If you’re a buzzy, newly-emerging musician, there’s an understandable temptation to play it cool. Delete all your dodgy high school Facebook photos. Start dressing in purely Depop garms. Only listen to genres with hyphens in them (post-drill-wave, anyone?). For most, the idea is to create a slick Year Zero for yourself. “But we all had a Busted phase!” Master Peace laughs. “If you play ‘Year 3000’, you definitely know all the words!”
Growing up listening to the type of artists that most musos normally shun, the 20-year-old (real name Peace Okezie) is nevertheless as effortlessly cool as he is unashamedly fond of mid-’00s pop-punk chart-toppers. In fact, watching the likes of Charlie, Matt and James on TV was what originally made him want to get into music. “When you look at Busted or McFly and you see the main singers, you just wanted to be them innit?” he smiles. “Every girl wanted to be with them and every guy wanted to be them. When you look at it, it’s like, ‘Wow, they’re amazing!’. Even if the music was cheesy, you were still drawn to it.”
Falling in love with pop and rock stars, and citing The 1975’s Matty Healy as his ultimate icon, Peace felt the urge to make the same kind of music. But at a time when the only black frontman of a band that he could relate to was Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke, the Morden-based artist was worried that people wouldn’t fully understand what he was trying to do. When his brother introduced him to rap, however, he saw that the kind of flair he was after wasn’t limited to guitar bands; although the music he was being shown wasn’t exactly what he wanted to make himself, he was pulled in by their energy. “I liked what they were doing with the flows. They may have had DJs, but it felt like a band setup,” he explains. “It’s this rock’n’roll kind of thing.”
“Oasis wrote about how life can do you dirty but you’ve got to keep it going. I can relate to that.”
And so Master Peace began taking on the rap game, but in his own way. Never one to shy away from his own viewpoint, a quick YouTube search of his name pulls up videos from over the last year where he spits bars over a-ha’s ‘80s classic ‘Take On Me’ and incorporates nursery rhymes into his verses, much to the bewilderment of those in the comment section. On a particularly memorable BBC Radio 1Xtra session he sings ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ with the same biting conviction as any of rap’s heavyweights, and adamantly discusses the life issues that are often absent from big rap songs.
“If you look at Oasis, they wrote tunes about not having a good life sometimes and how life can really do you dirty but you’ve got to keep it going,” he muses. “I can relate to that. A lot of artists I can’t relate to because I don’t have the flashiest car or the flashiest clothes. The stuff they’re saying is sick and nice for now, but it’s not going to last forever. I want to write stuff that people can relate to, like Busted who wrote about girls they liked and teachers they fancied!”
Successfully merging his love of bands and delivering real life stories with a lyrical flow, Master Peace’s official debut track ‘Night Time’ arrived in September as a refreshingly upbeat bop. A booty call anthem, it’s positioned him at the crossroads of rap, indie, pop and punk, and shown off the unique vision he has for his sound.
Now with an EP on the horizon, he’s ready to spread his message of being unapologetically yourself to the rest of the world, and is well on the way to becoming the pop star he always wanted to be. “The EP is for everyone,” he beams. “It’s very sing-a-longy; it’s very catchy; it’s light-hearted, and it’s gonna be a very good introduction to me.”
And his other aims for the future? “Glastonbury and a 1975 collab!” he laughs. “They’re the best band in the world. I’m their biggest fan. I love that band. Matty Healy, just shout me!” What you saying then, lads?
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Dropping his official debut track ‘Night Time’ today, we meet the rising South London rapper.