SQ Magazine

The UK's Leading Independent Youth Culture Publication


Posted on Sunday, 17 April by

After the release of his critically acclaimed debut album, “Catch Me If You Can”, in the summer of 2009, SQ spoke to the UK’s most raw and dynamic Hip-Hop artist Bashy about his music, his inspirations and what the future holds.

MOBO nominations, Urban Music Awards and Screen Nation Awards aren’t common commodities when comparing the achievements of seasoned musicians. To have all of them by the age of 24 is something very special. To have had the honour of receiving each one before the release of a studio album is unheard of. It’s statistics and achievements like these that make you realise Ashley Thomas isn’t cut from the same cloth as most.

Hailing from North West London, Bashy displays a raw talent and charisma that draws admiration from all quarters. He’s a man in urgent demand. Following the success of 3 huge mixtapes he’s set to work on a project with Blur and Gorillaz mastermind Damon Albarn, and even plays a role at Downing Street, where he contributes as an ambassador for the “No To Knives” campaign.

Bashy is an artist that makes a difference. Someone who believes chasing the paper comes second to pursuing a dream and making a difference. It’s this bright, selfless attitude that first gained SQ’s attention. In an age where commercialising integrity is at the forefront of the industry, Bashy’s fresh approach sets him apart. With that in mind we caught the self styled “Street Commentator” just a day after the release of his hugely anticipated album, “Catch Me If You Can”, when heat and interest around the young artist was reaching previously unscaled heights.

In an age where commercialising integrity is at the forefront of the industry, Bashy’s fresh approach sets him apart.

“Yeah yeah just so excited you know! Gotta keep the ball rolling though, you can’t stop. I mean if i sit back and think, “Oh wow, i’m doing so well”, things aren’t gonna get done, so i’ve gotta stay on it!” Not a quote Bashy says with any sense of distaste, it’s a job he clearly loves and relishes, the forthcoming success of Catch Me If You Can does nothing but excite him, even if there is an acute amount of pressure after a very positively received set of mixtapes.

“The mixtapes were always building towards the album. That was just the journey. Obviously there’s a bit of pressure because the mixtapes weren’t ever going to be the last from me. To make the transition from mixtapes to an album is where some people don’t make it. I just coped with it. I was ready.”

Mixtapes have always been the first port of call for a budding lyricist trying to get the work out there for the first time. The flowing transition in which Bashy has made from student to Bus Driver to a “Street Hero” in such little time has been nothing short of phenomenal. Upon hearing him speak of why he’s taken the route he has, it’s so easy to see why enthusiasm and drive has perhaps been the key ingredient to Bashy’s rapid rise.

“Music man, you know what it does? It just gives me outlet. I think a lot, and i’ve seen a lot of stuff, and the only way i can get it out is spitting through a mic, getting it down on paper.”

You don’t get to do everything you want to do on a personal level. You do lose a few friendships.

While his love of music and what he’s doing is undeniable, there will always be sacrifices that need to be made. One track on the album, “What About Me?”, brings a highlight to the downfalls a rise to fame can bring, and Bashy admits there are times when things can be hard.

“You don’t get to do everything you want to do on a personal level. Especially if you’re independent. You’ve gotta run and do a lot of stuff. You just have to make sure you’re there, and make sure you’re up and you’re great. You haven’t got a massive label doing things for you in that respect. So you do lose a few friendships. Well not losing them. But you’ve gotta cut a lot of time spent with them.”

Being a surviving independent artist in such a competitive climate is another testament to the character of the man. An entrepreneur as well as an artist, “Brand Bashy” has been steadily bubbling since the first mixtape was unleashed in 2004. He’s a unique character with humour and creativity to match his musical prowess. He gave away free Chupa Chups lollies with every purchase of his second mixtape, a marketing strategy no-one has attempted to imitate since, but not for fear of failure.

The marketing and commercialisation of the UK’s urban scene is something that has come under intense scrutiny in recent times. The meteoric rise to chart dominance of Dizzee Rascal and Tinchy Stryder has come, many fans feel, at the expense of leaving behind the “Grime scene” that once defined them.

“I just think it’s a progression of music. We’re the new generation coming through. We need to know the game. Understand things better and know what to do. I don’t think it’s just about being smart or being young businessmen.”

If you look at the great musicians, they had something to say. So do I.

The statement seems to ring true through Catch Me If You Can. Bashy is certainly doing his best to progress British music, breaking traditional genres and fusing them together with his unique form of social commentary. The tracklist is diverse, with the pounding bassline and thumping chorus of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” being a far cry from the low key but powerful sound of “Change”. Diverse? You could say so. Just look at what’s next.

“Next blud?! Grafting, more grafting! Doing a play called “Marcus the Sadist”, that starts September. Got a lead role in a film that comes out next year, so i’ll be doing that! I’ve got the clothing brand…” Bish Bash Bosh clothing has smashed it’s way into the forefront of British fashion, with the ethically made limited edition t-shirts proving to be a stunning sell out.

That’s not all. Bashy’s extra curricular activities outside of music are nothing short of extensive. As an ambassador for V-inspired (An organisation that helps young people enter volunteer work) and the Labour Government’s very own “No To Knives” campaign, the rapper is giving something back. Making a difference.

“I just think music is so powerful. It’s cool to take money and get the commercial success or whatever, it’s good init? But, i’m in it for a lot more than that. If you look at the great musicians, they had something to say. So do I.”

He most certainly does. He left us with one quote that we took to heart so much we blazed it on our front cover. A quote that will hit the ambitious heads and aspiring souls of so many.

“Be original. Have a plan. Pave your own path.”

Bashy certainly has. Greatness awaits.

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Corey Pellatt
22-year-old editor of SQ Magazine and Media Studies student at the University of Sussex. Freelance writer for clients including BHAFC.

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