wretch32onlineAs I was sitting writing the interview out, Matrix Revolutions was on the tv in the background and I suddenly realised what the deal is with Wretch: he is an anomaly.

I remember Wretch’s first album Wretch-trospective (2008) which seamlessly mixed a grimy edge without being grimy and mixed rap without being fully hip-hop or as Wretch puts it: ‘When I came out in 2005 that was the vibe, people did not know what I was; was I a grime rapper a rapper that rapped grime. In truth I didn’t even know all I knew was that I can spit on this and spit on that and that I like this and I like that.’

In the midst of the absolutely talented emcees out there I think Wretch is making a stand as something just ever so slightly different: an urban Darwin evolution. While many of course are influenced by many genres of music it seems as if Wretch has been able to fuse these different styles without it sounding like someone has mixed gravy into a chocolate cake, ‘I am naturally coming from reggae/soul, rap came to me late and I found grime even later. I have carried the reggae, bashment, soul, rnb, rap and grime in one. I cannot be here and say I am a rapper and ignore what I like.’

His current single is doing the proverbial and blowing up the urban scene appearing on the playlist of the biggest stations. A hard dirty beat produced by Yogi is blessed with Wretch’s laid back, swaggerdocious, bars and L’s infectious bridge and hook. ‘Yogi threw me over the beat for Traktor and the hook was down L had a mad vibe but I thought that there was still something missing because we still did not have the bridge yet. I said to Yogi that I had an idea that we should turn this energy and flip it into a nicer piece by adding some keys and get L back in to add some soul for the bridge and in truth I could have wrapped it up and done it myself but I just felt that this would be something different. Yogi was like your mad but I like it. I sent it to the A and R’s and they were like ‘yes’ this is the track.’

Wretch’s choice in going for something just a bit different looks set to be a hugely successful choice with Traktor blazing the urban scene. His growing success has been a long time coming but as we sit and talk it is clear that Wretch is a pragmatic guy as well as being very down to earth, ‘I do not take in anything regarding any success I literally just hear these things and then keep striving for the next thing. I also think nothing happens before its time and so I think everything had to go in its stages for my career. I think the country is much warmer to rappers and lyrics and so this is probably the best time for me to make a mark.’

Very often the need for a tight team separates those that make it, ‘the good thing about me was when people heard me first they always thought I was good and so the advice they gave me was to get a good team behind me. Being young however I just thought that I did not need anyone. When you realise that you need team then things can really go from there’ And indeed from that perspective Wretch is no different as he pays a great deal of respect to his manager Zeon: ‘He has been important because we understand each other. It is not just a matter that he is my manager because he is my friend. This guy has GCSE‘s with ten A to C’s and he went university and got the whole business and management courses. They say that when you enjoy what you do then you never work a day in your life. The type of manager I want is one where we go and work and go and rave together, it really does not feel like work.’

With Wretch taking the path that so many of the grime emcees have done and that is go into mainstream I have to ask about the criticisms that going mainstream is like selling out, ‘Truthfully I have not really had much of that type of criticism but what I will say is that when I go home and look in my son’s eyes and I know he has food, a good education and money put aside, I could not care less.’ He adds, ‘You can be content in your lane being underground or you are going to try and make it work for you, Tinie Tempah and Pass Out or Chipmunk and Opsy Daisy. At the end of the day they have bills to pay and no one else is going to do it.’

Wretch can be more than content. He has created his hype the hard way through hard grafting and an undeniable talent to drop bars that are laid back and hard hitting at the same time hence his alternate name ‘Metaphor Man’ and his album looks set for a great deal of success on the back of Traktor. ‘The album will be called Black and White. I am coming from the dark into the light. I want to emulate an album that will be suited to everyone and importantly of course something that I like. I think that Traktor is a good representation because it shows both elements of the album. The verses, the chorus, the energy and the cleverness of the metaphors while the bridge of Traktor represents the other elements in the album that will be soulful.’

Wretch like many other emcees in the UK continues to raise the bar and bring something different and fresh which is being recognised. 2011 will see him making a big impact with support performances soon to come for heavy weights like Example and Adele on his agenda and a nomination for the BBC’s Sound Poll 2011. Add to that a Maida Vale performance (as he let me know soon) and the brand and style of bars that Wretch drops will be the Flavour for 2011.

Traktor is out 16th January

Words by Semper Azeez-Harris