In 2021, Backroad Gee became known for his unique style, infectious hooks and defiant approach to music. So it may come as a surprise to many that in 2019, Backroad was unheard of within the UK music scene – a testament to the hard work and dedication he has put in over the last two years. While music may not have always been the focus, he has acclimatised himself to the point where he has become synonymous with a niche sound currently occupying the national airwaves. With new project Reporting Live just around the corner from its official release, Backroad is ready for the next step, with one eye on global domination.
“As humans, we all get comfortable with certain sounds and become accustomed to it and I don’t want that. I don’t want to be known as a drill or grime rapper – I am an artist.” exclaims Backroad when reflecting on the importance of differentiating himself and his music. Ever since the release of his Mukta vs Mukta EP in 2020, the London rapper has carved out a lane for himself as a singular, striking talent. His sound is a blend of familiar sounds on which he grew up on; from garage and grime to drill and rap, while Backroad commands tracks with his unpredictable and militant flow. This impressive debut, matched with a run of tracks alongside the likes of Ambush (‘Party Popper’) and Pa Salieu (‘My Family’) got people talking and seeing him mentioned on tonnes of “One To Watch” lists including Tiffany Calver’s Street Heat: The Class of 2021. When asked about what all of this exposure means for him, Backroad seems to take it all in his stride; “It’s more motivation over pressure to succeed to me. It just proves to me why I am doing what I do and helps me to keep my head down and focused.”
The past month also saw Backroad nominated for 3 GRM Rated Awards, including best track and video for the aforementioned ‘My Family’ as well as Best Breakout alongside the likes of ENNY, ArrDee and Central Cee. “It means a lot to me as those platforms are so well respected and I grew up watching them so it’s crazy to be nominated and recognised by them. I never thought something like this would happen.” Remaining humble seems to be a big part of what Backroad is all about and alongside his current success, he also looks to provide a platform for others with the inception of his own label, NMMB, with several of its artists (Tizz Trap, BG) releasing music – the trio releasing an underrated banger towards the top of the year. While he is clear that it is not about “giving back” for him, it is about providing a foundation and building a structure for him, his brothers and people to succeed.
“I wanted to build a foundation for me and my ones to eat. I feel that everyone involved has a vision and potential and they might not get the chance without it so I wanted to provide that platform. It’s all about the connections for me.”
Reporting Live (From The Back Of The Roads), Backroad’s upcoming project is on the horizon and will be a landmark release for both himself and the current UK music scene. When asked what we could expect – a simple “Mazza, Mazza, Mazza!” should tell us everything we need to know – the project being a labour of love (even referring to the tracks as his “babies”) and there being a real excitement about finally unleashing it on the world. If ‘Ready or Not’ – a collaboration with Nissi, who so happens to be the sister of Burna Boy – is anything to go by, Reporting Live is set to blow. The track sees Backroad Gee’s assertive flow remain intact but he dials down the intensity to match the breezy melodies of Nissi – showing his diversity and willingness to experiment with sound. The last two years have given Backroad an opportunity to hone his craft, learning on the job, constructing his process and output; “The process for me making music changes all the time – it can depend on the season and how I’m feeling. I might come prepared with something or I might have a basic idea and just freestyle. Music is all about mood.”
“If I wasn’t making music, I’d be doing some things I wouldn’t be happy with – we thank God for these opportunities.”
While he remains tight-lipped about the specifics, we can expect a star-studded line up of features on the project, a testament to the networks Backroad has already cultivated. In 2021 alone, Backroad has linked up with some notable names and become one of the go-to guys for a feature. These names include Sneakbo (‘Wag1’), Ghetts (‘No Mercy’), Poundz (‘Chocolate Darling’) and Chip & RV (‘Moonwalk Slide’) and his debut mixtape should be no different. A heavily rumoured link up with Burna Boy looks to set trends and while every collaboration is another achievement, it also displays a confidence in what Backroad can bring to the table and helping bridge gaps across the current diverse UK music soundscape. This is further evidenced by an upcoming link up with Chase & Status on a remix of Metallica’s track ‘Wherever I Roam’ as well as an unnamed release with stars from the UK and international scene.
“Working with other artists is really important and it’s good to build up links and merge songs together from different worlds. Music is just sounds and everyone brings something different to the table so when you bring that together, it’s beautiful. With everyone that I have ever worked with, it’s always been about organic vibes and that relationship has built naturally.”
With the majority of this breakout emergence coming during the recent pandemic, Backroad is clearly ready to unleash his energy on stage over the coming 12 months. He is due to hit the road with Pa Salieu in November as he supports him on his first UK tour and with plans to do more shows, he is certainly excited by the prospect of live shows. “Most of my music is meant to be performed live – it comes with a certain vibe or feeling, When making tracks, I can imagine what it would be like to be performed live and how fans would interact – it’s gonna be unforgettable for real!” He also made his festival debut with sets at Reading and Leeds last month. With so much already achieved and so much to look forward to over the next couple months, Backroad takes it all his stride and looks to continue to build on his largely impressive reputation.
“It’s ready for the streets. It’s ready for the people. It’s ready for the world!”
What the last quarter of 2021 and beyond holds for Backroad is unclear but through our conversation, it’s his confidence which shines through. In the eclectic landscape of UK music, Backroad believes in his ability and knows that he is unique in his craft. It is no surprise in 2021, there have been acts, tracks and sounds which have been influenced by the bold musings of BRG. With the world returning to normality, expect to see him take his sound even wider. He will never forget his roots and where he came from though, even referencing his own lyric “I was on the backroad with kids”, putting into perspective his journey and what he has been able to achieve. When asked why he’s Next Up, his answer is simple yet complex: “I want to go down as one of the best to ever do it – there will never be another BackRoad Gee.”
Reporting Live (From The Back Of The Roads) his debut mixtape will be released on October 1st via all good streaming vendors.