The streets of West London is where you’ll find the finer things in life; it is also where you’ll find the charismatic upstart Rushy. Back in 2016, Rushy and the rest of S3 — Romy Jo and Lano — were in the dojo finding their flow on multiple tempos, nurturing relationships and building their foundations. For Rushy, the stars began to align upon the release of his single ‘Trippidy Trap’, which brought some acclaim, but the come up isn’t always a stress free journey. With the industry knocking on his door, Stress 3 – his debut EP – is his pursuit of happiness or in his own words, “[it] is meant to bring me to that point of being stress free.”
Our inner compass is dictated by a simple question — why? It’s integral to understand the reasoning behind your actions. On ‘Intro’, Rushy’s hunger is fuelled by ambition and almost uttered – amidst a moody soundscape with drums quaking as he sets out his escape route out of the hood. The video release for ‘Trippidy Trap’ clocked over a million views on YouTube and opened up an avenue for Rushy, but more importantly a lane for young talent outside the road-rap tangent to capture an audience.
“We sat on the track then came to a group decision that it makes the most sense to release this first because it sets the vibe for the type of people that we are. The vibe that we are coming on is different.” Rushy often cites his peers Romy Jo and Lano who make up the rest of Straight 3, and in our discussion he uses ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ when he speaks about his journey. The trio’s friendship runs deeper than mob ties and is rooted in a mutual interest in music discovered during their school years. Therefore, success is equally important for his team as it is for himself.
The gospel of self-sufficiency is preached on many songs and sustained by mistrust. Some music credits nowadays resemble a Marc Jacobs label, albeit music is a collaborative sport. Beyond the front cover of an album cover is a whole load of individuals who have put their blood, sweat and tears into a project. “From an outside eye it might look like, ‘Oh, there’s only one of me’, but that’s because of the way we came into the game,” Rushy says. “We didn’t expect to do what we did straight away.”
The success of his debut music video propelled Rushy into the industry like a daredevil shot out of a cannon. “I feel like because ‘Trippidy Trap’ did so well at the beginning it felt like I was slapped into the industry blind,” he admits. “I didn’t really know what was going on at first so I had to work my way into finding out.” Some young artists have been on the receiving end of an unpleasant contract as a result of naïveté. In an episode of Everyday Struggle, Joe Budden gave Lil Yatchty an earful when the Quality Control rapper admitted to being clueless as to what his 360 contract entailed. Kreayshawn is still knee-deep in a huge debt following her contract deal with Sony due to the fact that the label has yet to recoup from her earlier releases. “I tried to leave myself as blank as possible so I can take in and find out what was actually going on,” Rushy says, tracing his thoughts back to a label meeting. “They’re offering a certain amount of money, cool, but what is the twist to it?”
The music industry is filled with multiple singles fuelled by accessibility and an endless appetite. The latter has contributed to a preference for tasteful production over lyrical content whereby listeners run through single after single. With a wealthy stash of songs in his library, Rushy has built up a reputation for the good vibes he provides which boast his free-flowing cadence and a refreshing selection of beats. “I’m trying to make the tunes as fun as possible, but make them make as much sense as possible, too.” He continues, “Some tunes are fun, they last a little bit and then they’re gone.” This thought process brought him to a realisation that in order for him to create timeless music he had to adjust his strategy.
Stress 3 finds Rushy using his debut project as the pivot or, in his own words, a ‘learning stage’ towards longevity. His first step of action was to expand his sound, which he credits to music producer HoneywoodSix for playing a big role during the creative process. “While I was finding my sound he was finding different sounds,” Rushy says, “instead of me just jumping on one of his beats, he began making them with us in mind and that meant the music started to make more sense.” I ask Rushy whether he has found his sound to which he takes a few seconds to gather his thoughts. “I don’t like saying that I have a sound because I don’t think I have a sound. When people hear ‘Trippidy Trap’, yeah, cool, I can do that sound, but that’s not the only kind of music I make.”
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about music artists it’s that they’re sensitive about their art. As is the case with Tyler, the Creator and his Grammy award-winning album IGOR. The album roams through multiple genres and is strung together by the same hands that dug through multiple crates extracting sounds from Bibi Mascel, Nkono Teles and Bob Welch with Head West. So when an earnest Tyler won his Grammy for Best Rap Album, he responded with gratitude, but an assertion to remind listeners that IGOR was not a rap album. Some may argue that rap is snubbed by rappers who insist that they transcend the realms of the genre as a form of expression. In this instance, it wasn’t that Tyler snubbed rap, but more so an actualisation of what he attempted on previous efforts.
Behind the stylish aesthetic and slick talk is an individual who is intentional with his music which he dissects to the smallest level. For instance, take his beat selection which he admits “sounds American” and comes down to his love for stateside rappers. In his current rotation you can find Future and the new vanguards of contemporary hip-hop such as Gunna, Lil Baby and NBA YoungBoy. He adds, “I was always that guy, like, this beat might sound American, but I’m going to make it sound British.” In the past, British rappers were shunned if they were caught rapping with an American accent, however, the music scene has taken a gradual liking to homegrown artists cranking out music far removed from the UK. Nafe Smallz, D-Block Europe, and M Huncho are just some that have brought the crossbred trap-wave sound to this isle with great effect.
With sky-high ambition Rushy set his sights on breaking his sound with a strategy that seems to be working out in his favour. “I always try to keep my voice as clear as possible, so people know exactly what words I am saying. There’s going to be some people who can’t take you in because they can’t hear what you’re saying.” British rappers haven’t been given the same leniency as their stateside peers – the Birmingham drawl doesn’t exactly have the same appeal as the Bronx accent. With all of that being said, Rushy proposes his solution through his delivery in which he strips his raps down to a point where even “parents will be able to get it.”
East London has reportedly been the stomping ground for budding talent rising at meteoric pace. However, West London is arguably taking the spotlight for producing a range of acts such as Fredo, Digga D, to movements such as Elevation Meditation (Lord Apex, Louis Culture, P-rallel) and NiNE8 (Lava La Rue, Bone Slim, Nayana IZ) harvesting a cult-like fan base. I can’t yet put my finger on the biggest name to come out of Hayes until Rushy mentions the likes of E.Mak, TE dness and, Solo LDN, a promising Somali rapper who abandoned his music career to focus on his Islamic faith. Contrary to the old head’s opinion on the new crop of rappers, Rushy pays his respect to those who came before him. We both acknowledge the ‘crabs in a barrel’ mentality that has plagued the industry, but recent times indicate that we are gradually turning away from this egocentric outlook. “If you’re from New York and you’ve got a little buzz, that’s it! Every single person in New York, maybe in New Jersey and other local places, will support you. But [over] here I might get support from Hayes and then they’ll be a couple neighbourhood locations that don’t want to support me because I’m from Hayes.”
“I never thought I was going to be a rapper. It wasn’t a thing I was aspiring to do,” Rushy says, earnestly, so to arrive at this part of his journey must be meaningful. On the topic of his debut project Stress 3, we delve further into his creative process and try to figure out his state of mind. The project is a summation of lessons extracted from life experiences, as heard on ‘Faces, his ethos — “cruising in my own lane I’ll never lane switch.”
At this period drill music is undeniably the biggest sound in the UK while other sub-genres are not met with the same reception. It has led to artists leaning towards the vigour of 808 whips and ghastly production style to boost their sound. Rushy refuses to succumb to the latter and judging from his response it becomes clear that competition isn’t a concern for him: “I feel like my way of staying ahead of the competition is to stay out of the competition.” He continues, “I fuck with most of the people that others would say are my competition.” Do not be quick to call Rushy a pacifist because he wouldn’t back down from a challenge, in his own words.
The upbeat energy and dynamic production that make up singles in his discography isn’t completely indicative of the difference he brings to the scene. On Stress 3, Rushy unveils a side of him which is foreign to his listeners and sheds some of his skin. ‘Need Money’, which just so happens to be one of the more meaningful songs in which he gives listeners a glimpse into his personal life. “I feel like this was one of those beats I could get certain things off my chest, ‘need money, mom can live her dream money,’” he recites the lyrics. The aforementioned track clocks in under two minutes and turns out be enough to express the dreams money can buy. “These are the type of things that I don’t normally put in my music, but it’s not on purpose.”
The larger than life personality is given room to connect with listeners via the penultimate track ‘Harder’. The song integrates religion into his music, particularly Islam, on a slow-burning production alongside Lano. Rushy makes reference to the Shahadah which is a declaration of faith in Islam, “I’m from an area where there’s a lot of Muslims. I’m not a religious person, but it’s not like I don’t know what’s going on. It’s a way of life for a lot of my friends so I’m not going to dismiss it.”
Although Rushy’s moral compass isn’t influenced by religion, he traces his thoughts back to an encounter with the police. A situation he remains tight-lipped on, but naturally our conversation pivots back to Solo LDN. “When Solo LDN jumped on his deen [it] probably had a big influence on a lot of people from my area.” Solo LDN’s early retirement came as a big shock to the Hayes community, it is without question an action he was compelled to take. In a similar vein, Rushy was hit with an ultimatum: “take the religious route or carry on with what I’m doing, that’s how Solo opened my eyes.”
The same way Islam arrested the soul of a thriving rapper is inadvertently what encouraged another to pick up the mic. “I’m fully in this one,” he says, “I was stuck there, but now I’m here, in the booth, and I’m about to raise hell.”