As a typically self-centred Londoner, I have no idea where Northampton is, much less what’s good to do if I ever find myself there. According to Wikipedia, it has a population of roughly 200,000, 170 parks, 4 leisure centres and an annual carnival, along with a rich history dating back to the Bronze Age. But like…where is good to go and get shitfaced? Or get a delicious kebab? The things that really matter in a town! To find out this information I called up slowthai, Northampton’s biggest export since Sidewinder.
The 23-year-old rapper was on every single ‘Who to Watch in 2018’ list, and his high-energy performances paired with caustically witty bars rapped over abrasive beats that perfectly blend grime, trap, Soundcloud rap (and…screamo?) have propelled him into the limelight. His first round of headline shows this Autumn, for example, have sold out in a couple of days before he’s even put out an album.
Below, ahead of his show on our stage at this weekend's The Great Escape Festival, the man himself tells me what I wish I knew about his hometown.
Weed Spot: Dream Boat in Bush
Basically Bush is the area, the group of council estates that I grew up on, my ends. It's a place where I used to go as a kid and just chill, and as I got older it became the spot to go and bun zoots. It was the first place I ever rolled a spliff. I remember I jacked it from my stepdad; I hated smoking but I just wanted to roll it so I could show it to my olders, but they just ended up jacking the zoot from me. My first roll was terrible, it was like a tampon! They just took it off me and re-rolled it. The reason I call [the place] ‘Dream Boat’ is because when you're young and you're chilling with your boys you're just there saying 'when I'm older this is what I’m gonna be' so a lot of time I spent there was thinking of what I’m gonna be in the future. Dreaming. It's like a little boat on a lake that's been there longer than I’ve been alive. It's just a nice place that's actually in ends. It's beat down but it's nice, all overgrown. The boat's got holes in it from where it's filled up with water from where it's worn away over the years. It's on the council estate and no-one goes there so it's the perfect place to blaze a joint.
Get A Kebab After Night Out: Marmaris (Restaurant)
This would have to be a mid-evening kebab rather than a 5-6am walk home kebab because it closes at midnight. It's got a charcoal grill, it's all fresh. It's the best kebab you can get that isn't just fucking horrible. Other than that I'd send you down the road to King Kebab, but that's like… the next morning you'll be doing toilet visits. That's the grease, that's the closing night, if that's what you're after. But if you want that banging food, it's Marmaris. I usually get a chicken shish or a lamb shish. I don't mind the doner with some thousand island sauce. And chips. Always chips.
Go For A Quiet Drink: Garibaldi (Pub)
I would've taken you to the pub I was always in growing up on my estate, but they shut it down and turned it into like a haven for gentrifiers. They're trying to sanitise everything, but who wants to go to a hospital pub! You wanna go somewhere you can still smell the smoke from ten years ago. Where are all the pool tables these days? But yeah, The Garibaldi is one of them hipster trendy pubs where no-one in there is really gonna bother you, they're doing their own stuff. Everyone's in there drinking ale. But they've got Red Stripe on tap and they also have hip-hop nights which is a plus. It's good for a quiet drink. If I don't wanna be spotted, I'll go there… it's a good vibe – everyone's welcoming, and no one's trying to throw you out or make you feel any kind of way. It's a lovely pub.
Go For A Walk: Elephant Walk in Salcey Forest
I would say this is also the perfect spot to go on a date – it's quiet, you can go for a nice walk, you can bun a zoot there as well. You can see the whole of Northampton from up there, it's outdoors, it's greenery – it’s where I used to take my bike and go ride through the forest. It was chill until they started bringing out the choppers. We'd all ride up there with our motocross bikes, about 20 of us, and we'd all have our bikes and just ride around because there's open fields and you can cut through the trees. But then the helicopters came. People are walking their dogs and don't like it I suppose. It's mad high – I'm scared of heights but I still love it. You can just stand there and view everything and just take a minute. I think one of the most important things is just being outside and in touch with nature. You need it! You need to get grounded, kick off your shoes and feel the earth on your feet.
You can find Nilu on Twitter.
slowthai plays our stage at The Great Escape on Friday 18 May on a bill that includes Octavian, Ebenezer, Kofi Stone and Jaz Karis. Click here for more info.