Skepta is on a musical level all his own. The British artist first dominated the grime scene in the early 2000s with arguably some of the finest freestyling the UK has ever seen. In 2016, Skepta’s award-winning studio album, Konnichiwa, was solidified as grime’s highest charting album, which eventually led to a collaboration with ASAP Rocky on the hit track, “Praise the Lord.”
Over the years, Skepta has continued to take big risks in his career because fearlessness is embedded in his DNA. With that in mind it makes sense why Diesel tapped Skepta earlier this year for their Sound of the Brave campaign, where he not only serves as Diesel’s brand ambassador but is also the face of the latest edition of their Only the Brave fragrance.
As part of the partnership, Skepta literally had to face the music, which was captured in a short video clip from the campaign that showcases the fragrance alongside his ever-evolving creative process. “I’m in a recording studio, surrounded by close friends, members of my crew, trying to find the perfect message, the right sound,” he shares via a statement. “The film was directed by Crowns & Owls, a London-based trio of multi-discipline image makers. I have worked with them in the past on music videos. They are very talented, I love their vision and I am very proud of the final result.”
It’s not everyday fans get to witness the magic happen, but self expression is exactly what the Only the Brave fragrance is all about. We caught up with Skepta to get a glimpse into his music, life with his two-year-old daughter River, and to find out more about his signature scent.
What about the Only the Brave fragrance initially stood out to you? Did it bring evoke any special memories for you?
The fragrance has beautiful bison grass and juniper aromas that really pulled on my heart strings. It took me back to a fresh hotel, when you get in the bed and it’s that fresh lemon, zesty smell. That’s what I liked about it. I’m not a fan of those aftershaves that make you smell like a cocktail of fruits. I prefer a scent like you’ve just had a shower, sprayed your underarms, and you’re ready to be hugged.
How did you and your team come up with this blend of smells?
First impressions of a fragrance is really important and I’ve always wanted to create my own signature scent. Obviously, we didn’t want to have a smell that was bad, especially for our first collaboration. We wore this version of the Only the Brave together in a meeting, it was communal vibes, and everyone gave me a thumbs up. That was when I knew and it was important to me that we tested it before anyone else.
The heart of this campaign is about having courage, what pushes you to be brave?
I just feel that I have to be because I understand how delicate life is. Having lived a fruitful life, I can see where things could or couldn’t have been, and most of the things that have been are because I was brave enough to take a step to do it. Many people don’t get opportunities that others get. If a blessing is there, you have to welcome it with open arms and be brave enough to receive it.
You’ve truly made the most out of all your opportunities. How have your experiences affected your music?
When I was young, I really wanted to be heard, so I used to wear a lot of loud things. I also wanted to be seen and I shouted a lot in my records. I was a very in your face kind of guy, but I realized people were listening, supporting, and relating to me. I started to feel like I wasn’t alone. Instead of me shouting at everybody or wearing loud clothes to be recognized, I like to be more in the cut right now. My style these days is more minimal and my songs have become more relaxed. I learned that I don’t need to shout when someone’s ready to listen to me. They will hear me, in time.
Speaking of not being alone, who has been your favorite artist collaboration so far?
It’d have to be me and Rocky on “Praise the Lord.” When I think about that song, it’s bigger than him and bigger than me. It’s one of those songs that’s going to get played when we’re both dead. Like how people will shout, “To the window, to the wall,” you know what I’m saying? “Praise the Lord” is one of those club songs now and I’d have to say that’s my favorite collaboration.
Now that the Only the Brave fragrance is out, where’s the first place you’d wear the scent to?
Probably to my daughter’s nursery when I pick her up, so that the other dads look at me and know I’m a top dad [and say to themselves,] “We need to be like him.”
You set such a strong example for your daughter River, what’s the most important piece of advice you can give to her when she’s older?
It would be to show her that the world is what she says it is. If she says it’s a really bad day outside, then it is because she said it. However, if it’s raining and pouring, I’ll be there to make sure she knows how to dance in the rain. The power of the mind is more important and how you react to things matters more than the way things are, you know? I want to teach her mind over matter.