Bugzy Malone was just a kid when the first wave of grime exploded in London at the turn of the century, but it wasn’t the capital that he called home. Two hundred miles away in Manchester, the then 13-year-old was gorging on the seminal Risky Roadz DVD series that helped launch the massively influential careers of artists such as Dizzee Rascal, Wiley and Skepta. Inspired, he took his new obsession outside. “We were just kids,” says Bugzy of his early days rapping over music played on pals’ phones. “And we’d just be out on the streets, spitting.”
It wasn’t until 2010, though, that Bugzy started taking music seriously. Since then he’s put out numerous mixtapes – including ‘Why So Serious’ in 2011, ‘Lost In Meanwhile City’ the following year and 2014’s ‘The Journal Of An Evil Genius’ – plus two EPs in 2015. His most recent release, ‘Walk With Me’, is the perfect intro to Bugzy’s take-no-prisoners approach to the genre.
The highlight is the dark and brooding ‘Pain’, a bass-heavy song featuring intense introspection from Bugzy: “Emotionally scarred so bad I was wearing a mask like Bane”. “It’s a personal track,” he says. “It’s a tribute to my little cousin who passed away. I wrote it to try and take things to the next level. I’m trying to create art out of the pain that I’ve experienced.”
Bugzy is still based in Manchester, but feels a refreshing lack of affinity to the musical greats who loom over the city’s music scene. Mention Oasis and Stone Roses to him and you draw a blank. “I’ve not kept tabs on them,” he says. “It’s different genres of music innit? Grime music is still a young culture in itself. And my goal is to move it on to a more respected place.”