- Words Tom Fogden
- Photography Charlie Chich
- Production Studio Notion
Bad Boy Chiller Crew came down south to tell us all about their sound, plans to take over the UK music industry, and why there’s no one else quite like them.
“It’s a very good place to shoot”, Bad Boy Chiller Crew (BBCC) tell me having just wrapped up the photoshoot, “and we’ve all got pints of cider in”. For an innocuous sentence at the start of an interview, it tells you everything you need to know about the Bradford-based rap, bassline, and comedy crew — they’re here for a good time but are deadly serious about their craft.
Let’s back up a bit. If you’re not familiar with BBCC, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re just having a laugh. The group started out making comedy skits and songs to share on Facebook. The group’s members, Kane, Clive (real name Sam), and Gareth would take up different personas ranging from a farmer called Giles to a middle-aged boozehound called Mandy and her on-and-off boyfriend Fez. But they would also produce bassline anthems which rack up millions of views on YouTube.
They’re no strangers to the media spotlight but, for some reason, they’ve often been presented as a curiosity — a bunch of Bradford louts who have just happened to take off. But, as the group explains to us, their debut mixtape ‘Full Wack, No Breaks’ is only scratching the surface of their ambitions.
“Compared to most people, we’re versatile”, the group explained, “We started off doing anything we just got sent but now we’ve got beats left-right-and-center”. And they’re not wrong. While the mixtape leans heavily on the bassline-inspired beats that have brought them success so far, new songs “Organ” and “Thinking About You” show a new side to the group.
“Organ” is a certified rap slammer with heavy, head-bopping bass. “Thinking About You”, on the other hand, is a genuine love song, with the group waxing lyrical about unnamed girls that would make their lives better.
“Obviously we’re not always going to do bassline”, says Gareth, who DJs as well as MCs. “Like that’s not just our sound, it’s not right for everything, we might do a song about a bird, do you know what I mean?”
Of course, songs about ‘birds’ are a far cry from the group’s first serious song: “Pablo”, which at the time of writing has amassed 1.7 million views on YouTube. With a chopped and sped-up sample of Jean Jacques Smoothie’s “2 People”, “Pablo” is an archetypal bassline slammer. What makes it different, however, is the group’s verses with irreverent, tongue-in-cheek lyrics about having an “eighth of the Pablo” and girls wanting to tango.
If the group sounds crude and loutish, you might be right but you also need to lighten up. The BBCC are completely aware of their image and, frankly, don’t care.
“We’re a set of radgies who live life”, they say, “three crazy lads who just do what they want. That’s the main thing, we don’t give a fuck about what any sort of person thinks, even if it’s us own family. Too many people at the start thought like ‘What are they doing?’”
A radgie, if you’re wondering, is a distinctly northern term for a pretty crazy lad.
This northernness is, again, a source of pride for the group. “From Manchester upwards, we’ve got that soul, do you know what I’m saying? We live a totally different lifestyle from people down south, we go to pubs or clubs and that and have a laugh, but come down here and you’re all pissed off”.
But, during the course of our photoshoot and interview, the group were stopped by fans in south and east London for photos twice. “We still get love down here”, they say, “we stay humble, we don’t brag, we don’t show off. We’re entertainers, that’s what we’re like”.
The idea of the group being entertainers, first and foremost, comes up again and again during our chat.
“We listen to stuff like grime and that”, the group say, “but no one’s influencing us because we’re not trying to be like anyone else. We don’t want to be labelled as grime MCs or anything like that, we’re trying to be labelled as artists. You know, one day we might do a fucking disco tune, we’re entertainers, we’re entertainers!”
Sadly, while the group takes their craft extremely seriously — and you should too — they’re still viewed by some as almost a curiosity. There are articles talking about the band “joyriding” their way through virality and even a YouTube documentary describing them as “The most deranged rap group”.
Still, it’s water off the group’s collective backs, “I don’t want to sound big-headed but I don’t think anyone’s had that sort of press coverage in a while and it’s mad to us but anything we do is gold to them”.
Some might also be surprised that the group’s horizons expand well beyond the M62. “[We’re looking to make a mark] not even in the UK rap scene but music generally”, the say. “We haven’t really got the voice and the accent to like take on America but if we did, we’d be fucking buzzing”.
“How far we’ve got in this time is a shock”, the group say, “like all the magazines wanting to do pieces on us, we’re getting the exposure from the people that can help us break into America, so it’s not unachievable”.
But, if the bassline sound is too much for the American listeners’ ears, perhaps a BBCC TV show might be more to their liking. “We want to get our own TV show, we’re in talks with media and production”, the group says. “It’d be, like, documenting [our] life. Obviously, we won’t just be doing nothing, we’d be going on tour around the UK and the world and that. It’d be all-natural, not scripted or owt. If people see what we actually do like when we’re out and that, there’s enough for like twenty series and DVDs — you could write a book already!”
TV shows and world tours, though, are a far cry from their musical roots. Bassline, the UK garage sub-genre which exploded to popularity from its northern roots in the mid-noughties before fading, spawned the group’s sound.
“We were brought up on bassline, that’s what we like listening to”, the group explain. “But we knew that it’d be unique because no one makes that type of bassline, it’s a Bradford, Leeds thing, so we thought we’ll see how it goes and everyone’s loved it”.
“Bassline is such a big thing [up north] and we were brought up with people doing other bassline tracks but never fully made it, so we had a platform that we could take it to”.
Of course, Bradford didn’t just spawn the BBCC. The West Yorkshire city has another famous son in One Direction’s Zayn Malik. “Obviously we’ve got millions of views”, the group laugh, “I’m sure he’s aware, he might’ve seen one video on Facebook. Maybe him and the guys might start doing comedy videos, they’re due a comeback ain’t they? Bad Boy Chiller Crew versus One Direction, get ready!”
Maybe Malik and Gigi Hadid will be in attendance for the BBCC UK tour next year — we certainly will be.
Either way, despite attempts to make the Bad Boy Chiller Crew seem dependent on their early viral success, their unique image, as well as the ever-improving music they’re releasing, will ensure that the BBCC are here to stay.