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Interview: Wretch 32

With a new album on the way and a single recently released, Laurence Morgan had a chat with Wretch 32 about his music and background.

The new album is called “Growing Over Life”, which you said is a direct quote from your mum. Do you feel like you did a lot of growing in the process of making this album?

Yes. I felt like I had to call my album something along those lines, because I definitely grew a lot, as a person, and as an artist. I’ve really enjoyed writing the music on this album, but I’ve definitely changed over time.

Your new album has taken rather longer than expected to be released, why is this?

You know, sometimes the record label give me the run around a bit. They seem to care much more about singles than putting out the album, and they try and take as much advantage as they can, if you know what I mean. If it were down to me, I would probably not put out any singles at all, I would just release the album as a body of work. I try and make an album which is strong as a body of work, so it sometimes frustrates me when the label just want to put out loads of singles.

Do you enjoy collaborating with many different artists, or would you like to do an album that features one artist in particular? Your previous album featured 10 different artists as guests.

Every guest is a new learning experience. Sometimes it’s just better to have two ideas rather than one, and with every different artist I’ve discovered something new about… something. I don’t set out on an album and go “Ok, I’m going to collaborate with 10 artists on this album”, if you know what I’m saying. I look out for artists that are talented, honest in their music, and I love working with them.

In your latest single “6 Words”, one of the lyrics is “I can’t sing but I wrote you a song”. Is that directly relating to yourself, or just someone who’d do the impossible to prove something to someone?

Jermaine_Sinclair_(Wretch_32)

(chuckles) Legend, that’s exactly what I meant by that. It was something I wanted to try out. It’s like someone saying, “I can’t dance, but tonight I’m going to… just dance with you all night long”, just to show how much they mean to you. Whether I actually can sing is debatable, but here it doesn’t really matter, it’s the thought behind the song that matters.

“When you listen to a rap CD, you’ve got to realise that this person has written all of the album, not just the words.”

You’ve tweeted recently that “our genre will be on the radio and tv the least so we have to shout about it the most.” Are you frustrated with the amount of coverage that rap/grime music gets from the media?

I do sometimes get annoyed with the lack of push that rap music gets these days. For example, there are some radio stations that you send the music to and they say “Oh, we don’t play rap music”, without even listening to it. I just don’t understand it sometimes. There’s often a general perception that rap music isn’t versatile, and that a rapper isn’t versatile. When you listen to a rap CD, you’ve got to realise that this person has written all of the album, not just the words.

Apparently you were homeless at the age of 16. Looking back now, do you think you benefitted at all from having to fend for yourself?

(Pause) I feel like each… turmoil, is that the right word, yeah, turmoil, it strengthened me and made my drive bigger. It also made me realise that I had to take control of my life and take it further, and made me concentrate even more on my career.

Having read some of what you post, plus looking at the lyrics for “6 Words”, it seems that you’re a religious person. What role has religion played in your life, and has it helped you in your career or in your music?

It’s quite funny, when I was little, my mum always used to take me to church, until I was about 7, when I just seemed to stop going. I don’t really know why. I think these days I have a faith, like, I feel like we all have our paths written out, and just have to discover it. I definitely believe in some kind of supernatural presence watching over me… actually, maybe supernatural is a bit too strong a word! (Laughs)

Are you excited about the prospect of going on tour again? When playing festivals and your headline tour, what differences do you find?

Yeah, I can’t wait man. I guess the main difference is that, when you’re playing at a festival, you’re sort of competing with everyone else, whereas at your own headline slot they’re all there to see you. When people go to a festival they are there to see Ed Sheeran, Example, Tinie Tempah, all of those people. But what’s great about a festival is you can win new fans, when people think “Oh, I quite liked that Wretch track on Radio 1 the other day, I’ll go and check him out for a bit”, and the atmosphere can be really great.