Gearing up for the release Ashlondo 3, Ashbeck reflects on how far he and his bars have come. From voice memo raps to freestyling SoundCloud with El Londo, the north west Londoner is collaboratively pioneering the new sounds of UK rap.

‘Freestyling’, according to the originators of hip-hop, used to have a slightly different meaning to what we know it as today. It was quite simply a rap ‘free of style’: unbound by rules, expectations or specific subject matters: from there, it evolved into the spontaneity we now know and love. 


Ashbeck is a freestyler as per both definitions and in nature. Over the past six years, the 23-year-old artist has risen through the ranks of London’s rap scene by living in the moment and making music for himself. Sound cliché? Not once you hear his intuitive rhymes and consider that he is an independent artist, whose career traces back to the DIY democracies of skateparks and SoundCloud. 


This month sees Ashbeck drop Ashlondo 3: the third in a collaborative mixtape series with fellow north west Londoner and long-time friend, El Londo. Arriving four years after its predecessor, this is their most freewheeling and fast-paced duo-venture to date. Over 12 tracks, unscripted bars meet adventurous samples, merging flow twists and kick-drum turns into a smooth drill-inspired rap record.


With the addition of 2024’s follow-up, Ashlondo is becoming an entity of its own. Played back-to-back, every part documents the journey of this rapper-producer power duo, from secondary school kids pursuing a shared hobby to London legends with global fanbases. Still, the portmanteau-titled records are only a fragment of Ashbeck’s extensive discography.  Counting seven EPs and mixtapes plus numerous singles dropped when the creative urge arises, his work is instantly recognisable though not in the least bit homogenous. Without forcing anything, his sound is constantly evolving, as signposted by Ashlondo 3’s hard-hitting standout, ‘SONICS’.  

Upon browsing his back catalogue, what will strike you is the calibre of artists who feature. Pioneers of the UK rap wave, Ashbeck’s collaborators include Essex-native Joe James, Leicester-born Sainté as well as London wordsmith Rushy with whom he’s created the futuristic EP, RUSH HOUR. 


Speaking to me before his Notion 95 shoot, the rap talisman’s collective mindset is clear. Besides his excitement for the features on Ashlondo 3, with Bawo, A2 and ayrtn – when reflecting on his career, Ashbeck consistently refers to the ‘we’ behind personal achievements.   


It’s this recognition of the power in collective creativity that has allowed Ashbeck, and his ever-growing pool of talented friends, to shatter the music industry’s glass ceilings. The London lyricist is attentive, quick-witted and uninhibited; he just as easily hooks a listener in conversation as in his music… 

I love the latest track you’ve dropped from Ashlondo 3, ‘ITSLIKE’. I sense a theme in the tracks you’ve released so far – the struggle of balancing work & personal life, and romantic relationships – can you tell me more about what inspired the narratives of your upcoming album? 

They come with my style of lyrics, I’ve always been someone to say how I feel in that moment of time, based off the beat. My music is almost like a diary, a report of what’s happening in my life, that’s why you hear those themes coming up. The majority of the album was made when I’d just stopped seeing someone, so it’s a snapshot of where I was then. 

Do you have a favourite track?   

It always changes. Right now, I’m loving NYC, that’s me rapping, rapping. Me and El made that beat when we were in New York and I came up with the bars on the plane back. 

This is the third album you’ve made with El Londo. Was a follow-up to Ashlondo 2 always the plan?  

We’ve been unintentionally working on this project for three years. We were talking about how it’s mad that we dropped the first Ashlondo in 2019 and the second a year after. We didn’t want to force a third one. After finishing the last we basically said, ‘Let’s just keep going to the studio to make music until we have a folder and we’re happy with how it sounds.’ Doing it that way took off any pressure. 

Ashlondo 3 feels faster and punchier than the other two. Why did you decide on that tone and energy? 

Me and El just started enjoying faster stuff, and I started to freestyle on a lot of songs. Pretty much 80 percent of this album I didn’t even write down the lyrics, I was just freestyling them.  

I’m in awe of people who can freestyle, to be able to think and articulate yourself that quickly and rhythmically, on the spot… 

We actually used this technique, called ‘punching in’ where you freestyle one or two lines at a time, then you hear it back, do the next bar and keep it going until you have a full song The technique gives it that punchy sound and makes it really rapid. We were listening to a lot of Cash Cobain as well, he was inspiring us and is definitely an influence on this album, he makes that kind of fast, smooth drill.

So you and El Londo go way back, can you tell me about the first time you connected 

We were in the same friendship group at secondary school. Then when I was 17, I started rapping and writing lyrics for fun, and he’d started making beats, I went to his, we made some shit and that became the first stuff we put on SoundCloud. The rest is history.  

Do you remember what you were rapping about, the first time you tried it? 

My first ever raps were recorded on my iPhone 4 voice memos. I actually uploaded some of them onto SoundCloud. One of the earliest ones I can remember is called ‘42p Freestyle’, which was about having 42p in my pocket and buying some snacks, or something like that.  

What were you listening to around that time and growing up?  

My dad had a huge CD collection and we used to listen to a lot of OutKast, Black Eyed Peas and Gorillaz. As I got older, it was artists like MF DOOM and Freddie Gibbs. Then I discovered SoundCloud rap, when Rich the Kid, Jay Critch and Famous Dex came along, they were big influences on my music. Playboi Carti in his Cash Carti era; the production really spoke to me.  

You and El Londo started out on SoundCloud too. How important would you say that creative relationship was to your decision to make music a career? 

Really important. I didn’t know how you could make money; I didn’t even think of a career in music as a possibility. It started off purely just us having fun and fucking around. I was in sixth form when we released ‘Cooli’ on SoundCloud. It got like 30,000 streams, which at the time was all I needed to think ‘I’m not going to go to uni yet, I’m gonna try and make music. It’s kind of crazy to think that now, because 30,000 isn’t a lot, but it made me take a year out and explore where things could go. In that year we made the first Ashlondo, and after getting millions of streams on that, I was like, ‘Cool, this is actually going somewhere.’ People started to message me, saying, ‘I love your project’, which gave me this fuel to think maybe I can make a career out of this.  

Each of your albums has new names on it, you’ve got three on this next one, how did these collaborations come about? 

All it comes down to is if I’m a fan of their music, then I’d love to work with you. That goes for A2, ayrtn, and Bawo, who are on this tape, I felt like we’d make good music together. Me and ayrtn have known each other for ages. We got some buzz on Soundcloud around the same time, but somehow have only just got around to making a track together. I’m glad it’s happened. 

As a north west Londoner, what’s the best thing about that part of the city?  

Compared to east London, it’s quite a chilled-out area. I think that has influenced my sound, some people say my music’s quite relaxing or chill and I feel like maybe if I grew up in bustling east London the sound might have been a bit heavier.  

Outside of rap, what music genre would you like to explore collaborations in?  

Probably an R&B artist. She’s huge but to work with someone like Erykah Badu would be amazing. André 3000, I know he’s a rapper but he sings too. I wanna work with more singers.  

After you put out BEEZY, you said in an interview that you felt like you were still at the start of your journey, despite having four albums out. I wondered how you feel now? 

I’ve been doing music seriously for like four or five years now. But every time I release a project, it feels like I’m starting over again, because it’s new. I always feel like I’m giving a different sound, because I’m in a different place mentally each time.   

Is it pressurising, to feel like you’re back at square one with every project?  

No, I think that almost takes the pressure off because if you constantly feel like you’re giving them something fresh, it helps you to keep going, if you know what I mean? At the minute, I don’t feel a whole lot of pressure from the outside. Most of it is internal. I’m my biggest critic, I try to only do things if they’re a higher standard than before. Music is a personal thing, almost selfish, I make music that I like not because someone else is telling me to. If I like it, I’ll drop it. And because I’m independent, I don’t have a label saying, ‘You shouldn’t drop that. It doesn’t sound right.’  It’s pretty much all up to me. 

You’ve made so much music, but how do you catch a break in your downtime? 

I’ve got really into exercise this year, it properly grounds me, during that hour or two I’m not thinking about anything, it’s like a form of meditation. I’ve never been a big party guy. , some people’s idea of a fun night is  getting bare drunk. I do here and there but my idea of a fun night is making a cold track in the studio. I feel like I’ve gained more.  

What are some things on your career bucket list?  

To sell out a show abroad would be amazing, I don’t really mind where. I’d love to perform somewhere in the States, Paris even. Australia too, we’ve got quite a big following there. I don’t like setting myself too many goals; they can work in your favour sometimes, but if you don’t hit them, it’s disheartening

I’m always curious where artist’s get their monikers – can you share how yours came about?  

Back in the day, when I used to skate, some guy at the skate park started calling me Ashbeck, and it kind of stuck, everyone would call me that, and I took it on. 

What drew you to the skate scene, do you still skate?  

No, but I’ve been wanting to get back on it recently, I was seriously into skating. It’s just fun. I like the freedom of it, there’s no coach telling you what to do, it’s just you and your mates moving about and having a good time. I think it made me grow up quicker, I started young and would be out all day with a bunch of older mates. That’s what got me into smoking weed…and probably into making music as well. The first time I ever went studio was through my boy from the skate park, he was a producer and told me to pull up. 

What’s next for you musically, any live shows coming up…?   

We’re going to have to let people hear Ashlondo 3, that’s all I would say. After this project’s out, I’ll probably focus on singles. I feel like I’m always working on a project and it can be quite consuming. With singles, you could make a song next week and just release it, and I think people are enjoying them at the moment 

Listen to Ashlondo 3 now: