As a young teenager, North West London born-and-bred Todd Allison went to school, played sports with his friends and dreamt of becoming a professional footballer. His life growing up was not the easiest, from anger issues to being arrested for criminal damage as a teen, the full story of which is explained in Closer, the first full length track on mixtape Reinventing. He attended counselling sessions which, he claims, helped him turn his life around. Now, at twenty-four years old, he is a self-proclaimed reformed character with the determination to make it big in the music industry. Reinventing, released May 2011, is a nineteen track mixtape offering an intimate, conscientious look into Razor’s life, from his childhood to the present day, and it even glimpses into the future for a brief moment during the original, creative track Unborn Child.
A full mixtape review will follow, but after just one listen (and many more) I felt that even though I had been lucky enough to see the world through Todd’s eyes, I wanted to know more about the man behind the music. I met up with Razor (in a posh mozarella bar – no, we didn’t know they existed either…) to discuss Reinventing, his past, his future and his present.
Georgina: Explain your journey from the very beginning and how you managed to get a name for yourself on the underground scene.
Razor: In high school, about year eight, I started to write songs. Admittedly I wanted to be a footballer around that age so I focussed more on that, but around the age of about eighteen me and my friends put some money together and built a studio at one of our houses. It was basically my second home; everyday we would all go round and record music, and when we weren’t recording we’d be playing video games. Eventually we all kind of grew apart, and it was at the end of 2009 when I realised that music was what I wanted to do as my career, and I started to notice signs, or maybe rather things seemed to be falling into place all at the right time. For example I met Wretch 32 on New Year’s Eve 2009 and we were a bit drunk so we just started chatting like old friends; now when I see him about we still have a chat. I felt like it was a sign that music was definitely the path for me. I started to write Venting around this sort of time, and I released it in March 2010. I gave out 2,500 copies and was doing shows all around London. I don’t feel like I promoted Venting very well, though, so when I wrote Reinventing I made sure I promoted it a lot more.
Georgina: You’ve just been nominated for the ‘Best Newcomer of 2011′ award at the Official Mixtape Awards (OMAs). How does that feel?
Razor: It feels so good! When I found out I told everyone on my BBM list at the time! To top it off, I even performed at the OMA party in January. It feels amazing.
Georgina: Where did you get the name Razor from?
Razor: I’m the youngest in my family, so I was quite rebellious against my big brothers. I was quite good with my comebacks, being a cheeky kid, and they used to say I had a razor sharp tongue, so the name kind of stuck from there on.
Georgina: Tell me about your song-writing process.
Razor: To be honest I don’t really have a proper process as such. I sometimes randomly think of bars and write them down in my phone and I would have no idea what kind of song I’d put them in or what beat or anything. I’ve got around fifty saved texts in my phone just full of lyrics. If I sit down and think “I have to write a song” then it feels kind of forced, so I just let it come to me.
Georgina: What about your track selection process? How do you know what songs to put on a mixtape/album and which ones to leave out?
Razor: I don’t have a proper manager as such, so with all my tracks I get my best friend to listen to them and see what he thinks and he advises me. On Reinventing I didn’t really want to include Understand and Alone in the Streets but he said that I should so I took his advice.
Georgina: Where did you get the idea for Unborn Child? It’s quite original – I really love that track.
Razor: I actually wrote and recorded that during the time I was promoting Venting, which was ages ago! I don’t really know where I got the idea from, I suppose that maybe it has something to do with my relationship with my own dad.
Georgina: Memory of You is a tribute song to Michael Jackson. What did he mean to you as not just the artist, but a person?
Razor: I love MJ. One of my very first memories as a kid is when I was about three or four, and I was sitting on my dad’s lap and my mum was in the room. Bad was playing and I was trying to mimic the way MJ danced. He meant so much to me as an artist, he’s one of my main inspirations.
Georgina: How have you improved since Venting?
Razor: When I had written Venting, I had actually stopped writing songs for a couple of years. I think when I finally took up writing again, a lot of songs were filled with anger. I think that Venting came from a childlike point of view, whereas in Reinventing, I feel like I am actually reinventing myself. That’s where the name comes from. I’m no longer angry and I’ve grown a lot since Venting. I think you can hear that in certain tracks.
Georgina: What has been your biggest challenge to date?
Razor: Probably having to face the fact that some childhood friends have turned out to be enemies. I have found out who some of them truly are. Sometimes people can’t be happy for others when they’re finally getting somewhere in life, and when a friend can’t be happy for me, that’s when I know they’re not my friend and that I’m on a completely different level to them.
Georgina: Do you get nervous performing?
Razor: All the time! When I was promoting Venting I’d go to loads of open mic nights and perform. One time at an event called Camden Unplugged I had only been told the same morning of the performance that I was actually going to be performing! I was performing alongside artists like G-Fresh, Snakeyman and Dotstar and I was intimidated because they’re proper well known people in the industry. I also performed at an event in Farringdon where Richard Blackwood also attended…I was nervous for the whole week running up to that, but funnily enough my nerves kind of disappeared when I got inside, despite it being the biggest crowd I’d ever performed to.
Georgina: How have your personal life experiences impacted on your songwriting and attitude?
Razor: They’ve humbled me. I think that when you are a hyper or angry child, like I was, you can turn either into a hyper, angry adult, or a humble adult. I’ve definitely turned into a humble adult.
Georgina: How do you stay so humble?
Razor: Being quite naiive when I was younger and just assuming that everyone who said they were my friend was my friend, I started to realise that they aren’t always telling the truth. I started to appreciate my real friends more. I got knocked down a lot and had to pick myself up. A friend is supposed to be a friend, and be loyal. I look up to my friends and I feel genuinely happy for them whenever they do something good, whether they are ‘higher’ than me or not. A hater is someone who can never feel happy for someone who is doing ‘better’ than them, and that’s selfish. A hater secretly admires someone they claim to hate, but they can’t admit it and that leads to frustration. I don’t think I could ever be like that. Also, finding out that my music does actually have an effect on people leaves me feeling surprised every time.
Georgina: Give me one artist that you are chiefly inspired by.
Razor: Can I have three?!
Georgina: Fine!! Haha.
Razor: 2Pac, Wiley and, obviously, MJ.
Georgina: And who do you think deserves more recognition in the UK scene?
Razor: Ghetts, definitely.
Georgina: This is a bit of a horrible question, sorry! But tell me why you are what the industry needs.
Razor: Everyone trying to make it in this industry thinks they’re the best, but even though I’m still trying to find myself I have stayed very open minded throughout my life. I’m also very hard on myself. I can admit it if I write a rubbish song. I’m very hardworking though and I can write really good songs. I want my music to reach out to as many people as possible so I can see what kind of effect I have on people.
Georgina: What are your plans for 2012 and beyond?
Razor: This time last year I had no idea what I’d be doing twelve months down the line. I just wanted to do my music. I never thought I’d have a song on Channel AKA, Link Up TV or Rap City. I just wanted to perform. I will be bringing out a new mixtape, The Lost Tapes, hopefully around summer time or maybe towards the end of the year and I’m making two more videos soon. But for the rest of 2012, who knows? I’ve been nominated for an OMA which just makes me think that anything is possible now.
Follow Razor on twitter: @RazorArtist
To vote for Razor as the ‘Best Newcomer of 2011′ click HERE. No registering is needed – takes 2 seconds!
Reinventing from grime/hip-hop artist Razor is the follow up to his 2010 mixtape Venting. Listen to why many feel Razor should have been nominated for an OMA!!
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