M1llionz: “‘Provisional Licence’ does a good job of showing my versatility”
The ascendant rapper discusses his debut mixtape, collaborating with AJ Tracey and Headie One, and his plans for the future
M1llionz’s rapping talents came to him as a surprise. Growing up, the Birmingham-born was surrounded by friends from the north-west area city who were into all this rapping business; he went along with them to the studio because it was something else to do. After going to the studio for the first time, he made ‘North West’, his 2019 breakthrough tune. His rise to the top was somewhat imminent; right after his first single was blew up in his hometown, its follow-up, ‘Y Pree’ earned the then 21-year-old spots on prolific scene pages such as ImJustBait.
With his unique, skippy flow, M1llionz has now become one of the hottest rap talents the UK has to offer. In September, his debut mixtape, ‘Provisional License’, hit the Top 10 on the Official UK Albums Chart. Earlier that month, NME spoke to the 23-year-old after his triumphant Wireless Festival set.
What was it like performing at festivals over the summer?
“I was alright, you know. I didn’t know what to expect – so I’ve been going with the flow, but I’m trying to get a lot of experience so I can do things properly next year. I’ve not really done many [performances] though. When I came up at the start of 2020, I did one club show but I didn’t have many songs, so this is like my proper first time performing.
“It is different, especially if your last memory of performing is a club show with a hundred people. I got to Reading Festival and there were thousands of people there. It’s a mental thing really, but I think the club shows are harder because it’s more intimate, whereas, at festivals, you can blag it because you’re so far away [from the crowd].”
As a proud Jamaican, you’ve done quite a bit of charity work out there, as well as in Ghana. Why do you want to use your platform for greater good?
“I think if you’ve come from a certain background, you always want to give back or help others because your family didn’t have much. You realise when you start making your own money and working that it was a bit harder back then. It’s a good thing to help others. It’s about time and speaking to other people as well.
“I did a giveaway in Jamaica, but I haven’t started to do what I really want to do yet. When I went to Ghana, I went to an orphanage and I met all the kids, gave away some things as well, and spoke to them. That was only a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, but I really want to do more [charity work].”
Your debut mixtape ‘Provisional Licence’ has just dropped. How do feel about releasing your first body of work?
“I’ve been letting go of songs, and the plan didn’t always go as planned; good things happen, bad things happen. I just wanted to get it out there now so I can get it out of the way. Let the fans listen and start from there, really.
“On my future mixtapes, I want to give a more in-depth look and view of my life. I’d rather gain more concrete fans first, so when I record the second tape, that concrete audience will appreciate the bigger picture that I want to speak about.”
What was it like having AJ Tracey and Headie One feature on your mixtape?
“It was good. I sent Headie a verse for his tape and then after that, I got him back on my project, so that was that. I made ‘Air Bnb’ and I thought fitted [his flow], so I sent it to him, and then he smashed it in the studio same day.
“With AJ, I think I sent ‘Provisional Licence’ to him, or he heard it, and he said he wanted to jump on the song. It was more of a natural thing, you know, I don’t really like to force features.”
Some describe you as Birmingham’s Headie One…
“Err… I don’t like being compared to people, but a lot of people say it. I don’t see it, personally.”
Your idiosyncratic flow has been mimicked by many. Do you feel like other rappers are ‘biting your style’?
“I think if people are trying to copy the flow (if you want to say that), then it’s a good thing. At the same time, as long as they don’t run off and say its their style then it’s fine. It means you’re showing people that you’re doing something right.”
Midlands talent seems to be currently surpassing the London rapping pool…
“I don’t think so, you know. I don’t think people are looking [at the Midlands like that]. If you check the ratio, there’s only a handful [of rappers] from outside of London, whether that’s Manchester, Birmingham or Leeds, that you can say have come onto a certain stage.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of artists that are doing alright but the light only shines on a few. If you’re from outside of London, first you have to conquer your hometown. If you’re from London, when you conquer it, you’re already in, to be honest. Also, Londoners don’t really accept what you’re saying [as an outsider], and fight it at first. But once they do, they’ll fuck with it.”
What’s next for M1llionz?
“I want to chart in a high position. Get all this promo and marketing out of the way, and then get that target audience. But I also want to expand past the target audience. I hope different crowds fuck with me too. I hope ‘Provisional Licence’ does a good job of showing my versatility. Obviously, I want to do more for charity as well too, but [for the short term] yeah, this mixtape is what I’m on right now.”
M1llionz’s debut mixtape ‘Provisional Licence’ is out now