Rap Game Awful

Rap Game Awful

“The music industry is cutthroat, and the rap game is even worse,” Clavish tells Apple Music. “There’s been no surprises for me. I knew what it was coming into this, so my perspective has always stayed the same. I’m trying to stay on top of my game, I’m not even watching anyone else’s ting.” Surveying his rise, it appears the breakthrough into the rap game happened almost immediately for the Stamford Hill rapper—who first surfaced in a viral freestyle from the back seat of a car in 2018. A short break failed to dim his buzz, and he re-emerged on Nines’ 2020 album Crabs in a Bucket for “All Stars 2” with Frosty, Q2T, and Chappo (a track Clavish also provided the beats on). With a cold and detached flow that lends itself to the menace upon which the genre thrives, Clavish became a reluctant poster boy for the next generation of drill artist. As it turns out, he’s not too keen on representing. “Streets is fake, rap game worse, I don’t even wanna participate/Me and Kodak Black alike, I don’t even rap, I illustrate,” he says on the “Thong Song”-sampling cut “Traumatised.” Across the 28-track serving for Rap Game Awful, he opens up further. Together with a handful of up-and-coming British producers (CHEK Beatz, Kazza, Makenobeats), Clavish submits a blistering assessment on the state of play today as he grapples with his growing fame and explores feelings of loss, trauma, and guilt. “I keep myself to myself, so it’s quite easy for me to be reflective,” he says. “But when people listen to my music, they seem to resonate with it differently.” Below, he takes us through 10 highlights from his debut. “Rap Game Intro” “I had a lot to get off my chest here. The intros to my projects are always meaningful, just like the freestyles I drop at the start of each year. When there’s no hook, people tend to focus on my lyrics a bit more, so I try to give as much insight into my surroundings and environment as I can.” “NRF Freestyle” “There’s more fake shit going on in the rap industry than on the roads, I’m not really with the weird industry shit. Don’t get me wrong, I fuck with a couple people in the industry, but the relationships are all genuine.” “Public Figure” “I never used to take this rap shit seriously. I used to do it for the fun of it, then my music started getting acknowledged. Now, I’m always getting stopped and noticed, even when I cover my face, my fans still notice me. I can’t be low-key. And when people listen to my music, they resonate with it differently. That’s when I started to feel like a public figure.” “Rocket Science” (feat. D-Block Europe) “I think DBE have had the UK trap wave ting on lock for some time now. We had to make it happen for this tape and I’m glad we did. I genuinely fuck with their music, and I always knew a track with them would go off.” “4 of Us” (feat. Rimzee, Tiny Boost & Youngs Teflon) “These guys I’ve featured on this track are all three rappers that I rate highly, it’s not any deeper than that.” “Mariah Carey” (feat. Teeway) “I think Teeway is cold. I feel like my fans have wanted me to work with him for ages, so I had to give it to them.” “Traumatised” “I remember [listening to Sisqó’s ‘Thong Song’] back in the day—the song used to pop off. It’s a unique sample. No one in the scene has used those strings on a beat before, so I thought it would be cold if I was the first to do it.” “Trying” (feat. Kaash Paige) “I rock with Kaash Paige, I reckon she’s got one of the dopest voices in R&B music right now. And, I guess, having her voice on this hook helped me to tap into another side of my artistry: I wrote these lyrics from a place I’ve never gone before musically, so yeah, shout out to Kaash!” “22 Missed Calls” “When I’m in my bag writing, I normally put my phone on Do Not Disturb. Sometimes it’s hard for people to get through to me, and that’s something that my people always complain about. This came from the one time I thought: ‘Fuck it, I’m just going to make a song about it.’” “Rap Game Outro” “My n***a NB [Nana Banger] should be here; he’s the real reason I’m doing this [rap music]. YB and Rick, who I also mention on this song, are people from my neighborhood that should also still be here. I do this because they never got the chance to.”


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