ArrDee: the chart-topping Brighton rapper with the UK’s cheekiest bars | Rap

Nursing a scorching chocolate in a espresso store in his dwelling city of Brighton, Riley Davies exudes ebullient pleasure, the similar ebullience you hear when he raps as ArrDee. Nearly uniquely amongst the present crop of British rappers, the 19-year-old invariably appears like somebody who’s having the time of his life, as if he’s grinning from ear to ear each time he will get on the mic. He says he’s all the time been like that, ever since he was a child, when his relations nicknamed him Smiley Riley, and what he calls “the entire cheeky chappie factor” helped at the least a bit in what appears like a turbulent adolescence. At one level, he says, the police have been at the door of his mum’s home so usually that “the landlord began transferring a bit humorous” and so they have been compelled to relocate to a special city. “However then, as I acquired older,” he says, “I believe I realised that life will get a bit simpler in case you’re not a prick to everybody.”

Even when it wasn’t in his nature, you couldn’t blame him for having a spring in his step. After we meet, his single Flowers (Say My Name) has simply entered the charts at No 5. It’s his fourth Prime 10 hit in 12 months – two solo, two as a visitor rapper, together with his meme-inducing look on the remix to Tion Wayne and Russ Millions’ Body, the first drill observe to achieve No 1. The opposite week, he says, he posted his Fifa Final Crew on his Instagram story, “and Ian Wright DMed me! I had him in centre-mid and clearly he’s not a centre-mid, however he’s like: ‘For you, I’ll play midfield.’ I misplaced my thoughts, after which Rio Ferdinand DMed me! He’s like: ‘Why haven’t I made the reduce, I can’t be a defender?’ Rio Ferdinand! I used to be calling everybody, bruv. That is psychological!”

This time final 12 months, he was working the evening shift in an Amazon warehouse. “Ten pm to 10am. I barely noticed daylight,” he nods. “I’d get dwelling, sleep all day, clearly, get up and have to return there. On the days off I had, I used to be bunking the prepare to London to go to the studio.”


In equity, he already had a small on-line following – “about 8,000 folks” – due to the movies he’d been posting on-line since he was an Eminem and Lil Wayne-obsessed 12-year-old, rapping in the native park after faculty. In the early days, he thinks, “folks have been sharing them primarily to take the piss”.

He’d additionally met his supervisor, who had helped hatch what he calls “a two-year plan” with him: the first step was to launch a brand new freestyle, referred to as Cheeky Bars, with a video shot on the bandstand on Brighton seafront for £100. The issue, in case you can name it that, was that the plan stored going utterly awry. “Cheeky Bars went mad, needed to change the plan,” he smiles (it has had 5.8m views on YouTube, and 6.5m performs on Spotify). He launched one other freestyle, 6am in Brighton, “and that went mad, needed to change the plan once more”.

After which the plan needed to be ripped up totally, due to the remix of Physique, a collaboration that didn’t start in the most auspicious circumstances. Having determined to rejoice signing a document deal in the wake of his freestyles’ success by hiring an aparthotel in London and throwing a celebration for his associates, Davies nipped exterior for a cigarette and couldn’t bear in mind the door code to get again in. “So I’m making an attempt to sort the code, and these two G-Wagons pulled up, a great deal of large boys jumped out and so they’ve all acquired balaclavas on. I’m 5 foot nothing, from Brighton, at one in the morning, I’ve simply acquired a document deal so I’ve acquired this little Gucci bag I’d purchased. I’m like: oh my God, it’s going to go mad. And certainly one of these boys, who’s like six foot six, begins guffawing and goes: ‘You’re ArrDee, proper?’ He takes the bally off and it’s fucking Tion Wayne, staying in the similar aparthotel as me.

“When Cheeky Bars got here out, he’d favored my put up, which was psychological. So I went to his room and he’s displaying me the authentic of Physique and saying: ‘I see you’re popping, I need to do one thing with you, I like your fashion.’ Lots of people suggested him in opposition to placing me on that track: he’d had Aitch on [previous hit] Keisha & Becky, who had a bit extra music out and buzz behind him. I used to be two freestyles deep and he didn’t know whether or not I might do a viral verse or something. However he took that danger.”

Performing earlier this month at Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball 2021.
Performing earlier this month at Capital’s Jingle Bell Ball 2021. {Photograph}: Matt Crossick/PA

Because of a somewhat blue punchline about condoms, ArrDee’s visitor verse did certainly go viral, serving to propel the single to platinum standing and fast-tracking Davies to fame: his first mixtape, out in January, is hotly anticipated. All of it took off so shortly, he says, some folks thought he was “an trade plant”, till “the Brighton lot began saying: ‘No, he’s been rapping for 5 years.’ In my head, rap-wise, there’s no such factor as an trade plant, as a result of if London doesn’t fuck with you [appreciate you], it doesn’t matter how a lot cash labels pump into artists, it nonetheless don’t work.”

You may see why he has taken off: Davies is a particularly dextrous and gifted rapper. His singles have an ideal musical stability – heavy on hooks, they perform as pop music with out ever sounding tacky or craven – and his Day by day Duppy freestyle confirmed he might do extra socially acutely aware materials and kitchen sink drama.

Furthermore, he cuts a singular determine: UK rap isn’t precisely groaning with diminutive rappers with a perception in the energy of crystals and witchcraft. “My mum practises witchcraft, not in the sense of magic spells however charging crystals, what crystals imply, which is why I’ve this,” he says, displaying me a black ring on his finger. “Black sapphires, my birthstone, are protecting and grounding. Some folks may suppose it’s bullshit, but it surely works for me the similar means as being a Christian or a Muslim or no matter – that’s what they consider and it really works for them. I speak fairly closely about manifesting and believing in the universe doing issues for you in case you consider. My mum confirmed me that. When she was 15 she left the nation, got here again, acquired her GCSEs, went to varsity, turned as excessive as she might in particular wants educating, then she acquired a black belt in kick-boxing, performed two newbie fights, went again to college … all of that, as a single mum, elevating two children, my massive brother with autism. It was monkey see, monkey do.”

Neither is it precisely typical to discover a rapper repping Brighton, each the pleasures of life in “the ocean metropolis” and its harder aspect (“in case you come down for the weekend from London, you’re not going to [famously deprived suburb] Whitehawk”).

“I undoubtedly had extra to show coming from Brighton. After we did the freestyle, 6am in Brighton, lots of people suggested in opposition to calling it that. They have been like: ‘Brighton has acquired a little bit of a stigma.’ I used to be like: no, you realize what, it’s larger than me, so if I can shine a light-weight on the city … as a result of my entire persona, me being snug in my pores and skin comes from Brighton, as a result of there are loopy characters out right here, however nobody will get judged, so I wouldn’t be me with out being born and raised right here, and I need to be telling it like it’s.”

No, he says, he has no urge to go away the metropolis for London now success has come calling. “I believe it’s what retains me so sane when all the things’s moved so quick. I get humbled right here. I’m going to sure bars and so they ID me, and if I don’t have my ID they received’t let me in, as a result of they know I used to try to grasp exterior of there after I was 15, 16. They don’t give a fuck what I’m doing in my life at the second.”

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button