Lewisham-based MC Young Yizzy is The Grime Kid with a plan. Since January last year, Yizzy has been building the foundations for a long term career in the scene and this year has already started better than he ever imagined. Going back to his earlier school days when Yizzy first began toying around with rhymes, his ambition and hunger have always been sky high.
Yizzy credits local MC Koder as one of those people who was always on hand to offer advice and give Yizzy a push. “He used to kick ball with my brother but obviously I have grown up since then and we hadn’t spoken for a while,” they reconnected when Yizzy came to Koder’s video shoot and featured in a cypher at the end. “Obviously I see what he’s doing and shit, and for him to say [my bars are] sick, I thought maybe I can run with this a bit longer, just see how it goes.”
Talking to Yizzy is easy, although he’s massively ambitious about where his future lies, there’s no diva about him. Driven by a love of the scene and a hunger to make good music he soaks up all there is to learn from the people around him.“My manager entered me into the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition, the song he sent them was ‘Grime Kid’,” Yizzy tells me, when I meet him in South East London to get the backstory on one of the new school’s most exciting prospects.
“I knew [my manager] was doing it, but I didn’t think anything would come out of it – next thing I know he turns round couple weeks ago and says ‘you know that thing? You got shortlisted and you’re in the final 120’. He said ‘that’s big! People will start to notice you from that, and we can use that to push you forward.’ I was like ‘cool’, then he phones me about two weeks ago and says ‘you’ll never guess what? They’ve narrowed it down from 120 to eight and you’re in that list of eight.”
Although Yizzy had never previously paid too much attention to mainstream festivals like Glastonbury – “I’m more into Eskimo Dance and Sidewinder init,” – he understands how much of a blessing winning an emerging talent competition like Glastonbury’s could be this early in this career, “I gotta go to Somerset to perform two songs – the song that got me there, ‘Grime Kid’, and another song I got coming very soon called ‘Steppin’.” The eight emerging talent finalists all perform two songs each, the winner will receive £5,000 PRS grant while the runner up gets £2,500 and both will gain the opportunity to perform at the country’s biggest and best known festival. “That’s very big for me, but I always look at it from a performing standpoint, I love to perform.”
Young Yizzy put out his first musical work while he was still in school, he worked on ‘Insanity’ EP from top to bottom and loved the experience of putting it all together. “Prior to that, a couple of my boys went Reprezent Radio and met the people there so I sent emails to loads of presenters and managed to get on there for a show.” This is a typical Yizzy move, not content with a ‘wait and see’ approach, when it comes to his career he’s both positive and proactive in getting his talent noticed, he understands his music can only speak for itself if the right people are listening. “I just said to them ‘boom, I’ve got an EP coming’, I sent out hundreds of emails, like twice – on it. Cos I’d seen [my boys] had been on it so I was like, ‘cool, this is radio and it’s accessible, it’s not unrealistic’, so I sent those emails and got a response saying ‘Sunday, 12 O’clock, come down, send some tunes to play’ so I sent some songs from the EP that week.”
If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work – nothing lost, nothing gained. But if it works… boom, this could be my life.
Every track on the ‘Insanity’ EP was produced by different people – “K1, Swifta Beater, he did two of the tracks, K1 did one, I did a ’96 Bars Of Revenge’ on there too and I had a bit of a ‘Storyteller’ by a group called Krystaleyes” – creating a project that was layered and experimental, it laid the groundwork for ‘This Is Life’. As an MC Yizzy is bursting with the kind of high energy rebellion that birthed the genre more than 15 years ago, although ‘Insanity’ was just a starting point, creating that project taught Yizzy invaluable lessons about creating a credible body of work. “It was just me saying how I’m going to take this seriously, I’m going to have something here to say you know what? I’ve done five songs, got the beats on my own, went studio on my own, wrote this on my own, sent emails to the radio on my own, I pushed it, spat the bars, practiced over and over, like, I did this all by myself – this isn’t unrealistic from when people are actually responding back to me, this could be a reality.” A week after Yizzy appeared in Koder’s video shoot, he had his first interview lined up on Reprezent Radio.
He recalls Koder’s advice at the time, “he said to me: ‘from when you’re writing everyday and it’s something that you’re trying and is going well, even if it’s early days just stick with it.’ In my mind, I was thinking like, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work – nothing lost, nothing gained. But if it works… boom, this could be my life. I didn’t really have someone that I knew within music to encourage me – it was just him. He’s been working in music and he’s done shows with Skepta, Risky Roadz, Jammer, all these big, big people in the Grime scene, so for me it was like he’s not just saying it cause he knows me – he’s saying this as an artist, as someone who knows what’s going on right now, he knows how the scene is and he’s telling me ‘if you stick with this you could potentially do well’.”
“Every now and then something happens and I get a push – every time I link up with Koder, I feel more inspired, last time I linked up with him I came back and did ‘This is Life’ EP and it’s already getting radio play,” both Logan Sama and Phil Taggart have already supported the track on Radio 1 and 1Xtra respectively. Yizzy is a Grime purist. You can’t be certi as an MC if you haven’t got your live performances on lock, if you haven’t put work in on radio as he says “that’s where it began, that’s Grime init”
Yizzy’s ‘This Is life’ EP is another chance for the MC to raise the bar “it kinda came easy to me because I literally just spoke about what’s going on, I remember a couple of days before I was listening to Devlin – Community Outcast – which is like a very powerful, conscious Grime song all about the ends, and I was like, I don’t know anyone from ‘round here that’s done that, period. Why? Then it clicked why ‘cause it’s like people have been through XYZ, they don’t want to talk or relive XYZ. So I was like you know what? I can’t be an artist if I can’t tell my story or at least give people something to go on, something genuine, or meaningful and open.”
Although Grime as a genre is constantly presented as a series of ‘Roadman’ clichés by the mainstream, anyone with even a passing interest will know there’s a long history of vulnerability in Grime. Ghetts, Swiss, Krept and Konan, Devlin, Nines, Cadet, Dave, English Frank all have some of the most memorable Grime tracks because of the emotion, honesty and heart they put in.
For now, Yizzy stays working on his music, ever ready and always grateful for the people round him like Drapez, owner of The Mixtape Project in Anerley who gave Yizzy the chance to perform live for the first time. Koder and Novelist are the local guys who always have time to listen and give business advice to help Yizzy on his way up and of course his manager’s belief and persistence has seen Yizzy on a live performance shortlist for Glastonbury festival. It’s easy to see the potential Yizzy has and as a young MC who prides himself on being professional and ambitious his is a name we are all going to be getting familiar with.