Blizzard discusses his Grime transition in EP lyrics breakdown
It's been over two years since Bradley Green, AKA Blizzard, was catapulted to Internet-stardom when his battle rap with ex-English teacher Mark Grist went viral.
The unsigned Mancunian MC has since moved on from the battle rap scene and continued to make a name for himself as an MC and, more recently, as an acoustic and experimental artist, fusing elements of British rap and Grime with traditional instrumentation. His latest release, Testing The Water, introduces Blizzard the artist, with its introspective lyrics tackling the very nature of the EP's sound and shift in musical direction.
Check out Blizzard's exclusive lyric breakdowns below, touching on everything from his love of Waking Life and Radiohead, to his feelings post-Don't Flop and his early rapping in secondary school. Blizzard's new EP Testing The Water is out now on iTunes.
B L I, the first track on my EP, is basically starting the transformation from being, like, a Grime artist to being a fully blown, versatile artist - because the product before that Sooner Than Never was very hip-hop and Grime. I wanted my new EP to, kind of, like, be a journey from being just a rapper to being an artist. So that track was just like the start of that transformation.
The meaning behind it is just saying, like, it's quite a self-contained, quite arrogant song and it's quite smug as points as well. But, a lot of Grime music has that feel to it. People like to brag about their skills, you know. So, I was bringing it back to the elements really. Bringing it back to the very start of what I do.
With the first project I didn't have any features on it either and I thought it would be good to follow suit. But, we did have some ideas - like me and the team thought maybe a feature would be good on it. But, I thought it would be cool to keep quite a consistent style with it, you know.
But, yeah, "dropping the one mixtape without a feature" was, kind of... it was an ode to Durrty Goodz - whose another artist from London - who once said... he said something like "oh, yes, I'm a geezer. I dropped one CD with not a feature. So you can say what you want I'm a believer."
And from then I just, I was really inspired by that and thought hey, if I can do it all myself, like, why shouldn't I not, you know what I mean? I should definitely do as much as I can to myself.
Almost Famous is like an American diner style place in Manchester and it's, a lot of my friends go there. So, there's Almost Famous.
Then I say, in the next line, "when I'm performing for ya, I've got more low key bars than the Northern Quarter." The Northern Quarter is like, basically, like a Brick Lane, but in Manchester. So, it's, kind of, like a... quite a affluent area where there's loads of restaurants, loads of tea shops, loads of clothes shops. But, erm, yeah... Almost Famous is one of them places. So, had to bring in the esoteric Manchester references somewhere.
Basically, that was more of a reference to the pigeon-holing that battle rapping has because, "they think I've changed after one EP and a battle or two? That can not be true." Basically, people have a certain expectation when you do battles - maybe they expect you to do more of that. But I've always tried to be an artist, you know. So, that's why, recently, I've strayed off that medium and just decided to focus on music fully.
So, yeah, that's definitely the reason behind that. Was just because I was a bit annoyed at people just calling me a battle rapper. So, I thought, hey, why do you think, like, after one EP and a battle that I'm just going to be a battler from now, you know?
Palindrome is a word that reads the same when it's backwards - like the name Hannah or the name... there's another one, Bob. You know what I mean? Or Dad or Mum - they're all palindromes.
And, I think, with the "read you backwards" thing it was more a reference of how, like, I see a lot of backwards people in the industry. They just don't really stand the test of time, you know. So, that's why I call them feeble.
But, yeah, when I read- when I say I read someone backwards, I mean I read them in the complete opposite way that I want to. So, like, if I think someone's going to be a really cool guy and they're a prick, that will be me reading them backwards.
With that track, in particular, I wanted it to be almost bipolar, quite mercurial if you will. So, like, I wanted it to be like... go from one extreme to another just because... yeah, like, with an unsigned artist it is very hard to get money off this, you know, and I'm still struggling myself but I can make... I can see a positive from it, you know what I mean, because I've got no restrictions in my career, thus far, and I can just do what I want and enjoy it for that.
But, a lot of people - even people that are signed - they struggle to make a, like a good income from music. So they have to find, like, alternative mediums of work. So... yeah, but I don't want to be one of those guys doing a 9 to 5. I want do this as a job for the rest of my life. So I want to pursue that.
So, with Waking Life that's like one of my favourite films and it's like a film where somebody talks about all... talks to all the elders of the universe and speaks to, like, major psychologists, major philosophers and it's all a bit of a lucid dream, you know.
I feel like my career's almost a lucid dream because it's pretty surreal that I can control every single aspect of it. But, I think that track was more a reference to just being awake at stupid times and just getting wound up at how people were talking about me.
I remember one exact moment I was with my girlfriend at the time where we was watching Waking Life at, like, 3 o'clock in the morning and I was just getting wound up just because I'd seen loads of hate from my Mark Grist battle, just piling up on my Twitter.
So, I just, like, threw my phone to the other side of the room and just, like, was in a bit of a mood and went to sleep on a bad note. I remember waking up and it was still, like, playing on my mind because it appeared in my dream.
So, that lyric always stayed true to me because I wrote it down on a piece of paper so I remembered that exact mind state I was in.
That song probably sums up my attitude the best out of all the tracks on the EP because I went from just doing rap and just doing hip-hop, you know, like a spoken approach rather than doing the singing and doing the instrumentation and the keyboard stuff.
So, that whole track was, kind of, me getting a bit sick of doing one thing. So, yeah, Testing The Water came from that.
We didn't know the EP was going to be called that until that track came out. But, I think it really summed me up because I was becoming a bit frustrated with just being associated with one medium when I know that I'm capable of much more.
So, that's why Testing The Water came out, yeah.
Someone once said to me that a real fan will never leave you stranded at the point of your biggest creative boost - something along them lines.
But, it’s part of me trying to find my sound and, you know, trying to find where I truly fit in, in the industry.
So, that was, kind of, a message to my fans to stick with me, at this point, because I’m learning, you know.
A reload is when a track gets so much reaction in the club that the DJ just spins the record back and plays it from the start. So, it’s like… and then puts the needle back in the deck and plays it again. And usually, that’s because everyone’s crazy in the club. So, like, if someone was to play, like - in a Grime sense - if someone was to play Pow, 9 times out of 10 that would get a reload. If someone was to play I Luv U by Dizzee, it will pretty much always get a reload. So, hopefully, that track is another one of them songs that can get a reload in that club.
That’s why the flashing lights are out as well because that whole track is like… Kids Of The Night it’s a reference to being in a dark room in a club, but it’s also a reference to being a nocturnal worker.
So, it’s kind of a double meaning to it.
Well if someone was to ask where I’m most comfortable working, I’d say the time when all the other people are asleep because I like the lull of night in comparison to, like, three or four o’clock in the afternoon.
Even though I love doing, like, things in the day, I don’t know why, just my mind seems to work in a different way. Like, my body clock must be a bit weird. So, I can manage to do work at, like, six o’clock in the morning, three o’ clock in the morning, times like that.
So, yeah, nocturnalism is probably the main meaning behind Kids Of The Night.
It’s a weird one because it’s loosely based on a relationship but it’s also, kind of, got a twist to it as well.
So, yeah, I won’t shed too much light on it for the respect of the person, but… yeah. It’s like, just as I was starting to take music seriously I witnessed an ex-partner distance from me - mainly because they didn’t really understand the amount of effort I put into what I do.
Some people want all the effort to be put into them - like clingy girlfriends and stuff that just want you to be with them every waking day.
But, obviously, music is my main priority in life, it’s what keeps me ticking, you know.
I don’t know if my science is as up to date as I think - so I might be completely wrong here - so, sorry if anyone’s studying science in uni or something.
But, from what I know, DMT is like the main component in the pineal gland which provokes thought in dreams. So, I think that’s the reason why dreams are illogical and a lot of things don’t seem to make sense and, like, you can jump from one extreme to another in a dream without knowing.
Also, you can actually get high off DMT. You could smoke DMT and have a trip off it because it’s a psychedelic, it’s a pretty, pretty potent component - I’m not saying that I’ve took it but, yeah it’s one of them really. I said I wanted the whole song to sound, kind of, druggy.
With the REM it’s like - and landing as well - it’s almost like when I say “by the time I land” I’m saying more like it’s an out of body experience in a dream. It’s like, almost like, an astral projection where you, kind of, have an out-of-body experience and then you come back down to earth.
So that’s why I’m saying, like, I’m like… I’m almost feeling like I’m in REM. Well, I’m just out on out and about, but I’m actually in the dream and I’ll come back down to Earth properly when I’ve woke up - does that make sense?
Some of my lyrics just don’t make sense but that’s the beauty of it.
My old computer had Fruity Loops - which is a music software. Reason, being a software made by Propellerhead and Logic, being an Apple product - both music softwares and, yeah, dreams don’t really have any reason or logic when you think about it. So, I’d like to think I’ve got that punchline right.
The whole song I wanted to sound very illogical because, with your dreams, a lot of them don’t seem to make sense.
With Waking Life being one of the very, very big influence for the whole project, I wanted it to sound pretty surreal - and that’s why I referenced, like, loads of my favourite artists and being with them in a room. So it’s almost too good to be true and it’s like, “wow, I can’t believe this.”
That’s why it’s like “I’m dreaming, I’m dreaming. Can’t control my feelings. That means I must be sleeping and I don’t know where this thought pattern’s going. My control’s getting narrow and I feel my time slowing.” It’s all like… I wanted it to sound very sedated and very, kind of, like just waking up from a dream and almost druggy if that makes sense? Like, almost, like you’ve smoked a lot of weed and you’ve just woke up.
I don’t know if I’m allowed to mention drugs, but, smoked a lot of herbs and woke up just a bit, like, spaced and that’s how I wanted that track to sound - and I think the beat, kind of, does that justice as well.
Basically, I had this… it’s actually a dream as well. I remember it really, really vividly because it was just as James Blake won the Mercury Award for Overgrown. For some reason I’d been waiting for so long to see who would win this award because every single album that was nominated I was a fan of. So I was, like, “Omigod! That’s amazing!”
Then the night after James Blake was announced I had this mad dream where I was actually at the proceedings and just seeing, like, all of my favourite artists - like meeting Thom Yorke, meeting Four Tet, Bonobo. Meeting… I think I mentioned James Blake and I mentioned Jake Bugg as well and Ben Howard and all these other people.
I think as well… I think Ben Howard might have been nominated for the Mercury as well, at that time, and… yeah. So it was a pretty surreal dream for me to have, especially just after watching it.
I remember thinking it was really real and I remember looking in my phone the morning after, like, “cool… where’s my texts?" You know what I mean, "who texted me last night?” and I was like, “oh, okay, so it was a dream.”
You don’t even understand, like, Radiohead is everything to me - it’s so inspiring. But, Kid A is like one of my favourite pieces of work ever. I bet, like, my manager and my cameraman are sick to death of me talking about this band.
But the self-titled track Kid A is absolutely impeccable. Another track I love is called How To Disappear Completely and there’s, like, what else was there? Like, Treefingers - that’s a great track, Motion Picture Soundtrack… I could go on about Radiohead all day. Like, I literally could cite every single album and ten tracks that I like off each.
But yeah, Thom Yorke being like one of my biggest influences across the board. Like, love his production, love the way every single album is different to the other and he was definitely one of my big influences for Testing The Water because I was like “okay, so if Radiohead can do a Grunge album and then do an album that sounds like it was made on Warp Records and then an album that sounds just crazy, trippy I can do it as well because it’s all about reinventing yourself, you know.
Big up Radiohead!
Dean was my cousin who died in a car accident, like, 2008 in December. He was in a car accident and it hurt us all so I thought it was a good time and a good way for me to talk about it because I'm one of them people that shuts myself out when big traumas come to my life. And if I'm in a writer's block it will beat me up even more. But, if I can write about it, I definitely will.
And, Eddie, as well, in the next verse, "what's heaven like, Eddie? I need to ask ya" was my friend from school who I hadn't seen for ages and then we'd met again and then a week after I found out he was... he hung himself, committed suicide. And again, that was another one that was hard to believe and... yeah, so I wrote that song. Hope, like talking about that and just... it was, kind of... there was a song I remember my friend, invincible, wrote ages ago that was like "I had a dream that everything was okay. One of my friends, all my folks that had passed away came back for one last glass of Alizay. But then I opened my eyes and it was all just a dream."
That song really influenced me by that. It's quite a... it's an old track, don't get me wrong. It's just like a mixed tape song from 2006. But I remember hearing that and thinking, yeah... so, I can use this as some sort of inspiration for a track about grieving.
When I was coming in to high school from Year 6, I just loved writing and I was, like, always really into creative writing; writing stories, writing poems and I remember in my school St. Catherine’s - big up the St. Catherine’s kids - we had, like, a creative writing class every Friday afternoon with a teacher called Miss Andrews. She’d like just, basically, make us write loads of different kinds of things like prose, sonnets, haikus, limericks, stories, Dystopian fiction, Utopian fiction and it really helped me because that was the first time I’d ever really realised how to use concepts in writing because I would just be given an idea and then be told to run with it.
So, from then, I was like, I love this, I can just write about anything I want with this concept in mind.
Music, kind of, works with that same idea, I think, because you have an inspiration that you can work either very loosely or very close to it.
So, yeah, with Back In The Day that was just a reference to me writing all the way thorough high school from Year 7 to Year 11 and then bringing that through college as well - even though I left college, like, four months in - it’s because I was sick of it… and, I don’t know.
I kind of jumped into the deep end when I got my management deal and just decided to go from there and do music.
I was supposed to have gone to two schools and then, like, the forms were filled in wrong - so I didn’t get in to any of them. Like, I didn’t get entered into any.
So, I went to a school around the corner that was… I’d say rough, but, that’s only in comparison to, like, where I’m from and, like, what I’ve grown up around. It was quite… quite hectic. But, I think, my parents saw me watching a fight when they came to pick me up and then just took me out and were just like, “no, we’re not having you in here.”
Then I went to Parrs Wood which was the school I went from, like, December 2006 ‘til I finished. And I was all ready as well because, like, a lot of my - my cousin Shifty who got me into music - a lot of his, like, older friends have cousins that went to the school I was at first. So, I always felt quite safe and I made a lot of friends just through the fact I was into music.
I remember, sometimes at lunch, there’d be DJs and people would just, like, go there and rap and I fitted in really well.
Going into my next school it was different and a lot of people were into indie music. Not many people were into rap, just because of, I guess, personal taste. So I had to literally start building social groups again.
These people we knew, we don’t know anymore
Friends become distant, it’s not like before
It’s strange how so much has changed since back in the day
In school it was different, we also used to chat
But now we don’t speak, dam, how crazy is that?
All that I wish is that we could go back
It’s strange how so much has changed since back in the day
I think one of the main things that a lot of people find when you leave school is that people just go in different directions and you just don’t meet in the middle anymore.
Some people go to Uni. Some people move out of the country, some people move out of the city - you know what I mean. It’s just the way things go.
But then, also, there’s people that you see their true colours when they leave school and you see the kind of person they really are because you’re not blinded by the façade of having to live like… be controlled by rules in a school environment. You see them for the person they are.
So, people just do distance and it’s the way it goes.
The first track I ever did - Big Like EA - with my cousins crew, Mayhem, that circulated when I was just coming into my second high school and I didn’t want to tell anyone at the start that I was into music because I almost found it embarrassing because I had, like, a really squeaky voice and I was rapping about stealing people’s phones and I was about three foot tall. It was really cringey - you know what I mean.
But, after a while, when I think about it, it was probably took me, like, three years to realise that lying in your music is definitely not the right way to go because I was saying things like “yeah, it was me that stole your phone and it was me that broken your nose…”
There’s some people who’d look at me like “really, this kid’s pitiful.”
Then I had this song come out… by the way, that lyric wasn’t in this song that was circulating around the class. That was just a different… like an earlier thing.
But, yeah, this track just, like… when people caught on to the fact it was me - because I kept it quite secret for a few months because I wasn’t… yeah, I was a bit embarrassed a bit. But then someone was like “oh, right! So, yeah, you do rapping? Let me hear it.” So I rapped and then I sent him a song and then he sent it all his friends and… yeah, people started to hear about me from that, I guess, yeah.
Then the core network started.
Right, so, Love and Waviness to me is just like complete contentment; waviness, obviously, being wavy, being drunk, being intoxicated by whatever substance - usually it’s drunk or being wavy, as well, can be high as well depending on what region you’re from.
But yeah, like, instead of just being lazy and dawdling around I’d rather be doing what I love and getting wavy. So, that’s where that song came from.
I think this was something I had in my head about two years ago where it seemed that every song that was coming out sampled, like, an 80s dance track - like a track would come out that sampled Pump Up The Jam and then something would come out that samples Children by Robert Miles and then something would come out sampling The Sandstorm… I’m like, "dude, where is the originality?"
But, then again, I can see an art in sampling but not when it’s the main component of an original piece - you know what I mean.
So, this is, why, like, when I hear Daft Punk I know that it’s a different track - you know what I mean. Like, if you was to go on YouTube and type in “Daft Punk samples” every single track on discovery is just one long sample. So, that, to me, isn’t sampling. That, to me, is just plagiarism almost. Shoot me… sorry.
But, yeah, a lot of dance music is, to me, quite generic. But, at the moment, new things are coming out - you know what I mean.
So, like, three or four years ago there was loads of things that would sample 80s and 70s. So, like, there’s about four songs sampling “You’ve Got The Love” and I was like, how many times does this work?
But, yeah, I guess things are changing a bit more now. Things are becoming more original, I think. Like, in House music especially - like Avicii is very original, like Swedish House Mafia is quite original.
But, back in the day, it was just like four-to-the-floor and then a sample over the top. But, yeah, things change - you know what I mean? That was two years... was it two years ago? Yeah… in Love And Waviness. So, my mind state’s definitely changed on that.
I remember with my SBTV F64 I had this hat with a triangle in it and these YouTube trolls were writing “Illuminati! He’s in a secret society! Why is he wearing triangles on his hat? He must have sold his soul to the devil.”
So, I was like… well, okay. But is anything with a triangle… hey, there’s an Illuminati sign right there. But, yeah… you know what I mean? Like, you could… if you look for something hard enough you will find it - you know what I mean. Like, I call it the Number 23 Theory where if you look for a number somewhere, you will find it.
But people were just being very nit-picking about it and just saying stupid things. So, I was just like, "I’ve got no business with any service other than my service to rap" and that was a direct reference to link back to the "I’m not an Illuminati…" of course.
Yeah, that’s it really. I just didn’t want people to put me under that umbrella of people trying to be something I’m not.