Interview: grime veteran Saskilla reveals he’s Jeremy Corbyn’s favourite MC and how Covid19 affected new album

In Interviews by Harry Martin

When it comes to grime music, Saskilla’s name resonates strongly within the community, having built his rep as a founding member of the pioneering grime crew Nu Brand Flexx. He’s been there from the start and has been an instrumental part of the culture’s growth, having collaborated with the best and helping raise other artists too.

Saskilla’s latest album ‘Godson 1.8’ is a 10-track testament to a field of music that has helped reach the levels it has thanks to the contributions from the South London based rapper. We spoke to Saskilla in this exclusive Q&A –

Your album deals with the monumental pandemic on tracks such as ‘NHS Thankyaz’ and ‘No more covid-19’. Were these songs written over a longer period of time as the pandemic grew worse? Or were they quick reactions to the outbreak early in the year?

They were in fact reactions to the pandemic. Whilst seeing it all getting severely worse, I couldn’t just make one song on this subject as it took up a large part of my 2020, so I had to cover it with 3 different songs attacking how bad things have got from all three fronts – the THE LAWS, THE NHS,THE VIRUS.

In terms of producing and writing the album, what obstacles in 2020 did you have to overcome to get the album finished?

In order to get the album completed, I had to overcome firstly not always being able to be in the studio with a lot of my collaborators, as during the year the rules stopped some natural studio artistic vibes, that could have happened had we not been in lockdown. This could have created better chemistry on some songs even with the producers, etc… but ultimately it was the death of my grandmother just before the release of my album that almost halted the whole project. But I knew me getting my truth out there is what she would have wanted.

You have been politically outspoken over the years, but will the events of 2020 inspire future projects to get more young people aware/involved in UK politics?

I think politics is everyday life now when the government is deciding when you can leave YOUR own home. Can you afford to be ignorant to the laws, rules and policies of the land we live on anymore I think the answer is obvious.
Your involvement with the #GrimeforCorbyn campaign drew well-deserved media attention. What was the trigger that got you involved in that movement and how do you think things could have been done differently in retrospect?
To be honest it was Jeremy Corbyn himself. I’m actually his favourite grime artist which makes me laugh hence me headlining the Grime for Corbyn events both times. His son had shown him my shit for years apparently and he really wanted me involved and wanted to sit down and just discuss politics with him and my views. It was from a couple of intimate conversations with him that I made up my mind to get behind his movement.
As an artist who has a rich amount of experience in the grime culture, what are the biggest things which you have seen change both good and bad?
The biggest change I’ve seen was when we went from pirate radio to television with Channel U that was positive, but the negative was when the 696 forms came into play and it targeted artists from black backgrounds meaning it affected a lot of us being able to play to awaiting grime fans who wanted the live experience.
What do you think the UK rap and grime culture can teach hip hop artists in the USA?
That dedication to developing fresh forms of entertainment is still alive, and that the world of black music is bigger than America!

What are the most significant learning experiences from Nu Brand Flexxx days that you carry with you to this day?

That you have to treat every song like it’s going to be your last. Because your least favourite song can end up being somebody’s favourite song, so treat all your art with the same respect.
Do you have any New Year’s resolutions for 2021?

My New Years resolution is to get nominated for a MOBO and GRM daily Rated award.

Check out Saskilla’s latest album Godson 1.8 via all streaming platforms here.