KO, V9 and Unknown T from Class of 98s
Photo: Thomas Charters. Stylist: Leona Jae
Music

UK Drill Crew 98s Tell Us About Their School Days

The ten member strong crew – which features UK drill poster boy Unknown T – released 'Class of 98s', one of the year's best tapes.
November 20, 2020, 11:04am

Class has assembled and east London’s 98s are here to give us a lesson.

The Hackney based collective of childhood friends came together earlier this year on Class of 98s – a 15 track tape that features arguably some of the best MCs to emerge from E9 and E8 in recent years (hence ‘98s’). You’ll recognise some of the names. There’s Unknown T – the finger-bopping poster boy of UK drill – and fellow Homerton collective members KO and V9. Seven more MCs join them: DA, Al Chubbino, Billy Billions, Jimmy, Stally, Hitman and Mazza.

Many of the 98s are stars in their own right. V9 honed his anime influence on 2020 mixtape Yūdokuna, helping freshen up the UK drill sound and aesthetic via flute melodies and superhero references (he wears a Deadpool style mask). When it comes to bars, KO consistently emerges on top. Unknown T implored the world to Rise Above Hate on his mixtape this year, having already changed the UK drill landscape when he released “Homerton B” in 2018 – one of UK drill’s first commercial bangers.

But for most, Class of 98s is an introduction to the finest young talents currently putting in work in east London. It’s a tape that goes from “Homerton2Holly” – referencing the two areas where the 98s live. As well as delivering a heavy-hitting sound that UK drill fans know and love, the tape also experiments with new styles. For a start, you’re gonna hear lots of melodies. Billy’s hooks and choruses set the group’s sound apart from other UK drill collectives, adding a smoother glide. The best example of this might be “Wait A Minute” (which features a cameo from Digga D in the music video).

It’s fun too. The artwork features the boys dressed up in school uniform, bringing a playful shade to their work. It’s clear the 98s members are close. As Jimmy reminds us on their single “Family” – which drew a whopping 300,000 views within 24 hours when it was uploaded this Sept – “this ain’t a gang, this is a family”. 

VICE brought the crew together to talk about their school days and give us an insight into the hottest young drill crew in east London. Stally, Hitman and Jimmy couldn’t make the chat as they were dealing with some sensitive personal issues, but read on for our guide to the other seven members in 98s.

KO

KO Class of 98s

VICE: What was your favourite meal at school?
KO: Those square pizzas that they used to serve on Fridays before Jamie Oliver came along. They were so simple but so good. If you left it for more than a second though it used to go rock hard. Come to think of it, I don’t know what kind of cheese they were using!

Speaking of pizza, if you were a pizza topping, what would you be?
I wouldn’t be a topping – I’d be a BBQ base ‘cos I got the sauce. Nah scratch that, I would be the dough because I’m the main ingredient. Dough is the foundation, the main thing that is essential to the pizza.

What three things would you take if you were stuck on a desert island?
Hmm, that’s a tough one. Definitely some non-perishable food that won’t go off, something canned and durable like tuna. Secondly, a sword so I can hunt and catch some food from the land or the sea. Finally, a cuppa tea. I just love drinking tea.

V9

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VICE: What was your favourite meal at school?
V9: Burritos, definitely. The perfect meal ‘cos it had everything in one package – the rice, the meat, the cheese! Those layers were perfect, especially when it was still hot. 

What’s the most amount of money you’ve wasted?
Apart from spending money on Billy’s lunch? I wasn’t up like that in school. I tried to sell chocolates and stuff but I could never break even. As a grown up, it has to be a Gucci tracksuit that I got for a shoot. When we first started out I didn’t know that stylists give you clothes on set so I rocked up in this tracksuit that didn’t even have a hood!

Yearbook quote in a tweet?
“Seedy settings, fat p**** gyal haffi get tings”. I know there’s loads of characters left but it’s short and sweet!

Billy Billions

Billy Class of 98s

VICE: What was your favourite meal at school?
Billy: It has to be the apple crumble and hot custard, with the bit that has more crumble than apple, you know the crispy bit in the corner? I used to bread the dinner ladies so they always used to give me the best part. 

Considering you’re on the track “Wait A Minute”, how well did you do on the bleep test during PE lessons?
I did quite well! I remember one time I was high and had to pretend that my leg hurt but I got up to like seven, which is quite high right? You know when people drop like flies and there’s nobody at the end? Anyway, we don’t run the gym, we run the streets! 

What lessons have you learnt from sports?
I do loads of sports, golfing, fencing, fishing. Number one lesson is always do up your laces! But in terms of sportsmanship, I learnt the importance of patience, discipline and playing fair.

DA

DA Class of 98s

VICE: What was your favourite meal at school?
DA: Caramel tart or jam tart with custard – best dessert. My favourite memory has to be on Friday afternoons when they would ask who wanted seconds and it would be chaos with everybody running to the canteen. If you snooze, you lose! 

What was your go-to song for the journey to school?
That’s a tricky one still. I can’t remember an exact song, but it was probably bare 67, or K.O tunes. I used to roll up to school vexed like “nobody talk to me”, feeling gassed! I feel like my equivalent tune today would be “Ultra Attack”.

If you bumped into your favourite school teacher now, what would you say to them?
I’d probably just be like, what’s good? My favourite teacher was my triple science teacher Miss Ingrey, shoutout to her! She took me in when I got kicked out of my other classes and I was just wandering for a bit. Yeah, I liked her lessons too – biology was the most interesting out of the three, it was just easier.

Mazza

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VICE: What was your favourite meal at school?
Mazza: To be honest, I never really had one. But as a grown up, if I could eat one meal forever it would have to be a curry chicken with some rice and peas – for life. I could live on that easily. It’s a solid meal.

You’re on “Ultra Attack”. Did you ever play any sports at school?
I played loads, I played right wing on the right wing in football but also played basketball and netball. I learnt to never give up and keep going and that is something I’ve carried with me through life.

If you had to give the story of your school life a title, what would it be? 
The only books I remember really liking in primary school were the Roald Dahl books. I’m not really creative so I’d say something simple like ‘The Twists and Turns Of Life’ or like ‘The Pros and Cons of Going to School’.

Unknown T

Unknown T Class of 98s

VICE: What was your favourite meal at school?
Unknown T: The Paninis! Has to be the fresh Panini when it’s hot and cheesy – and you know when they used to put pesto and mozzarella in it? My favourite meal now has to be anything with rice. You can do so much with rice. Jollof rice, fried rice, rice and peas…

Create a new word and give us an example of its use.
Ahh, a whole new word? Right now? Tough. There’s already one we made. Tallywo. That’s the abbreviated version though. As for its use, it’s synonymous with a good time.

If you were to go on a road trip but only had space for three people, who would you take with you?
Don’t make me choose, that’s not fair on the mandem! That’s tough, but it would be Chubbs, Billy and V9. Al Chubbino is a funny guy so he’ll keep us laughing on the journey, Billy is a cowboy, and that's someone you need on the road. Final person I’d bring along is V9 because he always has supplies for the journey!

Al Chubbino

Al Chubbino Class of 98s

VICE: What was your favourite meal at school?
Al Chubbino: Sprinkle cake! You know like the one everybody was making during lockdown? I didn’t make any myself but I remember in school, it was perfect with some hot custard. My favourite memory is the feeling of getting gassed when I got two slices one time.

Where’s the most exotic place you’ve been on a school trip?
I didn’t go on many school trips but it has to be the residential you go on to the countryside. That was fun. You know the one when you’re doing activities like rock climbing and stuff? Just bare mucking about.

What was your favourite piece of technology growing up?
It has to be my first ever mobile phone, I think it was the Nokia 3310. It was just iconic! I was gassed because it was my first phone… my favourite tech now is my iPhone so I guess that carried on.

@rahellothere

Class of 98s have put together a whole yearbook, which you can see here.