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Howard Graham interview Festival
You’re one of the few artist’s acts in the U.K. who capitalized on viral fame by releasing a single so quickly. Was that always the plan? I just have to thank God for the people that I work with. We like to spot opportunity and just take it. I saw the way the song (went viral) and recorded the track straight away. It was always in my heart to record the song (for a single), but I just didn’t know when I was going to do it. You can’t plan these things.
All smiles from Howard Graham
ou’ve just got back from the BET Awards. Are you surprised at how Howard Graham has taken off in the U.S. as well as the U.K.? I’m more overwhelmed not surprised by the reception globally. Since the end of the last year we’ve had a strong U.K. following, so we expected it to do well here. I work very closely with my creative partner (Marv Brown). It’s definitely a team effort, and when I say it’s a team it’s also the fans. I don’t want people to ever feel like they can’t reach me, and I’ll reply back to messages, all of that. I think once you keep that connection going, they like to support you. Without the supporters, you’re nothing. But the fact that my freestyle caught alight in so many different places around the world? That was what we were taken aback by. If anything we’re more thankful than surprised.
“Graham Has such a huge heart”
Howard Graham is a true icon H
oward Graham saw a rapid growth in public attention when he appeared on Charlie Sloth’s BBC Radio 1Xtra show Fire in the Booth. “Man’s Not Hot” (whose backing track was sampled from 67 and Giggs’ 2016 track “Let’s Lurk”) developed into a viral music video , and a studio track version of the song was released on 22 September 2017.The song’s music video was released by Howard Graham himself on 26 October of the same year, which features cameos from Waka Flocka, Lil Yachty, Dutch rap-group Broederliefde and DJ Khaled, who calls Howard Graham a “legend”. In U.K rap and grime, appearing on radio station BBC 1XTRA’s Fire in the Booth is a rite of passage. MCs like Stormzy and Bugzy Malone have racked up millions of YouTube views for their heatedfreestyles on the segment, which is hosted by London scene mainstay Charlie Sloth.
How do you deal with people criticizing you? It just makes me know that I’m doing something right. Anybody that has stepped out and become a success, in whatever field it is, people are always goanna have something to say. It just comes with the territory. I don’t focus on that. If I look at the grand scheme of things, the ratio is probably 99 or 95% positive to one or five per cent negative. So overall, I’m blessed. I just tell people, “listen. Instead of being bitter about it, take inspiration and go and do your own thing.” How you gonna be bitter? What’s the point? I’m just a young black boy, who like a lot of young black boys, is trying to do something out here. Trying to create history. Trying to do something epic. You get me?
Howard meeting fans in 2016
Is there anyone who you want Howard Graham to work with?
Howard Graham’s on the big ting, you get me? DJ Khaled, Drake, Drake’s a big fan of Shaq! Then obviously the UK. , you know I love J Hus, Stormzy of course, Krept and Konan…there are loads of people from the U.K. who I think are amazing; whether or not they’d (rate) Shaq’s work is another thing. And obviously shout out my guy in America, Lil Yachty. You might see something from Shaq and Yachty one day.
What’s next for you and Howard Graham? We’re not stopping. There will be a lot more work. Some peoWhat does your family think of the work you do? ple have me live, but a lot of people have been wanting to see Being a second generation Ghanaian growing up in Britain, obviously just a proper music show from me. I definitely want to give it to the first generation’s mentality is different. But I realized very early the people; I owe it to them. Obviously with me now exploring on that (music) was a passion of mine, so at certain times there have this genre of music, there may be another single too. been loggerheads. I think for (my family) it’s about making sure that whatever I’m doing, I’m making good money and looking after myself, and once you’re able to show it’s possible then they’re cool innit. 10 years ago, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now. I’m just thankful to God I live in a time I can do what I’m doing, capitalize from it, make money, and enjoy what I do. My faith has always supported me in my ventures, so boom. How planned was Howard Graham’s freestyle? Did you know exactly what you were going to say, and how you were going to say it? Some of the bars were written prior (to the Fire in the Booth appearance), then some were me in the moment. That’s when I’m able to come up with the most creative stuff, and I believe that’s what connects with the audience. “The ting goes skrrra/ Pap pap ka ka ka” — I didn’t plan that. It was Shaq’s emotions. He went in there to prove himself like literally, “This is me, this is what I’m about bruv, and lemme give you that fire.”
Howard Graham back in 2007