This week, Brum emcee Sox will finally make his mark on the charts and release his debut album Winning & Chilling via the Lord Of The Mics record label. Clearly revelling in the build-up to the day of the project’s drop, one of Invasion Alert‘s more colourful characters sat down with SB.TV to speak about the new LP and respecting the tireless efforts of groupies…
You’ve already released a Greatest Hits record online, but it’s taken a while for you to put something out physically. Is there a reason it took so long?
Winning & Chilling was two years and four months in the making, so it’s been a long project.
Personally, I didn’t want to take any money off my supporters until I knew I had a badboy product which they were gonna be happy with. I want them to get value for money, I don’t want to put out anything that I don’t think is industry quality and make money off it. I wanna be happy with my product so I don’t feel like I’m robbing anyone.
Looking through the Winning & Chilling track-listing, I didn’t come across any guest appearances…
I tried to focus on putting my own CD out before I got collabs. There’s actually one feature from a singer on track 2, but that’s the only collaboration that I have on my first album. If the CD does do well, I don’t want people to say it was because of anyone else except for myself, and the management team behind it.
I wanted to know what you think when people say that your fanbase like you – Sox, the man – but not necessarily Grime – the music. In your experience do you feel that’s true in any way? Do you care if it is?
Yeah, I definitely have a lot of people that approach me and say ‘I don’t really like Grime music but I listen to you personally.’ I can’t comment on why that is because that’s their personal opinion but it’s good to know there are people out there.
At the BDL Tour last week, I actually had someone from London come up to me and say, “you’re the reason I listen to Grime.” Coming from someone from London – where Grime has come up – it was shocking for someone to say that, but it’s nice to know.
I try and be as real to myself as I can in my music so that people actually get a picture of who I am and feel like they know me as a person and not just an artist. That’s very important when trying to build a fanbase, keeping it real to who you are and letting the fans know what you’re about.
As an emcee you’re pretty confessional about your experiences with girls and you tend to rap about that rather than road life, unlike many of your peers. Is that intentional? Is that you trying to be different from what’s out there?
I like to talk from my own life experiences, and I’m actually not a gangster so all of that road life talk would be hypercritical and I’d be lying to my fans.
Every time you release a video, your exes must s**t bricks because you don’t hold back at all. Looking at this Winning & Chilling record, do your past hook-ups have anything to worry about?
Definitely, 100%. Every one of them [laughs]
Give us a sneak peak into what we can expect – or what they can expect – from this new LP
I speak a lot about going on tour, going around Europe and a lot of the things that that kind of lifestyle involves.
When I was binge-watching your YouTube videos to prepare for this interview, I got the impression that behind the whole Sox character one of your core, driving motivations is to genuinely put Birmingham on the map…
I get more satisfaction from seeing my friends do well than from personal achievements. There’s no good in winning on your own, I like to see everyone that I care about doing well as well. My friends’ interests within music are closer to home than my personal ones sometimes.
…I also got the sense that you believe you’re the only emcee that can actually *do* the job of getting your hometown to hold Grime’s full attention. Am I wrong?
I’d say it’s between me, JayKae…[thinks]…Devilman did what he had to do back in 2006 with the Skepta clash. Obviously Depzman was killing it before the tragedy. I’d say Deadly and Mayhem – give them a shout as well – they’re definitely good clash emcees. There’s like five of us that are really pushing it right now.
I notice you didn’t mention Trilla…
Na man, we don’t get along.
He was a bit of Bassline artist and since Bassline has faded out some of the Bassline artists have found it hard to crossover back into Grime and keep the same respect that they had for doing Bassline. It is a very different audience, so he’s not really pushing it for Grime at the moment – he sidelined a bit.
Can you still feel the impact, the ripple effect of your 2011 Lord Of The Mics 3 clash with Kozzie? People still talk about it and debate it…
Yeah, people still comment about it man. At the time, with what happened in the clash it was a big thing to happen in the Grime scene back in 2011. People definitely still talk about that, obviously Jammer keeps putting out the Lord of The Mics content so it’s always a talking point. It definitely helped my career a lot.
In hindsight looking back at that round, what do you think of your performance?
It was a learning experience.
In what way? What did you learn?
I learnt to prepare more in advance and not to rush things. I didn’t really understand how the industry worked down here. In Birmingham it’s more laid back, you’ll go studio, you’ll do a song and either people like it or they don’t.
Here people will actually focus a lot of time on one song, professionally storyboard a video, plan to get it out on radio and push it to playlisting, which is what I had to adapt to because in Birmingham I’d spit a tune, send it to a DJ and he’ll spin it on radio.
So back then, did you feel a little wide-eyed coming down to the capital and facing off?
I was ready for the clash with Kozzie y’know, but first I was meant to be clashing Shifty, and I’m a fan of Shifty. So when Jammer said it was going to be Sox Vs. Shifty I was very excited about it, I put a lot of effort in and wrote a lot of lyrics. Unfortunately, Shifty had an accident and he was unable to fulfill the clash.
Then I was put onto Tre Mission, an emcee from Canada. He was also alright so I was looking forward to that, [he was someone outside] of England, so it was something new. I eventually got put onto Kozzie, and when I was doing my research for the clash there wasn’t that much out at the time – so it was a bit demoralising going from Shifty, to someone from Canada to someone that I didn’t really rate. I rated the other two, so I would have put a lot more effort in. That was the downfall but it was still definitely good.
Ultimately and for the record, you feel you won that clash right?
I’d say I won that, yeah man.
What’s the possibility of an Invasion Alert Tour happening? Has that ever been on the table?
For this year I will say that it’s a 100% possibility. We do have dates coming up in the pipeline, with the Birmingham Institute being the main one we’re looking at, but that will be later on in the year towards September/October times.
The fans would go nuts for that.
I hope so, should be good man. We’ll try to do Leeds, Birmingham, London, Bristol, Wales and probably Sheffield.
I figured you guys might tour to mark a year since Depzman’s passing…
We’re going to Ibiza to scatter his ashes this summer for his birthday with his family and the whole group. That’s what we’re doing to commemorate him a year after.
You recently tweeted, “I don’t blame girls 4 being groupies……. im tryna f**k sum1 famous 2 lol.” Which famous ladies should be on SoxWatch?
I like that one [laughs], a lot of people judge groupies and when you actually put it like that I wouldn’t mind getting with Rihanna. We’re all groupies to someone man. I need to up my game before I start dealing with anyone in the industry, gimme a few years and I’ll re-comment on that.