Mortal Kombat, GTA, soccer stars and Dragon Ball Z are key topics for West London’s hottest new grime MC.
For most grime acts, video games, chicken shops, football and Japanese cartoons are how they fill their time between firing out rhymes about the mean streets of Willesden. For rising grime superstar AJ Tracey, however, they share centre stage with hard-hitting visions of London gangland. Like a rapping weekend to-do list, he’s referenced Netflix’s Narcos, fried chicken chain Morley’s, Dragon Ball Z, GTA, Mortal Kombat and Brazilian soccer hero Thiago Silva. He’s also the hottest name on the UK grime scene – here’s all you need to know about the couch potato’s favourite rapper.
Who is AJ Tracey?
Born Ché Moran, this West London grime MC first emerged on the internet in 2011, releasing tracks under the moniker Looney or Loonz, as part of the My Team Paid crew. Dropping out of a Criminology course at London Metropolitan University to pursue music, his first mixtape, the 21-tracker ‘Didn’t Make The Cut’, was released back in 2012. His second hinted at a change of tack - it was entitled ‘No More Looney’, and sure enough there wasn’t. By June 2015 Moran was back as AJ Tracey, dropping his debut six-track EP ‘The Front’ and showing early evidence of his leisure-based lyrics – hard-talking gangster tracks like ‘Hood Antics’ were countered with ‘Champions League’, in which he proclaimed himself the grime equivalent of top-tier British footballers like David Beckham and Alan Shearer and that his skills shatter bones like Mortal Kombat.
A plethora of EPs in December 2015 – ‘Alex Moran’, ‘Left Back’ and ‘AJ’s Stocking Filler’ - expanded on the theme. ‘Nalia’, the silvery, synthetic epic highlight of the ‘Alex Moran’ EP – featuring beats from Dot Rotten - found Tracey as comfortable throwing £500 onto a roulette table and driving high-end motors as he was hanging out in grotty fried chicken emporiums, relating his own drug dealing exploits to Netflix series Narcos and name-dropping Frogger and Roger, the alien from American Dad. Similarly, over the hip-hop depth charges of ‘Spirit Bomb’, Tracey peppered boasts about his skills, sexual brilliance and impressive footwear with talk of high-level Pokémon and kid’s TV show Blues Clues. We can only presume he’s angling for the most unlikely Sesame Street guest spot ever.
What has AJ Tracey been up to since?
AJ spent much of 2016 recording with the likes of Ratking, building his fanbase on radio shows such as Radar Radio and releasing a string of one-off singles including ‘The Rumble’ with MJ Cole and ‘Thiago Silva’, his tribute to the famed Brazilian footballer capable of reducing opposition strikers to tears. He also appeared in promo material for BT Sports’ Premier League coverage so, as a Tottenham Hotspur fan, the beautiful game is clearly important to Tracey. If not actually winning much at it.
What has AJ Tracey done for us lately?
AJ’s latest six-track EP ‘Lil Tracey’ dropped in December 2016, featuring guest spots from Chip, Bonkaz and Remy Banks on the likes of ‘Capri Sun’, ‘They Said’ and ‘Hating On Gang’. His distinctly un-chill Netflix obsession continued on ‘Luke Cage’ which, since he was touring in 2016, came with a video of AJ spitting gunplay rhymes around his spiritual home of Bed-Stuy, New York.
His globe-trotting didn’t end there - in the video for ‘Buster Cannon’ – a weapon in the Dragon Ball Z video game that fires massive blasts of blue energy – he wanders the neon canyons of Tokyo rapping about how, backstage “all I see are bums and boobs”. Have you been hiring Kardashian Catering, AJ?
His biggest recent online hit, though is the mansion pool party fantasy of 'Pasta', in which our hero drags haunting grime grooves kicking and screaming into a P. Diddy video. Can almost 3 million YouTube views really earn you this sort of lifestyle, we wonder? If so, we really need to get into the amusing cat business.
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