause I was singing!’ Now you've got a SK [Skepta] melody, no Auto-Tune.”

Waze
“You don't see three separate entities coming together like for this project. It's clearly a higher calling for all of us. Our energies brought us together at this time, in this moment—besides the music.”

Demons (feat. Dirtbike LB)
“LB [D-Block Europe member] made me go back in. I heard his [verse], I was like, ‘Nah, fam. I need to attack this one again.’ There was a time where if you were too rage they wouldn't let you in this thing, and now the internet's here, it's out of anyone’s control. DBE [D-Block Europe], they'll say things that everyone else is experiencing but scared to say, and that's why my respect for them is so high.”

St Tropez
“When Skepta made the production, he wasn't too sure we would like it, but I love some different s**t. I said, 'This is fire.' He was like, 'It's gotta be hit right.’ He was just saying that, 'It's got to be hit right.’ That's all he kept saying. And I just jumped in there, straight off the top.”

Insomnia Interlude
“‘A madman would never look for a zebra crossing on the A406. Greatness only.’ That’s Greatness Dex [Skepta’s business partner] at the end there. That's the quote of the whole project.”

Star in the Hood
“Da Beatfreakz [London-based production duo], big them up. We recorded this at their studio and they was on us like, ‘We’ve got to get one on there.’ They came through with this one and the interlude.”

Mic Check
“Skep didn't like this at first, then he told me he was driving to Tower Bridge listening to the instrumental and it hit him like: 'What the f**k, this is crazy.’ By then, me and Adz had our bits down already. It was important to me that, on a project with Skep and Adz, that we represent British culture throughout the production. You have us spittin' grimy on ‘Waze’ but then you get that garage-y production here. If you listen carefully, we're bigging up all the classic garage tunes from our childhood that got us gassed. ‘Star in the Hood’ has that drill element. These are all sounds stemmed out of the UK. We wanted to make it a broad, versatile representation production-wise.”

Traumatised
“It's just naked, honesty, man. It's not every day you get songs where men are just honest about the things we deal with mentally. I think for me also, what I love the most on this is the saxophone. When that sax hits, it makes the lyrics feel like the sax, does that makes sense? It's a feeling. These are the situations that people make songs about to get stripes for; that's never been my angle, but I've been through mad s**t. I've been through so much that you'll never hear a song about. I'll cause my real life too much problems—it's about finding ways to express that without spilling too much.”

Sin City
“SOS produced ‘Sin City’ and ‘High Road’ here too—he’s [UK producer] Harmony’s little brother. Harmony made 'Champion,' 'Take Off,' 'In the Air' from Transition [Chip’s 2011 album]. I always knew H had a little brother that was murderous on the keys. As long as I've worked with one of them on any project I do, that's me staying true to my musical core.”

High Road
“I had to make it clear here, my whole angle. I’ve never sold drugs. This is the same me that you saw at 16, getting GCSEs, and then in the charts by 17. This is who I am at 30.”

Intro
“We wanted this one, the last one, to be a hidden track at the end of ‘High Road.’ It’s because of some streaming politics you're not allowed to do that, apparently. So we had to put it at the end here. It's more of a preview.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Something of a rap veteran approaching 30, Chip almost gave up on the idea of a joint project with friend and fellow Tottenham MC Skepta after a decade of false starts. “I told him, ‘You always say that, though, it's been 10 years,’” he tells Apple Music. “This time, he’s like, 'No, I'm serious, man, and we need to get [D-Block Europe MC] Young Adz on a couple of tunes, too.’ I was working on a joint thing with Adz, kind of, just making tracks. They didn't know each other, but I made sure we all met up the next day at 6 pm, and it started.” The product of these sessions is 12 tracks which blur creative lines and crash through the current UK rap atmosphere. “Skepta's the triple OG, Chip’s a double OG,” says Young Adz. “And me? I’m the Young OG.” Insomnia is a celebration of all three’s ability to outlast, adapt, and reinvent in the most cutthroat of environments. Testament to this, Chip explains how the trio pushed themselves through a gauntlet of intense recording, pushing boundaries and testing out new elements. “There's no trace. There's nothing, no pens, no writing down, just straight off the top,” he says. “The three of us have a tattoo that says ‘PAIN,’” Chip says. “I don’t think that we’ve ever spoken about it. I've got it on my shin, A's got it on his forehead, and Skep's is on his wrist. I think there's something a bit deeper that aligns us, more than just the music stuff.” Here, Chip pulls back the curtain on the trio’s connection, revealing the all-night workings behind Insomnia with a track-by-track guide.


Mains
“This was the first beat that Skep sent me, and I thought, 'Yeah, Adz will like this,' so I told him to park it. Adz came to the studio late—that was the first day. The first song we made. No one had spoke. No one said, ‘Wagwan.’ Bear in mind those two had never met. Adz went in, we just kept going back to back, off the back of it. And after the first song we had a chat. ‘You all right, mate? How are you doing?’ They're both more…anti. I'm the middle generation that connects them both.”

Golden Brown
“When we decided on doing this, we realized we needed different dynamics for songs like this. As soon as I ran the beat in the studio, everyone just started gliding, arms like wings, flying. Skepta put down that hook, but he kept saying, 'It's the intro. It's not the hook, just an intro.' I did my verse after, Adz did his verse, and then we lived with it for a few days. Once we'd all lived with it, we said to him, ‘Listen, bro, that's the hook,’ and he was like, ‘I know, man, I was just shook, ’cause I was singing!’ Now you've got a SK [Skepta] melody, no Auto-Tune.”

Waze
“You don't see three separate entities coming together like for this project. It's clearly a higher calling for all of us. Our energies brought us together at this time, in this moment—besides the music.”

Demons (feat. Dirtbike LB)
“LB [D-Block Europe member] made me go back in. I heard his [verse], I was like, ‘Nah, fam. I need to attack this one again.’ There was a time where if you were too rage they wouldn't let you in this thing, and now the internet's here, it's out of anyone’s control. DBE [D-Block Europe], they'll say things that everyone else is experiencing but scared to say, and that's why my respect for them is so high.”

St Tropez
“When Skepta made the production, he wasn't too sure we would like it, but I love some different s**t. I said, 'This is fire.' He was like, 'It's gotta be hit right.’ He was just saying that, 'It's got to be hit right.’ That's all he kept saying. And I just jumped in there, straight off the top.”

Insomnia Interlude
“‘A madman would never look for a zebra crossing on the A406. Greatness only.’ That’s Greatness Dex [Skepta’s business partner] at the end there. That's the quote of the whole project.”

Star in the Hood
“Da Beatfreakz [London-based production duo], big them up. We recorded this at their studio and they was on us like, ‘We’ve got to get one on there.’ They came through with this one and the interlude.”

Mic Check
“Skep didn't like this at first, then he told me he was driving to Tower Bridge listening to the instrumental and it hit him like: 'What the f**k, this is crazy.’ By then, me and Adz had our bits down already. It was important to me that, on a project with Skep and Adz, that we represent British culture throughout the production. You have us spittin' grimy on ‘Waze’ but then you get that garage-y production here. If you listen carefully, we're bigging up all the classic garage tunes from our childhood that got us gassed. ‘Star in the Hood’ has that drill element. These are all sounds stemmed out of the UK. We wanted to make it a broad, versatile representation production-wise.”

Traumatised
“It's just naked, honesty, man. It's not every day you get songs where men are just honest about the things we deal with mentally. I think for me also, what I love the most on this is the saxophone. When that sax hits, it makes the lyrics feel like the sax, does that makes sense? It's a feeling. These are the situations that people make songs about to get stripes for; that's never been my angle, but I've been through mad s**t. I've been through so much that you'll never hear a song about. I'll cause my real life too much problems—it's about finding ways to express that without spilling too much.”

Sin City
“SOS produced ‘Sin City’ and ‘High Road’ here too—he’s [UK producer] Harmony’s little brother. Harmony made 'Champion,' 'Take Off,' 'In the Air' from Transition [Chip’s 2011 album]. I always knew H had a little brother that was murderous on the keys. As long as I've worked with one of them on any project I do, that's me staying true to my musical core.”

High Road
“I had to make it clear here, my whole angle. I’ve never sold drugs. This is the same me that you saw at 16, getting GCSEs, and then in the charts by 17. This is who I am at 30.”

Intro
“We wanted this one, the last one, to be a hidden track at the end of ‘High Road.’ It’s because of some streaming politics you're not allowed to do that, apparently. So we had to put it at the end here. It's more of a preview.”

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