- Words Liam Cattermole
East London drummer turned rapper Perry talks his musical firsts, mulling over the impact of Mary J. Blige, being starstruck by Solange and more.
Perry’s musical destiny was mapped out for him from an incredibly young age. Playing the pots and pans as a toddler, before progressing onto the drums for a local church choir, as young as three rhythm flowed naturally through his veins. The east London-based artist has worked with everyone from Knucks to Not3s, becoming a trusted percussionist for some of Britain’s most beloved wordsmiths, across a range of genres.
Inspired by those around him, this year, Perry released his first project as a rapper, Chronicles of Slim. After visiting Bedford-Stuyvesant, the neighbourhood famous for cultivating Biggie Smalls’ slick rhymes and flow patterns, the self-professed experimentalist felt compelled to write lyrics of his own. Creating an A-Team of close collaborators to bring the debut EP to fruition, across five tracks, Perry laces jazz, R&B and gospel around his distinct alt-hip-hop sound.
‘Rafa’ is certainly a highlight. Not only does it feature the infectious nonchalance of Knucks, but revered keyboardist Charlie Stacey unites with esteemed saxophonist Venna and south east London producer Emil for a shapeshifting instrumental. Perry’s vocal idiosyncrasies shuffle across the beat, hitting you with one-liners like sucker punches to the chest.
With a refreshing rap style, which rebels against the tropes of modern hip-hop, Perry is someone to keep a close eye on going into the new year. Signing to Out Deh Records, the multifaceted artist looks set to continue his winning streak, releasing unclassifiable singles and projects and featuring some of the country’s most exciting musicians along the way.
Here, he talks his musical firsts, mulling over the impact of Mary J. Blige, being starstruck by Solange and more. Tap in below.
First song you ever made?
The first song that I recorded was ‘Luego Hasta’. It was an introduction to myself and it’s a jumpy tune.
First time you fell in love with music?
I couldn’t really tell you the first time because it always feels like it when you hear something new. From my days drumming at church to getting put on new music by my boys in college.
First CD or record you owned?
Mary J. Blige, The Breakthrough. She went in, still. She had GOAT’s like Raphael Saadiq on there. Yeah, Mary J. Blige knew what she was doing.
First time you realised you wanted to be an artist?
When I went to New York. I really got into the world of hip-hop and the foundations of what the art form is when I went to Bedford-Stuyvesant. Seeing where greats like Biggie grew up and places, where they would battle and shoot all their freestyles in person, was different.
First gig you went to?
I went down to see Fred Hammond when he came to London – one of the biggest pioneers in gospel music, hands down. That man can play the bass and sing with little effort. Seeing him play live really young shaped how I see music today.
First time you faced an obstacle in your career?
First instrument you owned?
First time you felt like giving up?
First time you felt starstruck?
First time you ticked off a bucket list goal?