Starting out as a producer in the grime scene, London artist, Rival, made the leap to MC-ing in 2008. Rival has already worked with the likes of Ghetts, Roll Deep, Dot Rotten, Lioness, and Roachee. The 22 year old has an impressive line up of freestyles behind him too, dropping rhymes for Tim Westwood, Rinse FM, Logan Sama and DJ Cameo. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot that can stop him on his rise to success. SB.TV’s Fiona Guest spoke to Rival about his inspirations, genre-dipping, and leaving a legacy in the music game…
You’re called Rival – how much of a rival would you say you currently are in the grime scene?
I would say I’m very much a rival in the grime scene. Everyone’s fighting to be heard and be the best at what they do, so while I’m here I guess that makes me part of the competition.
When did you first think that MCing might be for you?
I’d always wanted to be a MC from the days of So Solid Crew and did try and write lyrics but I was terrible and shortly after became a DJ. It wasn’t until a few years later when I heard Foostie’s Scars instrumental I decided to try it again. The feedback was way better and I haven’t stopped since.
Which artists would you say are your biggest influences?
I would say the biggest influences for me would be Eminem, Wu Tang, Redman, So Solid, Wiley, Ghetts and Dizzee Rascal. There are definitely loads I’m forgetting but those names stand out for me the most growing up.
You’ve dipped a toe in both grime and hi -Hop on Biscuits EP. Which genre do you prefer?
Well I’m drawn to both genres, just in different ways. I grew up from a young age listening to hip hop because that at the time was pretty much the only thing musical I could relate to. It wasn’t until I grew up more and started school I got into the era of pirate radio, hearing grime for the first time, being drawn to its raw sound and energy. So it’s two different reasons I love both.
You’ve also made a dub step cross-over EP, Rival vs Nytz EP – is experimenting with other genres important to you?
I think experimenting is highly important – sometimes you don’t even have to go outside of a genre to want to experiment on things because you can always adapt something to what you do, and trying things is what will ultimately separate us from all sounding alike. The Rival Vs Nytz EP was a nice thing to do because I had a lot of fans that liked my previous dub-step work.
Are there any genres you’d like to work in in the future?
I am currently focused on grime and rap at the moment. Not that I’m limiting myself because my next projects are taking elements from different genres I have been influenced by. The instrumentals I am working with will shock people.
You’ve got quite a body of work already – would you say that you’re something of a workaholic?
I wouldn’t say I’m a workaholic. I see it as if you’re really going to pursue your dreams, you have to be able to put your all into your profession. I never planned to work on as many projects as I have but in the end I want to be able to achieve goals and do things that, growing up, I haven’t seen artists do. It’s about leaving a legacy, not just having fun.
You came to everyone’s attention in 2010 – how would you say your style has changed since then?
I think I’ve changed in realising how much more can be done on an instrumental than just having lyrics. I would say now I spend much more time adding my personality on to a song and giving the listeners more of a reason to feel what I am saying.
How was touring on the Wiley – Elusive Tour for you?
That tour was a big highlight for me. It was great just being able to travel outside of a world I live in everyday to other parts, doing the music I love and most importantly meeting fans I never knew I had. That was probably a big wake up call for me to realise music is very powerful.
Can you tell us about your forthcoming projects?
I don’t want to spoil it for the listeners but I can say for me this is great music I’m making. I’ve kept some elements in – some elements of what people love me for on some tracks but some of the other stuff I’m doing has to be my best work so far.
Which artists would you like to work with in the future?
I have a list of loads of artists I wanted to work with and on my next projects I’ve been able to tick them off but you’re gonna have to wait and see who when the next project drops.
Find Rival on Twitter here.
Words by Fiona Guest