Justin Clarke from East London, better known by his stage name Ghetts (formerly Ghetto) is one of the UK’s most highly acclaimed Rap / MC Artists. He’ll be appearing at Junk for FRE$H this Friday.
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Hailing from a religious, musical family, Ghetts was exposed to gospel music and jazz long before he tapped into the underground garage scene infiltrating East London’s airwaves and backstreets.
At just 12, Ghetts locked in to jungle and garage, breathing in PAYG Cartel, Heartless Crew, and the raw mixes of friends and peers destined for the A-list. Before a stint in jail, Ghetts admits his own music had little focus or direction, labelling his efforts “just messing around”.
Locked up, Ghetts embarked on a music and drama course to hone his skills. Friends on the outside assured him there was a space for his music and, on release, he joined local N.A.S.T.Y Crew alongside Kano, Stormin and infrequent guests like Dizzee Rascal, Durrty Goodz, and Wiley.
“I was getting tired of jail, I was in-and-out, in-and-out. I really wanted to change and take music seriously.”
He quickly became synonymous with fast flowing, hard hitting lyrics, and a unique style of ‘syllable rhyming’.
With Kano – who was blowing up at the time – Ghetts found a musical soulmate. The two appeared together at the 2004 MOBOs and toured with Mike Skinner (The Streets) in 2005.
With 2005 mixtape “2000 and Life”, Ghetts was – alongside Tinchy Stryder, Tinie Tempah, Kano and Wiley – attracting major record label interest. But unlike his peers, Ghetts shunned the majors on the basis that the industry wasn’t ready for him – and he wasn’t ready for it.
Ghetts progress in the years since mixtape #1 has been all independent, all on his terms. He has toured the world, done the festivals and collaborated with some of the industry’s biggest mainstream stars. In 2013, after taking time out to be a dad, Ghetts was again prepared talk record deals, but rather than courting the majors, he opted for start-up label Disrupt.
“I want to do something more than just chart, I want to leave a legacy – music that changed a demographic; changed the game. When I sat down with Disrupt they just got that. I saw this would be a good relationship. I was always the newcomer, now I see myself as the underdog – it’s where I’m most at home.”
The first major release on Disrupt, fittingly, is Ghetts’ début album Rebel with a Cause which drops this year.
The album’s identity is born straight from the man and his journey. A rebellious streak as a young man – which Ghetts describes as vibrant, energetic, and live or die – is tempered by his new Cause, a maturity that comes with age, hindsight, and his daughter’s birth.
“It took a fair bit of me growing up; a fair bit of living to get here.”
This first label release by the underground star who did it his way, plus an intelligent and searching juxtaposition of the Rebel and Cause concepts that define the man and the genre in which he plies his trade, makes this record one of grime’s most hotly anticipated releases of all time.
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