As I walk up the stairs at the Ministry of Sound offices to meet Wretch 32, I was not surprised to find the man of the moment relaxed and chilled. I placed down my equipment and tried to replicate a similar demeanour. As I put down the Dictaphone, the flashing orange light on the technology alarms Wretch and he quickly asks me, the interviewer:
"Does that light have to stay orange man, I have a thing about orange lights ya know!"
The look on my face was one of mystery and puzzlement, but as soon as Wretch and his boys crack up of laughter, I soon realise the emotion I should've been personifying is gullible.
But that's how Wretch is, charming, honest and obviously likes to have fun.
In an attempt to quickly gain a better perspective on Wretch's thoughts, I began with a quick-fire one-word answer round.
Contactmusic: That alright Wretch?
Wretch 32: Ah right, cool cool!
CM: 2pac or Biggie?
W32: ooo shit. (Long Pause) This is a hard one, the others Ill answer quickly, but this is hard. Biggie rapper, 2pac artist!
CM: Blondes or Brunettes?
W32: Blonde Brunettes
CM: Bums or Breasts?
CM: UK Hip Hop or US Hip Hop?
W32: UK Hip Hop
CM: Grime or UK Hip Hop?
CM: Performing with DJ or Live Band?
W32: Live Band
CM: Football or Basketball?
CM: Power Rangers or Turtles?
CM: Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog?
CM: KFC, Mcdonalds, Burger King or Subway?
CM: Smoke or a Beer?
CM: Favourite Musician?
W32: Michael Jackson
CM: Favourite Film?
W32: Remember the Titans
CM: Favourite food?
CM: You have shot to fame over the last 12 months, how has that personally been for you?
W32: It's been cool man, been good, we've had a lot of fun. It feels like we've been to some crazy places and people act crazy when they see me (smiling away). Just having fun really man.
CM: Anywhere in particular that you remember as being crazy?
W32: Newcastle is always pretty crazy, and Liverpool too!
CM: When did you decide to make the transition from grime to UK hip hop?
W32: I think when I was making grime; I was a hell of lot younger. I think I was about 18, and I was really moving at an erratic pace in life, so the speed of my music matched my mood. I think now, I am more reserved and more relaxed, so I spit on slower beats.
CM: Do you think you would be successful and where you are today if you had stayed in grime?
W32: I don't think so no. I think the transition wasn't a genre transition. It was a transition I made in life, like just getting older and more mature. I really want people to hear and take in everything I am saying, so I didn't want to go that fast!
CM: Where does the name come from?
W32: It's just something everyone used to call me when I was growing up, cus I was quite naughty or whatever. 32 are just my lucky numbers, so I thought it would be kinda cool to have a number spin on the end of my name.
CM: I know you are a big fan of mixtapes; so are there any restrictions and limitations from recording a mixtape to studio album?
W32: I think with a mixtape, you just go in for the kill, if you wanna swear, you swear. If you wanna talk about this you just do that. I think with an album you might have a different attitude. But I also think it depends on what type of artist you are, because if you're the swearing type of artist, I wouldn't say don't swear on your album. If that's what you do, that's how you should attack it. So it all depends on the artist. But for me when I'm working on a mixtape, I just care about showing the rap ability, I'm not really thinking about the chorus and stuff, just caring about the verse. On an album, I'm caring about the all round thing, everything on the CD.
CM: Your lyrics are sick on the new album, and the beats are just as good, but how much influence do you have over the producing side of the LP?
W32: Ye man quite a lot. We pick the beats, and then sometimes, I'll put down ideas. I can't produce, but I know what I want. I have ideas that I just can't execute, and being in with a very talented producer, he'll know what I'm saying and how to execute it.
CM: You do a lot of collaborations in your work and on the new album. What was Ed Sheeran like to work with?
W32: Ed's cool man. He's proper cool. He wants the song to sound the best. He doesn't want to come on and just fuck off; he wants to make it sound as best as possible. So it's all good, I like working with Ed and I've worked with him for many years now!
CM: How careful are you in how you go about who you collaborate with?
W32: I suppose you gotta be careful. But with me, it's all about if I like the song. If I like it, I go for it.
CM: Who would you like to work with, in an ideal situation.
W32: Eh, maybe Kanye!
CM: I know it's a hard question, but who is the best you have worked with so far?
W32: Scorcher, just cus of the vibe we have. We used to work on a lot of stuff together and we really understand each other.
CM: I read you wanted to work with the Swedish House Mafia if it's at all possible. How would that go down, something like their collaborative hit with Tinie Tempah.
W32: I dont know, I wonder if we could come up with something in the middle. This would be sick; like a rap beat man!
CM: You just recently had a new track released with Tinie Tempah and J Cole. Some of the themes in the track seem to suggest the difficulties of gaining respect in the urban market. Is that something you generally felt?
W32: Everything is a fight. I think rap aint the biggest genre of music here, pop music is, so you have to decide whether to make pop rap or do you make music to the best of you ability and don't jeopardise any credibility. And I think there are definitely hurdles and barriers and stuff that we have to overcome. I like having shit to prove and overcome. I like it. I think it's cool when you're underdogs and you overachieve.
CM: Tinie is already very famous, but what was working with J Cole like?
W32: Yeah, he's doing his own thing. He's got talent and I'm glad Tinie gave him a shot.
CM: Do you think he'll make to where you are today?
W32: Yeah I hope so man. I wish everyone the best of success.
CM: I heard you want to work with Jessie J. Is there any possibility if that happening, and why do you want to?
W32: I hope there is a strong possibility. I think she's got swag man. She's just got a confidence that is just fucking unique and I like it. I think we'd make something sick!
CM: The Movement, like many other hip hop groups, disperse and go their separate ways, is there any possibility of you guys getting together to release another album or mixtape?
W32: I'm hoping that we get to do that because I think when you build a buzz up; everybody really has a demand for it, so I think it's only right that we give it to them. I definitely feel like we need to do an album. The only problem is that everyone is in their own place doing their own thing right now. So it just depends if we can get the time together.
CM: What do you think of the current state of UK hip hop is?
W32: I think it's definitely going in the right direction. I think there are a lot more rappers to come through. Were in early days, so the biggest and best things are yet to come.
CM: On your new album, the track with Ed Sheeran, you talk about the hardships and worry about raising a child, how many kids do you have?
W32: I have two kids and I'm always 100% honest! There is no point talking about a subject like that and lie about it, as you won't be able to connect with the people who have been through it honestly. So I just keep it real, if it's affected you, you feel it.
CM: Many artists have their own ways of writing their lyrics and sources of inspiration. What is your method?
W32: All in my phone man, in the notepad, so it means I can work on the go. Anywhere any time, write verse, write a freestyle. Whatever comes in my mind, just jot it down in the notepad. Tis good, especially having a phone with you at all times!
CM: do you still freestyle much?
W32: Not off the head much. I do freestyle but I write most of it. Freestyling off the head is like mad difficult. I think unless you make a freestyle sound like it's something you wrote, I don't see the point. And because I'm not at that stage, I don't think I should, so I'll just leave it to Eminem!
CM: Your drummer told me about the Hollyoaks gig, and you appeared on the show, what was that like?
W32: That was random man, very random. I had fun though and that's the main thing. It was good as it had never been done before. I definitely think it's about doing new stuff and trying to bridge the gap and touch new areas. It was a big thing for me and I'm glad Hollyoaks could let me be a part of it!
CM: And finally Wretch, what's on your IPod playlist right now?
W32: Eh hard, cus I normally listen to music on the tour bus. So, eh, Drake's album, Chipmunk's spazzz.com mixtape and there is always some Jay-Z lying around somewhere.
I left Wretch feeling the same as how I started; the man personifies coolness and relaxation. Simple as!
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