Mad About… Rucci LSE

Jesse Williams

By Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams

1 Nov 2023

With the advent of the internet the world of music saw it’s barriers to entry smashed down for the very first time. Now a very much an integral part of the music experience, fans and artist have reaped the benefits of that free market environment. Rucci LSE is one of these benefactors, initially finding a space to showcase his unique afro-infused artistry through TikTok. Only really just starting his career the Newham native has made big strides, even managing to take the crown of 2023 song of the summer to some with his Afro-R&B inspired track ‘No rush,’.

Sitting down to chat to us Rucci dives into everything from his start freestyling at school, overcoming self doubt and the mark he intends to leave on the global music scene!

What have you done today? What’s your day been like? How are you feeling? 

So today, I actually went for a jog this morning. I can’t lie I’ve been speaking to a couple of people in the industry and they’ve been saying if you want to make your voice do the mad ting you better train your lungs. So I’ve been going on runs this morning and yeah just chilling really.

Breath control exercise and stuff like that.

Yes, sir. 

Let’s just get straight into it. What was the initial point for you where you felt okay, yeah, maybe I can sing? Or maybe I can actually make music like, what was that?

It’s a crazy story. So in sixth form I was the guy who would remix like all of these normal songs, but the way I would sing it in like an African accent. For me, it was just me trying to be funny, but people actually liked how I used to do it. I would turn a Skepta song into like a proper Afrobeats kind of Fuji kind of song. And people used to rock with it. And then obviously, I’ve always liked singing anyway, always. I just went to the studio one time, made a song. I can’t listen to it now but back then I used to proper rock with it. People were rocking with it at the time and I realised that man I can actually do music so I just kept at.

What was the initial reception like when you showed people, your friends, family, etc. Were they supportive, were they sceptical?

Um I feel like it was mixed. People were saying yeah I should do music but I also had a bit of an issue with confidence so people used to try and push me away from it as well, because they thought I didn’t have the confidence to do it.

You know, funny you say that? When I was doing my research for the interview, I was observing your social media, music videos etc. and for me, it felt like you have this natural flair for being an artist and that persona. But how do you see it?

I mean, definitely something I’ve had to build over time. It’s definitely something I’ve had to, you know, train myself to do. I just realised that you know what, if people are gonna love you, they’re gonna love you for you. And you know, if people love you for something that you pretend to be because then you can’t pretend to be that person all the time. So I just decided that you know what, let me just be me. If they rock with me, they rock with me if they don’t, they don’t. No hard feelings. 

So would you say for you, it feels natural to be in a booth or on stage? Or to shoot videos?

Yeah, literally, it’s like second nature. I can be in the booth all day. I’ve done it before where I’ve just been in the studio the whole day. Naturally, that’s how I like communicating, through my music. In terms of performing I used to have a little issues of stage fright and stuff. I did a show at Reading a few months back and obviously I’ve never done a crowd like that at all. Not even just demographic wise but the size capacity. Done Reading and wow, it definitely showed me that man actually meant to do this so yeah.

Did you prepare yourself or was it one of them ones where you just go out there and whatever happens happens? 

I personally feel you can’t prepare for something like Reading unless you’ve done a lot of festivals. That was the first show I’ve done in a while and then to that capacity, definitely the first show I done to that capacity. So I actually didn’t prepare myself and I wasn’t prepared for what happened that day.

That’s not an issue for you right now, right? Do you feel like you’re in a good space where you’re comfortable?

Yeah, I’m in a fantastic space right now and I feel like right now, I feel like I can perform in front of the whole world. 

Another thing that I found interesting when I was researching you was your name and the name change from R3 to Rucci LSE what was behind that?

I used to do a lot of like afrobeat drill, kind of music, more drill and I felt like I wanted to rebrand myself. There’s a lot more to me than drill and the direction I was going in, you know, it could have turned very gimmicky you know. The UK, they have a strict sound they want to see on drill, I didn’t offer that. And I also wanted to be more of a musician, more of an artist than just someone who makes music. I feel like R3 was someone who just made music while Rucci was the actual artist. Rucci is very personal, it’s me.

You talked about pivoting from drill. What are some of your influences that you think has shaped your sound?

I’m a big fan of Mase.

Mase as in like P. Diddy?

I didn’t even know about him for a long time. But the minute I started listening to him I fell in love with the sound. Biggie, a legend. I’m a big fan of the Migos, I’m probably their number one fan.  The Young Thug’s, the Future’s, the Gunna’ even P square, Lancey Foux. I have so many people who I’m crazy about musically, and who are my inspirations, and I just try and fuse it all into one sound.

With everyone you mentioned the first thing that popped into my mind was they’ve got a little bit of swag about them. One of the big things about them is their style and how they present themselves. Is that something that you tried to put into your music as well?

100%. 100%. I want people to hear the first few seconds of a Rucci song and know that it’s Rucci. I want that to be trademark. I want that. If you hear a Lancey song, you know, it’s Lancey. If you hear a Migos song, you know it’s the Migos. That’s me, I want people to know this is a Rucci song. And I want to be more than just a wave I want it to be a household name, I want them to talk about me for years to come.

This interview was delayed but I did like the fact that I was told that you had a writers camp. It was very nice to have an up and coming artist craft seriously and you know, trying to improve? Do you see yourself as a student of the game?

100%. I feel like every day I’m getting better. I feel like with more time and more practice we could really remind the world that the UK is literally where the best music comes from. And I’ll be happy to carry that torch but you know, that’s something with all the extra work I’ve been doing I’ll be able to do. 

When you analyse yourself and how you make music? What’s the area that you want to improve the most?

What in terms of the way I make music?

Yeah, the way you make music or even just your sound like what’s something that you say, okay I’m doing good right now but I want to be better at this or I want to be the best at this?

I’ll just I’ll say for me, it’s definitely clarity. I feel like that’s just because of the way I speak naturally. When I speak I speak very fast,  I speak very muffled. But definitely clarity, clarity I wish was a little bit more clear so people can understand me. But thank God for pages like Rap Genius and the way you can just see the lyrics of the of the phone cause if you couldn’t see my lyrics I’d be in trouble.

We touched on the skill side but what do you make music for? Is it just for fun? Is it to express yourself? Is it an outlet?

I love this question because this really describes the kind of person I am. I’m the kind of person where I have different moods every day and my team can tell you that. One day, you might catch me angry one day you might catch me happy one day you might catch me excited. I make music for the sad people, for the upset people, for the angry people, happy people for the dancing people. And that’s a skill that I feel not a lot of artist have, you could put me in a booth and I could make four songs and it would be four different kinda vibes, my target doesn’t really have a limit.

Would you say mood swings are behind why it takes a long time for your music to come out? Like with ‘No rush,’ when you tease a song you really tease. What’s your approach to releasing music?

Okay, so with ‘No rush,’ that was actually meant to be released a lot earlier than it was but the clearance situation we couldn’t release that earlier. Now in terms of music coming out now, with me, I’m not going to take as long. But I’m the kind of artist that needs to build anticipation. Don’t get it twisted though I am going to be dropping a lot of things before my next release. Find out soon. But I also love building anticipation.

Back to ‘No rush,’ it’s your first release as Rucci.What was the inspiration behind that track?

It was what I was going for at the time, literally. I’m asking a girl if I didn’t have anything, would you be around? Would you still love me? And the sample sits well with the actual sample of the actual song. The original sample is ‘Wonderful,’ by Ja Rule and Ashanti. It’s definitely something I can relate to. I be on twitter and these are topics that people are actually talking about. Whether we like having these kinds of conversations or not is a different story. But I see these kinds of topics all the time. 

Is your song writing solely dependent on your own personal experiences? Or are you able to think of a situation or see things happening and draw from that?

Yeah, so my music isn’t limited to my own personal experiences. I like creating stories. I like creating from other people’s viewpoints as well. Music isn’t just saying how you’re feeling that day you have to create a story in people’s heads. Most of these authors writing books are not writing books based on their personal experience. I see myself as an author rather than just the eyes.

Talking about creating stories. Music videos, the ‘No Rush,’ music video. That was a serious production, you even went to Bermuda for that.

We were in Bermuda and we just decided to shoot the video there. So we didn’t go to Bermuda for ther video.

Okay, okay makes sense. But what was that process like?

It was beautiful. There was not a better location than Bermuda because Bermuda really brought out the summer vibes. It really fit well with it. And if you see the video Bermuda is such a beautiful country I’m super happy we shot it there.

A lot of people were begging for that song in the Tiktok comments. I imagine at one point, you didn’t have people begging for your music. How has that dynamic changed for you? 

In response to that, I’ll just say be excited. Be very, very excited. There’s gonna be a change in the UK music scene. And I’m happy to be that person to deliver that change. 

What are your thoughts on the music scene like the UK music scene as it stands today? 

Nah the music scene in the UK right now we’re building. We’re in a transition stage where we’re coming out of that whole drill era. I don’t necessarily know where we’re going whether it’s back to Afro swing or R&B or Dancehall. But we’re definitely in the transition stage. And it’s beautiful, because a lot of talented people are coming out of the woodwork.

You and your team really go hard on your marketing is that something that you’re naturally inclined to do?

I’ll be honest with you if it wasn’t for my managers and some members of my team, I probably would have very bad marketing. I’m that kind of guy where I’m just focused on the art. Sadly we’re in an era where music isn’t just going to the studio and dropping the best song you have to you have to be able to sell yourself as well. So having the right people around you is so key and I feel like I picked the right people.

How did you build your team?

So one of the members of my team is Kevin, who is very business savvy. I’ve known him since I was 12 and I just decided he was the best person for this particular role with him because he knew how to market himself. He put himself out there he knows how to get the right eyes to look at him. My other manager Brian he’s worked in the industry before. He reached out to me but I knew he was the right guy because of what he’s done, what he’s accomplished.

I saw that you were in the studio with Wretch. What’s that experience been like?

The reason why they call Wretch the OG, that guy his talent is incredible. You can literally come up with things by doing nothing. I don’t know how he does it, but he does it well. Being with somebody who’s been successful in something that you’re trying to do it’s very nice to see them work and see them in action. You learn a lot.

Being in those rooms can be kind of intimidating?

Um, definitely. I’m from a very confrontational area, we don’t like meeting new people. Being in the studio with these people you’re at work. You have to mingle and socialise. But they did their best to make me feel at home and within a matter of minutes I was talking to them like we’ve known each other our whole lives.

What area are you from?

I’m from East London, Newham. East Ham. 

I noticed that the theme in your visuals is a lot of your area you go to local shops instead etc etc. Is it a thing where you said I want to conquer home first, and represent that and then go to the world or are you thinking global from day one?

I’ll keep it a buck with you, global from day one and I’ll tell you why. I feel like a lot of people from where you’re from it’s an over familiarity. Because they know you it’s very hard for them to see you as the artist you’re trying to be. It can definitely kind of hold you back because there won’t be that push. It will be hard for people who’ve known me all my life to see me in the light that I need them to see me in. Going out and showing people around the world, representing your area because that’s it important, would definitely do more for you than tryna blow up in your own city first.

What do you like to do for fun like outside of music just to like you know, relax because I know this industry can be tough?

What do I like doing? I don’t know. Recently I’ve been learning how to drive so I guess I like driving. I love football, football debates is definitely something I’m interested in. Just hanging out with my boys and LSE and yeah we talk about music, football, girls, how to get rich so yeah.

The UK Afro-swing, Afrobeats scene was dominated by East London. Guys like Kojo Funds, J Hus, Yxng Bane. What do you think makes East such a hub for those kinds of artists?

There’s a big African culture in East London or Newham to be precise. If it’s not Congo it’s Ghana, if it’s not Ghana it’s Nigeria and everyone knows each other. When those guys were coming up, everyone would get the leaks and share it. Everyone was on it and that led to different sub-genres like Afro-pop, Afro-drill and yeah.

Lastly just to get a little bit more understanding of you as a person and your musical taste. What are the last three songs you saved me on Spotify or Apple Music?

Gotcha. Tendai ‘Pressure,’, Lancey Foux ‘Girls, girls, girls,’ and Fridayy and Byron Messia ‘Mercy,’