Described by himself and others as the Most Hated, spending just a few hours with S1 left me with an opposing view of the all too common presumptions made by those unable to have the privilege of getting to know the charm behind a backlog of drill tracks. A more mature and experienced young man S1 has come through determined to emit real emotion and energy with those ready to ride and support the wave.
Would you like to start by introducing yourself to Viper and tell me what you’re known for…
Mr Most Hated, S1. You already know what it is. Young Drip, King Drip.
Talk to me about your early life.
I grew up in West London, Shepherds Bush. East Acton. It was a little part of the ends cos the ends are massive. You’ve got like different counties in our hood so it’s one borough but there are loads of areas and I grew up in one jungle. Coming from there to where we are now, it’s different.
(S1 Wears Tracksuit by Arcminute and Bag by Gucci.)
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Yeah I have loads. Some I know, some I don’t haha!
Do you think your early life contributed to what you’re doing now?
A hell of a lot! The way I got into it at first was wrong. I used to get into a lot of trouble. I used to be affiliated with gangs and what not. It was all postcode wars in music at first but I was also going through a lot of real sh*t. A lot of real deep sh*t so I decided, you know what f*ck the roads it’s not helping me so I stopped rapping about all the violence and stuff and I started telling people about my actual experiences and my actual pain – where I come from and how I’ve come from it. There are many things that I can tell them other than stabbing this and stabbing that.
(S1 Wears Glasses by Gucci and Utility Vest by K.Kookz.)
Do you think that going through what you experienced previously helped because maybe having not had that experience you may not be the same person you are today?
If I didn’t go through some of the things I went through in my life then, boy, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I think I would be a good yout somewhere in college or uni or something.
Would you have liked that lifestyle for yourself?
Yeah. There’s nights I’ll be at home banging a perky and I’ll start talking to myself wishing I’d done this and wishing I’d done that but you can’t hold regrets. Everything happens for a reason. I’m a strong believer in God. I pray every morning. I say to myself – what I’ve done I’ve done, where I come from I’ve come from. It’s just about how I move forward.
When you say God can you elaborate?
God, God. I just know that there is a God and when I pray he answers my prayers. That’s what I know.
(S1 Wears Top and Bottoms by Kappa)
That’s a good way to be! Let’s talk about some of your recent stuff. So previously you would have been categorised under the drill genre. Would you still say your music falls under that category in terms of the sound?
No. I don’t put myself in the category of drill because the way I rap and how I rap, my flows, I melodise so I don’t really categorise myself as a drill rapper because I sing and do other things. I just have several flows and have fun with it. I could be on a drill beat talking about girls. Now my new stuff is pain, understanding, party tunes, afrobeat songs, trap songs. There is a lot, everyone is gonna see.
Fake Love is very different to a lot of the music you have released. Would you say that leans towards your new sound or is that just a snippet of what we should expect from you?
That’s everything I’m going to be doing. Fake Love is exactly like what you’ll be hearing. Same type of melodies, same type of beat, more pain and real sh*t.
What kind of music did you grow up on or who were your favourite artists?
I was always around U.K. artists but I hated them growing up. The only rapper I used to listen to was Giggs and that was cos of my Dad and Dubz as well. Walk in The Park. Other than that it was always Uncle Murda. I loved AR-Ab. AR-Ab was cold. I used to listen to Dipset a lot. I f*ck with Juelz heavy. Mobb Deep.
Talk to me more about the American rappers. What was it that drew you to them? Was it the image? I can tell you care about your appearance haha.
You know what it is, they’re free. They express themselves. They open up. They’re not afraid to be who they are. They can wear mad skinny jeans and do dances and they’re accepted. I don’t know how to explain it but people always say you’re copying them or you want to be like them. It’s about being comfortable in yourself and you being able to not care about what anyone else thinks because no one else loves you apart from you.
(S1 Wears Top and Bottoms by Kappa, Glasses and Bag by Gucci and Trainers by Nike.)
Let’s talk about the collaborate projects between the U.K and the USA such as The Plugs and artists such as Chip paving the way from early on.
I’m all for it and the reason is because music is a business. It’s the biggest business circle in the game. There are amazing rappers everywhere. To get the two most popping countries or the most pooping rappers from one country and another linking up and make a banger that’s it. You then open the door for the next person from the U.K to go out there and do the same thing. I’m all for it because it’s different vibes, voices, melodies. It’s a mixture people want to hear but people just want something to criticise.
I think that it is only in recent years that people are beginning to highlight producers but think about Future without Metro Boomin, Playboi Carti without Pi’erre Bourne and there are many others I could mention. Do you have particular producers you work well with?
On all my tracks you’ll hear one thing ‘Tweeko mixed this, it sounds cold” You see without Tweeko or Scratch I’m f*cked! You’ll hear a bunch of mess but Tweeko. He’s cold. He’s my age. He’s 20. He’s been in the game as long as man but he’s got his own studio, his own label, his own company. He come up from dirt exactly like man and that’s why I f*ck with him. I f*ck with real people I can relate to. If I don’t bond with you and I don’t like how you’re moving, I’m cutting. If you’re not willing to make that bond and understand me as an artist, I don’t want to work with you. If you are willing to then I got it. That’s why I f*ck with Scratch, JB and Tweeko.
Are there any other producers, not necessarily in the U.K that you would like to work with?
Yeah. There’s two producers in Amsterdam. Sosa Millz and Yamaica Productions. I f*ck with them heavy. Yamaica is a drill producer, so is Sosa and they’re brazy. The only other U.K producers I love are Sevaqk and Steel Banglez and D Proffit. I was with Sevaqk yesterday. I’ve got something loading with him.
What’s your view on this new trap wave?
I like listening to slow music when I’m chilling or when I’m with a girl. When I’m with a girl she no want hear no drill or all these things. I like to listen to slow melody music because you actually hear and feel what they’re going through. Giggs was the main one for me. Pain is the essence. I had that song on repeat for months. That song made a lot of mans careers cos a lot of man started rapping real after that.
Finally how do you describe your own creative process?
How I write is mad. I’ve never actually told anyone. I just go in, I’ll put on a beat and I just start flowing. I’ll catch my flow, say another line, remember it and I’ll lay the hook down. I’ll come back out then I’ll freestyle again. I keep doing a take and a take until I get it perfect. Nothing’s written. I left school in year 6. No qualifications.
(S1 Wears T-Shirt by Fila and Bottoms by Nike.)
Words, Photography and Styling by Rachel Abebrese.
Assisted by George Skidz.
Special thanks to Finesse Foreva.