The sound of the summer is a coveted thing. Sometimes it’s one song, sometimes it’s an artist, this year it looks like it’s going to be a whole movement. A heady combination of grime, afrobeats, UK rap and more, the sound of summer 2018 goes by a couple of names, but whether you call it afroswing or afrobashment, the sound remains the same. Now that the weather’s finally warming up, we present our pick of the UK’s finest talent; this is Summer Wave.
In September 2017, to little fanfare, GRM Daily uploaded the debut single of Ramone Rochester, an aspiring MC-cum-singer from Mitcham, south London. Titled ‘Barking’, the track and video sat amongst the rest of GRM’s wealth of uploads, steadily gaining hits but more or less unremarked on. By Christmas, it had reached over seven million views and by January, Rochester, known best as Ramz, was facing down Eminem for the number one spot in the charts.
How Ramz got here is a story that says a lot about today’s music industry, from the quasi-meme status that the track acquired over the months since it was originally uploaded to GRM, to the way that Ramz has turned the ambiguity of his viral fame into a career. In the seven months since ‘Barking’ dropped Ramz has signed with Polydor, played shows in Dubai and booked a spot at British rap music’ biggest proving ground, Wireless festival; where he’ll perform alongside the likes of Wiley, J Hus, Stormy and a host of the world’s biggest hip-hop talents from Migos to J Cole. To think it all started when a handful of Twitter users latched onto the lyrics of ‘Barking’ and asked themselves, and the world; what’s a guy from Mitcham doing linking a girl from Barking a 7 AM?
It’s a question that thus far Ramz has more or less refused to answer. A smart move, business-wise as any answer he gives will no doubt be disappointing compared to the collective speculation of Twitter over the 2017 winter break. However, after another single in the multi-million views club and a feature with our current cover star RAYE, on the remix of ‘Decline’, we had a few other questions for Ramz. For the latest installment of Summer Wave, we sat down with the South London artist to find out about going to church with Michael Dappah, touring the world and getting ready for that Wireless performance.