Manchester-based grime/rap artist Blizzard is tipped for big things. Creating a major buzz after an impressive string of freestyle videos, (most notably his two recent SB.TV Warm-Up Session and F64 videos which have so far garnered well over 100,000 combined views), the prodigiously gifted 17-year-old emcee and producer practically has “the next big thing” stamped to his forehead. Already making waves in the scene, it’s impossible for fans of both hip-hop and grime to ignore the young Mancunian, who combines devastating grime flows with punchlines, lyricism and a maturity beyond his years.
TC: For those who don’t know you, sum yourself up in sentence.
Blizzard: I’m a 17 year old MC and producer from Manchester, UK and I’m just trying my hardest to push my music to the depths of the earth and be up there with the best.
TC: What sort of artists initially inspired you to get into making music?
Blizzard: The music I listened to as a kid was mainly what was playing around the house; rap and grime music didn’t come to me till I was exploring myself, but rappers like The Game, Eminem and LL Cool J along with groups like Wu-Tang Clan, Outkast and A Tribe Called Quest. My production is inspired by stuff like Brian Eno, Philip Glass, Aphex Twin, Massive Attack and Autechre, so a wide range of stuff really.
TC: You’re primarily known for grime, but you also affiliate closely with the UK hip-hop scene. When did you cultivate a passion for rap?
Blizzard: When I started secondary school really. Before that it was whatever was on display, or whatever I heard, but that was the point where I understood it.
TC: You’re working alongside independent grime label Launchpad Records. Tell us a bit about the label’s ethos and what you want to achieve with it.
Blizzard: Launchpad is a great label. They do their work and as a result of that they’re steadily becoming a prolific name in the grime scene. It’s deserved as well; it’s not like they’ve had the formula given to them with colour-coded instructions. They (George Quann-Barnett and Louis Serrano, the founders of Launchpad) worked it out. In the future I’ll most likely be releasing something with them.
TC: Which artists (not necessarily limited to grime or hip-hop) are you feeling most at the moment?
Blizzard: I’ve got a few. I go through phases but at the moment I’m feeling The Weeknd, Frank Ocean, Jhene Aiko, Lana Del Rey and Jhene Aiko, as well as many others. For hip-hop, it’s Jehst. ‘Dragon Of An Ordinary Family’ is all I’ve been bumping lately.
TC: If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
Blizzard: I’d love to collaborate with The Weeknd. The guy has a hauntingly good voice, and hypothetically it would be interesting to see how he’d adapt on a song with a UK artist.
TC: Since the age of 11 you along with Shifty and Slayer have formed part of Manchester grime crew Mayhem. Is this still an active operation, and do you still maintain close ties with both crew members?
Blizzard: Yeah, Mayhem are still active, but we’re more like a firm of MCs that work together but away from the crew do solo stuff, if that makes sense. We’ve been talking about a future CD but we’ll always be screaming the name, regardless if we have a new project out or not.
TC: You’re strongly associated with the Manchester grime scene. How do you feel about the scene in general? Is it getting the praise and recognition it deserves?
Blizzard: It’s an issue of interpretation really. To some people it’s a breath of fresh air, yet to others it’s like a page out of a dystopian novel. It’s down to how you, as an individual, choose to work. In the next few years I think Manchester artists going nationwide will be much more commonplace.
TC: The grime scene is often accused of being too London-centric. Do you think it’s harder for grime artists from other cities to gain recognition?
Blizzard: I think so, mainly due to the fact that the general consensus of grime fans only pay attention to London artists most of the time. Just getting acknowledged is a big enough feat, but there’s nothing to say that it isn’t possible.
TC: The Manchester rap scene is a burgeoning one. Which artists should we be looking out for?
Blizzard: Sin-Seer from Manchester is ill. He’s bringing back the old-school, laid back lethargic 90s style that I miss. Also Red IQ, which is a rap trio that is made up of D’Lyfa Reilly, C Aye Monk and Bo’Nidle. They’re ill.
TC: You’ve battled a few times on Don’t Flop, most recently defeating H-Bomb. What do you like about battling, and how do you feel about the current state of the UK battle scene?
Blizzard: Don’t Flop is the only thing that is really worth paying attention, but they’re doing their work and it’s paying off. I was at an event on the 19th November (Blood In The Water 5) which was insane. Rappers from the US, Canada, Holland, Sweden and even Malaysia flew out to take part in that event.
TC: Many of us will have no doubt seen your SB.TV Warm-Up Session and F64 videos. How important do you feel your online exposure has been in getting your name out there?
Blizzard: I think online exposure is important because it’s available for everybody. When I started out the only way artists used the internet was Myspace, and now it’s became bigger, and it’s a way for artists to become established.
TC: In addition to emceeing, you’ve produced various beats, including the infamous ‘Soundboy Killer’ for Wiley over which he sends for Dot Rotten. As your career as an emcee progresses, do you see yourself continuing to produce for other artists?
Blizzard: Yeah Soundboy Killer was the start of it; I was always making beats for myself and my close circle of friends but it never really took off, and I never saw a big demand for my beats, so I was quite reluctant to bring stuff out. But for sure, I’d love to take production to the next level and produce for big artists.
TC: Are there any new projects of yours in the pipeline?
Blizzard: Just the mixtape that I’m in the process of making at the moment, called ‘The Social Network’. I don’t have a release date but it’ll be a free download project and I will keep you all updated.
- Grime’s still standing, better than anything (guardian.co.uk)