ArrDee: The Brighton rapper tops the charts with the UK’s most cheeky bars | Rap

NOTHaving hot chocolate at a cafe in his hometown of Brighton, Riley Davies exudes a bubbling excitement, the same effervescence you hear when he raps like ArrDee. Almost unique among the current generation of British rappers, the 19-year-old invariably looks like someone having fun like he’s smiling from ear to ear every time he takes the mic. He says he’s always been like this, ever since he was a kid, when his relatives nicknamed him Smiley Riley, and what he calls “all the cheeky chappie thing” helped at least a little in that. which looks like a turbulent adolescence. At one point, he says, the police were at the door of his mother’s house so often that “the owner started moving a little weird” and they were forced to move to another town. “But then, as you get older,” he says, “I think I’ve realized that life gets a little easier if you’re not a jerk around everyone.”

Even if it was not in his nature, we could not blame him for having spring in his approach. When we meet her single Flowers (Say my name) just entered the charts at No.5. This is his fourth Top 10 hit in 12 months – two solo, two as a guest rapper, including his memes-inducing appearance on the remix of The body of Tion Wayne and Russ Millions, the first exercise track to reach number 1. The other week, he says, he posted his Fifa Ultimate Team on his Instagram story, “and Ian Wright sent me a DM!” I had him in the center-midfield and obviously it’s not a center-midfielder, but he says: “For you, I will play in the midfield.” I lost my mind, and then Rio Ferdinand sent me a DM! He said to me: ‘Why didn’t I succeed, I can’t be a defender?’ Rio Ferdinand! I was calling everyone, bruv. It’s mental!

Around the same time last year, he was working nights at an Amazon warehouse. “10 p.m. to 10 a.m. I barely saw the sunlight, ”he nods. “I was going home, I was sleeping all day, obviously I would wake up and I had to go back. On the days off I had, I was in the hold of the train to London to go to the studio.

In all fairness, he already had a small number of subscribers online – “around 8,000 people” – thanks to the videos he posted online since he was a 12-year-old obsessed with Eminem and Lil Wayne, rapping in the local park after school. . At first, he thinks, “people shared them mainly for pissing off.”

He had also met his manager, who had helped him work out with him what he called “a two-year plan”: the first step was to release a new freestyle, called Naughty bars, with a video shot at the bandstand on Brighton seafront for £ 100. The problem, if you can call it that, was that the shot kept going completely awry. “Cheeky Bars went crazy, had to change plans,” he smiles (had 5.8 million views on YouTube and 6.5 million views on Spotify). He released another freestyle, 6 a.m. in Brighton, “and who went mad, had to change the plan again”.

And then the plan had to be completely demolished, thanks to the remix of Body, a collaboration that didn’t start under the most auspicious circumstances. After deciding to celebrate signing a recording deal following his freestyle success by renting an aparthotel in London and throwing a party for his friends, Davies took a bite out of a cigarette and didn’t was able to remember the door code to enter. So I’m trying to type in the code, and those two G-Wagons pulled over, lots of fat boys jumped up and they all put on hoods. I’m five feet tall from Brighton at one in the morning, I just got a record deal so I got this little Gucci bag I bought. I say to myself: oh my God, this is going to get crazy. And one of those boys, about six feet six inches tall, laughs and says, “You’re ArrDee, aren’t you? He removes the bullet and it’s that fucking Tion Wayne, staying in the same aparthotel as me.

“When Cheeky Bars came out he liked my post, which was mental. So I went to his room and he shows me the original Bodysuit and said, ‘I see you having fun, I want to do something with you, I like your style.’ A lot of people advised him not to put me on this song: he had Aitch on [previous hit] Keisha & Becky, who had a little more music and buzz behind them. I had two deep freestyles and he didn’t know if I could do a viral verse or whatever. But he took that risk.

Performing earlier this month at Capital’s 2021 Jingle Bell Ball. Photograph: Matt Crossick / PA

Thanks to a rather blue punchline on condoms, ArrDee’s guest verse has indeed gone viral, helping to propel the single to platinum status and accelerate Davies to fame: his first mixtape, released in January, is highly anticipated. . It all took off so quickly, he says, that some people thought he was “an industrial factory”, until “the Brighton lot started to say,” No, he’s been rapping for five years. In my head, on the rap side, there is no industrial factory, because if London don’t bother you [appreciate you], no matter how much money labels put into artists, it still doesn’t work.

You can see why he took off: Davies is an extremely skillful and talented rapper. His singles have the perfect musical balance – heavy on the hooks, they perform like pop music without ever sounding cheesy or loose – and his freestyle Daily Duppy has shown he can do more socially conscious material and sink drama. of the kitchen.

Plus, he makes a unique figure: British rap isn’t really whining with little rappers believing in the power of crystals and witchcraft. “My mother practices witchcraft, not in the sense of magic spells but of charging crystals, which crystals mean, that’s why I have this,” he said, showing me a black ring on his finger. “Black sapphires, my birthstone, are protective and grounded. Some people might think it’s bullshit, but it works for me the same as being a Christian or a Muslim or whatever – it’s what they believe and it works for them. I speak at some length of manifesting and believing that the universe does things for you if you believe it. My mother showed it to me. When she was 15 she left the country, came back, got her GCSE, went to college, got as high as she could in special education, then got a black belt in kickboxing. , did two amateur fights, went back to college… all of that, as a single mother, raising two children, my autistic older brother. It was a monkey to see, a monkey to do.

It is also not entirely usual to find a rapper representing Brighton, both the pleasures of life in “the ocean city” and its harsher side (“if you come for the weekend from London, you do not go [famously deprived suburb] Whitehawk “).

“I definitely had more to prove coming from Brighton. When we did the freestyle at 6am in Brighton a lot of people advised against calling it that. They were like, ‘Brighton has a little bit of stigma.’ I was like: no, you know what, it’s bigger than me, so if I can shed some light on the city… because all my personality, me being good in my skin is from Brighton, because it there are some crazy characters here, but nobody is being judged, so I wouldn’t be me without being born and raised here, and I mean it as it is.

No, he said, he has no desire to leave the city for London now that the success has come. “I think that’s what keeps me so sane when things are going so fast. I am humbled here. I go to some bars and they identify me, and if I don’t have my ID they won’t let me in, because they know I was trying to hang out when I was 15, 16 year. fuck what i do in my life right now.

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