“Oi, sling us the chips!” All three members of Bad Boy Chiller Crew are sat parked up in a car outside their local McDonalds, Zoom call propped up on the dashboard by their honorary member and manager, Dr Google. All are stealthily tucking in to Chicken Nuggets, but they’ve barely started on the fries before a fan parks up next to them, trying to sneak a photo through the glass without the boys noticing. From the unruly laughter that breaks out in the car, it clearly hasn’t worked.
2020 has been a struggle for many musicians, but BBCC will happily admit that it is turning out to be the best year of their young lives. Made up of MC Kane, DJ-rapper GK and mulleted-funnyman Sam (professionally known as, er, Clive), the trio have stayed something of a Yorkshire-kept secret for the best part of a year, growing followers with their Instagram comedy sketches and short promotional videos for businesses around the local area – a skit for a favoured takeaway, a photo op at the vape shop.
Their Jackass-meets-Little-Britain banter won’t be for everyone, but what is more undeniable is the increasingly-separate music. Press play on ‘450’, and the intention is clear – a million-streamed bassline banger that feels more distinctive than Northern UK rap has in years.
“I’m not bigging my own head up, but we’re probably one of the most talked-about new artists of the moment,” agrees GK, the chattiest of the group. “We were in The Guardian in January; ‘Top 50 artists to watch out for 2020.’ We thought it were some sort of weird joke. Why would a paper which is nowt to do with around here want to write about us?!”
‘Around here’ is Bradford, a region of west Yorkshire that has a long and illustrious history with bassline. ‘00’s T2 classic ‘Heartbroken’ was made just down the road in Leeds; various warehouse raves in Northern England still hosts nights dedicated to the UK-Garage offshoot. All three members were brought up on the genre, but music wasn’t strictly their first career choice. Having grafted away in various low-wage jobs, they make no apologies for their desire to get famous by whatever means necessary, if it means making an easier life for them and their families.
“We were doing the sketches and the comedy tracks and then just decided, y’know, let’s make a proper song,” says Kane. “It just blew up and everyone loved it, so it were like, ‘well, we couldn’t not do more’.”
“We’re going to go with whatever we can get the most out of”, chips in GK, always the pragmatist. “Growing up in Bradford, there’s nowt much that gets offered to us from leaving school. We’ve always had to work us backsides off. I used to be an ice cream man, I tried to be a bus driver. We’ve all worked in warehouses. We’ve always tried and stayed legit, even though it’s hard. I think that’s why we’re being gifted back now, because we’ve always just been good lads trying to get something going.”
“I’m not bigging my own head up, but we’re probably one of the most talked-about new artists of the moment” – GK
Exactly what Bad Boy Chiller Crew is getting going is a hard entity to define. The music is too sincerely delivered to be dismissed as mere parody rap, but it is undeniably light-hearted, a snapshot of what it is to make your own entertainment as young, working-class lads in the North. “We get more gash than you’ve had warm dinners” brags one track; “I’m stylish/Got my sock tucked into my Nikes” half-rhymes another. They’ll be the first to poke fun at their tracksuits, or to call themselves “charva’s”, a regionalised alternative to ‘chav’ that they’ve reclaimed as a positive – “something similar to a mate – just a straight boyo, a typical lad.”
You have to admire their self-ownership, but an outsider’s eye worries that in the hands of the London-centric media, their story might be presented as something to laugh at, rather than with. As the member of the band with the most fervent musical inclinations (or as GK puts it, “the dumb brains behind the operation”), does it bother Kane that people might think of them as a joke?
“As long as that music does well, I don’t give a fuck what people think,” Kane laughs. “As long as that music sells, and we get numbers, then it’s alright by me.”
GK is also smirking from the back seat. “I think every day we’re trying to pretend that we’re more serious now, but we’re not, are we? Honestly?”
Certainly, most managers would agree that eating the contents of an ashtray or beer-bonging a six-pack of Fosters through the narrow end of a traffic cone doesn’t fit the usual PR requirements of a committed artist. But somehow for them, it works, even if things do occasionally come to blows.
“We’ve done loads where we haven’t spoken to each other for days after,’ says Kane. “Remember that one where we shit in your leg?”
“I’ve got a prosthetic leg, but I’ve got more than one y’see,” offers a deadpan Dr Google, as if the clarification suddenly renders the whole incident normal. “While I were out, they did a shit in my spare leg. But that video got deleted for bullying.”
Toilet humour aside, it’s Bad Boy Chiller Crew’s no-frills honesty that puts fuel in the tank of their Quad Bikes. Their first label-signed mixtape ‘Full Whack No Brakes’ is out this month on House Anxiety, a veritable showcase of all that has brought them to this moment. There’s even a cheeky love song – ‘Thinkin About You’ – that plays like something from the early noughties, where romance could be defined by a flirty Bebo post and a Joop-scented snog outside Liquid & Envy. Kane is excited about it, but he’s already looking further forward.
“I still love ‘450’, but the new songs we’ve been doing, they’re summat else,” he beams. “We’ve only been doing this for a year; some of the songs on the mixtape were done three months in. We’ve got the resources to do everything now – producers left right and centre, getting vocals cleared and that. We’ve got a tune with a producer called RITON coming, and I think that’s going to be our big one. It’s summat a bit different, like a disco song.”
In the back of the car, GK is more excited about future sponsorships. “Lacoste for Kane, Paul & Shark for me, a bit of Fila for Sam…but only from TK Maxx!” The car erupts in more raucous laughter as Sam raises a middle finger. Meanwhile, the list that Dr Google is reeling off of booked festivals and dates for 2021 causes further amusement. “These don’t even know what they’re in for, they think you need a fucking VISA to go to Leeds”. Sooner in their sights though, is an NME award. “Now you’ve spoken to us, you’ve gotta get us one of them Best Newcomer ones, yeah?”
It’s the simple, bare jokes of it all that will see Bad Boy Chiller Crew through everything. “We love being from Bradford, ‘cos people can have a laugh and a joke,” says Kane. “It’s full of characters; go to a club down south and everyone’s just stood there acting hard. We want to be noticed globally, but we’ve got to have our fun while we do it.” World, you have been warned.
Bad Boy Chiller Crew’s debut mixtape ‘Full Wack No Breaks’ is out Sep 25