Very few artists are able to claim legend status while simultaneously surpassing themselves with each release. Giggs is one of those artists, consistently cementing himself as of the most authentic, pioneering and uncompromising British rappers in the game. Armed with an unforgettable voice, distinctive flow and creative wordplay, Giggs has a unique ability to traverse UK rap, grime and hip-hop, earning him both critical acclaim and commercial success around the world.
To date, the Hollowman has released five studio albums, each bigger and bolder than the last, gaining the respect of the entire UK rap scene and seeing him collaborate with high profile peers including Drake, Stormzy, Skepta, Popcaan and Lily Allen to name a few. Whilst Giggs’ discography now stretches back over a decade, the past few years have seen the South London rapper on an impressive upward trajectory, fortifying his OG status and exposing him to new audiences worldwide. Giggs ascent has continued with his latest mixtape Now Or Never, with collaborations from various high-profile friends and peers including Jorja Smith, Dave, A Boogie Wit da Hoodie, Obongjayar and Emeli Sandé.
On a Zoom call between Melbourne and London, we caught up with Giggs to talk about his new project Now Or Never, the year that was 2020 and the unexpected birthplace of his track ‘Buff Baddies’ — Sydney, Australia.
Giggs, what’s good man? Are you in London right now?
I’m good bro. Yeah, I’m in London.
What’s the situation now, are you still on lockdown?
Well, the lockdown ended today but it’s practically still a lockdown, you know what I mean?
Yeah, we’ve had two lockdowns in Melbourne. It’s been lifted now, things are starting to feel more normal again.
I want to see more of Melbourne as well, I’ve only been there for like two days.
I saw you play out here at the start of the year, just before everything went crazy with COVID.
Oh at that whack festival. It was whack fam! Like some kiddy ting. [Laughs]
Obviously, lockdown is not a bad time to give people some new music. Can you tell me a bit about Now or Never, how did the project start coming together?
Funnily enough, it started to come together when I was in flippin’ Sydney bruv [laughs]. I was there and I linked a couple of the mandem out there – do you know Ay Huncho? He’s like a local rapper out there, have you heard of him?
Yeah, I have. How did that go down?
He hit me up like “Come to the studio, vibes and that I’ve got whatever”— I don’t want to say too much and never be allowed back in the country, you get me? [Laughs] He’s like “Come have a little smoke and that. We’ve got some tings down there, some chicks and that”—and obviously Sydney has got bare tings. So we were in the studio and man put on the beat for ‘Buff Baddies’ so the beat is running and the girls were feeling it and twerking in the studio and that, and I was just like “Buff Baddies!” that’s how I made Buff Baddies bruv, in Sydney! Then, I think the next day me and A Boogie made ‘Change Me’ in Sydney as well. So that was the start of Now or Never.
Was there anything you set out to do with this project?
Man was just making bangers, fam. That was it, as always you get me?
Do you have a favourite track on there?
It always changes, one minute it will be ‘Change Me’, the next minute it will be ‘Everybody Dead’, the Demarco ting. Sometimes it will be ‘Buff Baddies’—it depends on the mood I’m in.
Why Now or Never?
I dunno man, it’s like Now or Never just to attack the game—you know them ones? Then it became a whole load of things, I was wanting to do some of it here and some in America as well and then the lockdown happened so I just thought “Fuck that I’m going to finish it all here.” So that was a Now or Never ting, as well. Then, I wanted to wait for the clubs to open up again before I dropped it, we were thinking they would be open again around October and when October came we were going into the Rule of 6 and possible lockdowns again and I was like fuck it’s Now or Never, I just dropped it. I just needed everyone to be hearing that.
You’ve been in the game for a minute now but your trajectory seems to be constantly going upwards. What do you think it takes for an artist to see longevity in hip hop?
I dunno man, just to enjoy music and do you bruv. I just know that no one can do what I do. No one in the world makes music like Giggs so I just do Giggs bruv, you get me?
There are some sick features on this project, I just wanted to go over a couple of standouts, starting with your new one ‘I’m Workin’ with Jorja Smith. How did you get linked with Jorja?
I’ve known Jorja for years still but we’ve just never worked together. I just thought let’s whip something up since I was recording so I just thought I’d see wagwan.
You really had her rapping on that tune, too.
Yeah, it was just a vibe blud! I sent her the beat and said “Yo, this is the one” and she was like “Yep, this is sick.” It was just vibes, with no pressure.
And you got to link with her for the video too, how is kicking it with Jorja?
Yeah man, of course. Jorja is like one of the mandem, it’s just like shooting a video with like Tiny Boost or something, you get me? [Laughs]
One of my favourite tracks on the record is ‘Don’t Be Shy’ with Obonjayar—I think he complimented the Giggs sound in a really interesting way and I know he’s been on the rise in London in the last year or two. Can you tell us about that one?
Yeah, he bodied that. I heard Obongjayar years ago through Richard Russell. He had a tune with Obonjayar and it was crazy, it was like nothing I’d ever heard before. I was like this is mad, this bredda’s crazy with it. I wanted to work with him but we hadn’t made it happen yet so for this one I was just like let’s get in there. It’s a banger, his bredrin Barney made the beat and it’s just wavy bro. When I heard the hook I was just like “Yo! This is wavy.” [Laughs]
I can’t forget Dave, either. I know it’s not your first track together but I wanted to ask how he felt about you calling him “David” on ‘Straight Murder’?
They say that when man said David, man was doing it in a funny way but man’s saying it in a respectful way. Like man has to pronounce your full name properly, you’re the big boss. Man pronounced his name proper “Giggs and David” you know what I’m saying, it’s more like a homage. [Laughs] But yeah, me and Dave we just vibe. We’ve both got attitudes when it comes to thinking each of us is the best and we’re going to fuck this tune up.
Who were some of the producers you worked with on this project? I know there’s a lot of producers you worked with for the first time on this.
Most of them, Elevated did the track with Jorja and I. Trooh Hippi did ‘Buff Baddies’. Two4Kay I had worked with on that ‘Dark Was The Case’ for the Blue Story soundtrack and I liked the beat for that so I thought rah let’s get him on the next one. But aside from that most of the people I worked with on this was for the first time.
I noticed there are a few comic book bars on the project, and I wanted to ask about your artwork because most of the time you go for a comic book/cartoon style. Is there a reason you choose to stick with that style?
I just like cartoons and comics and shit, innit. That’s man ting. I’ve seen a few people who say the artwork is whack but man reads comics and watches all that shit so I don’t give a fuck if you like it cos I like it. [Laughs]
Have you been watching The Boys?
Yeah, I’ve been watching The Boys. It’s hard, still. It’s more funny though than like, usual superhero shit. I liked Umbrella Academy more than The Boys because it had more superhero shit, The Boys cracks me up though, it’s just so dumb innit. Like when they’re running around slipping in all the blood in the courtroom [Laughs] dumb shit innit.
Oh man, when the whale explodes too.
Yeah [laughs] my man the fish guy just always fucks up. The Deep! It’s funny because in the comic book world they always used to diss Aquaman, it’s a bit of a joke because Aquaman is whack. That’s kind of how they’re taking the piss out of The Deep.
On a different note, I’m interested in how the UK rap scene is evolving and the Drill scene too. Not just in the UK but in the US and even Australia. Did anyone show you Australian drill when you were out here?
Nah, but I’ve seen it before on a couple of the UK blogs and that. I didn’t know any names but it was sounding hard though. I definitely know Australia has got goons. [Laughs]
Something we’ve seen a bit of here and I know is really prominent in the UK is they way tabloid media and the police work to censor people from telling their stories with rap music and particularly with Drill—taking down videos and stopping people from performing. As someone who has experienced their fair share of fuckery from the system in your career, I wondered where you stood on this? Do you still have to be a bit careful about how you move?
Yeah, that shit affects all of us bruv. If they are going to fucking take down these kids’ videos who are trying to turn their lives around—it’s free speech, it’s music blud. They are just talking about shit they’ve gone through or shit they don’t want to go through anymore, that’s their lives bro, what else do they want them to talk about? You don’t want them to talk about their lives? Then they take down their videos and that and everyone thinks it’s cool, but if they are going to start controlling music, man could be next all over again, you know what I’m saying? It affects everyone, but you know how the feds move bro. All that shit really does is makes people get bigger anyway, so keep promoting us! [Laughs]
Who are some of the new wave of UK artists that have been impressing Giggs?
There’s loads man. I like P Savage, he’s a drill artist. Loski’s new album is hard. There’s loads. It’s only going to get bigger. I’m proud and I’m happy for the youths they’ve got their way out—there are options. We had options but we didn’t really know we had options. These days the youths know they’ve got options and it makes me happy to see.
Ok, last one for you man. Do you have any advice to offer people out there stuck in lockdown hoping things will get better for 2021?
Just relax man it’s cool. [Laughs] It could be fucking worse blud, you’re sitting in your house you’ve got weed, whatever. You could be sitting down stuck in the fucking bin, fam. That’s real lockdown. [Laughs]
Appreciate you bro, thanks for chatting.
Nah fam, love. I’m glad you like the new music. Respect.
Follow Giggs here for more and stream Now or Never below.