Luton-born and raised rapper BXKS has her fingers in loads of pies. She’s a musician, runs the platform and event series Got No Data, and is closely affiliated with Victory Lap, the London radio station that’s reinventing cyphers for a new wave of up-and-coming MCs. As a result, BXKS has established herself as one of UK rap’s most exciting rising stars, but you wouldn’t know it from chatting to her on the phone.
“I’m not doing too shabby at the moment,” she says, squeezing a call inbetween rehearsals for a play at London’s Bush Theatre. She’s coy about the details, insisting that “the play’s not top secret, but it’s just something I’m doing, you know?”
Musically, BXKS burst onto the scene back in 2018, off the back of her sharp Next Up? freestyle, which caught Skepta’s attention. And it just so happens that he’s one of her biggest musical influences. “I didn’t really look up to any female rappers growing up, I’ll be honest, maybe apart from Ms Dynamite,” she says. “It was Skepta and Vybz Cartel that had a big influence on me.
“My entry point into music, though, was church. I went every Sunday, and my dad used to play instruments in a studio in our house,” she continues. Initially, BXKS wanted to become a singer, but eventually decided that was a little route one. “So many women sing!” she says. “I didn’t think it’d be that amazing for me to do it. So I taught myself how to rap.”
Following the success of her 2018 freestyle, BXKS took a brief step back from music, before releasing super-smooth track Work Like with alt-rapper Kish! a couple of years later. Then came a string of singles and two mixtapes in 2021 – Full Time Daydreamer and Hack The Planet – defining BXKS as a DIY, underground musician putting a fresh spin on old school beats.
This year, it’s been all systems go. She appeared on the blistering jungle tune Evening Time with fellow Londoners KAM-BU and P‑rallel, and performed on the Rap Fantasy stage at the Boiler Room Festival in Amsterdam last January.
“I got really lit there,” she says, laughing. “The next day I had a studio session and wanted to make a song that was less wordy and more dancey.” The festival sowed the seed, then, for Back It Up, BXKS latest, club-ready single which sees her rapping over a house beat. “I wanted to make some new sounds,” she continues. “I thought the beat was really cool.”
With plenty more music and cyphers on the way, we sat down with BXKS to talk Skepta, life-changing advice and even more life-changing meals.
10% What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?
Just my life, the things I’ve been through, the things I’ve seen, how I grew up. Also experiences from other people. When I’m freestyling, not everything is necessarily my story, sometimes it can be someone else’s.
20% What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?
I’ve got it tattooed on my skin: “always be myself”. That has always benefited me in life. Not conforming to other people’s opinions or perspectives of me.
30% If you were cooking to impress someone, what would you make?
I would make lamb and mashed potatoes. I’m really good at that. With mac and cheese.
40% You rule the world for a day. What goes down?
There’d be a cap on the amount of money people could earn. Once you get to a certain amount, it’s not good. Maybe if you get to a billion dollars, the rest of your money has to go towards helping improve the lives of those less fortunate. Why do you even have a billion dollars? It’s too much.
50% Love, like, hate?
I love music. I like trying new things. I hate unnecessary socialising.
60% What’s the most memorable DM you’ve ever received?
I have a memorable interaction. When I first started music, Skepta was one of the first people to tweet my Next Up? freestyle. It wasn’t necessarily a DM, but I have a feeling he saw it because of a DM I sent him. He must’ve seen it in his requests because he never commented on my page, he just tweeted it out with three fire emojis. I thought that was cool.
70% What’s your dream holiday destination?
Tokyo or Egypt. But Tokyo is my first choice.
80% What’s a bad habit you wish you could kick?
Being too much of a perfectionist.
90% If you could go back in time and watch any musician perform, who would it be?
I don’t wanna be cheesy and say Michael Jackson, but, you know… maybe him. And Bob Marley. My mum saw Michael Jackson when she was young and she said it was the craziest experience ever.
100% What can artists do to help save the world?
Be self-aware of what you put out in your music. Music is very influential, so have fun, but remember that people are consuming what you’re selling, so always be aware of that. Your work could either affect them in a really good way or a really bad one. It’s kind of like that Eminem song Stan, about the obsessive fan who ends up doing a mad ting. You have to be careful!