Weekly updates:


ArrDee: Brighton’s Cheekiest Chap

After shooting to the top of the UK scene in just 6 short months, the 18-year-old rapper details his rapid rise and the inspiration behind his viral sound.

Posted by

At just 17 years old, Brighton rapper ArrDee surged onto the UK scene, emerging as a formidable spitter packing a lyrical punch, and dripping in youthful charisma that has already won audiences around the world. ArrDee first started writing as a young teen, using music mostly as a tool for venting at first. Today his writing has become more refined, showcasing a natural ability to use humour and flow to tell more vivid stories. 

His single ‘6AM In Brighton’, released in March, has amassed over 6 million views to date and the video, filmed in his hometown, showed an alternative side to the young rapper. From there, ArrDee’s influence continued to grow beyond his hometown with his feature on Tion Wayne and Russ Millions’ viral hit ‘Body’, which ousted ArrDee as a fresh face to watch in the UK scene and spurred on a social media frenzy with his witty delivery.

ArrDee’s rise represents a shift in Brighton’s scene and growing influence across the UK, impressive given that his first single ‘Cheeky Bars’ was released in January of this year. However, from building his foundation in his hometown all these years, ArrDee has his sights set on putting Brighton on the map. With a steady buzz in the streets, ArrDee’s biggest single to date ‘Oliver Twist’ has racked up a massive 16 Million streams on YouTube, cementing his place as one of the hottest new acts in the UK.

Fresh from an unprecedented run of viral success, we caught up with ArrDee to discuss his inspiration, growing up ‘Oliver Twist’ and the importance of Brighton.

ArrDee, your earlier music wasn’t as bouncy as your current sound. What would you say influenced the style change?
Know what it is, yeah? And you’ll still see that side of me come back. I’ve got a project coming out so it’s not just completely gone. Obviously, everybody has their own personality, I’ve always been the kind of person that is comfy in my own skin. I don’t wake up every morning and be the exact same person.

It’s not every day I wake up, and I’m lit or in a great mood or whatever. When I was younger and I was writing, I used it as a tool to vent. I didn’t want to go counselling or therapy, they tried to work on whatever issues I was going through but the music was more of a tool for it. As I got a bit older, I processed certain things I went through, and pain and emotions. But in general, even though that style of music is still a part of my personality, it’s a smaller part of me compared to the life of the party side of me, Like, if you’re really, really close to me, then I’ll let you see in the black box where I drop gems. 

Especially because I am young—not everyone wants to be lectured about life from a 15-year-old kid, which I was when I wrote my earlier music. It’s just wisdom beyond my years that I’ve kept with me. Obviously, it’s all true and the stories I tell are quite detailed. But yeah, It’s all going to be on the project anyway.

You represent Brighton pretty heavy, can you tell us about growing up there?
Yes, so I wouldn’t say Brighton is a rich area. It is getting there. Look at it this way—some of the poorest parts of London cost much more to live in than the poorer parts of Brighton because of location. I’ve said this before in another interview, but Brighton is one of the homeless capitals in the UK. And if you put that into perspective in terms of—we are small compared to Manchester or London. Brighton is tight. Between my collective of people, I can almost 100% say we know everybody in Brighton. If we don’t, we know somebody that knows the ones we don’t know. There are a lot of crackheads and bad kids about and council estates but to be fair, I didn’t even mind because I was out playing from very young. My mum grew up there all her life. My dad grew up nearby too. The community is close, so it’s more communal, but it’s further out than the Brighton City centre.

Were there other big artists from Brighton and surrounding regions that you would listen to growing up who inspired?
When I was younger, Ocean Wisdom was someone that I used to listen to. He is crazy talented. Australia loves him as well, Australia loves proper bars man. That’s why I love Australia. Apart from that, I used to listen to my own people, large up Dread. He’s one of the most talented rappers I’ve met and I’ve met a lot of industry rappers and a lot of local rappers. 

I listen to a lot of my own music that is unreleased and Young Adz is probably my favourite UK rapper. If it’s not Young Adz or my brothers then it’s probably myself.

What was the catalyst for the change in your mindset and your sound? And what role did your manager play in that?
When I left secondary school, I never really had a 9 to 5. I went to music college, but I dropped every subject except English and music. The school only did art, drama and music. I wasn’t really trying to focus, I was still bunning bare. I failed my first year and got caught up in some other madness, just before we changed the mindset. My manager, his mindset helped take me out of my friendship circle. Nobody could get through to me, not teachers or my mum, but for some reason, he could. 

Like I said I’ve always been comfy in my skin but spending a year around him really brought out the bigger beast in me and taught me to be unapologetic no matter how small or little. I’ve always been confident, I was bunking the train going and networking and going down to London and sleeping in studios because Biggs is an engineer.

That’s when Biggs met my manager, Karl. Biggs was telling me to jump on a drill beat but he’s like “do what you do and talk about partying and be funny and use your wit.” I thought nobody was doing that and there wasn’t a space for me like that. So I was sending Karl my music, like deeper rap stuff and some party music but not on drill, more of a slower tempo. He was feeling it but wasn’t sure if it was entirely marketable. One day, Karl and Biggs called me at school and Karl asked me to come rap. I was looking at my teacher saying, ‘I’ll walk out right now’ and I walked out and went all the way to Woolwich. 

I showed him my whole plan—bearing in mind I was still 17. I had a big blue notebook, and I showed him my whole music video written out like “timestamps from 0:15 to 0:30 seconds we will do this.” He believed me but kind of thought I was trying to pitch him. I showed him 10 singles and 20 freestyles, and we started getting to work and coming together with our plan and we put the freestyles on Instagram and built from there. The rest is history.

I know you are very eager to perform, but with COVID limitations it’s been difficult. You haven’t been able to touch festival stages and shows yet. Are there any artists whose performance style inspires you?
Listen, we are accepting a whole load of bookings. I’ve got one very soon that is exciting. In terms of American performers, I’d say Travis Scott and Tory Lanez. Lil Wayne in his prime; his performances were crazy. UK-wise Krept and Konan go in! I’d love to be part of that if they were to tour.

Any producers you have your eye on to work with?
I love to work with up-and-coming producers like Zell, who is 16. He’s produced like five singles on my tape. I think everything that has happened on my journey so far has been organically written, so I don’t want to say a certain producer because we might not cross paths. 

We’ve got some twerking music, some deep storytelling rap, even got some melodic stuff in there. You know, I used to do other melodic stuff as well. Got a lot of plans man, it’s going to go off!

What’s been keeping you motivated through these uncertain times?
Yeah man, literally making my mum happy, making my city proud and my family proud. You see ‘Oliver Twist’, like as much as it’s lit and funny. It has such a deeper meaning of me wanting more because that’s like a blessing and a curse that I’ve had against me since I was like 8. No matter what I’ve been doing, whether it’s drinking or celebrating, I have a mad addictive personality. I’m always going to want more.

I am the biggest attention seeker anyone will ever meet in their life, but in the same breath, I hate sympathy. There’s a difference innit. I hate pity, so for me, I snap out of whatever kind of mood I was in, like ‘this is mad let me pull myself together.’

Even Oliver Twist is all embedded in my family’s life. Anytime you have a family party with me. And any one of the songs from the film ‘Oliver Twist’ is being played, you know, we are turning up and it’s about to get messy!

You love to celebrate and party a lot. Do you think you like to celebrate so much because of going without for so long?
Nah man, it’s just a Brighton thing I’m not going to lie. You can get lost in that lifestyle. Brighton accepts anybody for whoever they want to be, innit. You can change yourself tomorrow. They’re going to accept you again, all over again.

One thing that I really like about you is the authenticity, were you always so sure of yourself?
It came to me naturally, I’ve got to big up my mum for that. Because obviously, all parents say that you can be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do. But like with kids, it is very ‘monkey see monkey do’. My mum went from living a kind of crazy life with my old man before he had to leave the country. She didn’t have any GCSEs, she went back to college and worked two jobs and had two kids all on her own. 

Even though I’m a kid and can’t comprehend the fact, that would be difficult for the average person. You subconsciously absorb things, you know what I’m saying? So, when she’s like that, it’s just rubbed off on me. For as long as I can remember I’ve been comfy in my own skin. I used to perform in primary school, all the talent shows. 

You know, I always got along with a lot of teachers better than I did students from when I was about 9 or 10 years old. I always felt that I’m a little bit more beyond my age group. A lot of people I rock with, one of my bredrins is 35 and another one of my closest friends is 24. I’ve got friends that haven’t really been through much in life, and they aren’t really as mature. I still love them though.

Follow ArrDee here for more.

Weekly updates