With a brand new EP dropping on the 23 June and gigs at both V Festival and Glastonbury to look forward to this summer, Northampton hailing MC Izzie Gibbs is on the rise and he’s in a determined mood this year to make the absolute most of it. Signed onto the Dice Recordings label, Izzie combines witty wordplay with raw, unrestricted energy into his performances. Now with his new EP called ‘Yin Yang’, Izzie is continuing to further his reputation as one of the hottest young talents in the MC game. With a busy schedule ahead of him, we were lucky enough to find him in the Far Rockaway, a restaurant in Shoreditch to chat to him about his EP, the importance Dice Recordings have had on his career and what he intends to do at both festivals he’s at this year among other things:
How did ‘Yin Yang’ come about?
“Well I’m a huge anime fan, a super huge anime fan. I wanted it to lead on from ‘Jutsu’, trying to keep a certain theme but also the concept behind it is obviously lined up with good and bad which I wanted to reflect in my music, you feel me. That’s how it came about still and I want to keep giving people music but I want to do it in a way that suits me.”
There’s six tracks on the EP with two of those (‘Chillin’ feat. Donae’o and ‘Ok’) having music videos out already.
“There’s 6 tracks there but I recorded like 50 innit.”
“Yeah, had to choose from 50 tunes.”
So how did you get the 50 down to 6?
“Well I just bang out songs. I’ll be in studio as much as I can, that always has to be in somewhere whether I’m writing or whatnot and you know what, yeah there’s 50 tunes but like thirty of them could be shit, that’s why no-one will ever hear them. That’s me personally but everyone might go “yeah but people will probably still like it or whatnot” but to me I have to be a perfectionist, I don’t what to overdo it.”
“That’s me making fifty tunes but that could be over a period of three months or so innit. I’m going to studio every other day and just trying to create greatness because I feel like you can’t force greatness. I never make a tune and think this is going on my EP, I just make sure everything I’m writing and talking about is in the concept that I had in my head to create this same energy so the tunes all have similar energy behind them.”
With music, you can make a track and think it’s sick but a day or two can pass and you listen to the same track and you might think that it’s could be better. It’s important to not rush the process.
“Trust me brother, trust me man. That’s how I feel but yeah, it’s gonna be mad, [on the] 23rd, people need to get that because it’s gonna be crazy fam. It’s not even my best work to be honest.”
So is this just light work for you?
“I wouldn’t even say that. At the time when I made it, I was like “yeah this is amazing”, I made it last year but to me at the time, I thought this was amazing and now, I’m just like yeah this isn’t even my best stuff but it’s better than everyone else’s sickest stuff. That’s not even me being big-headed or overconfident, that’s just me showing my supporters that I’ve got a lot more to give them. That’s what it is, I’m confident in my thing in the same way my supporters are confident in what I do, that’s why they support me. I’m not trying to be cocky or big-headed, I’m just passionate about what I do.”
Do you think you’ve progressed as an artist over the last few years going from ‘Project X’ to ‘Jutsu’ to ‘Yin-Yang’?
“I flipping hope so bruv otherwise that’d be fucking shit if I didn’t progress. Imagine if I didn’t progress, I don’t think half of the people who listen to me now would if I didn’t progress and stayed the same.”
“What I do realise now is a lot of people talk about my progression and every time I’ve released something, everyone was like “rah he’s getting better, he’s getting better, he’s getting better”. I want to keep it to the point where people are thinking “can he get any better” and I keep showing them yes.”
“I’m my biggest critic innit, I feel like since ‘Project X’, I’m always hard on myself. Someone could tell me “yeah what you’ve done is great” but I’ll be like I’ve said this in a certain tone, that’s how much I go into this, I’ll say I said it in the wrong tone so to me, I’ll go and do it again and everyone’s like “what the fuck”. I’ll spend ages just trying to do one certain thing because I want everything to be better than the last thing I do.”
“Every time I go to studio, the tracks I made last week that everyone was saying “yo, this is amazing”, the next week I want everyone saying “yo, that shit’s better than the last stuff”. That’s what I’m like, you have to be the best, you should want to be the best in everything you do. That’s what I’m like when I make music, I’m always trying to better myself, I don’t care everyone else, fuck everyone else, I’m just trying to be better than what I was before, that’s how it needs to be bro.”
Do you think you’re underrated or underappreciated because you’re not from London?
“I’ll always say the same thing yeah, every time someone asks me this question, you know what it is. At first, people didn’t wanna take me in because I feel like they were a bit ignorant but now I feel it’s an advantage, my music don’t sound like no-one elses.”
“The way I look at it, there’s people from Birmingham, they’re killing it but in Birmingham, a lot of people sound like each other. It’s the same in London, look at all these drill rappers, they all sound the same. There’s no-one from Northampton so I’m not gonna sound like that, I sound different sonically. Yeah I might talk about the similar things [they do] or might say it differently but sonically, I sound completely different so it’s refreshing to the ears, that’s what I’m always gonna do, that’s why it feels like an advantage to me.”
“There could be ten spitters in this room and I’d be the tenth spitter, there could be nine others, all from the same place, they’re all gonna have their little differences but they’ll all have major similarities. When I hop on the ting, I’m gonna sound completely different with the way I sound and the way I say certain words. It’s an advantage, it used to be a disadvantage but I flipped that.”
The scene’s changed now, it’s not just London running the game when it comes to grime. You have guys from Birmingham as you’ve said, Leicester with Kamakaze, Derby with Eyez, Sheffield with Scumfam, even Glasgow is popping now?
“Trust me, Shogun’s cold, he’s from Glasgow, he’s super sick, he’s better than a lot of other people content wise for me, he’s very, very cold. He had a line like “I’m the immovable object in God’s head and there’s still weed in my cuticles”. Man ain’t tryna spit bars like that no more, man are just tryna say “I’ve got Giuseppes on my feet and a hundred bad bitches every week” or some bullshit like that, no wants to hear that, that’s washed, it’s a wave because that’s the stuff everyone wants to hear but what happens when all these kids grow up and realise those Giuseppes on your feet are the only pair of creps you’ve got and you can’t even give your mumzy rent, what happens when they grow up and realise that.”
“They’re just gonna want hear bars and real shit and man saying shit that they took time to think of. When you think about it, anyone that’s in my era and is on the come up, who tries to spit bars, hardly anyone fam. There’s not very many people who try to spit bars. With Kamakaze for example, he tries to spit bars, when I say tries, I don’t mean they try and they’re not doing it but what I mean is he tries to say stuff and there’s not a lot of man who are trying to say stuff. They just want to say what they’re wearing, okay cool bro I can see what you’re wearing but what have you got after that, what content have you got, there’s no substance. It will die out, it’s cool now but it will die out and it will always come back to the bars.”
“What happens when you get put into a cypher and a man is patterning properly and saying mad stuff, the majority are gonna like that other guy, you’re gonna sound shit no matter how much money you’ve got or how much many chains you’re wearing or how expensive you’re clothes are, you’re going to still sound wack compared to him because it always comes to the music and this is what everyone forgets.”
While ‘Chillin’ sounds more for radio, ‘Ok’ sounds like it’s more for the roads.
“That was the whole thing but do you know what I realised, I’m never gonna do something again where I look at it and go “okay, I’m trying to feed into that market so I’ll make this other tune”, I’ll never do that again. I just did it to show people that I can do that if I wanted to. I could do it comfortably but that’s not me but on that track (Chillin), I still gave them me but what I mean when I say that’s not me is I don’t want to do that. It’s not my style, I keep it savage rockstar shit, I want to spit bars that makes people beat each other up at a show because they got so gassed that man is patterning the way they are. I want people to listen to my music and say “I need to watch this guy to see if he can flow like that live”, yes I can, come and watch man. I don’t wanna do this whole glossy ting where I’m saying catchy lyrics, I don’t give a fuck about that. People are writing and on the fourth line, they’re trying to saying something which everyone can sing back, when I write bars, I’m not trying to do that.”
“If you fuck with my bars, you will learn them, you get me, you will learn it but there’s people who will write specifically and get their engineers to cut out the beats where they want everyone to sing to. There’s a science to it but I think that’s shit, it’s watered down, and you’re not trying to write. With me, I write for me and my supporters know that, that’s why they fuck with me.”
How important has the support of Dice Recordings been for you?
“They’ve shown me life where I can come off road and do something constructive in my life and make me legit Ps and they’re Gs themselves. They give me super guidance and I feel like they understand me better than what anyone else could like a major label, they’ll understand me more and the way that they’ve guided me, not even just music but with growing up because they’ve known me since I was a little kid. Now I’m 21, they’ve helped me become a certain man so my priorities are in the right place. The support for me is way deeper than music, if anything, the music came last but now, everything else is in place now with the music side.”
“Everyone took me way more seriously when I signed with Dice. If you’re an up-and-coming artist, you don’t have to be signed but now people have got managers and all these other things because it looks more professional, people want to take them more seriously than someone tweeting a man or @ a man and going “check out the video, I’m sending the link”. He’s not gonna watch it because he’s got his own thing going on but if a manager emails another manager about their artist, he’ll gonna hear about you. He still might not do a tune with you, he still might not share it but you’ve got his attention.”
“At the end of the day, it’s business. You could be super sick but if it doesn’t make sense for another artist to work with you, he’s not going to work with you unless he generally fucks with you on a personal level. Dice have helped people take me way more seriously, I feel like I understand how things work now so I can never be taken for a dickhead when it comes to the business side.”
Talk to us about V Festival, you’re going to be there this year?
“Yeah, I’m going to make a few people punch each other in the face and that, I’m looking to turn shit into a zoo you get me. I’m contemplating whether to just come out in some Supreme boxers, socks & sliders, and maybe a fisherman’s hat and some goggles.”
“Obviously, I like my grills too.”
What creps you looking to wear?
“Air Max bruv, I always wear Air Max or maybe some Pumas, true say I’ll flex that as well but it’ll probably be Air Max.”
“V Festival is going to be mad, I’m doing Glastonbury as well, that’ll be a zoo too. I’m just looking to turn everything into a zoo, when I come off that stage, I just want to give the next person after me the hardest time and for people to think “I want Izzie back on”.”
What are your plans for the rest of this year, will there be more music from you?
“The music is not going to stop, ever. I’m still going to be doing freestyles, I’m still going to be releasing music videos, I’m still going to be hopping on sets at the right time. I’m looking to just take over. Have to.”
With thoughts turning to food after the interview, Izzie tucked into a hamburger that was ready for him to eat and we were on our way. Izzie’s mindset is clear; he’s on a one-way path towards domination in the urban artists’ game, neither his endeavour or his drive can be called into question, his hunger for success is ravenous, he’s resolute in his own abilities.
‘Yin Yang’ is available to pre-order via iTunes.