Meet The Finesse Foreva Production Camp, Taking UK Drill To New Heights

The sound’s future is in safe hands.

finesse forever production camp
Photo by Thomas J Charters
finesse forever production camp

There’s something about the air in Croydon. Stepping foot in the loved South London borough, as a grime and UK rap fan, you automatically picture the greats that have come from there, the likes of Stormzy, Krept & Konan, the late Cadet. This part of the city, which is very much its own island, will go down in history for birthing some of the UK’s brightest stars, but it has now been adopted by a group of fresh music minds—from all across London—as they grow their mini music empire from the Finesse Foreva HQ. Under the FF umbrella, there are rappers, producers and executives, all with a collective desire to leave their mark on not just the British music industry, but the one Stateside too. And it’s already started to happen, with everyone from 22Gz to Drake requesting their services.

Rising entrepreneurs TK and SK co-founded Finesse Foreva with music producer JB MADEIT in 2018, and some of the first artists they helped build up were UK drillers Skengdo x AM, and S1, three rappers who have gone on to make their presence known underground while continuing to reach for the stars. Along with them comes a band of producers who have been blessing both the UK and Brooklyn drill scenes with forward-thinking sonics, and whose dedication to the craft of production is inspiring. “We started Finesse Foreva because the industry was missing a company that had the best interests of the people that make the scene tick,” says TK. “We treat everyone as important, not just people with clout, which seems to be the new-age currency.” SK chimes in to add that they “just wanted to empower others and set an example that you don’t just have to be an artist—you can become a designer, an A&R scout, the head of marketing. There’s room for everyone to succeed.”

While some in the comment sections say that drill—which sprung to life in Chicago in the early 2010s before migrating to the UK in 2014 and becoming its own entity, inspiring other parts of the world in the process—is becoming repetitive, the six producers we meet in Croydon make it clear that what they’re doing, and about to do, is like nothing that has been done before.

Get to know JB MADEIT, Ghosty, Gotcha, Adz Beats, Zimmz and AV after the jump.



jb madeit

EARLY BEGINNINGS: “I was 15, in P.E. class with my friend Josh, and he just randomly, out of nowhere, said he wanted to make a song. I was a drummer at my church, so I was open to the idea because I was already into music. I thought, ‘Why not try something new?’ Plus, I never would’ve known if I had the talent if I didn’t try. The tracks we made were trash [laughs], but it ignited something in me and my interests piqued. That passion grew stronger, it became a natural thing for me, and I unlocked a part of my DNA and discovered this gift that I honestly believe was God given.” 

INSPIRATIONS: “When I first started figuring out how to be a producer, finding my feet, doing my homework, one of my biggest inspirations was and still is OVO 40. Drake is my favourite artist of all time, for real. He’s always made music that I could relate to, on a very high and personable level. It brought me a lot of inspiration and also motivated me. Sonically, it was like nothing I’d heard before; his music crossed genres, and made its way through different neighbourhoods, different parts of the world—which, for me, was very inspiring. Boi1da, Darkchild, Kanye West, T-Minus, Just Blaze, Quincy Jones, Scott Storch, producers that made timeless music—especially when I started my journey—hearing their work and seeing their journey unfold was also inspiring. Timbaland, for me—from working with Missy Elliott and Nelly Furtado—made me want to make music that people could dance to. He actually created music aside from the hard beats I was hearing, so it made me know that it was okay to make music that made people feel good. The R&B classics with Aaliyah will always be legendary. The same with Darkchild: his work with Destiny’s Child opened me up to a new aspect of production, composition and creation, bringing soul to R&B music. Not saying that there wasn’t soul in the music being made before, but his music and his style spoke to me. Kanye West is another one: he inspired me the most in the world of sampling. Each of these producers’ creative processes attracted me differently, inspired me differently, made me hear music differently, and made me approach music differently.” 

UK DRILL vs CHIRAQ: “Drill brought a fast tempo and an energy that I hadn’t seen before. It gave me, like, this war kind of feeling, similar to Lethal B’s ‘Pow!’ or Tempa T’s ‘Next Hype’. The rhythm, the bassline in the beats, the flavours and layers, the snares, it gave me a grime/dancehall feeling—like the way it hits, but the beats allow a sense of openness for the artist to be able to express themselves. The birthplace of drill being Chicago, the essence, the depth of it all, that really drew me because it was almost like an extreme depiction of where I come from. Songs like ‘Bang’, ‘This Ain’t What You Want’ and ‘Don’t Like’ inspired because they brought aggression but also a vibe. Usually, back then, you didn’t hear aggression that was cool or something that made you wanna move until I heard those tunes. It made aggression something you can chant to. I definitely remember chanting ‘This Ain’t What You Want’ for a good while! [Laughs] Even when joking with my friends, we would quote those lyrics; like if someone was trying to take the chicken from my plate, I would just say this aint what you want [laughs].” 

ON THOSE CLAIMING DRILL HAS BEGUN TO SOUND SAMEY: “There is truth to the madness, but also, that’s because us as British people have had this genre for a long time. To other parts of the world, this is a completely new sound. A big determining factor is who actually jumps on the tracks as well. Pop Smoke, for example—God rest his soul—he jumped on a beat that wasn’t necessarily completely out of the box, but he made it his own and the beat was perfect for him to jump on, which then created a new sound and a new wave. It re-ignited the drill sound—shout out to [808] Melo for that dope beat. I think sometimes, as British people, we can be stuck-up and not appreciate the music sometimes. Yes, beats can start to sound the same, but that’s in every genre; there’s only so much chords you can play or use, but it’s down to the collaborative effort between artist and producer. Although, in saying that, it is down to the producer to create tailor-made beats, and I believe some producers—especially the ones coming out of our FF Producers Camp—are coming with some different sauce on these drill beats and I’m sure there are so many others, in and outside of London, that are coming with new mind-blowing drill sounds.” 

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EARLY BEGINNINGS: “My passion for production started around the age of 14, when I slowly drifted towards the production side of things as opposed to DJing, which is what I was doing at the time. I took interest in people like Lex Luger and Southside; their pronounced sound was taking over the US trap scene. That then led to me downloading the demo version of FL Studio 11; I used FL on and off for about three years, learning the program right through. By that time I was 17, and I decided to take the music thing more seriously. By that point, I was listening to a lot of the UK drill, which was starting to pick up a large following. The aggressive drum patterns and dark melodies fully represented the culture of London street life, so it was a no-brainer that this is what I wanted to be a part of.”

INSPIRATIONS: “808Razz, LA Beats and Mazza seemed to help mould the sound of UK drill. The ‘5 On It’ beat really inspired me. The late snare, triplet 808 slides and jumpy percussions still have me in awe to this day, man. But these names definitely pioneered the sound and I think they’re an inspiration to all UK drill producers.”

UK DRILL vs CHIRAQ: “I personally feel that if it wasn’t for UK drill, I wouldn’t have jumped on drill at all. The Chiraq scene was cold, don’t get me wrong, but I never took a liking to it like that. It’s the dark melodies and heavy drums that pull my heart strings [laughs]. In terms of the actual lyrics, I feel that there are definitely some similarities and the UK clearly took inspiration from it. The beats: not so much, but still to some degree. We all know and love the chop snare and that’s implanted in drill culture, whether it’s from the UK or Chicago. The drum patterns are also similar with the hat patterns, but in my opinion, UK drill beats just hit harder; more pianos and pads as opposed to arps that were used a lot in Chicago.”  

ON THOSE CLAIMING DRILL HAS BEGUN TO SOUND SAMEY: “People need to realise that UK drill is only six years old. The sound is still in development and it’s has changed a lot from the previous years. It’s only now that it’s starting to take off that people are claiming it.”

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EARLY BEGINNINGS: “It was around the age of 15 that music started sounding different to me, and I could pinpoint everything in a song—from the keys to the snares to the hi-hats. I could naturally pick out notes that make a good-sounding chord and, from there, I watched tutorials and studied other genres, like funky house, hip-hop and even a bit of classical.​​” 

INSPIRATIONS: “I’d have to say Jahlil beats, LA Beats, DJ L, Pinerobeats and Gottionem were some of the standout producers for me; they were doing what others were unable to do, or knew nothing about. Each producer’s sound and tempo of beats were different and all played a vital role in making the hip-hop scene what it is today. These guys inspired me in some way and made a difference to my music-making skills when I listened and observed their sounds and little tricks.”

UK DRILL vs CHIRAQ: “Drill was a new thing to me and the beats were ear-catching. Coming from a place where hip-hop is such a big culture, everything from the lyrical content to the energy and conviction of the artists drew me closer to it. Chicago drill was the birth of ‘drill’, that’s a fact, and it inspired not only myself but many others to try the genre and cultivate the sound and move it globally. UK drill is different production-wise and lyrically; it sounds more aggressive and violent, whereas Chicago drill had more energy and they weren’t afraid to sing and add their own melodies on top. The sound is still growing—look at Brooklyn drill—and with all eyes on the sound, it’s given more artists the chance to have serious music careers.”

ON THOSE CLAIMING DRILL HAS BEGUN TO SOUND SAMEY: “Drill beats are slowly progressing, daily, but it’s more down to the beats the artists like and pick out. Repetition isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though.”

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EARLY BEGINNINGS: “I started taking music production seriously, probably when I was around 16; I’m 17 now. People started telling me that they liked the stuff I was uploading on SoundCloud, so I figured a career in music was definitely an option and I just took it further. When it comes to my work now, I don’t just think of drill—even when I’m making it. I take a lot of influence from other genres, like R&B, pop, even world music. A lot of people say this doesn’t make it sound as aggressive, but I like it that way. I want my music to tell its own story and bring about different emotions.”

INSPIRATIONS: “CZR Beats is an actual genius. I really love his sound because it’s so unique, dark but also very jumpy. Gotcha and Ghosty fall under that bracket for me as well.”

UK DRILL vs CHIRAQ: “From when I first heard drill, I really liked the energy and hype that you could feel from listening to the music. It is aggressive, but the spirit of it is literally contagious. Big up all the people behind Chiraq drill, man. I’m grateful for what they created, but I’ll be honest: I haven’t checked for it since the UK drill scene started poppin’.”

ON THOSE CLAIMING DRILL HAS BEGUN TO SOUND SAMEY: “I completely agree. Guys are using the same sounds, drum patterns and bass lines and it is getting boring now. If this continues, drill beats will lose their flavour and we don’t want that happening.”

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Adz Beats

adz beats

EARLY BEGINNINGS: “February 2018 is when I first started making music. I actually didn’t come out as Adz Beats until May that year because I wanted to perfect my sound and style. As for when I noticed my actual musical talent, that was around August 2018, when I made the instrumental for 23 Unofficial and Northside Benji’s ‘Notice Me’ with Gotcha and AV—that came out in September 2019. Ever since then, I’ve just stayed consistent with it and it’s starting to pay off.” 

INSPIRATIONS: “This is a really good question for me because, before I started making music in 2018, in 2016 and 2017, I was really starting to get into the UK sound and how it was progressing over the years. During that time period, I started to notice a lot of producer tags; back then, inspirations came from LA Beats, 5ive Beatz, N2theA’s, GA, Gotti, ATG Music, Maniac, CeeFigz, WildBoyAce, Mazza Munroe and a few others.  Those guys were paving the way for the UK scene and the sound was unique, in terms of the melodies and the drum patterns. That alone inspired me to transition my love for music into actually making music.”

UK DRILL vs CHIRAQ: “The UK drill sound gripped me because of how the drum patterns flowed. It was very different to anything else I was listening to, with the dark 808 patterns, the syncopated hi-hats, the heavy kicks. On top of that, the melodies are what makes UK drill stand out. To be honest with you, I was never into the Chicago drill beats at all. On the production side, it’s very different in the UK: we have our own sound that nobody can take from us. We basically got inspired by the Chicago drill scene, that’s where it started, but then we took their sound and made it ten times better. They didn’t have the 808s slides like us, or the melodic melodies like us. Lyrically, we are similar in a way—they rap about their lifestyles just like us in the UK—but I feel like UK artists have taken it to a whole different level in terms of flow, punchlines, clarity and conviction.”

ON THOSE CLAIMING DRILL HAS BEGUN TO SOUND SAMEY: “I can agree with that one, to a certain point, because in our scene a lot of us are afraid to try new things in case it doesn’t go to plan. That’s why most stick to the regular formula—the dark pianos melodies—when it comes to making drill. I believe the majority of us producers, especially the ones at Finesse Foreva, are bringing something new to the table with it and that’s why now you’re hearing drill beats with vocal chops, guitars, choirs, violins and things like that.”

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av producer

EARLY BEGINNINGS: “I started out wanting to be an artist, but then I just took an interest in the production side to the point I gave up rapping and started producing full-time. I started seeing the effect my beats had on people and that’s what kept me wanting to grow as a producer from all the positive feedback I was getting. The moment I realised I had a talent for making beats is when I could dance to them. That was a big thing for me: wanting to make people dance with my music. A lot of the time, I like to think outside the box and find something unusual that I can apply to the music. Even if it’s using crazy samples or using recorded sounds from outside, I like to give people a different feel to drill beats; they don’t always have to be sad or dark with the same minor chords. My aim, and I know it’s the same with the other guys in FF, is to create sub-genres within drill.” 

INSPIRATIONS: “When I first started producing, my main inspirations were people that I listened to a lot, like Pharrell Williams, Harry Fraud, 169. I seriously have to thank technology and SoundCloud for the ability to listen to so many different types of music. For real.” 

UK DRILL vs CHIRAQ: “I’ll be honest: what drew me in to drill was the wave it was making in the early stages of UK drill. I remember, in the early days, only a handful of people actually did drill music in the UK. I was still in school at the time, and while I was listening to what artists like Chief Keef was making, UK drill just had a whole different take on that sound. For me, I feel like UK drill has better production than what Chiraq ever had, but they will always get the respect for starting the wave. I feel like, for the last two years, the UK’s been pushing for more drill artists that have 10/10 lyrics and crazy flows and it’s a sound that’s inspired scenes all over the world, from Brooklyn to Spain and back again.” 

ON THOSE CLAIMING DRILL HAS BEGUN TO SOUND SAMEY: “I actually believe this, to be honest. The average UK drill producer is below the age of 25 and most of them are actually new to music production, which means they had to take inspiration from somewhere, right? Only a small number of drill producers are actually taking the sound forward because they’re thinking outside the box. A great example would be FF’s Ghosty and Gotcha, and others like 808 Melo, CZR, Madara Beats and Yoz Beatz. But the sound is growing, day by day.”

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