Hard work pays off. Grinding since 2011, AJ Tracey strengthened his case as an artist to watch in the U.K. over the last few years. The 24-year old rapper and producer from West London garnered praise from critics and tastemakers with his 2017 EP, Secure the Bag!. He followed that up with “Butterflies,” which became his first song to reach the top 20 on the UK Singles Chart and was certified gold by the BPI. Tracey, who has locked in a cosign from Drake and collaborations with Jay Critch, Denzel Curry and Craig David, is now ready to take his talents overseas.
The son of a former rapper and DJ, AJ grew up listening to hip-hop greats like Mobb Deep and Nas, and rockers like Linkin Park and 30 Seconds to Mars. His influences have ranged from American pop music to grime to dancehall. The Caribbean-flavored tune, “Butterflies,” which appears on his recently released self-titled debut album, has become a major milestone for the versatile MC with Trinidadian roots.
“Without the help of a label that’s quite a big achievement,” he says. “My mother was really proud as shit. She hung the plaque at her house.”
Get better acquainted with AJ Tracey in XXL’s The Break.
Hometown: West London
I grew up listening to: “Nas, Mobb Deep and James Brown. [Nas] is a storyteller. I remember listening to his music and thinking that you can see the imagery in your head. His lyrics really jump out if you’re paying attention.”
My standout moments to date have been: “I recently got my first gold plaque independently. I think that’s been my standout moment so far.”
My most slept-on song: “I got one called ‘Quarterback’ that I really like but it didn’t get enough attention. It’s good music but not that many people got to hear it. But that’s going to change anyway because we got placement for that song in a popular TV show. So people are going to hear it.”
Most people don’t know: “I’m a big rock fan. I used to listen to a lot of rock music growing up. I love Linkin Park, Bullet For My Valentine, 30 Seconds to Mars—all of that. People don’t really realize that when they listen to my music.”
I’m going to blow up because: “I’m different and because I’m better than everyone else.”
I’m going to be next: “I’m up next because 2019 is my year.”
“Butterflies” featuring Not3s
AJ Tracey Album
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