Bad Boy Chiller Crew hail from a northern English city, Bradford, that few people outside the region often think about, and they specialize in a kind of music, bassline, that hasn’t been popular since the mid-2000s — and yet embracing both these things has made BBCC one of the most exciting and intriguing acts to emerge in U.K. rap this year. After releasing their first proper mixtape, Full Wack No Brakes, in September (its predecessor, Git Up Mush, was only available at local vape shops and corner stores), the group is back with a new song, “Needed You,” that rattles with their raucous energy and captures their big pop ambitions.
A bit of context: Bad Boy Chiller Crew is Kane, GK, and Clive, three friends who first gained local recognition for their Jackass-style comedy videos, then parlayed that into an even more successful music venture. The crux of their sound is bassline — a harder, faster offshoot of U.K. garage — that was born in northern England, spawned a few 2000s hits (T2’s “Heartbroken,” H “Two” O’s “What’s It Gonna Be”), but otherwise receded from the pop consciousness while continuing to live on in places like Bradford.
While early bassline typically featured pop or R&B vocals, Bad Boy Chiller Crew rap over these ridiculously quick beats. Full Wack No Brakes is a delightfully delirious barrage of big beats and big bars about fast cars, loud parties, ditching the cops, and all the other nonsense that’s part of the “charva” lifestyle. “Charva,” which comes from the insulting slang term “chav,” isn’t exactly a term of endearment — it’s usually a slight aimed at brash, boisterous boys, injected with a healthy dose of British classism — but BBCC embrace it with a wink. “It’s like you are one of the boys but you’re also a toerag!” Clive told The Guardian in July.
Listening to BBCC, or watching the music videos for breakout tracks like “Guns Up” and “450” (which features fellow Bradford MC and auxiliary member S Dog), it’s hard not to wonder if it’s all a big joke. On the surface, the group recalls Kurupt FM, the bumbling pirate radio/grime crew from the acclaimed BBC mockumentary series People Just Do Nothing. But Kane, GK, and Clive aren’t actors playing characters. They’re real-life characters, playing up reality, like so many of the best pop stars.
“Needed You,” BBCC’s new song, is less a bassline banger than a classic garage song, but despite the drop in BPM, it contains all the elements that make Bad Boy Chiller Crew so irresistible. Slick production, a video packed with nonsense (like trying to pull a scooter out of a roadside ditch) and cheeky punch lines — from Clive’s “Young buck, mullet haircut/Pull up to the club, tell her fill up my cup,” to GK’s “White Ace, cider cigs were a fiver/Mark ‘Ruff’ Ryder, stung the bus driver.” But it’s Kane, the group’s de facto leader, who steals the show again: For an MC who strikes such an unassuming pose, he wields a unique command over the mic, switching flows on a dime and spilling garrulous verses without missing a beat. Over-the-top as it may be, it’s hard not to believe him when he spits, “Now won’t stop ’til I’m A-list famous/Home-grown weed in blue slim papers/No flavors, police try raid us/Pots in the attic ’til I cop me a Patek/Or pull up on that brother in a big 4Matic.”
Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.
From Rolling Stone US