The ‘Facing Time’ grime-lord is putting Manc rap on the map
If you thought that the UK rap resurgence was purely a London thing, take note – it’s grime up north too. Bugzy Malone, aka Aaron Davis, is Manchester’s answer to Stormzy, Skepta and co., sparking a northern wing of the new wave of grime with Top Ten UK album chart placings for his two EPs ‘Walk With Me’ and ‘Facing Time’. But how did Bugzy come to hit the mainstream like a cream pie gun to the face? As he prepares to drop his latest EP ‘King Of The North’, here’s all you need to know.
Who is Bugzy Malone?
Thankfully it’s not just weeping Britney fans, babbling gamers and laughing Chewbaccas that have made it big on YouTube. Bugzy’s a child of the ‘Tube, making his name by promoting his 2010 debut mixtape ‘Swaggaman’ on the northern grime YouTube channel KODH TV’s Spray Out Freestyle show, and on the site’s Grime Daily channel. As a result his string of mixtapes – 2011’s ‘Why So Serious’, 2012’s ‘Lost In MeanWhile City’ and 2014’s ‘The Journal Of An Evil Genius’ – grew in popularity, and he hit his first million views with his ‘Spitfire’ freestyle on JDZmedia.
Word spread to more traditional media and Bugzy began to get spots on BBC Radio 1 Extra’s Fire In The Booth show. His debut single proper on the Grimey Limey, ‘Watch Your Mouth’, was picked up by DJ MistaJam on Radio One and blew up every radio it came in contact with; the single ‘Pain’ racked up 2 million streams and its parent EP ‘Walk With Me’ hit the UK album chart at Number 8. Bugzmania was go.
Have there been beefs?
Of course, does this look like a McBusted tour? Bugzy’s first Fire In The Booth spot saw him dissing Tottenham grime act Chip with the classic burn: “Go tell Chipmunk not to be cheeky/Grime is a road ting, my man’s hopeless/Go make a pop tune, fuck your A’s and B’s/You went from Chip Diddy Chip to The Streets/Oopsy Daisy, I’m not in your league”. Within a week, Chip had responded on a track called ‘Pepper Riddim’, thus: “About fuck having As and Bs or something, man sound like they can’t read or something/That’s why you’re stuck on this road ting, cah in music you ain’t achieving nothing.”
At which point the two met up to talk it through over a pint, shook hands and went their separate ways. As if. The very next week Bugzy was on Link Up TV spitting ‘Relegation Riddim’, a non-stop barrage of Chip diss featuring the colourful highlight: “With that shit on the back of his head/He looks like Sonic the Hedgehog from Sega/I thought you was signed to a major/I don’t think your label’s paid ya/Because I heard you spent your money/Hiring Chris Brown out for the day cause/But you still didn’t even chart proper”.
The beef grew exponentially – Chip even released three tracks attacking Bugzy in September 2015 alone and the following month he responded to Buzgy rapping that “you look like a frog with a beard” on ‘Wasteman’ with a comeback track, somewhat abruptly called ‘Dickhead’, inside eight hours. They even took it onto Twitter around Bugzy’s nomination for Best Newcomer at the 2015 MOBO awards, when Wiley and Lethal Bizzle leapt in to break the whole thing up.
What’s Bugzy Malone done for us lately?
The beef certainly did Bugzy no harm – his second official EP ‘Facing Time’ hit Number 6 in the UK album chart in June 2016 and its lead track ‘Moving’ gained over seven million YouTube views making him, as he eloquently put it himself, "way bigger than Kim Kardashian's bottom". He followed it with a trilogy of music videos drawn from the EP entitled ‘Section 8 (1)’, tracing the story of an armed robber facing a lengthy jail stretch being broken out by the girlfriend he thought he’d lost.
A cinematic hip-hop track ‘MAD’ kept the heat up ahead of his latest EP ‘King Of The North’, due on May 19. Time to Bug out.