Culture

'I’m Still Playing Catch Up – I Just Gotta Kill It': Loski on His Journey to the Top of Drill

From messed up hairlines to avoiding dating, Loski gets candid about his life, upbringing and influences in our inaugural UK drill column.
03 April 2020, 9:10am
Loski interview 2020
PHOTO: PR
Behind The Bally is an interview-based column where we speak to UK drill artists, producers and creatives about their lives, upbringing and influences.

In 2016 Loski was becoming known for championing UK drill alongside Kennington-based crew Harlem Spartans, releasing anthems such as “Hazards”, “DJ Khaled” and “Teddy Bruckshot”. Full of chest-puffing taunts, those early tunes were perfect for banging out in the speakers of your mates' hotboxed Vauxhall Corsa.

As his music career progressed, he dropped two tapes (2018’s Call Me Loose and 2019’s Mad Move) – records that revealed the now 20-year-old rapper’s preternatural ability in understanding melody, lyricism and flow. After a near year-long prison stint for firearm possession that ended this February, the Kennington-born rapper is fresh home. First came “Allegedly” – a single that recaptures his time locked up last year. Today he releases “Slay” – listen to that below.

For the inaugural column, we spoke to Loski about his favourite childhood memories, what he would do if he was prime minister during a global pandemic, and the worst trim he ever received.

VICE: What was the first drill song you heard and what was your reaction?
Loski: Lil Jojo “BDK (3Hunna)” and yeah, it was the first time hearing that sound, everyone was talking about it in school.

Your father is Ty Nizzy from South London Crew PDC. What was your relationship like with him? Did he encourage you to do music?
It was calm and maybe if I was whack, they’d be like “allow it” but both parents have supported me.

How would you explain Kennington to someone who’s never been?
It’s like every other hood, every other estate in south, east, west [London] or wherever you’re from. There’s a lot of poverty in it, it’s the streets, it’s not nice to grow up in, but it’s what I do init. I didn’t really have a choice when I was growing up. It was cool, life’s better now, so yeah.

Tell me how your first studio session went?
Uh, I wouldn’t even remember that like that.

Was it when you were Lil Nizzy or is this after?
Yeah well, I don’t remember the first time going studio. When I used to rap when I was younger I was freestyling, you know what I mean? But like, I don’t know man, I’ve only took music like proper seriously recently within like the last couple years.

What was the first thing you ever bought with a music cheque?
Yeah I don't know… I remember going mad!

How mad? How much did you spend?
Boy, I don't know. I don't know, like, crazy. I was just going mad, just going mad bro. Like thousands and thousands. Like, designer, jewellery, and on friends. I learnt something the other day, some man said “Black Man’s Tax” init? It’s like when black people get crazy money, yeah, they feel like everyone around them gotta eat. When I first got my first cheque, everyone was like, "We’re all eating." It could be a grand – that’s gotta split between everyone.

What’s the best thing a fan’s done for you?
Man’s got mad love for ‘em. Girl fans get lit too, male fans get lit too. I chat to them differently on DMs and they’re mad cool. They buy my music, stream my music – that’s lit, they’re putting money in my pocket.

What’s the worst trim you’ve ever received?
I take enough risks to let any man cut my hair. I’ll be in mad areas, I’ll have a video shoot in some next location and I just need a barber quickly. I’m not really [dem] rappers [who] are getting their haircut every two weeks. Like, I’m just – I don’t even care about all of that stuff. Obviously when I need to stay fly, man’s fly – literally. But I’m not every day “Yo, gotta pattern up, gotta pattern up.” I’m so last minute I’ll just be hitting up any barber “Yo, link me.” So I’ve had a few little weird ones.

Can you describe a time you got a trim and wasn’t too happy with it?
There have been a few times, I don’t even stay in contact with them, so if you mash up my head... I won’t bell you. I ain’t even know your name.

Name a song you wish you made?
Probably Bryson Tiller “Don’t” or something.

Let’s say you’re our current prime minister right now. What’s your line of action concerning the coronavirus pandemic?
I don’t know you know, that’s why I wouldn't be a PM. I’m not ready for that…. I’ve been away for long. I mean, they got me locked again, it’s not really fair on me – the clubs ain’t open, everything’s going wrong. The new app, Houseparty, I’m feeling that. I’m a big fan of that. I think that's the only thing bringing a bit of excitement to my life right now.

How come?
It’s mad, you’ll have to come in and see bro. I can’t even talk, it’s wild, bro, it’s loose.

Have you been binge-watching any shows?
I’m not really a telly man like that, I just chill out. You know what? I was so close to not seeing outside… Right now, I’m just still happy to be out. When everyone’s saying lockdown, like I say, I’m mad bored, but the position I was in until now? I don’t even mind. I'm still taking in everything, still tryna catch up. The music scene was way different from when I was last outside. I’m still playing catch up – I just gotta kill it. But when I mean catch up, I don’t mean to everyone else before I went to jail last time last year. I knew where I was gonna be by the end of the year, so I’m trying to catch up to the person who I was trying to be. I ain’t worried about what anyone else is doing.

Favourite place to take a date on?
I don’t do dates, you know. Nah, never.

Rah, really? What’s your favourite place to grab a bite to eat?
I don’t do restaurants, I don’t go Hakkasans, I don’t eat Chinese food or Thai food.

So do you cook then?
Not me pers– I can cook.

What’s your signature dish?
Curry chicken.

I make that too but I make it vegetarian so I use Quorn chicken.
Oh yeah nah bro, not gonna lie, that’s kinda lame, I’m not on that. Because you don’t know what that is, bro.

It’s basically just like soya, init?
I hear that. I’ve had it – it was decent. Then I found out it wasn’t chicken so I’m not really a fan of it. You might as well eat chicken. We’re humans – we need chicken, bro.

I have fish sometimes. I’m not gonna persuade you to go meat-free though.
You know what is though yeah, back home – not in England, if you’re in the Caribbean, or Africa or Asia. If you got farms and you grow your chicken or goats then it’s much healthier then going to restaurants and getting these mad meats that have been injected. If everyone goes back home and grows it there, growing their chickens, catching their fishes, there'll be no need for anyone to go vegan.

I think my grandad had a farm and grew some animals when he lived in Jamaica.
And they live long out there, they weren’t dying until they were 90. They’re not doing that over here and that’s because the meat they’re eating.

Drake said you were an influence when he was recording _Scorpion_**. What’s it like being an influence on one of the biggest rappers in the game right now?** It’s mad init. I don’t know, it’s sick. I just try to stay calm and try to take it on board. I can’t hear it, though. I’ve listened to it and I’ve thought, 'Nah I can’t hear it, what influence does man got?'

Did you think of doing a track with Drake?
When the time comes.

I Have to ask this for the culture: Would you and MizOrMac ever consider doing a "DJ Khaled 3"**?** Yeah, a million percent.

I’m not even gonna lie, the streets need that still.
When I first came out of jail [Loski had a previous conviction from 2015] and I told my probation officer that I want[ed] to be a rapper, I think they didn’t take it as serious. It was like, rah. So when I started, I was doing mad shows and that. Now, everyone that’s coming out to do music, feds are just cracking down on them – it’s like they don't want them to do that. They’ll just try to stop your bag. They're gonna try that with MizOrMac definitely and tell him they can’t make music with me because they know that it’ll put him in a better position – you know what I mean? It’s mad. Even though everyone’s changing their life and doing everything they can, it’s still hard because the way out – they’re stopping it. How it was when I first got signed ‘til now is different. Loads of people are coming through but feds are cracking down on it more. When I first came in, they weren’t cracking down on it – maybe because they didn’t believe in it.

Yeah.
It’s easier to get attention now and get a quick bag but if you’re in prison now, coming out and telling probation you wanna be a rapper, they’ll tell you, "yeah that’s cool" but you’re gonna have a lot of conditions now because there are haters out here, man.

What artists are you currently listening to?
NBA Youngboy, Fivio Foreign and Lil Durk. I ain’t really listening to no-one else.

It’s become popular for drill rappers to talk about shotting food or going OT. Have you ever had a “legal” job, if so, what was it?
Nah never, but you know what it is though yeah? I got signed young. I went to jail early as well. I’ve been in the fast lane from a young age.

Do you have any future projects in the works right now?
I’m working towards another project – like a tape or album. It’s gonna be a real insight of my life, what I hear about, see, and know of. So other people [who've] been in my position can relate to it. Any other time I’ve made a project, I’ve just gone like, studio, and put songs that I think are the best, put them together and put the tape out. But with this one, I’m gonna start shit different.

What team do you support?
Golden State [Warriors]. I don’t support a basketball team like that, I just flick through, I was on the [Boston] Celtics thing for a while. And then Man City – football.

What’s your star sign?
Taurus.

What type of person was you like in school?
Happy, you know what I mean? I wasn’t angry, I didn’t go school for long though, I got kicked out. I was happy when I was there, probably the only problem I had was chatting bare in class but a lot of kids are doing that though… Not to say they should be doing that.

What’s your favourite childhood memory?
I think it was my fifth or sixth birthday. In reception, I had a lil dance-off with the school kids, it was lit.

Did you win?
Of course, it was my birthday, I probably didn’t win but it was my birthday.

@ethanherlo

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