Suspect is on the verge of something. To be honest, this a point I believed long before I sat down with the man himself but it was a point reinforced through our conversation. A brief search history of ‘Suspect OTB’ will show you just how much work he has put in and now, his name is creating a buzz around the country and beyond. By understanding his journey and the method behind his music, it’s clear that this is just the beginning for him. Suspect is an ever evolving artist, forever looking to develop and learn from within.
Coming up through the UK rap scene in 2011/12, early videos show Suspect in his home habitat, Walworth Road to be precise, tackling raw beats with a vicious and brutal style. His unapolgetic and honest approach to music was a reflection of himself, and people championed his authentic sound. But this was nothing new to Suspect who rapped about what he saw and used real life situations as his inspiration when making music, “I don’t feel like I have to say stuff but I can say it”. However, the flip side to this was that music was never propositioned as a viable career path or option and was simply used to appease him and the team around him. “Back in the day, the angle was just about speaking the truth and being real. When I first started rapping, it was about giving a voice to my crew. They just needed to hear our side of the story”.
It’s not neccesarilly clear when the actual “moment” came, the moment when music took over. For Sus, it was all about the sound he wanted to bring to his listeners. Not interested in numbers, he declares himself an advocate for those who aren’t racking in views and don’t have bare Instagram followers. By not putting weight and expectations on himself, Suspect has found himself able to move in ways that many artists aren’t able to. His sound is experimental as he looks to craft his own path through music and in turn, the music provides a look into the man himself. “I feel like I’m done explaining who I am to be honest. I think there will be a time when I want to be closer to my fans but I think the music speaks for itself… I see it [music] as my form of expression and letting people know where I’m at in life. I’m not the kind of person to give too much away so my songs let you know where I’m at“.
By creating such an authentic brand of music, Suspect has been able to reflect on where he has been, using tracks as markers in his life. They remind him of where he was, what he was feeling and going through and what situation he was in. This also ties back to his fans and those who have been watching his progression, “People that have been listening from the beginning have seen the journey and the more life I’m living, the more stuff I have got to talk about“. While Suspect states that he can’t regret anything, lessons have been learned in his come up which still influence his decisions today.
With everything I was doing, I was just trying to make a mark and the mark got deeper and deeper.
2017 was a great year for Suspect. His debut mixtape ‘Loading’ was released to major fanfare, with people praising the overall project and the finesse of all of the major tracks. The two biggest tracks ‘Wonder What (Remix)‘ and ‘FBG‘ saw him in his element, turning up and having fun while doing it. ‘Loading’ even got a nod for Best Mixtape at the 2017 Rated Awards, further solidifying it’s impact on the scene. Talking in depth about the project and how it all came together, its clear that the main inspiration was his fans and delivering something that he could be proud of. “I actually didn’t want to come out selling a tape, the plan wasn’t for people to think I’m milking them to get money for myself. It was more about building because people had heard me on Giggs and Gunna’s tapes and saw I’d dropped a few tracks and they were hard. So I wanted to drop a project to show them what I had and the work rate“.
Suspect’s work rate not only shows through his musical output, but in every avenue he puts his mind to. September 2017 saw his first headline show and Suspect set levels high, looking to do everything he could to set himself apart from the rest. From assembling an all star line up of guests from Giggs to Big Shaq/Michael Daapah, to giving out printed copies of ‘Loading’ with exclusive tracks for attendees, Suspect wanted to put on a show for those who support his vision; “I wanted to put on a spectacle…that was the maddest show ever”. He’s looking to top that this year, not only by supporting Giggs on his European tour but with a second headline show, taking over the O2 Academy at the end of April. “This is all about ‘Loading’, this is the ‘Loading’ show. I am putting on a show and this is an experience that you won’t see anywhere else”.
Ambition is another aspect of Suspect that pushes him through his musical pursuit, its apparent in his tracks which portray a desire to succeed. While self belief is one side of a coin, you have to be able to push through with your dreams and Suspect is doing it in abundance. He gets gassed after playing me an unreleased Jesse James Solomon track and speaks on how he believes he is next to blow, all while talking on how he respects talent. The term Flamboyant Gangster is not one thrown about easily and Suspect truly believes in himself and his current offerings, “I want to be remembered as the trillest ni**a, I want people to remember me as Sus, who just came through and fucked the game wide open“.
The past few months have seen Suspect’s stock rise with a string of new releases. January saw him enter 2018 with a bang (quite literally), with ‘Say It With Your Chest’, a hypnotising number with thumping trap undertones, that allowed Sus to let loose with his intricate wordplay. Next up saw an unexpected remix of BlocBoy JB & Drake’s ‘Look Alive’ alongside Skepta. While Sus admits that the remix game is not always for him, he has proved before with #Trapway (a flip of Migo’s Bad & Boujee’) that he can tackle US instrumentals and still drop his signature style. The track was a certified hit and many even said that the track should be measured on it’s own merits. Last up was ‘One Way’, a woozy rap banger with an infectious hook matching Suspect up with Skepta and aforementioned Jesse James Soloman. Everyone shines on the track and despite all three representing a different sound in the UK scene, the chemistry is clear. Each of these releases help elevate Sus to another level and clearly set the tone for the rest of the year.
There is no defined formula that I need to stick to, I keep evolving and changing it up.
With this in mind, Suspect is looking forward to what is set to come next, his upcoming project ‘Still Loading’ will be dropping via Rinse. The anticipation of the project weighs heavy on his head, matched with a “geekness” on what to expect. While most details such as the release date and the current features are being heavily guarded, the headline is that this is a different Sus to the one that we saw on ‘Loading’. The gap between the two releases have given him the space to grow more confident, more advanced on tracks and this could very well be one of the great releases of 2018.“While the first project was about putting it out there and seeing what happens, now I know what CAN happen and WILL happen when the new ting drops. This is all about stages, and I’ve gotta keep it moving and try to advance all the time”. The end of his response is yet another reminder of his forward thinking nature.
While we are concerned with ‘Still Loading’, he is thinking about what he will drop next,”I’m eager to get it out because I’m already on the next one because the work never stops“. Suspect is already building towards his debut album, which he reassures me will be “a movie”. And to be honest, I have no reason to doubt him. By being able to know where his strengths lie, he can make every track a banger and know when exactly to drop them, capitalising on what has come before and building for the future.
By the end of our conversation, I find myself further intrigued by what will happen next with Suspect and the next chapter in his story. With an ambition and workrate that can only be commended and a never-say-die attitude to match, he looks to be a flag-bearer for the scene with his honest take on what he sees. 2018 will mark a significant point for Suspect’s career, which shows no signs of slowing down. Suspect is on the verge of something.
Suspect is on the verge of something….special.