Estonian rap sensation Tommy Cash talks Nando’s, Charli XCX and getting bored of trap

Tommy Cash knows how to make an entrance. Back in 2016, the Estonian rapper’s bizarre ‘Winaloto’ video – which rendered his face between the disembodied legs of a mystery woman – went viral, the sheer absurdity of the clip capturing the attentions of the weirder corners of the internet. Since then, he’s become talked about in hushed voices as the unsuspecting, Eastern European future of trap music, his easily memeable, oddball rap style perfectly befitting the looniness of the modern, web-led age.

When he makes a notably more toned-down entrance for a chat with NME, he’s quick to dismiss his pinning as the ‘future of trap’ – if anything, he stresses, he’s sick of the genre. It’s not hard to see why – 2018’s already seen Cash burst free of trap’s stylistic limitations, linking up with PC Music head honcho A.G. Cook for the instant summer hit of sarcastic recent single ‘Pussy Money Weed’. He ended last year lending his talents to Charli XCX’s genre-twisting ‘Pop 2’ mixtape, too, after appearing as one of the titular ‘Boys’ in her already-iconic, equally memeable video. Ahead of a sold out, mad-as-a-hatter London show at Scala, we sat down with the rap sensation to talk big plans, being a weirdo and, er… Nandos.

Welcome to London – how’s your day been?

Awful! [laughs] I woke up early in Spain, flew in, and was working with A.G. Cook on the set all day. He hasn’t used C-DJs in three years – he’s such a producer-guy, you know? It’s very special that he plays a set with me. But I tried my first Nando’s!

What did you think of the famous Nando’s?

It’s actually very good quality chicken! I heard about it in grime music, and I usually love the bad chicken spots – we don’t have that in Eastern Europe, it’s such a thing in American and English culture, but we don’t have those places. It was so special for me to try fried chicken the first time I came here. But Nando’s is so fancy – fancy fried chicken!

That’s surely not the biggest culture shock between here and Eastern Europe – what kind of music were you exposed to over there? Were you always a hip-hop head?

No – probably from like 16, 17. But I was very alternative, all the time. I listened to older stuff, and different house – good house! I liked psychedelic rock… I’ve been all around. Right now, I kinda hate trap. There’s too much – it’s too samey! I don’t go to some clubs, because it all sucks. SoundCloud changed, two years ago. There’s too much of the same music. Not enough diversity.

What turned you off trap?
SoundCloud became the mainstream! Pop used to be pop, but now trap is pop. Next? I don’t know what. We took a pact to not listen to trap for some time [laughs], it’s refreshing. There’s so many other styles. You don’t want to be reading from the same book every day. I’m not like A.G. – he hears all the little details, but I’m big picture.

How did you link up with A.G. Cook and the PC Music guys?

I was talking to [PC Music artist] Felicita, through SoundCloud actually! I didn’t know he was from PC Music, so I came here, we met up, and he was like, ‘Right, let’s go.’ He took me to A.G., and he was in this big chair – like James Bond! It was so funny. We had a session right away – we wrote ‘Pussy Money Weed’ the first day. That was the test.

How was it to see the reaction to ‘Pussy Money Weed’?

It’s very nice. It’s very crazy. Yeah, things right now are very… interesting. Very different. Interesting people around me.

Your earlier videos were a bit more visually shocking – were you looking to grab people’s attention?

I just wanna make shit that I like, you know? I wanna make shit that I’ve never seen before, that’s my main goal. I’m thinking about what I would like to see, and I make it – that’s it. Like, ‘Wow, this would be fucking dope’, and I make it. I’m weird, so maybe that’s why the videos are like that. I’m definitely a nerd, and a weird kid – I’ve never been like… the cool kid.

Is it nice to find a spot where you can thrive being the weird kid?

Yeah, but everyone can! They just don’t know that – everyone can be themselves, 100%. The kids are so amazing – I’m so blessed. I see that I inspire kids.

You worked with Charli XCX in the ‘Boys’ video and on ‘Pop 2’ – how did that come about?

She knew who I was and hit A.G. up like, ‘Hey, I would like to have Tommy in this video! We need this one ugly boy!’ [laughs] It wasn’t like that, I’m just joking. But literally, I saw comments like ‘Who is this guy riding around?’ I’m not so slick. [laughs] It was sick, and boom, I’m in a video between Will.I.Am and Diplo. Pretty sick!
Later we had a session – we made three or four songs. She’s very humble, very hard-working. I don’t know many pop queens, but Charli was cool. Very human.

The things she’s doing musically are quite out there too, especially for someone in her position.

Yeah, it’s hard to be in her position…

Do you not want to be that massive pop star figure, then?

No, I can be… but on my own terms. I have much more freedom. I can sign when I’m thirty, if the cheque is right! Why not?! I can sign with Apple when I’m thirty [laughs].

What’s next – is the rest of the year set to be as crazy as the start?

Absolutely. I’m very fuelled from the tour – I wanna stay alive! But when I finish the tour, I want to go home and make a lot of content. I’m hungry to make things.