Rooted… Stepz

Joe Simpson

By Joe Simpson

Joe Simpson

13 Nov 2023

At just 20 years of age, Stepz has managed to find himself as one of the most influential rappers in the UK. Combining sounds of Drill, Grime, and Hip-Hop, coupled with fast flows that catch the ear of an audience, the south Londoner has tapped into nostalgic sonics whilst also maintaining the support of his youthful fans.

What sets Stepz apart from his peers however is the extra curricular elements he brings to his audience. No one is connecting like him, as evidenced by the fact that he was the most viewed UK artist on TikTok in 2022, beating the likes of Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith to the top spot. This has led him to get co-signs from some of the greats within UK Rap, including Jme, Unknown T, and Dizzee Rascal, who brought Stepz out at the O2 Arena. I sat down with Stepz to discuss his come up, how to stay grounded, his career highlights so far, and what comes next for the bright emerging talent.

Tell me about the name, ‘Stepz’. How did that come about?

I used to dance a lot when I was younger, right? I used to kick ball, I was fast. A lot of people saw what I was doing with my feet and they just gave me the name, innit? It was basically from friends.

Would you say dancing is what got you into music?

100 percent. I got into dancing from a young age and I used to dance with other musicians in music videos like Russ or whoever would shout me. It was one of those ones where I did it with my friends and we didn’t used to get paid a lot. I used to think how I could help my friends and that would help me as well, so I decided to take that road and try and make music and then pay them for shoots.

Do you think your background in dance gives you a bit of an advantage when it comes to making music?

Yeah, you know. I wouldn’t say an advantage but it’s helped my flow. I would say so. It is a work in progress though, like everything you do you have to work on it. I have worked on it and I’m happy with the way things are going right now.

Talk to me about growing up in Croydon. What was that like for you?

I’m just happy that I grew up here because I learned a lot of things about myself. If I didn’t grow up here I don’t think my character would be the same and I would like different things. Everyone here has always been very positive towards me as well. So yeah, it’s kind of like a good community, that’s why I like Croydon so much.

What kind of things did you learn?

Just little personality traits – like you have to be kind of strong minded. You can’t be afraid to say no to things and also it’s not a good idea to be surrounded by yes men. You need people around you to say ‘No, this is wrong.’ All my friends around me have given me a different trait that I’ve learned from them, and the majority of them are from Croydon.

When did you start taking music seriously?

I started rapping about a year and a half or two years ago and I started taking it seriously around that time as well. I wanted to give my friends a bigger opportunity to make money.

Who would you say you’ve been influenced by?

I listen to a little bit of everything to be honest. There’s no one particular in the UK that I listen to but I respect everyone’s sound and people who are trying to sound different.

Would you say that there’s a Grime influence in your music?

Yeah, 100 percent. I’d describe my sound and style as very skippy. I grew up listening to a lot of Jme. He was my favourite artist when I was younger. 

I saw you did a TikTok video with him…

Yeah. He’s someone who has had a very big impact on how I rap. That’s probably why that kind of sound is there in my music.

Speaking of, you’ve also found a lot of success on TikTok and you were the most viewed artist from the UK on the app last year. How does that make you feel?

I never ever expected it but we’re here now and all I can do is thank God. Lord Jesus works wonders.

People seem to be connecting with your personality and your humour. That must be a good feeling…

Yeah for sure. I’m just happy that a lot of people can see me for how I am and like my personality. It’s great that they want to keep themselves watching me and be around me.

You also do some comedy stuff there as well. Do you enjoy that as much as the music?

I enjoy everything the same. Everything I do and everything I find fun is all at the same level. It’s all entertainment as one. They’re all fun to make and they’re exciting. I love them all as much as each other and they will help me and benefit me. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t feel the same way about it all to be honest.

What are your hobbies outside of music?

I like football. I’ll smoke guys on the pitch in football (laughs). Basketball as well. I support Chelsea and Golden State Warriors. A couple of other things, still.

You’ve also collaborated with a few artists now. You had Ms Banks in your music video and you’ve worked with Pete and Bas. Do you like working together or do you prefer working solo?

No, I work by myself but these have shown love to me so it’s only good to reciprocate what gets given. Especially Ms Banks – she’s been there a lot of the time for man so I respect her highly. She’s supported me a lot so why would I not want to put her in certain things as I go up. All I’m gonna do is go up – that’s why Stepz is there – Stepz goes up.

And you’ve got some big co-signs from the likes of Unknown T and AJ Tracey. How does that feel knowing your music is reaching respected artists in the scene?

It makes me happy, you know? (laughs) It’s like “rah, you guys actually like my tunes?” It obviously shows a lot of respect. AJ said to me that I actually have a talent for music and I was like ‘Swear! AJ’s telling me that you know!” I’m happy to hear it from them. They’re both mad talents with mad flows so to get that from people like them shows I’m highly respected.

Dizzee Rascal also brought you out at the 02. That must have been your biggest performance so far?

I was happy about that because my aim of what I wanted to do had happened. I wanted to bring my friends from ends that were dancing and show them something bigger and better. That’s what we did and I was very happy to show that what we’re doing is working. 

You’ve mentioned your friends a lot in this conversation. Do they keep you grounded as you try and make it in this industry?

It’s one of those ones where everyone has kind of adapted around me. Let’s say for example my friend points me to a shop all the time and I find a million pounds on the way, I can’t not help him. It doesn’t make sense. Even though he didn’t know that was there, due to him even putting me in that direction I was able to find it. When I look at my friends, especially the ones that have kind of pushed me to go this direction, I can’t forget them.

What’s been your career highlight so far?

That’s a good question. I would say being the most viewed artist on TikTok. That’s probably the maddest. I have done a lot of mad things though recently, still (laughs). But yeah, I would probably have to say that.

Finally, what’s next for Stepz?

I’m definitely going to try and get into acting. I’m working on my school shoes. I’m just trying to perfect them because I don’t want to make something that the youth don’t like. Also obviously new music. A lot of things, still.