Rimzee is living his Upper Clapton dream.
Released in 2012, Upper Clapton Dream—the rapper's debut project—saw him capture the UK streets in a major way, but with its recent follow-up, his outlook has changed. "It feels like I'm starting from scratch again," Rimzee tells Complex. "Obviously, I was away for a long time and now there's a whole new younger generation who don't know who I am. It's not just my core fanbase that I'm rapping for now; it's for the people who don't know who I am as well."
It's been just over a year since Hackney's Rimzee finished his six-and-a-half-year prison sentence—half of the thirteen he was given for shooting at an unmarked police car—and since his return in 2019, his rebrand has been amazing to watch, catching the attention of an entirely new audience while catering to the loyal supporters he had before, during, and after prison. New project Upper Clapton Dream 2 welcomes a matured Rimzee, with a more conscious and literate account of his experiences on the roads, his time in prison, and the trials and tribulations of love. The 14-track outing, which some have called the return of "real rap", stands tall next to some of the best UK rap releases of the year and a reminder of just how skilled Rimzee is on the mic.
We caught up with the lyricist to break down every track on Upper Clapton Dream 2, explaining more about the inspirations behind the music and how each track holds its own little story.
"'Upper Clapton' is about my come-up from when I was young: the environment I was in, the things I saw, and the things that I went through. It's from my mum's point of view as well... I feel like she did the best that she could've possibly done with me. It's a very personal record."
"Jada & Styles" f/ Snap Capone
"When I was in open jail, Snap came there and that's where I met him personally. Obviously, I'd heard of him before that because he's hard at rapping anyway, but when we were in jail together, we were making a lot of songs together. That's why with a lot of people, they say that we might sound similar—that's because I used to chill with him every day. So when I came out, it was only right that I had a song with him on my tape. With the production, we went to Wizzy Wow, and the beat just had that Jada and Styles effect. We both said, 'Rah! Let's call the song 'Jada & Styles,' and we made a chorus around it."
"Streets" f/ 1st Born
"I made this one when I was in jail as well, and it's about what was going on at the time. Originally, I didn't have a hook, but then I got 1st Born to jump on it. He did a hook for me before, and I think he did a sick job on 'Streets' as well. But you know what? I think 1st Born is a very sick artist, but he's also underrated because he's not from London. In due time, people will come to know and he will get the respect he deserves."
"'G Wagon' was the first time that I ever really tried a drill sound. I don't really rate the typical drill beats, but my friend came to the studio and was like, 'Yo, Rimz! Make a drill tune, bro!' But I still didn't really like the beats. Then one of my main producers, he had a sample that I thought was sick, so I just tried it and made a drill tune. But it's not a typical drill tune, if you get me? That's just what I came with. Nobody else's drill tune sounds like this; I put my own twist on it."
"Track 5, 'Shangri La', it's a tune about my girl. It's a very personal one as well, about the stuff me and my girl have been through together over the years... Trials and tribulations."
"I made this song at the studio and everyone was thinking that it was sounding like an interlude type of song. So, that's where I went with it and called it that. It was just a track that I had, but when I played it around different people and kept on getting different reactions, I knew that I had to have it on the tape. But the way it sounds—like, there's no chorus or nothing—it sounds like an interlude."
"More Money More Problems" f/ Ay Em
"'More Money More Problems' was made around the same time I made 'G Wagon'. I just wanted to try something different. It was another one of those records that I made with no hook, and I was wondering who I could put on it. Ay Em came to mind almost straight away: he just did the chorus and sent it back over to me."
"Dior Money" f/ Stardom
"The funny thing with 'Dior Money' is that K-Trap was meant to be on it, but because I was so tight with the deadline, he missed it and I had to continue without him. This is another one of those records where I just talk about my life. A lot of people say I make 'real rap', but people say that because I really rap about things that are going on, and things that I've been through. I don't just make it up as I go along, like most people. Big up Stardom for coming through."
"Dinero" f/ Tyson
"Some more real rap for them! The artist on the hook is Tyson, who's someone that I recently signed. He sounds kinda like Maverick Sabre, but more of a street version of him."
"Lifestyle Cold" f/ Potter Payper, Tyler Monet
"This is my favourite tune on the tape. I wanted to get some fresh people on the beat, so I thought of Potter Payper because he's one of the hardest in the country, and he spits that 'real rap', too. I've also got a female singer on the hook called Tyler Monet, and she is cold."
"'Another One' is for when you wanna get fly, put on your drip and flex a bit."
"Anything" f/ Haile
"With 'Anything', I had some lyrics—like, girl lyrics—and at the time I hadn't really made a girl song, so that's the reason I've got two of them. My fanbase is mainly male, but I wanted to make sure I had two girl songs on there to give it some balance. So if the one earlier in the project isn't the one for them, then this one definitely is. I think Haile is the best person for the hooks on that kind of vibe. Even on a street vibe, too."
"Xabsi" f/ M24
"The title of this one, 'Xabsi', means 'jail' in Somalian. I had a different kind of drill sound for this as well and I think, out of the new artists coming through on the drill thing, M24 is one of the coldest."