A little over two years back, in early 2015, was the release of Jungle Law via JDZ Media. Never had I seen so much support for a single release of a local midlands-based artist, let alone a Wolverhampton–based one, something Vital shouts proudly about. The track and video struck hard, it was a statement, so a look a few months further back followed, but what ensued was not expected.
Whilst we were well aware of Vital, we didn’t realise his true talent until this. Entranced by the dark tingle of the backing track and heavy baseline, all I hear is…”Just ‘cus I don’t do Grime much/ man are gwarrnin’ like I don’t do my job…” . Wow. I have to know more.
Two years and a whole lot of progress later, we’re sat face-to-face. The hungry, humble and focused Grime artist from Wolverhampton has hundreds of performances including Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2016, an iTunes Hip Hop Chart Top 20 project, POWERS, and over 1 million collective views on YouTube, all under his belt.
“Coming from that small city, small town, it’s a mind state, it’s all I’ve ever truly known, so how can I not want to include others. For me, It’s like coming back home to a family and telling them about the successes you’ve had…” started Vital, having been asked about his collaborative project, Wickedest EP, way back from 2012, already showing the depth of his catalogue and presence in the scene.
“So when I do great things or I’m doing a show, like BBC Radio 1 Exeter or MADE, this time I wanna do it again with everyone. When I make songs that do well, like Love For Grime or Wickedest, I’ll do a remix, if I can get them on it…it will help them, help the city. Not a lot of people get that…”
As commendable as that is, have you ever thought, ‘I could be a little more selfish and it could help me progress further’ or not?
“A lot of them say, you shoulda’ just done another song yourself. I’m like yeah, but how can you not want to help?
I’m aware I could do that, but I wouldn’t be satisfied. I’d rather have a catalogue I’m proud of. I don’t want to hear all these songs and be like, I made it, just me, then who’s really gonna wanna come and showcase and be part of it.”
Whilst his collaborative spirits have been evident from day one, the journey of his sound is quite the contrary. Having shared stages with some of the biggest household names in the Grime scene including Stormzy, Wiley and Big Narstie, it wasn’t until 2014 that Grime became his primary sound. Vitals all-encompassing spirits, however, were very clear when examining his first, as he puts it, “real” project, Genre Conqueror from 2013.
When we look at that project, its patois, dancehall, rap, everything, which is something that has big influence now. How do you feel about that?
“If I released that now, it would’ve done better than when I did do it” laughing confidently.
“There was a couple tracks that did really well on that project, Wickedest, Ting Tun Up (which we filmed the music video in Spain for), and these received airtime on channel AKA and radio airplay. That was the first video I had on TV, in 2013, and that’s when I saw what could actually happen. It was mad. The mix of genre is something I like, what I’ve always wanted to do.”
“But I can’t force the emotion. I have to wait for the influence. It’s a complex process and that’s why music always changing. “
“The emotions, sounds, music, feelings, it happens when it happens; I can’t make a song twice.”
Whilst rap and grime held some presence in Vital’s music up to 2014, it was never the driving force, until the Love For Grime EP, the turning point. “Ok, I’m Grime now. It’s how I feel. It’s not that I wanted to only do Grime, but it’s the feeling again. I couldn’t force a dancehall sound. It’s organic. That’s where my energy was. Same with this,” he explained.
“Once I get the first line, I can just run with the story”
2015 brought the experimental DLTY (Don’t Lie To Yourself) 4-track EP, consisting of Jungle Law, DLTY, Drink Up and Deluded. Experimental, seeing as each track held it’s own genre. Again however, listeners gravitated towards the grime sound Vital had managed to own and encompass into his artistry so well. Whilst the marrying of genres continuously develops in his work however, it was the single release, Dead or Dying, packed with raw emotion that truly defined Vital as of late.
Every artist has an anthem, is this yours…for now?
“Dead or Dying was special. It captivated how I feel, my family, people in Wolverhampton, myself, what I go through, the main message being, ‘keep the light shining on me, bare with me, don’t forget what I’ve done, what I can do and what I will do.’
I’m not doing number 1s every week, but everyone and everything has their time. I don’t want a tune that overshadows me; I like the steady steps. I’m still tryna’ work out the kinks, what my thing is exactly, but I’m still pushing and trying.”
Then towards the end of last year, brought Powers, a project consisting of just 6 tracks, including one bonus, which took Vital into the Top 20 of the iTunes Hip Hop Chart.
“It was made in a space of depression. I quit my job, everything…to focus. The idea that there is now a week where money won’t necessarily come in turned me mad. But it also turned me calm.”
“I was sad, down, low on money, I was in America, Hecks sent me a beat, Uber Ones. This vibe was mad. Again, all I needed was that first line, saying what’s happening right now, where am I in this journey, then the rest just flowed.”
Whilst the project itself is filled with tenebrous introspectiveness, there remains a glow throughout every lyric in every song, a clarity that exists with this artist’s journey, what he’s come from, and to where he’s going.
So it was less of a concept project and more of a ….?
“Exactly, but the reason I called it powers; I was trying to find some energy to help myself get over these emotions, I needed powers. When you tell yourself something…it happens. I’m powerful, I’m this, and I’m that. Powers.”
But now, you’re weeks away from your first headline show in your hometown.
“I wanted to do one since Wickedest, but I was always thinking, do I do it now? Is it the right time? Do I have enough tunes I wanna’ perform? Now I got more than that.
I want it to be the blueprint for the future of our city. Imagine every year same date we have another headline show for a Wolves artist. The same formula, continuous headline shows. Imagine To the point that it can’t fit in Slade Rooms anymore.
To the point that Wolves is doing more for the UK than any other cities. It’s that deep, that’s the vision. “
The homecoming show, named after the recent highly-charting EP, will see a line-up filled with a whole host of Wolverhampton & Midlands-based talent, before Vital himself takes the stage, performing from his already well established catalogue.
Vital Headline Show
Sunday April 16th – The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton
Doors Open 7pm
Buy Tickets for the show here
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