It’s been a mixed couple of days for AJ Tracey.
The rapper’s second studio album, Flu Game—which drew influence from drill, rap and trap—dropped to widespread fan support and a largely positive critical reception. However, the days that followed have been somewhat acrimonious, beginning with a Guardian interview.
Speaking with the writer Tara Joshi, the conversation turned to AJ’s breakout hit, “Thiago Silva” with Dave. When asked if he thought a sequel collab would ever happen, AJ quickly shut down the idea before striking out at the grime scene and anyone calling for him to return to grime.
“[‘Thiago Silva’] was a long time ago,” Tracey said. “And also, sorry, but it was a grime beat, and grime is not really lit any more. It’s not what it used to be, and it’s their fault because [people in the grime scene] don’t like change. I was in there, I was open to change, I changed and I’m doing well. They did not want to change and it’s just crabs in a barrel. They don’t want to see anyone do better than themselves; it’s a horrible culture and I really don’t like it. I will not be making any more grime music… unless [scene veterans] P Money or D Double E asked me to.”
This isn’t the first time that AJ’s shunned the scene that made him famous. In a 2018 interview with Esquire, he made it clear: “Just don’t call me a grime artist.”
Here’s what Twitter had to say about his recent comments:
If that wasn’t enough, another element of the promotional run was mired in controversy when a recent pop-up show and signing in Manchester’s Platt Field Park caught headlines for breaching COVID regulations. Although lockdown restrictions have been lightened over the past week, the rule of six is still in place and AJ and his team were forced to cancel the Manchester performance and the organisers were handed a £10,000 fine.
The Ladbroke Grove rapper had already performed at a similar show in Birmingham, but has since cancelled a show in Bristol, which was due to happen soon after the Manchester show. “Big love Manny and Brum. Thank you for coming out,” he told his followers. “It’s not gonna be safe for me to come to Bristol. I didn’t expect that many people to turn up in Manny and genuinely it’s just not OK for me to go ahead.”