Blazer Boccle has an axe to grind – with London, the music industry, even himself. “I’ve been making music for a long time,” the rapper says, Zooming in from his kitchen in Bradford, the door firmly shut to keep his young son out. “I’ve been spitting bars since I was probably in year six or seven, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until I was 19. I’ve just kept on doing it, and here I am.”
Now 27, Blazer’s reeling from the release of his new EP, Where Dreams Go to Die, a boisterous project filled with side-splitting lyricism, infectious energy and a healthy dose of post-punk influence. Some bars are downright abrasive: “You make me feel like the first time I ever sniffed a line,” he raps on the revenge-fuelled Sex Pistol, against a backdrop of indie-rock guitar riffs.
Other times, Blazer mercilessly takes the piss. Case in point: “I wonder how many people are buying drugs with taxpayer’s money /Don’t think that you’re bad young lad /Committing crimes ain’t funny /Alright officer /Have you seen who’s running country?” on anti-establishment anthem Boppin.
This EP marks a bit of a sonic departure for Blazer, who’s been at it since the days of sharing music via bluetooth, “standing in a circle of people spitting bars,” he says. “Then you spit yours and everyone’s like, ‘That’s alright’, so you carry on.” And so he did, recording tracks and freestyles in his native Bradford’s Waxworks studio. People from Blazer’s school would sit at the back of the bus and play his tunes, singing along to all the words. When he was 14, he took part in Mic Matters, a Waxworks open-mic session that gave Blazer a taste for performing in front of a crowd.
“There were like 15 little MCs and we all had 15-minute slots,” he continues. “Everyone there knew my song – it was such a rush. Now I just can’t stop. I’ve tried to pack it in a few times because I’m getting too old, but I can’t do it.”
A few months ago, Blazer signed with NQ, the Manchester-based label founded by Michael Adex that’s home to Aitch and other northern talent. This feels like an important step forwards – by the time he was 19, Blazer had already been to jail, gained some local success with his music and even got a few songs played on Radio 1Xtra.
“Then I started to age out of what I was doing,” he says. “I was bored, and then lockdown happened. I didn’t release anything for about two years.” Upon returning to the business, Blazer decided to switch his sound up a bit, incorporating punk rock sounds into his usual, “straight down the middle” rap.
“I matured as a person,” Blazer says. “I started to cringe at the old stuff I was talking about – it was tongue in cheek, sexual, a lot to do with road stuff. I wanted to experiment more. I’ve had my children, I’ve changed, and I think my music has finally caught up with that.”
Strap in for your 100% fill on Blazer Boccle below.
10% Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?
Bradford, Bradford, Bradford.
20% Would you ever leave or are you firmly rooted there?
The furthest I’d probably go is an hour each way because I hate London. It’s the most terrible place in the world. Everyone’s the same, they’ve got the fast forward button pressed, no one’s got a sense of humour. The tube’s shit, everything’s expensive, everyone wears Corteiz. What the fuck is Corteiz?
30% What influences your work?
The northern experience, because it’s completely different. Where we live, how we live, how things function, the things that are “normal”, the way people socialise, the things you see growing up. I feel like we’re trapped in a bit of a time capsule, like we’re still in the early 2000s in our heads.
In London, even if you’re from a poor family, you have that flashinness right next to you, celebrities walking past. It gives you hope that you can get out. Over here, we’ve got nothing – there is no hope. You’re bottom of the barrel. That’s what my music reflects.
40% What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?
Don’t get a doner kebab in London – it’ll cost you £10. Really though, I don’t tend to take people’s advice. That’s why I’ve got so much stuff to rap about, because things always go wrong.
50% What’s the most pointless fact you can share?
All of a sudden I don’t know anything about anything. Who makes these questions? I guess everything is pointless. What does it matter if trees are made of wood or if Elvis went out with a 14-year-old? No one cares. Corteiz copied Trapstar! There’s a pointless fact.
60% You rule the world for a day. What went down?
I’d ask Boris Johnson how he can steal all that money and still have a shit haircut. Then I’d sit down with all the world leaders and force them to have a massive fight instead of making everyone else fight. Why don’t you lot all take your tops off, bare chest like we do where I’m from and have a go right now? After that I’d probably chill for a bit. Free weed for single mums.
70% If you could travel back in time to see one iconic music act perform, who would it be?
Amy Winehouse at any show where she wasn’t absolutely off her tits. Lauryn Hill in Tokyo. Limp Bizkit at Woodstock ’99.
80% What’s a bad habit that you wish you could kick?
Rapping. It’s stressful, man. Like you’re chasing the flipping white rabbit down the hole. If you’re a boxer, you keep knocking people out, eventually, you’re gonna be a millionaire. If you’re a footballer, keep on banging them goals in, you’re gonna get to the Premier League, play for your country in the World Cup. With music, it’s all subjective. You can be the best rapper in the world but some influencer who’s beautiful but can’t rap will blow up before you. Can’t kick it, though.
90% Love, like, hate?
I love my children, I like music and I hate creative consultants.
100% Do you think you could do stand-up comedy?
That’s plan B. Well, no, rapping is plan B. Plan A was being a drug dealer, but that didn’t work and I went to jail. So now I rap about it. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go into stand-up and make jokes about rapping.