YOUNG T & BUGSEY
There aren't many young rap pretenders who could write a track one week, shoot its video the next, then watch it fire to nearly half a million plays and counting seven days after that. Then again, most young MCs aren't Young T & Bugsey, the Nottingham duo whose fierce, eclectic hip-hop - as evidenced on quickly-assembled new single 'Gangland' - has turned them into ones-to-watch, championed by Stormzy, Tim Westwood and many more.
"Our sound is the both of our cultures and backgrounds without any kinda boundaries or restrictions," say the pair, who collide murky, bass-heavy beats with sounds from their childhoods: ad libs borrowed from their respective Nigerian and Jamaican parents' record collections, grime flows inspired by school days rapping over instrumentals nabbed from YouTube, and hooks paying homage to lazy sofa sessions in front of MTV Base. "50 Cent, Snoop, Pharrell - that era was it for us," laughs Young T. "Hot summer days, you'd still be inside watching MTV Base, the whole day."
Young T & Bugsey met aged 15, having been aware of each other's DIY recordings on separate sides of the city. When they eventually linked up, first as part of a collective before zeroing in on their chemistry as a duo, they quickly found themselves to be on a similar level, musically and otherwise. "We each bring something to the table that the other maybe wouldn't," says Bugsey. "We're very different in a lot of ways but in other ways exactly the same. And we've grown up together from there. My problems are his problems, his problems are my problems."
Building their project from a community arts space in Nottingham's St Ann's area, their grind towards the brink of blowing up began with a debut single, '1st Quarter', which was followed by more tracks, each one building their buzz in the local region and beyond. Then came a chance encounter with Stormzy behind the scenes of a Westwood Crib session in 2015. "We were bare young and thought: we gotta rap for him,"says Bugsey. "He started rapping with us, so we're there going back to back with Stormzy. He felt what we were doing and we're grateful to say he's been really supportive since."
Since then, breakout singles 'Glistenin' and 'No Mickey Mouse Ting' have further helped establish them as on a mission. "Shooting the videos for those felt like a moment for Nottingham," say the pair, who call the city a big influence on their identity. "When you're not from London, when you accept you're an outsider in those terms, it's like, bruv, if you can get your city behind you, then you're good." With more singles, festival dates and a long-form project on the horizon, it'll be the world next.