In Talks With Realz: “That’s why the EP is called ‘Ground Zero’ – anything that happened before doesn’t count.”
2 Jul 2021
It’s a new era and phase for East London’s Realz, who I recently caught up with in the short hours leading up to the official release of his ‘Ground Zero’ EP.
Landing back on our radar, last year, with a string of captivating singles, the rapper was on a mission to feel out new waters and carve out a lane for himself once again. Grounded by a solid team, loyal supporters and co-signs from the likes of Ghetts and Wiley, Realz knew it was go time.
However, what might this journey look like for the MC who initially got his break via skippy street freestyles and spinning Westwood’s radio sets?
Back and better? Not quite. Reinvented? Yes.
“The last time we spoke was November, last year! Back then, it was about grafting and preparation – tell me where you’re at with it right now?”
R: My plans have manifested. The project is done and out at midnight. I’ve been working on how to push it to the best of my ability. I’m excited for everyone to hear ‘Ground Zero’ and then, hopefully, hit up some shows man!
“Before we get into live shows, talk about the process?”
R: We recorded a couple tracks around last summer. Me and The Heavytrackerz said yeah let’s create a 7-track project. We already had two, so we’d send things back and forth. We planned to have a tune for everybody on there to show versatility. It was pretty smooth – every time I went studio, it was no more than 20 minutes and I had my verses down.
R: He’d send me a track or I’d tell him the type of vibe I want. We’d go studio and just lay it down. I’ve worked with my brother a long time, so you know.
“Yeah, that relationship between you and The Heavytrackerz makes for a smooth process.”
R: It’s more than music, I’ve known him for quite a while actually. Sometimes, we’d book a session and we’d spend it talking. It was seriously therapeutic. We’d come back and hit up the next day. Not forced, no pressure. We could’ve gone longer but we wanted to put out a quick project.
“I can only imagine what kind of music would come from such a cool bond. Talk about all the sounds and vibes you’re going for on this project.”
R: When everyone hears this, it’s already out you feel me! It starts off BARS – no games, not mucking about. We hit them with “Ball” – on 124,000 streams – and then after that is when we start mellowing down the sound. Got a couple tunes for the girls there and a little wave. You have “My Soul” and then it’s back to hardcore with my guys. Finish it up with grime, big up Capo Lee and Mercston. It’s like going through a tunnel, it aligns smoothly.
“You wanted a bit of every style. What did you have in mind when you were putting this project together?”
R: I come from Grime so producers always just send me grime and that’s my frustration. Not saying I don’t love grime but I can’t express myself in just one genre. Other producers can’t see me on riddims like Jae5 produces but I will shut them down. That’s what they don’t know! I’m showcasing my versatility and making good music.
“You were making waves as a youngin’ in Grime. Is this your ‘I’m back’ moment?”
R: One of the hardest things to do as an artist is reinvent yourself. I’ve been in this game since I was a kid and I’m a big man right now. A lot of people who are finding me don’t know where I’ve started and I don’t mind. It’s not even an ‘I’m back’ thing, it’s just this is the rebrand. This is Realz. That’s why the EP is called ‘Ground Zero’ – anything that happened before doesn’t count. I’ve got a blank canvas, starting again so let’s go!
“Those that have followed you have definitely seen that rebrand energy. In our last conversation, you weren’t too keen on social media and stuff but now you’re so much more active.”
R: Facts. Thank you, thank you.
“What reaction do you want from the listeners?”
R: The music that I make isn’t just for the moment. It’s real. I can’t write stuff I haven’t experienced or haven’t been around. I want it to sound fresh and timeless. This is music I enjoy! Whether they take it good or bad, I don’t mind. It’s more for the people who are discovering me and showing love. When I’m done with this game, I can say I tried all the angles.
“You’ve covered so much ground since Novemeber. From now, to December?”
R: Oh yeah, we’re not resting.
“I love it man. I saw the kids listening to daddy’s music. Tell me about artistry and fatherhood?”
R: It all co-exists. They’re interested in what daddy’s doing anyway, which is why I’m weary of certain tunes I make because they’re starting to hear me and search for me. It’s just a balance init. I get them involved sometimes and plus; kids are honest as well. If my son loves a tune, I take it as a banger.
“That’s proper. One thing I always like to ask artists, is where they think their music fits in the wider scene?”
R: Luckily for me, I do get a younger crowd. I float between the grime and drill ting. How I see it, let the kids dem do their ting. I enjoy it. I’m learning some of their slangs now. I make the music I like so if I hear an Unknown T riddim and I like it, I’ll probably get my version of that. Everyone enjoys me licking off someone’s head in a set or a freestyle because that’s where I come from.
“It’s hard man!!! It’s your energy!”
R: Much appreciated, man. So, where does my music fit- do you know what’s funny? Me and Haydn (manager) had this conversation. It’s not like the Kojey Radicals and Che Lingos. It’s got the drill stuff that the kids like and grime for the old heads. It’s in-between everywhere. Is that a problem? I’m not sure. I’m just making music that makes sense. I’m in my own lane and hopefully it pays off.
Realz’ latest project is available to stream above or across all major platforms. You may want to Google him too.