Five things we learned from our In Conversation video chat with Kid Bookie
Next month, South East Londoner Kid Bookie will release his cathartic debut album ‘Cheaper Than Therapy’. The genre-spanning record offers rage-fuelled, screamo-trap-metal anthems that embody his self-described “no fucks given” mantra; in other words, these are songs that you’ll want to get absolutely bodied in a mosh pit to.
After first breaking into the industry at 16 when he featured on Tim Westwood’s BBC 1Xtra radio show – an appearance that catapulted him into the world of rap and grime – Kid Bookie’s latest venture is set to be a career-defining moment for him. Moving into a heavier climate, his forthcoming, 20-track album sees him blending emo, screamo, metal, trap-metal, and any riff-heavy sound he can get his hands on.
On it, he also enlists the help of legends like Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and Sid Wilson, and Good Charlotte’s Billy Martin. With this record one thing’s clear: Bookie’s going all-in on the move into heavier music.
Ahead of the release of ‘Cheaper Than Therapy’, we sat down with Kid Bookie for the latest in NME’s In Conversation video series to discuss the importance of authentic music and the Black experience in rock and metal. Here’s what we learned.
This project allows him to show his authentic self
After years of surviving in the cutthroat rap game, with death threats and mean comments becoming a common occurrence, Kid Bookie’s straight-forward attitude is the only way he’s been able to cut through the noise.
“When I was 15 years old, I came off a Tim Westwood show, went on the internet and I saw ‘Kid Bookie should be shot in the head’. I’ve read really bad comments for 10 years,” he says.
Bookie goes on to explain how his new album encapsulates the straight-forward attitude that’s helped him withstand the online hate. “The biggest thesis behind this project [is] in the title ‘Cheaper Than Therapy’,” he says. “It’s a reflection of who I am, what I am and who I want to be.”
“A lot of times the authentic self I’ve wanted to be hasn’t always been portrayed in the best way because I never had a platform to be able to have it shown. I was hindered just due to the environment, but I broke those shackles and chains.”
His collaboration with Slipknot began because of a Tweet
Slipknot have always been a particular inspiration to Bookie, as he explains: “If you knew me growing up, you know that Slipknot has been one of my infinite muses to just keep going. There was a time when I was so young, I never knew Corey Taylor’s face, but remember his voice because I used to play it on my Walkman”
Their collaboration first came together following a Tweet. Bookie explains that coming home from work one day he was “listening to ‘Wait And Bleed’ by Slipknot. And I tweeted Corey [saying], ‘I want to work with you before I die’. And like five minutes later dude messages back, then it’s blowing up!”
The rest is history, with Taylor featuring on ‘Cheaper Than Therapy’ track ‘Stuck In My Ways’. The duo also worked together on Taylor’s 2020 cut ‘CMFT Must Be Stopped’.
Working with icons like Taylor has been pivotal for Bookie, and he’s grateful for the support they’ve shown. “It is very cathartic,” he says, “to be able to wake up one day and [see that] the people that made you exist in this music industry have put you on the same pedestal as them, even if you don’t even see yourself like that.”
He’s always been a rockstar deep down
Kid Bookie’s move to the arena of rock and metal is one that may surprise long-time fans, but it’s actually a case of going back to his roots. “It’s a full 360,” Bookie says. “I started off in a band called New Connections when I was 12 or 13, [doing] really emo songs”
“I did rap because everyone did, I didn’t want to rap,” he explains. “I kind of fell into this genre…and then after that started to realise…I don’t want to be in it, it’s very boxed in. [In rap] you have to be this way, dress this way, and if you don’t do this and that, you’re looked at as weird.”
Now given full rein in rock, Bookie is more comfortable than ever: “I feel like my no fucks given attitude is through the roof. That just comes with liberation of who you are. It’s not about the music, it’s about what made me. Music made me: the way I think, how I act.”
He adds that being able to create this sort of music means that he feels liberated. “I feel free [and] I’ve never felt free. I’ve completely had to feel like every time I step in the room people are trying to hack me down.”
“I wanted to find my tribe, and now I’ve found my tribe.”
Racism hindered his move into rock
When discussing the fixation on aesthetics and image in music, Bookie considers his own struggles with fitting into any one specific set genre. “I have to consistently break this Black narrative,” he says. “Where I’m from it’s hard because everyone gate-keeps how Black you’ve got to be and what Blackness is. When I come around with my blonde hair and nails painted black, it’s weird to people.”
He dissects some of the microaggressions he’s experienced in the industry, noting: “when I first did ‘Stuck In My Way’ with Corey Taylor, certain people did not play that shit.”
Bookie further explains some of the condescending reactions he’s received as a rapper in metal, saying: “it’s funny when [people say] that ‘I didn’t expect you to be doing stuff like that, I thought you’d be rapping’. It’s bald sweaty dudes who have no idea and think that they’re saying nice compliments.”
The job of a musician is to be “a stimulant”
Kid Bookie recently tweeted his belief that music needs to “reflect the times” rather than being “just for the party”. It’s something he doubles down on in his In Conversation chat.
“I understand everyone’s going to make music for the party because it never stops,” he says. “[But] you’re not always partying; sometimes you need to reflect, sometimes you need to cry, sometimes you need to be happy. Sometimes you need to be everything. The musician’s job is to be a stimulant.”
He explains that whether his music is “a depressant”, or up-tempo and jubilant, it’s got to make listeners feel something. “People that really care about [the music]? We need them. I learned from them. This is the reason why I care so much about music because I’ve learned from these people that gave a fuck about it.”
‘Cheaper Than Therapy’ is out November 26