From doing road on the gritty streets of North London to sold-out headline shows, Headie One is one of the fastest emerging faces in the UK rap scene, and he will be bringing his distinctive vocals to Burg Schnabel, Berlin in early 2020.
It’s been a busy 18 months or so for Headie One. He would be considered by most to be one of the biggest break-out stars in the rap/grime/drill scene in the UK over the course of 2019. Hailing from Tottenham, he refers to himself as “product of environment” and has spent several spells in prison.
However, since he was most recently released from HMP in 2017, he has turned court dates into tour dates and he has been making big waves locally in the UK scene – establishing himself as a quintessential member of the new generation of rappers emerging from London. Now, he is ready to take on the global stage with his first appearance in Berlin.
There is no doubt this has been a long time coming. Deep in the archives of YouTube, you can find freestyles of him dating back well over half a decade so he has certainly put the work in and shown the commitment that deserves this time in the spotlight. These freestyles do little though to capture the distinctive vocals that today are his trademark, and which has set him apart from what is becoming a crowded drill scene
While there were several mixtapes and underground hits, most notably, Know Better with long-term collaborator RV that hit the soundwaves to a big response, it’s his track, Of Course, on which he discusses his past and future endeavours, that might be considered his breakthrough hit. It was the track that put him on my own personal radar, at least.
Dropping last year, alongside being a solid track which displays Headie’s unique vocals over a dramatic beat and completed with a catchy hook, the accompanying video also gives a taste of his intense live performances. This should be your first port of call if you are wishing to get an insight into Headie One as an artist.
Roll on 2019, and in January, he kicked off the year in a big way. Teaming up on the track 18Hunna with Dave, a rapper who has arguably become the face of the modern UK rap scene, it allowed Headie to make an impact on a more mainstream audience. The track peaked the UK charts at number 6, making it the highest ever chart performance by a drill track. Of course (no pun intended), he kicked off 2019 thanks to this in a big way and capitalised quickly on this newly gained prominence.
First, he dropped a collaboration mixtape with RV, Drillers x Trappers II in March, his third mixtape with RV and his 6th in total. This also proved successful, entering the album charts at 21. This was followed by a feature on two other big names in the world of UK scene, Krept and Konan, on their track, I Spy. This began a busy summer of festivals, including those typically reserved for rock-focused acts, such as Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds.
By August, another personal project was ready to hit the airwaves, Music x Road. This performed the best of all his mixtapes so far, reaching number 5 in the album charts. This is the most finished of all his previous works, and again, includes a track from household names in the scene, including all three mentioned so far, as well as original grime don, Skepta.
This is not to say that these names make the album, far from it. With individuals track such as Both, which samples Free by Ultranate (an inspired choice for a beat) and Nearly Died further demonstrating his chops as a fully equipped solo artist who can capture hearts and minds with his flow.
Next Stop – Europe
Outside of this mixtape, over the last few months, other tracks have garnered international attention. Most notably, Hard to Believe, which featured in the Netflix show, Topboy, and the shows’ accompanying album. This has further elevated Headie to new audiences and at the current moment in time, his momentum and work ethic is hard to match among his peers in the scene. It’s with this considered, that it was an apt time for a tour– namely one for his latest mixtape. Thus, the Music X Road tour began.
He has already completed a portion of this in the UK, with sell-out shows in London arenas, including Brixton Academy. 2020 will see him take to Europe, with dates across Scandinavia and Amsterdam in January, then Malta in the Summer. However, before these, he will be in Berlin on 17.01. at the Burg Schnabel. An event that fans of up and coming rap music shouldn’t be absent from.
Image Credit @ Rianna Tamra
Originally from the so-called, Garden of England, Kent, Will Macmaster is a passionate journalist who has covered music, alongside numerous other subjects, across Europe for nearly half a decade. Previously operating in The UK, Malta, The Netherlands and Turkey, he recently moved to Berlin to get involved in one of the most vibrant music scenes in the world. Fearless, innovative, and charismatic are just some of the words he knows.