System Killer: Clash Sits Down With Frisco

BBK rapper steps out to centre-stage...

It’s been quite a year for Boy Better Know. The grime scene’s biggest crew have continued to raise their game in the last 12 months. A trio of huge singles from Skepta, an album from Jme and shows all over the world have added to their reputation, while appearances at festivals have transformed them from scene favourites to a mainstream-bothering underground phenomenon.

At the helm of this has been the Adenuga brothers, Jme and Skepta, but behind the crew’s two frontmen lie some of grime’s most innovative and talented artists. One of these is Frisco, an MC who has been involved in the grime scene since its inception. Frisco has been responsible for some landmark moments, including a famous clash with Wiley in Ayia Napa, a brutal dub for Scorcher when Boy Better Know went dub-for-dub with The Movement, and more. Frisco is also in possession of a back catalogue which is the envy of most, due to its strength and consistency.

Frisco may not have the star status of Jme or Skepta, but that’s not to say that he isn’t a famous and popular MC in his own right. As you might have guessed, Big Fris is enjoying every moment of BBK’s current popularity. The crew have been added to the bill at Wireless Festival this summer, and they’ve got more than their share of festival experience.

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“This year has been a blessing. We were at Reading and Leeds, Wildlife, Bestival too,” he recalls with the nonchalance of someone reciting his shopping list. But picking out a favourite, is easy: “The biggest highlight for me was the Brixton show [with BBK] in December,” he explains, “mainly because of the timing of it, it felt like we were wrapping up the whole year”.

In the past, grime has struggled with its live element. After spending time blackballed from clubs thanks to Form 696, and with artists unable to establish a format to take their music live, it’s refreshing to see the polished, rehearsed performances that Boy Better Know are putting on at major events such as Reading and Leeds. The most striking difference from the bad old days to now, however, is the number of smaller, more intimate shows in venues around London, but also in other cities around the country. “I think there was a stigma because everything you heard about grime was negative,” he tells me, “some people still see it like that but these days people know that there’s more to it than just shouting on a microphone and it is a form of expression”.

There is a changing crowd at grime events these days too, which Frisco regards as a positive movement for the scene, “if more people are aware of grime, it can only be a good thing” he tells me. At the heart of this newfound interest in live grime shows has been Frisco’s The Den, which takes place monthly at The Old Blue Last in Shoreditch and has welcomed some of the biggest names in the scene in the 12 months that it has existed.

“I always thought it’d be a cool thing to have something regular like The Den with the best artists on and nobody else was doing it at the time,” he explains, “I chose The Old Blue Last because I’ve done shows there in the past and it’s the right kind of intimate setting that I envisaged for it”. It’s no surprise that The Den has gone on to become an establishment in the grime scene, providing live shows from legends such as the Newham Generals, Flirta D and Jme, as well as up-and-comers such as Jammz and Dapz on the Map. There have also been guests from the UK rap scene, with Fekky and Giggs making appearances here and there. When Chip sent for Tinie Tempah live on stage, it was at The Den, and once again The Den was the setting for what became a major talking point in the scene.

On a solo front, this year has been relatively quiet for Frisco, but that’s not to say that he hasn’t been about, showing up at every set and show that BBK do, including the first two editions of their monthly radio show on Radar Radio. He also collaborated with Chase & Status on their London Bars project, providing the bars for ‘Funny’, as well as dropping verses with Shakka on a remix of Ten Walls’ ‘Walking With Elephants’ and the rock-inspired ‘Different Kind’.

Looking forward, Frisco is planning on taking his live shows to other areas of the UK and new LP ‘The System Killer’ is out now. He recently revealed the artwork and tracklist for the new release, which includes features from Wiley, Skepta, Shakka, Shola Ama, and Jamaican artist Newbaan. Frisco claims the vibe is “more uptempo than ‘British Nights’” which he felt was deliberately a more “introspective” record. Unfortunately there’s no news on whether or not a BBK album is forthcoming, although he says there will definitely be more music from the crew. Either way, there’s plenty more to come from an MC who is looking to capture the momentum that has been afforded to him by a fantastic 12 months, and long may it continue.

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Frisco's new LP 'The System Killer' is out now.

Words: Paul Gibbins (@paulgibbins)

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