PLTFRM: BZ

Introducing the Croydon rapper...

In the ever-expanding music realm, you come across a raw gem of an artist on the precipice of glory. BZ is one of those artists.

The 20-year-old Croydon native’s track ‘2G’s’ found widespread success after its inclusion in the latest Top Boy series; a now esteemed incubator for bubbling under UK rap prospects. Since then, intention and careful forethought has governed every step of his process. Eschewing the path of short-lived success, BZ is refining a protean and subversive sound free of convention.

In the small glimmers of his material we’ve heard thus far, BZ recalls the ambition and fluidity of J Hus, shifting gears between afro-inflected lilts and narcotic expressions of grime. His porous South London upbringing means his music spans borders and with a debut EP expected last this year, BZ is ready to stake his place in the game.

As part of our digital PLTFRM series, CLASH touched base with BZ about hype, expectation, the strength of a strong inner circle and what the hard grind looks like when you’re navigating the industry young and independently.

Everybody has a story of how music found them. Can you describe the catalyst that sparked your love of music? Talk me through your beginnings…

I grew up in the church so I was always surrounded by music, my cousin had a gospel band as well. My parents love music. I remember on Saturday mornings we’d do a big spring clean of the house and my Mum used to play the cassette player. She’d play her favourite CDs and there’d be music all around the house. I feel I’ve always been around music and I was just trying to find a way to get involved with it.

I tried to learn keys when I was young but I was slack and started getting in with the wrong crowd. I quickly established that I couldn’t go down that route and I thank God I had that moment. I loved the people I was around but at the same time I knew if I continued doing those things, I was going to be doing that all my life. Even with school I only went to 50% of my Maths lessons. They predicted me getting U’s but I grafted my ass off. Teaching yourself A-level Maths is not an easy thing!

PLTFRM: BZ
Shirt by Nicholas Daley, Trousers by Nicholas Daley, Shoes by Axel Arigato

You had a breakthrough moment when your song ‘2G’ was featured on the latest season of Top Boy. Can you recount how you found out your song was scoring a Netflix sensation?

To be honest, ‘2G’s’ was made really quickly; it was made in 45 minutes. I wasn’t even feeling it like that, I wasn’t banking on it. The last thing that I expected was for Top Boy to reach out to me. I was at a music camp one day with my cousin who’s a producer. I’d come home but he’d stayed there and he walked into one of the main rooms and they were all playing the song. They’re all bumping to it and saying “Who is this guy?!” He’s messaging the group chat saying they want you to come back another day, so I ended up going to the camp again. For me, I was sitting there thinking this is not even my best work. But I had to rep myself. If I was going to give anyone advice, it would be to sell yourself regardless, if it’s your worst work or your best work just sell yourself and let people tell you what they think of your music.

You started music very young. Was there a particular point where you looked around and went “wow, this is really happening”?

Honestly, it’s more that I think I’m actually getting what I deserve to get now because I’ve been making music since I was thirteen. I’ve been really trying to discover my sound since then as well. So I dropped every type of music from drill to pop to where I am now. I don’t think any of them are crap, it just wasn’t me. I could tell it wasn’t me. All of that music has been taken down now. I’ve only started properly creating music under the sound that I like for the past two or three years. So anyone who knows me as an artist now probably thinks I just started recently, but it’s been so much longer.

PLTFRM: BZ

Who are your biggest inspirations?

I’d say one of my inspirations is my cousin. He’s probably one of my biggest ones, he’s the one who had a gospel band when he was younger. He’s self-made; he started his own brand which is doing really well. For me, he’s been an inspiration in every single field that he’s touched and he’s mentored me a lot. He’s ten years older than me and very much like a big brother. Everything goes through him. He will definitely be the first person that gets thanked when those good things come. I know he’ll be so many other people’s inspirations as well. Having a person like that in my corner helps me a lot.

PLTFRM: BZ
Jacket by Daily Paper, Trousers by Dailey Paper, Shoes by Axel Arigato

Musically, who are your biggest reference points?

Musically, it would be Kendrick. Everything he does I love. He is the greatest artist, just elite. I watch a lot of his interviews and he inspires me a lot. I’m seeing him in November so that’s gonna be a quick birthday treat for me.

Your conceptual ability is strong, especially with the visual element of your work. Talk us through expanding your artistry beyond what is typically expected of a new UK rapper?

As a person, I’ve been able to put on different forms. I wouldn’t say I’m a different person or that it’s an alter-ego, it’s still me. I like to draw on different emotions and exaggerate them. I did drama at school and I can listen to an entire album with no visuals attached to it and have a visual in my mind of the whole album. Music videos are so important to me in the sense that when I’m in a specific mood when I go to the studio, I want you to be able to completely feel that and see the music that way.

PLTFRM: BZ

Your bars are on point and razor sharp. What’s your process? Do you write by yourself? Do you write in your notes? Are you an instinctive writer?

Before I was actually somebody who wrote at the time I saw things because I did spoken word. So, when I saw something I would write it. Now I’m a session writer and I literally only write in the sessions. It’s whatever mood I’m in. I’ve had so many people listen to my music and ask: “how many sessions did it take you to write this?” Bro that’s all one session! It’s done in one hour or two hours because I’m very good at drawing on an emotion and making that a complete piece of art.

Who are your go-to producers?

My cousin Eyes, tn_490, Tb and Q are my main four. Also, Finn Wigan! How can I forget? We just produced my latest one ‘Get Gone’. I hope I haven’t missed anyone out.

PLTFRM: BZ

Which artist, new or established, would you like to work with the most?

Should I say Kendrick? Why not shoot my shot? Obviously, I’d love to work with him. Even though I’d get absolutely bodied but at least I can say I worked with one of my favourite artists of all time. I really like Robert Glasper and SiR as well. Visually there are so many people I want to work with sitting in the back of my mind.

PLTFRM: BZ

Let’s explore your upcoming release. Tell us about what we can look forward to from BZ?

The next big project is still in the works. It’s an EP but when it comes, you’ll know where I’m from and you’ll understand the different sounds I’m trying to convey and the reason behind each of those sounds. The EP I’ll drop is kind of an introduction to me and my background. That’s gonna come across from the artwork, from the visuals to the songs. There are a couple of visuals we’re working on at the moment as well. I’m actually so excited! When the time comes I hope everyone else is as excited as I am.

Words: Naima Sutton

Photography: Joel Smedley

Styling: Sabrina Soormally

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