You are powering through on the jagged platform; you’ve failed this level a good few times now but it’s those failures which have enabled you to plan a water tight strategy that cannot fail. You’ve observed, you’ve persisted, and you’ve persevered and now it’s time to execute. There he is! The big red bloated octopus with too many tentacles trying to take you down, the octopus is much bigger than you, it appears more powerful and has owned the Grimey underwater world for what seems like eternity but you remain undeterred and his size or status does not faze you. You defeat the octopus with some tricks you had up your sleeve all along, the octopus didn’t see you as a match for him but you took him by complete surprise and with the battle won; you’re ready to move onwards and upwards to the next level. Alex Kidd was the name of the old computer game I played religiously but the story compares to that of the lava spraying lyricist from the lane named AJ.
Ok I’m sure there are no big red tentacle swinging octopuses just lounging on the lane waiting for AJ to get home from an Eskimo dance (having received the honourable inclusion on the line up numerous times) or from yet another highly anticipated 1xtra appearance, but his journey so far has been faced with the challenges that any young MC faces in a scene where there are godfathers, O.G’s and lyrical lords already in place meaning AJ Tracey had to find a way to not only stand out in a rapidly shape shifting scene, he also had to make sure his presence stuck in the transformation period Grime is currently experiencing.
When I ask people who they rate? Who is next to blow? Whose bars get you gassed? AJ Tracey’s name is the name always mentioned along with AJ’s peer Novelist. Just how has AJ managed to make a bolt for it as we’ve seen with the likes of Usain many times in his start up lane to win the approval of fans and artists which has seen him become one of the most in demand MC’s from the new crop of artists which have suddenly sprouted from the garden of Grime. The formula to AJ’s mounting success seems to lie in his astute business acumen as well as his way above average ability on mic. Little more than over a year ago AJ was slowly gaining respect for his punch lines and ninja like microphone skills when making the rounds on what has become the projector of grime – pirate radio. AJ along with some of his crew, MTP members Jammz, YGG and Mic Ty put in the hours guesting on mode FM where Grime Don DJ Spooky would grace the studio with his presence from time to time with a handful of bangers for the lads to spit on which enabled AJ to experiment with his style and flow which was just as well as he was soon presented with the golden opportunity to record a ‘Gimmie Grime’ session at 1Xtra which is a pivotal platform in a new artists career if they use it to their advantage and AJ did just that as he was then invited to perform on the “The Grime Show.” It was from this point AJ’s buzz was getting louder than a forest full of beehives and he decided to take that buzz and increase it to bellowing bullhorn levels until no one could deny that this kid called AJ was coming through at speed on the fast lane to overtake his cohorts whether they liked it or not.
The Armani flexin braggadon’s business savvy instincts allowed him to strategize a plan to give himself maximum exposure at exactly the right time and his marketing abilities were so precise they were like that of an athlete timing himself repeatedly to beat his personal best. AJ blitzed every radio station he could think of to get himself heard including stations – Mode, Flex and Radar, once he felt he’d introduced himself on the radio circuit he once again showed what a shrewd business man he is for a young MC and stepped back from radio only to come out frontin’ with his debut E.P ‘The Front’ released summer 2015. The 6 track EP bursts like bubble wrap with AJ’s bubbly raps which he’s able to switch up to beast mode in seconds, it’s an extremely bold, brash and confident introduction to the pretty bwoy’s fierce flow. AJ pledges his allegiance to Tottenham on the hype track ‘The Lane’ despite the fact he hails from West London’s Ladbroke Grove he drops grime gems such as – “I’m a warlord like Genghis, so my outlook bleak like Memphis” which made me screw face my iPod as though I’d suffered a horrific assault. Elsewhere on the E.P he spits over an instrumental that would fit in perfectly with our Alex kidd computer game on the track ‘Italy.’ AJ also displays his softer side on ‘Wifey Riddim’ by showing his appreciation for his plentiful peng tings over a twostep garage track, immediately after, he gets dark on ‘Hood Antics’ which has a deadly b-line. AJ can even spit over a club banger as proven on the anthem ‘Red bull’ AJ’s confidence is believable when he warns “Don’t come with your intimidation, fam I’m the Beckham I’m the shearer and I rep hard for the nation” because he states this with such conviction.
Whilst many MC’s are satisfied with one E.P release for the year, not content with making waves on the scene AJ was determined to create a tsunami to sweep us all up in his dizzying flow and we were treated to 2 more E.P releases. ‘Alex Moran’ released 04th December was a more cohesive and experimental project with what sounded like street fighters’ Chun Li kicking her way through ‘Spirit Bomb’ which is the only track on the EP AJ goes lone ranger. AJ invites his MTP mandem Jammz, Merky and Big zuu to trade verses with him on the tracks ‘Bare Girls’ (another peng appreciation moment), ‘Chalk’ – which is straight up murder music…literally and lastly ‘AAA’ which is the most interesting track on the E.P as AJ experiments by merging drum n bass with strings and the result is surprisingly stunning. The tone of ‘Alex Moran’ is comfortable dwelling within the shadows and differs from his first EP in that the production is tighter and with introductions out the way AJ found the freedom to further demonstrate his versatility and originality.
AJ Tracey then went for the hatrick by spreading Santa vibes and we were all gifted with a tinsel wrapped treat with the release of his third E.P released on the 25th December titled ‘Stocking Filler’ of course! The E.P boasted the Eski beat vibe on ‘Swerve n skid’, a remix of ‘Wifey Riddim’ and the immense ‘Skepta’ which borrows it’s instrumental from rebound X’s instrumental. The E.P is moody and brooding which let’s face it we all were after being forced to spend too long with our families on Christmas day and being asked too many times if we wanted more Brussel sprouts, which made AJ’s tinsel treat all the more welcome.
AJ has plotted planned and executed such a winning strategy that even ‘spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino would be proud of his achievements – he’s lined up his shots precisely and scored every penalty with sheer force and determination. With remixes such as “Big N Serious’, ‘10/10’, ‘Naila’ and the formidable ‘Swerve and Skid’ remix often blowing up bigger than their originals it’s clear that ‘Alex the kidd’ does not have to worry about being benched and substituted any time soon, he’s defeating his challengers and proving he has a place in Grime with ease, agility, versatility and adaptability.
If AJ Tracey continues on this confident path he won’t have to worry about having only five pounds to munch with; he’ll one day make a cool five mil. to feast with.