President T is an iconic figure in the UK’s Grime scene. From his early days featuring alongside the likes of Skepta & Jme in Meridian Crew to his more recent surroundings with Meridian Dan, Big H, Bossman Birdie, Paper Pabs and Milli Major as part of Bloodline, Prez T has always been alked about as one of the scene’s top artists.
But it’s only now, over ten years after he built the early foundations of his musical career, that he is really being recognised for his work and his latest project ‘Greatest To Ever Touch Down’ is his latest masterpiece. Our Urban Music Editor Matt Tarr caught up with the North London legend to talk about the project and find out what else Prez T has up his sleeve for 2016…
‘GTETD’ looks set to please current fans and bring new ones on board. Is that something you thought about when putting the project together?
I always wanted to make sure that if I’ve got a fan that’s 21 or 22 years old, I don’t just want them to be my fan, but their parents and their parent’s age group as well. So when people listen to President T they can see me as a professional UK artist rather than just a Grime MC. With the way I deliver my bars and that, I’d like to think I do that.
Tell us what your thoughts were behind naming the project ‘Greatest To Ever Touch Down’…
I called myself that a long time ago and it was part of the Prez T slogan, but then other MCs, e.g Skepta quoted it numerous times, not just on the internet, but in person as well. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m calling myself out to be the best artist in the world or in the country, but I believe that when it comes to touching down on the set or the mic, I’m the greatest.
What made you chose ‘Kill Off Killy’ and ‘Don’t Give A Monkeys’ to be the first tracks we saw from the project?
They had that radio energy. So obviously if the fans can appreciate listening to it on the radio, which is a sample of the mixtape, then they can appreciate buying the mixtape. I believe that fans aren’t gonna want to buy something that doesn’t intrigue them, so I selected those tracks because they had the most powerful sound. Obviously with the younger generation that are now flooding the Grime scene, that’s the kind of sound that they’re going for. So I tried to stay on their energy level, but at the same time still keep it as professional as possible.
Would you say they’re your favourite tracks on ‘GTETD’ or have you got others that you prefer?
Personally my favourite track on there is ‘Levels & Stripes’ because it’s got quite an immersive beat but you can still hear the hardcore Grime in it. I feel like the instrumental on that track gave me enough space to say what I wanna say too.
One thing that I noticed was that ‘GTETD’ is very much a Grime record from start to finish. After sharing your remix of Drake & Future’s ‘Digital Dash’ recently, I wasn’t sure if there would be anything like that on there…
I did the ‘Digital Dash’ track to show to the fans that I can do this rap ting, but it’s not where I’m coming from. So I’m not just gonna try and fake it and make out like I wasn’t listening to Kool FM pirate radio or Deja Vu or Flashback FM or any of those leading UK urban stations – that’s where I’m coming from. That’s why the whole tape is Grime and there isn’t any rap, because I’m not coming from the rap avenue, even though rap, trap and Grime has merged into the Grime genre, I wanted to keep it as authentic as possible.
How comes you’re releasing ‘GTETD’ alongside your 2007 mixtape ‘Back In My Face Vol 1’?
It’s to remind the new breed of fans where I’m coming from, so that they know this isn’t just where I started and even ‘Back In My Face’, isn’t where I started, but for these new fans that’s probably the earliest time I can present them as a solid Prez T release.
Your forthcoming album ‘Stranger Returns’ has been a long time in the making and is about as mythical as Dr Dre’s ‘Detox’, so what can you tell us about it?
Basically, ‘Stranger Returns’ should have been out now, but because I recorded 65-70 tracks in the space of three months, it had to be held back, but only a little bit longer. Within the first few weeks of the new year, ‘Stranger Returns’ will be with us; ‘GTETD’ is a warm up for ‘Stranger Returns’.
Is Skepta going to feature on ‘Stranger Returns’?
Fingers crossed. I would like it to happen. If Skepta can make himself available for that then that would be highly appreciated. But if it doesn’t happen then all I can guarantee the fans is that I will pack such a hard punch that it won’t matter whether he’s on there or not. I will try my best to make sure that Skepta is a main feature on ‘Stranger Returns’ though.
What spurred you on to create so much new music?
I’m not saying other artists in the UK aren’t working a lot, but with the UK scene as a whole, I would say we all need to get more like the Americans and spend more time in the recording studio. If we do that then we’re more powerful as a unit and artists would be able to see that fans are more willing to buy into your music because you’re putting more of it out there. People treat mixtapes like albums now too.
Are people going to be able to catch you live anytime soon?
Yeah I’ve got shows coming up in Preston, Newcastle and another show in Nottingham. So I’ve got a few shows and I just wanna keep it rolling. A lot of artists don’t understand that if you don’t come out with new material, you’re not really gonna get any shows because fans follow what is currently going on and the minute you stop, you then become a packet of Walkers crisps that they bought from the shop that they don’t want any more, throw in the bin and then go and buy a new packet. So that’s one thing I had to learn; keeping my fires lit to reap the benefits from music.
The Prez T skank…why is it so damn brilliant and do people ask you about it a lot?
Well Sian Anderson brought up the Prez T skank. Up until she brought it up, I knew there was a tiny bit of talk about it, but I never assumed it was as big as it is. It wasn’t scripted and I never did it on purpose, it just developed. I carry it on from time to time and it’s wonderful that you can have something other than just your music or your vocals that people appreciate. I try and keep it because it’s part of the flow and there is all sorts of variations of the skank. There’s the robotic way and the more relaxed way too. It took a long time to perfect.
So 2016 is gonna be a huge year for you then…
Yeah. The massive effort that I’ve put into my music towards the end of 2015 I’m gonna continue across the whole of 2016 and fingers crossed Britain, Europe and the world can see that President T is the greatest of all time and I can be rewarded for it. I’ve seen that there’s a lot of artists in the Grime scene that have been well overdue their awards or credit and I feel that I should have been concentrating on Grime 100% a long, long time ago, then I would’ve been a lot further. So as they say in the mafia, this year I’m gonna ‘clean up’.
President T’s ‘Greatest To Ever Touch Down’ is out now and you can grab your cop on iTunes here.