March 3, 2006. That was the date the first time I entered a battle competition as a teenager. I didn’t win, Purpose won the final against Dialect, who beat me in the semi final, but there was another battle a week or two later, and I won that. It was an awesome feeling. We were kids who were good at something that we enjoyed doing and other people liked watching. We were also rubbing shoulders with people who we idolised. It was a truly great time in my life. That was 8 and half years ago.
In that time I’ve tried to keep the momentum from the autumn of ‘06 going. About 18 months of more battles, the 007 Mixtape, the 2010 Mixtape, One Way Ticket, Good Morning, a stack of shows and tours, both at the lowest and highest possible level, countless one-off songs, countless guest spots and countless radio appearances that I wrote specifically for. Some people have followed all of it, which, to me, is hard to get my head around. Some of it was indescribably fun and triumphant, there have also been times when it has been pretty soul crushing and I’ve wondered why I’m still doing it, but based on the experiences I’ve had, and people I’ve met doing it, I can say it was all worth it.
I’ve always had two basic rules when making something new. The first one is “never half-arse it”. You never know what thing of yours people will hear for the first time, and first impressions last, so you better make sure there’s not a weak one. The second one is “make sure you’re outdoing what you’ve done before”. That doesn’t mean do what you’ve done before, but better. It means, don’t do it the same as before. Come at it from a different angle and a different way of thinking. I think I’ve upheld these rules. People often comment on how I’ve never had a weak verse or how I never let them down, and I appreciate that because that’s what I set to do.
The other thing I hear/see all the time is how “underrated” I am. I disagree. I’m not underrated, not by people who know I exist. My “rating” has been overwhelmingly positive for pretty much my entire time pursuing this. Sure, there has been the occasional person who doesn’t like me for whatever reason, but honestly, compared to a lot of other people it’s a tiny percentage. For me, I think that’s something to be proud of. When someone says I’m underrated, I have mixed feelings. I appreciate that a) someone thinks I’m good and, b) they think I’m good enough to have a bigger audience, but on the same page no one really WANTS to be underrated. It’s a compliment, but you don’t want it. Ask Jay-Z (“Would you rather be overpaid or underrated?”). My new album, TSVOA, comes out tomorrow (as you should be aware if you follow this page) and I’ve worked hard on it. I haven’t half-arsed it and I haven’t played it safe or stuck to a formula I’ve used before. I’ve adhered to those two basic rules. So here’s what I want you to do.
If you grab TSVOA tomorrow and you like it, let people know about it.
If you think my music is worth sharing, share it.
If you think the world should hear it, tell the world.
I don’t have a machine behind me to make this thing work. All I’ve got is a few songs, a few people close to me that believe in what I do, and you guys. On March 2, 2006 I wasn’t thinking beyond the next night’s battle. I certainly didn’t think I’d have fans or albums or anything like that, so I appreciate everything fully. Sometimes I remove myself from the situation and think “wow, I get to do this” and it still trips me out. I don’t take anything for granted and I appreciate every single fan I’ve ever got.
March 3, 2006 was the first day of the rest of my life. So is December 19, 2014.
Enjoy the album.