No Signal

No Signal

On No Signal, French The Kid adapts his smooth, bilingual style to the dominant forces of UK rap in 2023. Or perhaps it’s the other way around. Across its 18 tracks, the Essex rhymer’s second mixtape serves up drill flows from the scene’s finest beatsmiths and taps into a delicious array of sample flips. But there’s no escaping French’s unique appeal—rooted in his skillful blend of English and French verses. “I am one of the least trend-based artists you’ll ever come across,” he tells Apple Music. “I’m not really bothered about what anyone else thinks. As long as I know there’s substance in what I’m saying, that’s it for me. It will always be about rap and the realness.” Here, we get an authoritative command of dreamy hooks and self-reflective lyrics that drive straight to the source of personal anguish—and triumphs. There are moving tributes to family members (“Snow”), soul-baring confessionals around PTSD (“Quiet Kid”), and celebrations of hard graft and big dreams (“White Wine”). Read on for French’s track-by-track guide to his mixtape. “Single Player” “For this track, I was just in a mood. When I’m in that space, I prefer these darker, more emotional beats—so I knew exactly where I was going as soon as I heard this sample. We mixed in some Jersey [club] drums later, for that bounce in there. And, because it’s always difficult to clear samples: we ended up using a whole bunch of free VST plug-ins and presets.” “Paradise” “A lot of these songs are sparked by finding that killer sample, sometimes with help or by myself, and putting the track together from there. Once I found this one [using a free sample database on a Splice plug-in], Twin Two [UK producer] turned around like it was nothing. He always seems to understand exactly what I need.” “S-Class” “I actually don’t own a Merc right now. But you’ll know where to find me real soon: in the back of the S-Class, banging this mixtape out on the speakers. And I give a quick shout to West Ham [Football Club]—with the ‘Boss like I’m Allardyce’ line. I’m a huge fan!” “Constantina” “[UK producer and instrumentalist] Ben Stancombe and [UK producer] Lovelife produced this one. I went up to Birmingham to record, and we spent all day on this—vibing away. The beat is just madness. Those Arabic vocals going through it made me think, ‘This has got to be a drill [flow], but I need to get my melodies in there too.’” “Waiting for You” “I love guitar chords on my beats, it’s my favorite thing. And it’s becoming part of my core sound, you can also hear it on tracks like [2021 single] ‘Can’t Feel My Face.’ I had the hook down here already, but these absolutely beautiful chords had me focused to finish this tune in one go.” “Trip” “This is a reminder: French is still heavy on his rap stuff. I’d recorded this song maybe a year ago, on a different beat, it was a little too happy and didn’t really match with the bars. So I’ve gone back in with [UK producers] Chucks and Honeywoodsix, proper serious beatmakers, and they’ve really understood what I needed. Now everything makes sense.” “Notice Me” “This is a big banger—and I don’t say that lightly. For years, I’ve been trying to perfect this sound here. I’ve hooked up a rock-style chorus, mixed in drill verses, and I think we’ve perfected it. I swear, I tried about three or four different beats before finally landing on this one—so if you want a hardcore vibe, somewhere between rock and drill, this is definitely for you.” “Night & Rain” “This is the same bag I was in for ‘Single Player.’ I really enjoyed the whole Jersey hype [on that song] so I wanted to go back in with it. I was also motivated to make this for my fans. Most of them are boys, so it’s nice to switch it up with something for the girls to break down and sing along to.” “White Wine” “For this track, I was just trying to sort out my sound a bit and show that I can do a few more different things. I remember I was already singing this chorus when we found this sample [of Michael Franks’ 1980 track ‘Lotus Blossom’]. Flicking through the beats with [UK producer] M1onthebeat, he just makes it so much easier to locate the perfect one.” “Remember” “This is the track on the mixtape that’s all rap, straight bars. There’s two of them including ‘Fuck a Trend.’ Lovelife ran this for me as I was about to leave the studio one night, I’d had enough of recording. But I wrote this on the spot. That’s how it has to be, 100 percent. I really do write my moods.” “Quiet Kid” “At this point, I felt like I needed some new flows. I wasn’t getting bored, but I wanted something fresh, and maybe even better? Chucks found a great sample [the intro of Cleo Sol’s ‘Sunshine’], again—so, so spot on, and we built the track around these skippy flows. To all the quiet kids out there finding their voices: just do it. Realistically, the people hating on you, they’ve never had the balls to do anything with themselves. So why not have fun? Believe in yourself and see what happens.” “Falling” “My supporters pushed me to record this, definitely. I put out a freestyle on Instagram, and they all loved it. All I was getting was, ‘Where’s that freestyle? When is it out?’ I started to think, ‘God, they won’t leave me alone, will they?’ I've always liked it, but it’s quite short, so the perfect place for it is here. It’s a smooth, late-drive vibe—play it and get in your feelings.” “Hear Me Now” “I was trying to switch up the sound [of the mixtape] here. I had these verses on another track, again, that wasn’t stopping me. My manager hates it—inevitably, I’ll end up using bars I already have on something else. Most of the time it’s an accident, but I honestly love it.” “Fuck a Trend” “It’s all in the title here. This is my statement: ‘Fuck what you’re saying, this is straight rap, this is me.’” “Antidote” “This is a slow, trap-style, wavy anthem. But when it drops, the pace picks up. We worked on that for a bit and I really like that variation. I could hear myself on this beat as soon as I heard it—an absolute vibe.” “Give Me a Reason” “This was produced by [UK producer] X10 and M1onthebeat, and in this session, I also linked up again with Twin. He was the first producer that I ever met on this music journey, and I don’t know if it was God, but something brought us back together, somehow. Yeah, that was a good session, and what a day!” “Snow” “We had a really hard sample on this at first, it was [2022 single] ‘California Breeze’ [by Lil Baby], but we just couldn’t clear it. So I’m very lucky that Lovelife stepped in to recreate the beat for me. This was released [in December 2022] quickly, for the fans—just to hold on to while I was getting the rest of these tracks ready, and I’m happy it’s done what it was supposed to do.” “Insanity” “This track takes me back to the type of music I grew up to. I’ve always wanted to record a track like that because I always imagine performing tracks like it, in front of all my supporters, singing along to it. I speak about my brother, and this is the type of music he loves—the guitar and stuff, so it’s also a bit of a homage.”

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