Perhaps one of the most consistent artists in the UK over the last 20 years, P Money has kept his name perpetually relevant throughout the past two decades. The grime pioneer has never been afraid to drift away from the genre he derived from and delve into many other areas of the wide landscape that is the music industry. Originating in the pirate radio scene and emerging with artists that – along with himself – many would consider legends of the genre, P Money embraced the fact that he could utilise his talent as an MC and jump on dubstep and drum ‘n’ bass tracks that would further expand his fanbase, which along with his incredible expertise and know-how, explains why his live shows are up there with some of the best that anyone can attend.
What’s more, it feels as though P Money is always two steps ahead of the game when it comes to sustaining himself at the top, and in his most recent case, has transformed his love for the online sphere and gaming into another form of improving his global presence. The emergence of grime, and the stigma that came with being part of that industry is eerily similar to that of the gaming community, an issue that P Money is fast deconstructing by fusing the two worlds together with his brand-new single ‘OUTPLAYED’.
His latest single is similar to his timeless ‘Slang Like This’, a song that educates on classic road slang, however, in this instance, it is informative on the gaming front with terms such as ‘GG’ (Good Game), and OP (over-powered) now becoming commonly used phrases. P Money isn’t the kind of character to chase trends, he is a man that is very well aware of what is coming, and what is here to stay, and it really feels as though, once more, he’s tapping right into the future on all fronts.
P Money spoke to Clash about growing up through the pirate radio era, not being afraid to shift genres, and the power of the online gaming world.
I think obviously, given the history of your career, it’s probably best to start at the beginning. What was it like growing up through the pirate radio era?
Ah, it was crazy, man, it was very different. I didn’t really start out with any knowledge of music other than your typical, you know, you see big rap stars on TV and MTV Base, back then it was just really MTV Base, and then a few of my older cousins would show me tapes of people and I was like, ‘how did you record that? Where is this? How do you record this?’, and then once I started doing music myself, I started getting invited to pirate stations. It was a weird experience, because when you hear the word radio, you just think of a professional environment – we were in tower blocks or some random person’s house with decks set up in their kitchen, you know, and people would come in and make a tea whilst we were in the middle of doing the set, it was quite a mad experience, sometimes it was some dingy shed on top of a tower block, it was just mad. Even now when I think back, I think what the hell were we doing there, man. We’ve had some pirate stations in weird places like proper underground places next to a mechanic workshop, and there’s a car being worked on in the next room and stuff like that, it was crazy.
How do you think that formed who you are as an artist now?
It just made me love and respect the grind because it was the only way we could be heard. We couldn’t get on those stations, we couldn’t get on TV at that point, so this was how we were heard, we had to make do, so that gave me that work ethic and just trying with the tools you have, you know, not worrying about all the tools everybody else has and they’ve got all the sharp and shiny tools and we got rust, we just made do and that always stuck with me, it’s like even when the pandemic hit, and everyone was like, there’s no shows, there’s no dates, I was like, alright, well, I’m going to do something else, I’m going to start streaming. I made do with what I could, and I started streaming and I’ve made another platform for myself, so I’ve always been grateful for that kind of lesson.
And then obviously, going back to the music, you are incredibly well known for your live performances. What is it that sort of gives you that extra edge when you perform live, or is it just something that you just naturally thrive off when you perform?
I guess just from experience, I can’t lie. When I started getting known like age 21/22, I was really thrown in the deep end, I was touring with Example doing an arena tour, he just heard one or two of my tracks and was like ‘Oh, this kid is sick’, and he just threw me on the tour, next thing I knew every night, 10 nights in a row I’m performing to like 20,000 people, so I had that from young. Straight away I learned all the different levels of performances, the high level of arenas, that’s like the straightaway meant to be the big level, so I knew that level, and I also knew performances of like 50 people in a small bar, so I got to know all the different levels and all the different types of performance, I got to learn about stage presence, lighting shows, sound engineers, the importance of having a sound engineer, even in ear technology. I got to learn about all of that quite early, so I guess that kind of is one of the reasons I’ll have an edge over some people when it comes to live performances because I’ve genuinely done so many every single level there is.
What was it like, you know, just being thrown in the deep end like that though?
It was tough at first because when I first supported Example, I was known in grime and dubstep, but this was Example. He was, you know, everything he did charted, and they were all there to see Example, so I felt like I was drowning at first coming out on stage, and it’s like, ‘Wow, so many thousand people and they are not here to see me’, so it was a test – I just did my thing and they loved it. You know, they were screaming and shouting and stuff, so it was a great reaction. It just taught me a lot, man. It taught me to just be you and do what you do, and you know, hope people will like it, and eventually people will.
I guess it’s just one of those sink or swim type things, right?
Yeah, exactly, yeah.
And so, how’s the festival season been for you so far?
It’s been crazy, man. So luckily for me, the moment we were allowed to do shows again, I had so many offers come in straight away. A big part of it was because I was streaming on Twitch and showing people music, so I really had an online presence. Whenever I was tweeting like a little clip from a song it would get like 3,000 likes and X amount of retweets, which isn’t normal. Normally, I can do the hundreds I can get like 300 or400 likes and retweets, but it was coming from my Twitch, people in different countries, my whole Spotify, everything was going up because I was on Twitch showing people new music and stuff. So now the festivals and promoters are seeing that, and I’ve been getting tons of offers left, right and centre without actually having any new music out, I’m blessed, I’m so grateful for it, but yeah, it’s been crazy. Literally just the weekend gone was NASS festival, like three nights in a row, I did three different sets there, and it’s crazy. This weekend I’m going to TwitchCon in Amsterdam, and then I fly back, and the moment I land I have to go to Sheffield for Bass fest. So yeah, it’s been crazy. It’s like near enough every other week, I got festivals or club shows. I did my own Fabric show recently as well.
Yeah, I saw that, and you curated that lineup right?
Yeah, most of it. So, you know, Fabric hit me up, they wanted me to do something there, and I was like, ‘Well, I’m only gonna do it if we could do something grime because there hasn’t been a grime night in quite a while’. I’m a strong supporter in trying to build events for us, you know what I mean, so I sacrificed my fee, and I said, ‘Alright, I’ll use my fee, and I’ll hit up a bunch of people I want to get on’. So, we did that, and it was great, man. I mean, we went against the fact that Glastonbury was on and the train strikes, and it was raining, but we still packed it out. It was dope, man.
And obviously because you emerged in the era, where grime was sort of still very much an underground genre, almost intentionally trying to be kept hidden by the people higher up, how did that feel?
I felt like I was going against the grain because I felt like there were a lot of people around me that just wanted to keep this thing here and keep it small and just our community and I was like, nah, man, there’s a world out there. But I guess it was because I was doing Dubstep as well, and literally touring the world. I was one of the few, maybe I wouldn’t say the only one, but I was definitely one of a very small handful of people that was getting to see the world and see the world react to our music. So, I was the one really trying to push for like, ‘Yo, we need to work with more genres and more different producers’. You don’t have to change the sound, but definitely, you know, do some collaborations and stuff and people were just like ‘No, you know, we want to keep Grime this way, don’t do anything else’. I was trying to explain to people that you don’t have to lose your identity, but you can collaborate and promote yourself because that’s all I did. I promoted my Grime sound with Dubstep, and it became one of the biggest things for me, and I’ve always tried to do that. I’ve been doing it recently with drum ‘n’ bass and it’s already working. So yeah, I felt like I was going against the grain a bit, but then eventually now people have kind of understood and Grime isn’t massive yet, but it’s definitely known around the world, if you mention it to people, people know what you’re talking about.
How does it feel to now see it in the mainstream?
Oh, sick man, it’s too sick to come from like, like I said, the pirate radios, just unprofessional environments, just very street and just trying to make it happen, even mentioning being a Grime MC used to be like, you know, ‘What do you do… Oh, you’re a grime MC’ and they will look at you like you’re a bum. Now it’s like, ‘What do you do, you’re a grime MC? Oh, do you know this guy? Do you know this guy? Do you know that guy?’ You know, now it’s all cool. Now companies are like, ‘Yo, we need grime’. Like FIFA, they hit me up every year. ‘What music you got? We need some music for our games’. You know? Now it’s all changed. And it’s great, I’m glad we walked that path so everyone else can kind of live it.
So, these guys in the mainstream now, they obviously looked up to you guys back then, but when you were growing up emerging in that era, who were your musical influences?
Definitely Wiley and Dizzee, So Solid Crew were my main influence, because I’m from South London. So, for me when I heard So Solid were from South I was like, oh my god. I think my main biggest influence would have to be Neutrino and Oxide, because I just loved that partnership of the MC and a DJ, and a DJ producing, I kind of have that same chemistry with my DJ whose name is Intense, and if you’ve seen our live shows, you see the chemistry that we have, we don’t even have to look at each other, I know what he’s gonna play, he knows what I’m gonna say, and it just works, the crowd love it. They love how we’ve lived together, and I’ve learned that from Oxide and Neutrino. But yeah, those are my main influences when it comes to like making songs, that was Dizzee Rascal, like him making ‘I Love You’ I used to hear those bars on radio, but I just thought they were lyrics, and so when the song came out, I was like, oh my god, it’s an actual song with a verse and a chorus, and that got me into writing songs instead of just MCing and just doing buzz. So, yeah, some big, big inspirations.
Do you think there should be more grime MC’s riding over electronic beats these days?
Yeah, I think what they should do is they should understand you can put out a grime project and at the same time, work with a producer on a single that is not grime, but you could still bring your grime flow to it. I’ve been doing it for so long, I’ve been doing drum ‘n’ bass recently, but this isn’t the first time, I already had one with Friction, like five, six years ago and Wilkinson, and you know, I was still doing grime, but I’m still here today. Same with dubstep, I was putting out dubstep singles, but I’ve never done a dubstep album. I was putting out dubstep singles in between grime projects. I think people need to branch out a bit, because all the time when I’m at festivals, people are like, ‘Yo, your crowd is sick, your tents are always packed out’, and I’m always explaining this because I’ve done these different songs and different genres, so I attract a lot more different people from different places. So, I think people are starting to understand that. But yeah, I definitely would urge MCs to just branch out a little bit because if you just stay within your circle, and that’s all you have, it’s just your circle, but if there’s other big circles over there, you can kind of bring them all together if you just work with different people.
And alongside this you have also got new music out the single ‘OUTPLAYED’ that follows the themes of gaming, what was the inspiration behind this?
So, I joined up with an esports team called Tundra who shared the same vision as me wanting to bridge the gap between gaming and music. They have a lot of professional gamers, they work with a lot of gaming companies, and straight away when I told them I want to make music for games and bring MC’s and artists and rappers together with gamers to possibly produce something, they then came up with the idea of let’s do something, and I was like, well, let’s make an anthem, where you know, we kind of announce Tundra but at the same time, it’s an anthem for anyone that plays games. So, I basically kind of remixed my old idea of ‘Slang Like This’ and that was a dubstep track I made for people to just kind of understand our street slang. So, I’ve done the same thing but with gaming. I’ve used gaming slang and references for people to understand what we mean that if I say GG people that go ‘What do you mean GG?’ it means good game, or if I say OP and they go ‘What does OP mean?’ it means overpowered, so it’s like the track is me explaining to people you know, gaming references, gaming language and gaming slang, and at the same time, if you are a gamer, you can show people like ‘Yeah, this is my culture.’ You know, I mean, so it’s almost like a perfect track to bring all the cultures together.
In the gaming world, in terms of community, how similar are the grime and gaming followings?
Very similar. Like, I said, when I started out and grime was very like, ‘Oh, you do grime’ it was looked down upon, and gaming is a bit like that. When you say you’re a gamer, they think straight away that it’s a geeky thing, or it’s not a serious thing. So, I talked to them, and I’m like, ‘Yo, do you notice people are like making 40 grand a week just playing games all week on Twitch?’ And they immediately are like ‘what?!’ Yeah, there’s people that make serious money. Like there’s some that make 20 grand a month just playing FIFA or playing Grand Theft Auto online, there’s competitions – people win millions you know, there’s kids that play Fortnite and will win nearly a million, and then they start to show respect. These are guys that play their game, you know, they’re still human beings, they still eat and drink like we do, it’s a cool thing. So, I found similarities with the way it was perceived from people. Now people are paying attention the same way they’re paying attention to grime, it’s like now they’re paying attention to gaming. You know, I think people will finally realise gaming is one of the biggest industries, Paramount have just released a whole series from a game [Halo]. It’s a whole film series, so I think now it’s getting respect.
And keeping with the gaming theme, I saw that London United did an event as part of the Grime Against Knives movement, you know, as wicked as gaming is, how important do you feel initiatives like this are in providing an escape from other walks of life?
Ah, it’s crazy important, gaming kept me off the street a lot of times, you know, like, if I wasn’t playing games, yeah, I was just doing rubbish, just wandering around, being a street rat, because I was just outside for no reason, but when I was playing games that had me for hours, that had my attention, and you learned from games, there are some games that you do learn stuff from. I mean, a lot of people say I’m a quick thinker, and stuff like that, and I’ve always said I might be because I’ve always played games, I’m always trying to work things out. I used to play Metal Gear Solid all the time. And that game, you need concentration, you need to know what you’re doing, I’ve always said that game was quite educational, that game had stuff in it that is in our life. It was talking about the internet and the spread of the internet and stuff like that, and that’s happened, you know, so I’ve always said playing games can definitely change lives or definitely save lives. Because, a lot of people, you’re playing games, you’re indoors, just safe if you’re playing a game, rather than being on the streets.
Yeah, chances are most of the time you’re socialising as well. And so, with a lot of irons currently in the fire, what does the rest of 2022 hold for P Money?
First thing is ‘OUTPLAYED’. You know, ‘OUTPLAYED’ we’ll get the video out, see how everyone feels, planning on possibly doing a remix to it as well, and then yeah man, definitely more streams. I’ll be streaming more games, doing more music, I’ve got quite a few projects, I’ve got another grime project out in October, got a drum ‘n’ bass project out which will be like next year in 2023, but yeah, this year the rest of 2022 will just be festivals, shows, club shows, I’m touring New Zealand in November and possibly Australia too. So yeah, there is a lot going on.
‘OUTPLAYED’ is out now.
Words: Ben Broyd