It’s no secret that the major record labels are in turmoil. Long gone are the days when artists solely relied on the big labels to promote and distribute their work. Grime veteran Ghetts recent success has cemented this. His album Rebel with a Cause was released via independent start up label Disrupt. On the first day of its release it entered the iTunes album chart at #3 – let’s put it in perspective Pharrell and One Direction were at #1 and #2…This is inspiring for not only grime music but independent labels as a whole. We caught up with the east Londoner to find out more…
Artwork from Rebel with a Cause album
Congratulations on the success of the album. How have you been celebrating?
Do you know what I haven’t really celebrated yet. I thank God but I just want to keep the work going and make a start on the next album. But, I’m going to take time out and go on holiday or something.
Considering that you’ve been around since 2005 Rebel with a Cause is your first studio album. Why the long wait?
To be honest I was stuck in a frame of mind where ‘you can’t do an album without major backing’. So it’s my first ‘official’ album but it’s not really my first album …
You opted for a start-up instead of a major. What was the deciding factor for this?
The creative control. Not that I had many options; I had one or two options. I sat down with different people. But, when I sat down with Disrupt it was the creative control and they allowed me to be the artist that I want to be. They were ticking all the boxes and that made sense for me.
What’s your favourite track on the album?
I don’t know if I have a favourite track but I listen to ‘Times Change’ a lot in the car. I don’t know if it’s my favourite track or not to be honest.
Do you know why?
(Laughs) I’m asking you.
(Laughs) I thought you were going to tell me (laughs). It’s probably a track for the car or something.
You released a video called ‘Grime is Alive’. Other artists from that scene including Tinie Tempah, Wiley and Tinchy Stryder have been criticised by fans of grime for “selling out” for mainstream success. Where do you stand on this?
I don’t have criticism for them. I understand why they have made the kind of music they have chosen to make. I’m stubborn – I’m a bit different from them. Their fans don’t really pay for our music so even though they’re down when you’re in the mainstream world they expect you to stay on the underground so I understand why they go that way. To be honest it’s a sacrifice for the rest of us – for me to do the music that I would like to make. And for it to do well someone has to sacrifice. So I think Wiley and Tinchy have been the ones that have had to do that so I big them up.
What’s the biggest misconception that people have of you?
That I’m mad or something like that. With this album it’s funny because I really wanted to change that misconception. People expect me to be on a hype thing and dissing people that I’ve had wars with. I used to tell them it’s not really like that. It’s just part of the sport. I don’t really have those feelings towards anyone. It was weird to see my fans acting that way and then I realised that obviously it’s my fault because they always see me in arguments and wars with everyone – they always see me in that light. So what I really tried to do is stay away from that this time now. It gave me a chance to really reinvent myself. I stayed away from all the confrontations just so they could get to know me on a personal vibe and understand who I really am. Obviously if you see someone arguing all the time with people that’s what you’re gonna think he does.
If you were mayor for the day what changes would you make?
I’d legalise weed (laughs). No! I’m messing around. Being mayor is a hard job. I’d get rid of the congestion charge first and foremost. That pisses me right off. You see mayors; they don’t really have much power to be honest. If you asked me as a prime minister or president I know what I would do…
Ok what if you were prime minister?
You know something – I read somewhere – I can’t remember the exact figure but apparently that it would take £X billion – maybe £50 billion – to eradicate poverty. Do you know what I would do? At that point I’d get all the rich people that earned over a certain tax bracket and ask them for £10 million each. If you can eradicate poverty why not? I’d tax working class people as well but not that much. I’d tax people according to what they earn. The aim would be to eradicate poverty. We’d get rid of the congestion charge. You know all these companies that tell us to send money here and there and everywhere? I’d have them investigated. Something is going on (laughs). I’m not sure about what’s gone on there. Who knows where that money goes? They could be sending a very small percentage there.
Yeah they use a chunk for ‘admin costs’.
Yeah that’s bullshit (laughs).
What’s the most inventive line you’ve heard from a groupie?
I don’t know what that line is but the line I hear all the time is, ‘Just because you’re so and so doesn’t mean …’. That line! The amount of times I’ve heard it I could eradicate poverty (laughs). They think I’m arrogant but I’m shy so I don’t even say much but every girl says it. Do they have any other lines?
You don’t use chat up lines?
No, no, no. Not for me.
What would you spend your last £100 on?
What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you?
(Sighs) Why do you want to go down there (laughs). I was performing at 02. I was going mad on stage and I tripped on the mic and landed on my face and the crowd was mostly girls so…
How long ago was that? I’m going to see if I can find it on YouTube (laughs)…
You won’t find that. You know why? We were recording and I made sure that got deleted! That was about two years ago.
Let’s say you meet a genie and you’ve been granted three wishes what would they be?
What I’d first tell the genie is what I’m going to need as one of my wishes would be endless wishes.
You’re not allowed to wish for that. That’s genie rules – you can’t wish for more wishes.
Why? Are you sure? Ok. Number one would be happiness forever. I’d want to be content. Number two I’d wish for wars to stop. I don’t understand why wars happen. Number three that the working class wouldn’t have to struggle no more. I wouldn’t wish for loads of money because I know money doesn’t lead to happiness or anything like that – it just brings more stresses. [I’d wish for them] to be comfortable. Not having to worry about bills coming out – that’s stressful.
What are you plans for the rest of 2014?
I’m going to work very hard. My album is out so I’m going to start working on my next album. I’m just going to work extremely, extremely hard and that’s it.
Rebel with a Cause is out now ghetts.com