little BIG Man

little BIG Man

“I’m aiming to shift the conversations off the back of this project,” Wretch 32 tells Apple Music. “I want people to absorb this message and maybe have second thoughts on whether this is the type of life they want to lead.” A soul-searching wordsmith with a thirst for the cinematic, Wretch has sought to educate from the very beginning of his career. Rewind to 2006 and the Tottenham rapper was outlining a unique mission statement—giving up game and slick wordplay on instructional mixtapes. Spring forward 15 years and his sixth studio album little BIG Man sees Wretch assume the character of teenaged Jerol Wilson. “I’m just trying to get into the head of ignorance,” he says of his concept. “And I think it’s why I really enjoyed writing it—it reminds me of myself when I was younger, a cross between myself at 17 or 18 and my younger siblings.” On stellar production from 169, Beatfreakz, and Sons of Sonix, a compelling storyboard concept emerges, detailing a young man's release from prison—and miseducation on the streets of London. Wretch keenly observes a whirlwind of fast-living hazards, with support from a youthful cast including drill rappers SL (“Next Door”), KayyKayy (“Anxiety”), and K-Trap (“All White”). “My own stuff is always going to sound mad musical,” he says. “That’s my ear. But if I make it like that, it might not reach who needs to hear it. This isn’t one that needs to hit high in the charts, but more than anything, it’s important to me how this project works.” Here he breaks down his concept album, track by track. “The Beginning” “This is it, the welcome home. He’s free.” “On My Life” “I remember as kids we would say stuff like, ‘On my life, trust me, bro,’ willing to say it for anything, almost like we didn’t value our lives. That inspired this chorus; the rest flowed from there.” “All White / Interlude” (feat. Nafe Smallz & K-Trap) “The secret to creating the picture is all about the colors. And I wanted this song to represent two colors, in a way. This is a significant part in the story here, where an altercation happens on a night out. So, it's all [dress code] all white, everyone’s dressed up and looking saucy. And that’s also pure, so it’s like a frame of mind. And when it switches I’m taking it back to those days: when everything was going so well, and something happened and it all went dark.” “Take Care of Me” (feat. Tiggs Da Author) “Tiggs is a bad man. He’s so musical and melodic, he says slick things, man. And he's always a pleasure to work with as well. I wanted to get him on something that felt a lot brighter as well, but within this record, what's key is the chorus. Because it’s a cry for help. This whole song is a G's cry for help. Listen closely: he’s asking for it, but in a gangster way. Like, ‘I don't feel loved. I don't feel cared for…I need help.’ But he’s asking in the smallest, most undramatic way. And that's also part of our ‘thing’ as men.” “Anxiety” (feat. KayyKayy) “Anxiety is something that needs to be tackled. And at this point in the story there's definitely too much smoking going, so there’s anxious feelings around now. ‘Mum says that I’ve got anxiety and I move weird’—he’s not even aware that he’s suffering with something, at this point. Once again, these are the things that we don’t speak about. This is also my brother featured here, he's in [Northumberland Park crew] Sin Squad. They’ve been making music for a while, and I’ve been saying we need to do something for ages. I just couldn’t find a way to bring him into my world—the better fit was to get into his.” “Pressure” (feat. Blade Brown) “There’s beauty in being able to call a G like Blade Brown and explain to him the story: ‘There’s this kid, and he's getting out of pocket. He thinks he's too heavy. So in your verse and half of the chorus, I need you to school him, bro.’ So Blade gives him that, to remind him who started this thing, you get what I'm saying? This is a well-needed reality check.” “Last Night / No One Can Relate” (feat. M Huncho) “I'm a spiritualist—and I feel like I’m perfectly in tune. I could go to sleep and be woken up with a friend's name in my head, and I’ll call them and say, ‘Stay home, bro.’ And they’ll listen because they know me. I’m led by a feeling. I'm led by something. This track is about that day when you feel it in the air. You can't always determine what it is. You can't even determine if the feeling is about you. But when it comes and you don't act, it’s something you will always regret.” “Next Door” (feat. SL & Little Simz) “I had a hook on this at first, but it felt too concept-y. One thing I was careful about was having these tracks feel mad deep. It should feel fun. So I told SL, ‘Ignore the story and do you—whatever you’re gonna say, it’ll fit in. Because it's a mindset—you're young, and I understand that mindset.’ And I really needed Simz at the end to help the penny drop and complete the story.” “The Endz” “From the beginning to ‘the ends,’ because he's right back to where he started now. This is the cycle. But maybe, just maybe if he’d slowed down—less smoking, listened to his intuition and actually spoke up about his feelings throughout all of this—do we still get to this ending? That’s what I want us to all think about.”

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