Editors’ Notes “Drill is my genre and I feel like I’m owning that now,” Loski tells Apple Music. “When I was younger, Chicago’s drill music had a big influence on us. I remember every day going home from school to look on YouTube at all the Chicago music and what was going on. Then people from Brixton started doing it, but we were also speeding up the tempo of the beats almost, we didn’t know we would start anything, it’s just what we were into.” Pioneering the UK’s variant on the sound from Chicago’s South Side, Loski introduced himself in the summer of 2016. He unveiled his animated flow on breakout single ‘Hazards’—instincts perhaps inherited from his father, Ty Nizzy: a founding member of mid-2000s Brixton rap crew PDC. Death, street beefs and unseemly departures would punctuate the next couple of years for Loski’s own south London collective, Harlem Spartans, while Loski himself served two prison sentences either side of a pair of reputation-enhancing mixtapes. “Obviously, music’s my life right now,” he says, nodding to his debut album’s title. “This is how I’m living. I’ve been on trial my whole life. Not even just with my cases, but trials through anything. Football trials, trials through school. In a way, it’s like we’re all on trial. And then the trauma that’s been over the last couple of years—and since my early teens, really.” Here, Loski picks out the key tracks from a record that underlines his evolution as a man and an artist, and points to a bright future for himself and UK drill.

Anglo Saxon (feat. Blanco)
“Blanco was rapping under the Harlem [Spartans] name even before I was. Blanco, and my cousin Bis, who passed away, those two were the first to start rapping. They used to go to a youth club called Alford House in Kennington. They went there for maybe two days and they came up with like 10 songs. So then I started rapping. Right as we started, I went to jail and they carried on the Harlem thing. When I came out they were in jail, so it was like we kept missing each other. I remember sitting in jail—listening to the radio and hearing ‘Kennington Where It Started’, ‘Call Me A Spartan’, all of those tunes. I was in jail for all of that and when I was out, I heard that Blanco was inside. So ‘Anglo Saxon’ is really something the fans needed. Blanco hasn’t rapped on a drill beat in a long time as well. He’s from Angola so the beats h’s rapping on now are mad—these Brazilian-sounding types of instrumentals. He’s trying to bring his own sound through and push something new, but we all started on drill. This is for all the Harlem fans.”

Basil Brush (feat. OFB, Bandokay & Double Lz)
“I’ve worked on a lot of tunes with OFB in the studio and they put in work, they’re both really good. It just works. Differently to that, [OFB member] Bando’s dad [Mark Duggan] and mine were very close, so the love and respect has always been there, trust me. When I was in jail and I found out he was rapping, it was so sick to me. It’s always nice to keep that connection alive and keep working together. More than anything, it’s a family thing with them.”

Captain Hook
“This is probably my favorite drill song on here. I said: ‘Lost my heart when I lost my darg’, and that’s referencing when we lost [Harlem Spartans member] SA. That was my first big loss, and I thought nothing could be worse, right? Then Bis died and it was just mad. I feel like after taking those two big, big losses, anything else that happens in life I don’t even think could affect me more.”

Avengers (feat. Fredo & Popcaan)
“When I was sent this beat I wasn’t feeling it at the time. I had just come out and I was only trying to get on drill—I didn’t wanna hear any other sounds. But I was in the studio, I had a session with [UK producers] Mojam and management came back in and heard it like, ‘Oh, that’s a hit. Make that hit!’ So I pulled the tune back up and we finished it. It was all done in about half an hour. I laid the verse and the chorus and we were thinking of who to put on it. Working through bare names, and then the link with Popcaan came up, so we made that happen. He put his verse on it, shelled it, and obviously Fred has jumped on and done his thing. Everything worked out.”

Flavour (with Stormzy)
“This one’s mad. Stormzy had the tune first. He was in LA with the producer and he says when he made this he was thinking of my tune [2018 single] ‘Cool Kid’, like, ‘Right, this needs Loski on it’, that kinda thing. Listen, it’s a Stormzy tune: even if I didn’t like it I was probably going to rock with it! But he hit me up, I heard it and it was dope so we made it happen. We’ve had this tune for over a year now, DJ Tiiny played it on the radio once and since then the fans have been waiting and waiting to hear this.”

Black
“I’ve always remembered my mum telling me, ‘Oh, I really want you to remix (2007 single) “Black Boys” by Bashy’. It came out in 2007 when I was a little boy, I would be watching Channel U and the song would come on, and I’d run and say, ‘Mum! The song’s on!’ A few of my aunts know Bashy well and they speak highly of him so I’ve got a lot of respect for the man. [UK producer] Naughty Boy made the beat for the song and I have that connection with him so it was sick to be able to get the parts for the song and remake it. My mum hasn’t heard this yet but I know she’ll be gassed when she does, I just tried to flip it in my way.”

Blinded (feat. Mike Skinner)
“I’ll be honest, I didn’t know this song sampled a track by The Streets [‘Blinded By the Lights’]. I knew the song from [2006 British film] Kidulthood! Even now, the mandem say to me, ‘Yo, that Kidulthood song is cold!’ but I can correct them now like, ‘It’s The Streets, that’s Mike Skinner!’ Crazy! I just liked it from when I was a little boy and I wanted to remake something that reminded me of happier days.”

Life So Deep (feat. Emeli Sandé)
“I wrote this song a couple of months ago [summer 2020]. It’s kind of inspired by a [Brixton rapper] DVS song from 2006 called ‘Life’s So Deep’. It’s one of my favorites of his, so I want to remake it in my way. I still listen to the music from that whole PDC era, with the history of my pops and everything. In the past, I’ve made tunes that reflect stories of people and the things that I’ve seen growing up but I’ve not written a story with characters and a narrative. So I wanted to do that for the first time. Then to finish it off I wanted to get someone with that real soul and I thought Emeli Sandé would be dope, because no-one’s doing that! Nobody in my genre can say they go to Emeli Sandé for features. I’m just happy she heard it and thought it was dope too.”

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