“It’s a mad feeling, when you have been working so hard for something, it’s almost surreal. It’s like, fuck… this is kinda mad”. When I ring Feux, he is mooching around London. The feint sounds of taxis beeping one another ring down the end of the line; the capital’s hustle and bustle is audible, but he is distant in thought about the release of his debut album - PURE NINE.
Having just turned 20, the rapper’s career is still in its adolescence. Critics might question such a premature first record, but Feux’s uncompromising outlook on music has built him a strong following over the last two years. PURE NINE accentuates the artist’s journey thus far, melting infectious melodies with sharp, bilingual verses and an impressive range of production. “I feel like albums tell a story; they have real meaning. I learn so much more about an artist, and how they feel, when I listen to their albums from start to finish” he tells me in an assertive manor.
Creating something as cohesive as his debut has been 2 years in the making. From the 'Silent Enemy' EP, to the more complete follow up mixtape ‘Silent Enemy, Vol 2’, singles have never really been Feux’s forté. “It might be 10 times more work [to make an LP] but it means more to me. I think it’s important to get my feelings out and put my emotions into some real art”.
Music was never really the North-West Londoner’s plan, but after his first semester at Glasgow University, he knew formal education wasn't the route for him. “Music wasn’t the main thing for me. I was having a great time in Glasgow, but it is important to listen to your heart and how you are feeling.” Swapping nights out on the lash for long nights behind the mic, Feux knew there were risks to his new career path. “People were like, ‘you’re dropping out? What, to do music? Ah, fucking hell’.”
Despite the arts contributing roughly £11 billion to Britain’s economy, the actual sector itself is severely underfunded, making it hard for independent artists like Feux to live off their music. With no shows going on, this pressure has amassed dearly and the Camden native knows he should probably get a job: “I do need to get a job, with no shows going on, which is fucking annoying. As long as I keep pushing myself, I feel things can go well… hopefully, I wanna play a festival one day”.
Playing festivals is a healthy ambition, if we can ever unite in a muddy field again. These musical desires have pushed the Londoner throughout his two year tenancy in the industry; but without the influence of his older siblings, he may have never had such aspirations. “I have three older brothers, and two of their mates are Manik MC and Natty Whyla, who were always pushing it [music].” This lead the lyricist to start jotting down rhymes and messing around on garage band, although not everyone warmed to his new craft in the early stages. “People mocked me for making music at the start, but bare people have come up to me now and apologised. I only take that as a positive thing though. If they’re listening, that’s one stream for me”.
Feux might seem content with $0.006 streams, but his Spotify tells a different story. He’s had hundreds and thousands of plays on previous projects and PURE NINE looks like its following in a similar suit. Despite such attention, the wordsmith isn’t a fan of being in the public domain. “You have to have an overwhelming amount of social media presence in this industry. I hate that; I’m not a fan of it. I deleted everything after watching the social dilemma, but realised I should probably keep it to promote the album haha”. We did the same, before acknowledging how beneficial it has been for us over the last two years.
As the Netflix documentary suggests, social media can be detrimental to ones mental health, which Feux thinks needs addressing more in music. “It definitely isn’t talked about enough. Artists should use their platforms to create a positive impact; some people find my stuff relatable, so I’m happy I can talk about it and help them”.
His Belgian heritage plays a big part in the music’s relatability too. Using French to convey different emotions, the rhymer looks to bilingualism to help elicit his story. “Writing in French is extremely hard. It has always been apart of me and it helps people of other cultures understand who I am”. Such unique nuances have garnered interest from publications far bigger than us. Complex premiered the J P Rose featuring single 'Let’s Get Lost' just a couple weeks ago: “Complex are picky so I’m fucking amazed they went with that.”.
In its essence, PURE NINE is a coming of age album. The rapper realises that, even though he doesn’t necessarily want to, he has to grow up. Released a few days after his 20th, the record, in Feux’s own words, “represents my vision of learning, maturing and, sort of, discovering all of this out”. He still goes out, gets mash up and sees his mates, but finding the balance is important to him. The last track, Green Tea, affirms this more than any. Is he a fan of East Asia’s favourite herbal supplement? “Bro, I’m an avid drinker. Green Tea is just peng. You have to wait 5/10 minutes for it not to be too hot though”.
By the end of the convo, Feux is still walking around somewhere in London. For all I know, he could be lost in the big smoke’s concrete streets, but he seems more concerned to reflect on his career in music. “It’s crazy what has happened in these two years. I’m excited to see what will happen in the next two” he tells me, and quite frankly, so are we.