Izzie Gibbs has come a long way. The Northampton MC has been straddling genres for years, hopping from road rap to grime to the huskily sung hooks you can hear on his 96LS project, released last month. But let’s be real: for a lot of Londoners in particular, his name first came up as ‘that guy who didn’t come to Lewisham to battle Novelist outside a McDonald’s.’
“It wasn’t me not turning up because I didn’t wanna clash,” he said later, explaining to RWD Mag that he would’ve been “travelling stupid miles to clash someone in front of his bredrins” – essentially, that Londoner Nov would’ve had an unfair advantage being on home turf. In that 2017, RWD interview, he went so far as to say “I reckon if I did that clash, I wouldn’t been in the position I’m in today.”
And that position is of win after win, including this brand-new video for blistering single “People,” which we’re giving you the first look at here. The Dego Visionz x Chalky visuals see Izzie in a version of the American west, dressed in a fringe suede jacket and kicking his way into a saloon like a particularly well-programmed character off Westworld. Turns out the video was inspired by problematic fave Quentin Tarantino's 2012 film, Django Unchained. "That movie represented liberation and freedom," director Dego tells me. "We wanted the video to show life is all about overcoming adversity, with Izzie playing the role of Jamie Foxx as Django," the black American enslaved man-turned-bounty-hunter character who went around the 1800s Old West freeing other enslaved people by killing their owners.
Lyrically, this is a track all about liberation and self-belief. It opens with the stare-you-right-in-your-eyes lines “Fuck you and your ego / I don’t wanna be illegal / They don’t treat us equal / Surrounded by this evil, I do this for my people.” In a breath, Izzie tells us that he sees the song as something "powerful, uplifting—pure greatness." And he isn't just gassing himself up without merit. The track spans everything from working to make your parents proud to growing up with the influence of the streets breathing down your neck. “‘People’ is nothing but gold," Izzie continues. "World-class hook; great lyricism in the verses; well-rounded song touching on family, ambitions, not being held back and battling the struggles in life.”
And given how close his own career nearly came to being overlooked, he speaks from the heart about those struggles. In the video, Izzie takes on that Django-like role, freeing black people from the shackles that hold them down. The visuals are a powerful conduit for his message, turning the 'fancy location, shot with a drone' trope on his head when filtered through this freedom-fight narrative. As a song, "People" has already highlighted how hard Izzie is willing to go, spitting a flow so relentless that it uses every last breath he has.
If you've been following Izzie since he was spitting on YouTube videos and helping put Northampton on the UK rap map, you'll know that passion has always been at the forefront of his work. Now, as he's moved into the more traditional parts of the industry—Spotify streams, press interviews, opening for Bugzy Malone—he's brought that same energy with him. On a song like "People" it's inspiring to see him step out with a message for his peers, and show them that their goals are damn well within their grasp. Or, as Izzie says to us: “No matter what your situation, you can get out of it.”
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This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.