Everybody’s talking about 26 year old Jermaine Scott, aka Wretch 32. Adele, Jessie J and Rio Ferdinand have penned excited tweets about him, Liam Gallagher and Nikki Minaj have praised his music in interviews, 50 Cent’s blogged about him, and P Diddy and Mark Ronson have asked him to jump up on stage with them. Chipmunk, The Streets and Wiley were among the first to ask him to record with them, and Professor Green and Tinie Tempah followed suit shortly after, inviting him to support them on tour. While Ian Brown gave him the green light to use a sample from the Stone Roses’ Fools Gold for his #2 single ‘Unorthodox’, a collaboration with fellow London rapper Example, who has compared Wretch’s ‘charismatic, effortless flow’ with that of Jay Z.
Indeed 2011 has seen Wretch 32 come a long way from the times when he sold mixtapes in and around Tottenham, where he grew up, in order to get by. After being earmarked by everyone from the BBC, NME, Q magazine and MTV through to Tinie Tempah, Devlin and Professor Green as the artist to watch for this year, ‘The Metaphor Man’ (as he is referred to by the grime glitterati) has lived up to the hype. In addition to delivering a top 5 smash with debut single ‘Traktor’ and a chart-topping no. 2 with follow up single ‘Unorthodox’, Wretch 32 has toured the UK with Example, performed at the BRITS after show with Mark Ronson and on the In New Music We Trust stage at the Radio 1 Big Weekend, been appointed as an Adidas ambassador, and has been asked to feature on a number of other artist’s recordings including Chase & Status’ forthcoming single release ‘Hitz’.
This summer sees Wretch 32 gearing up for the release of his much anticipated debut album ‘Black and White’, and an extensive schedule of festival appearances.
‘Black and White’ has far more in common with the diversity and depth of a classic hip hop album than the often formulaic and samey sounds of recent offerings from the UK grime scene. From the infectiously guitar-laden bounce of ‘Unorthodox’ and the lacerating dancehall beat and subsonic bassline of ‘Traktor’ through to the heartfelt soul of ‘Anniversary’, the rhythmically reggae infused ‘Breathe’ and the poignantly emotive down tempo hip hop anthem in the making and forthcoming single, ‘Don’t Go’, Wretch 32’s debut album boasts a kaleidoscope of musical influences and references that guarantee its universal appeal. Lyrically Wretch 32 steers away from clichéd self-aggrandising boasting and couplets about fame and girls, and instead paints incisive and colourful vignettes of everyday working-class city life from the perspective of a young man born and raised on one of the most notorious estates in London. Packed with quirky and humorous narratives and innovative and poetic metaphors, ‘Black and White’ confirms Wretch’s status as the MC’S MC, positioning him as potentially the most interesting lyricist this country has produced since Mike Skinner.
Levels Recordings/ Ministry of Sound will release ‘Black and White’ on 21st August and ‘Don’t Go’ featuring Josh Kumra on 14th August. Wretch 32 will be performing at numerous festivals this summer including Wireless, Glastonbury, T in The Park, V Festival and Bestival before embarking on his nationwide headline tour this autumn.