A regular feature on ‘UK rappers you need to know’ lists and boss of the backpack gang, Roxxxan makes a deliberate and perfectly timed return into the ring with the release of Back To Live.
The Birmingham ambassador has previously sparred alongside respected MCs like P Money, on sets with Goldie, Skream, Benga and Caspa whilst working with producers such as Yogi, TMS, Bless Beats, Wiley, Sunny, Donaeo, Mikey J and Riton on her releases that have seen her championed by the likes of former Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe, DJ Target (1Xtra), Swerve (Kiss) and MistaJam (Radio1 and 1Xtra).
Ahead of her forthcoming EP release we get her thoughts on who’s doing it for the UK Grime scene, the support she wants to see for women in music, and who, if she could pick anyone, she’d go up against in battle.
Tell us about Back to Live, the name suggests a return to live music, did you leave live performance for a while?
Back to Live is me saying, I’m back but not for the glitz, the fame, nor the B.S. but rather I want to set up a life for myself. I want the things that really matter; family, kids, and obviously a few cars. Whilst I’ve been living my struggle, it’s been hard to talk about. I’ve just been dealing with it. Back to Live is my, ‘I’m ready for everything’ track.
Where do you feel you’re at in your journey now?
I feel I know myself more. I understand myself and (my) beliefs completely. The first time around I was growing as a woman whilst making music, now I’m grown and really tapping into emotions. I’m also spiritually awake.
Back To Live is described as led by emotion where listeners will experience frustration versus determination, what’s behind this frustration?
Broke up out of relationships, my nan died my head was fucked. A lot of industry heads snaked me, people pretending to help me, sending me to fake sessions – I get there and no one’s there. Instead of killing or wanting to fight everyone, I stepped back to sort myself out. Needed to make money so went back to hustling to stay in London. Done the hostel grind for 2 years. Lost myself broke down found myself and put my pieces back together. Pain, struggle, and loneliness. Everything is true. This track got me my mojo back after months, maybe a year, of a creative block a phone call with Mikey J led to me going back to my hostel putting in my earphones in, and then boom, from start to finish, it all came out of me…
The list of people you’ve worked with reads like a roll call of some of Britain’s finest grime and hip hop talent, who has been your favourite person to work with and which track?
Mikey J’s mixtape ‘Prepare for When I Land’, because he still means so much to me. I’m not about sessions and who’s the best, I’m about vibes and who wants to build, who really has time for me and sees my vision instead of paying for a feature, or a forced session.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
Ms Dynamite. Bob Marley, Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliot.
Who are your local influences in Birmingham?
The Streetz, Bass Man, Grave yard and Malik.
Where do you feel the UK Hip Hop and Grime scenes are at right now?
I think it’s at its best and strongest that it’s ever been. The male artists are really coming together and pushing each other up. I think everyone is looking at us and we just have to keep making good music. As well as support each other.
You were once a part of a female hip hop collective that released the fantastic track ‘Rock the Mic’, what happened to that movement?
It was one track rather than a movement – that 1Xtra wanted the female artists to create and perform at an event at Brixton Academy. I was working with Mikey J at the time and he let me write a 16 (bar). He sent it in with me on it and they kept it. That’s why he is my G. I wasn’t even supposed to be on the track. That’s definitely supporting one another.
Within the UK, how supportive do you think the industry is of female rappers and grime MCs?
Honestly – I don’t think it’s been great up til now. But UK fans are ready to support us, it’s just up to us female artists to make great records and prove ourselves, like every artist needs to.
I think they’re all dope. What I love about the women in this genre is we’re all so different. Little Simz is a standout and has made me proud. The consistency and speed in her own lane is just amazing.
How was the Soul Acoustic Tour for you?
The tour was incredible, just what I needed at the time. To get me ready, to give me performance practice and throw me back in. Really, everyone was so nice. We made good memories! I did the GODDESS Festival in August, that was amazing too.
Where in the world can we see you next?
I’ve just been confirmed to support Dej Loaf at the end of the month and I’ll be dropping more music online this week.
What do you want listeners to take from Back to Live?
I want listeners to understand my struggle, and those struggling too, whatever the struggle, to not stop or give up on their dreams. My family, particularly my mum, was so worried about me and wanted me to go home to Birmingham but I didn’t, I stayed I fought for what I wanted, I went without, even food sometimes but I’m here now and I feel the Universe has given me my chance and Lord knows I’m going to take it.
If you had to go head to head with a UK emcee, Grime or Hip Hop, male or female who would you pick to go up against?
The best. No point going for an easy win.
Roxxxan is a special guest alongside Paigey Cakey supporting Dej Loaf at The Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 14th October.