EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: CADET TALKS ABOUT HIS RISE AS A LYRICAL GRIME EMCEE

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Listening to Cadet, you might feel as if his music is something like the opposite of those ‘Evil Kermit’ memes, in that his music, rich in honesty and overflowing with emotion, calls upon the noble side of your conscience when you listen. Cadet’s sound is powerful, bold and in other moments, vibrant and hyped, but his music journey originates from humble beginnings.

“Rapping started off as something to do. It was just about having fun at the beginning. It was just something to do, then it turned into a passion and something I ended up being good at” says Cadet as he talks about where things all started, back in the Gipset days. “It was never a career kinda thing, just something to do. Just seeing who was the best, seeing who had the hardest bars out of all the mandem. If it wasn’t music, it would’ve been something else”.

After making a name for himself with a hyped-up grime flow as a member of Gipset, Cadet took a brief hiatus from music and when he came back to disappointing returns, he stepped things up a notch. “People with a buzz make the mistake of thinking the buzz is just gonna be there waiting for them when they return. So when I came back, and wasn’t getting the views I hoped for, I thought ‘okay, time to work harder on this. I realised it was time to take this seriously”.

That reformed focus would birth a few videos on SBTV, notably, his Warm Up Session and ‘You Need to Hear This’ video, showcasing Cadet’s new-found honesty in his lyrics. “I filmed a video with the normal crud that I normally talk, then Jamal [Edwards] said he was gonna put it out in two weeks, but he never put it out. Then he said he wants to hear more truthful bars, so I spoke about that, and since then I fell in-love with that raw, honest rapping”.

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That honesty and rawness would manifest in a big way with ‘Slut’, originally, a freestyle on OSM Vision, but later, an anthem for different reasons. The level of self-assessment and foresight in Cadet’s music helps explain why ‘Slut’ hit so hard – it was raw, honest and brought a new level of honesty to ‘girl-tunes’ from a UK rapper.

“Don’t get it twisted, when I dropped ‘Slut’, I thought 100% I’m losing out on every female fan I’ve ever gained in my life. Thought that was it, done. But people respect honesty man and it paid off. To be fair, I didn’t know they’d respect honesty until I actually did it.” Following on from that was ‘Stereotype’, yet another brutally frank assessment of Cadet’s relationship with his mum and owning up to stereotypes.

Ask Cadet about why he discusses such sensitive issues in his music, and you get the feeling this might be more than a few tracks or YouTube videos for him. “I need it probably more than the fans need to hear it” he says when asked about the thinking behind ‘Slut’ and ‘Stereotype’. “I used to go counselling, so whatever would come out in counselling, I just automatically put it in my bars.”

Despite painting the most vivid of pictures, Cadet is no story-teller. Cadet isn’t grime’s version of some camp-fire artist, he’s a rapper who’s found a way to vent his frustrations in a way that many people now regularly appreciate. “I wouldn’t call myself a storyteller. I dislike being called that. If you go back to old-school music through the history, music is meant to be you telling your story, and about how certain things make you feel. Slick Rick was a story-teller, because he’ll make up a story then tell you something a bank robber or something like that, that was storytelling.”

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By this point, Cadet had two huge songs out, a Behind Barz and a Warm Up Session, so when Krept said ‘whenever you drop something new, hit them again and again’ when talking about Cadet’s earlier days in music, it’s safe to say Cadet got that memo, as we saw a refined focus met with superior content.

With origins in grime and later conquests in slower, far-more lyrical content, I asked Cadet how he would personally describe his sound. “I am grime. When you add content to it, people then take it away from grime and say it’s something else. If a grime MC was talking about Christianity, you’d still call him a Christian rapper on fast beats, you wouldn’t call him a grime MC talking about certain kinda stuff.”

Bringing together his newer pain-ridden raps with his older raps was The Commitment EP, which was a coherent offering from Cadet that put his versatility on full display. “It was about showcasing some talent, and showing I’m an artist, not a freestyler. It’s not one-dimensional, it’s about getting my pain across, getting my story across. Also the name – The Commitment, shows it’s something I’m committed to, something I’m dedicating my whole life to”.

In Krept’s ‘Letter to Cadet’, he talks about an earlier time where Cadet would ‘drop a new track and disappear again and again’, so if that was then, now, the commitment was in full swing. Cadet’s ‘Letter to Krept’ would spark a response from his Krept, but taking to music to solve a family dilemma set a new precedent of sorts, and this is how his ‘Letter to Krept’ came together:

“Literally everything it says in the song, is mad true. We started re-connecting, but it was almost fake, it was empty. It was like we were cousins by name, not cousins by love, so I had to address it. Just like every other song I put out, I address these things I feel need to be addressed. Me personally, I can’t get over something unless I write about it, unless I spit, because when I spit, it’s like I’m breathing it out. I can vent.

I said ‘fuck it I’m gonna send it to him’, then thought actually I’ll just put the video out. Then I put that out, and he called me to actually address what I was saying in the song, then he said ‘I’m gonna do a video instead, the first time you’re gonna hear about how I feel about this, is through the song’. Music has actually saved our relationship. Real shit, music has actually saved our relationship. We put it out there for the world to see, so people don’t have to make the same mistakes of stuff like not communicating with their family and stuff.”

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Music to Cadet is a way to release as much it is something he hopes to see pop off on iTunes, and to address such sensitive and un-touched subjects like falling out with your loved ones, living the ‘slut life’ and trying to change stereotypes, is very bold. “When it comes to spitting about this real shit, I need to do it. If I had a girlfriend or was going through something I need to address, I could never say it better than through bars. I really do need this shit. Normally with a conversation or whatever, I’m stuttering, bare maybes and shit, but when I’m spitting to you, that’s my Superman mode, then to the rest of the world I’m Clark Kent, but music is my Superman mode.”

Cadet’s inspiration comes both from his own situations at that time but also a few different artists. “It’s kinda hard to say one person or thing. It comes from life. ‘Slut’ for example – my inspiration is my history with females and how I’ve treated them. With ‘Stereotype’ – the inspiration was what I was going through at the time, then turning that into something. In terms of talent/other artists, I look to people like Shakka, I think Shakka is so talented.

My biggest inspiration is probably Krept. He’s my cousin and he’s doing so well, it’s like a direct-thing like ‘yo you need to fix up, if he can do it why can’t I?’. He literally set the path for me to follow so he motivates me like crazy. He is the perfect example of how far you can take this if you work hard.”

Cadet also talks about how a lot of RnB and slow jam artists resonate well with him, because like him, the content of their music is often hugely personal and showcases emotions in a way that has a lasting impact, perhaps more than most. “Also a lot of slow jam artists and RnB artists like Musiq Soulchild, Jahiem. A lot of slow jam artists actually say things. There’s a difference between talking and actually saying something, a lot of slow jam artists actually say something, that’s why their songs live on a for a while.”

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In between The Commitment EP and his ‘Letter to Krept’, as well as a few more songs and features, Cadet also had his first two headline shows. The first on March 20th, and a second sold-out shutdown of the 02 Islington on September 27th. The realness of Cadet sounds evokes infectious energy due to how much his music hits home for some, so whilst I saw people who looked happy to leave with sore throats on YouTube, I asked Cadet what those shows were like for him.

“It feels weird. Like when people are queuing up n that and I tell my friend to check the line to see if the lines long, and it’s mad long, and I’m thinking, WTF, ‘they’re here for me?’. It’s mad. It’s motivating. It’s overwhelming. Like you said in the beginning, I wasn’t getting no love for it, now I’m getting love, I’m just grateful for every person that listens man. Every one person, whether it’s three minutes or hours, I’m grateful you’ve taken the time, let alone spent money and traveling. People are travelling from Scotland and Canada just to watch me perform for an hour. Do you know how that mad that is?!”

At the second show, Big Tobz made an appearance, and recently, a one-minute video dropped of him and Cadet sitting in a car going toe-to-toe with bars. What you hear is two friends cussing one another, as in, they are firing shots, none of that stale subliminal stuff. It makes for repetitive listening, so naturally, I asked him if a full version is coming soon.

“You’ll have to wait and see about that one there you know bro… What do you reckon? Reckon it’ll go off?” In response to that I told him how on first listening I watched it six times over, and said the way they’re bantering one another is exactly how you might send for one of your own friends, so its easily relatable.

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Now we arrive in the current moment of Cadet’s career, the ‘today’ of this interview, a state of mind Cadet embraces to great effect, and uses to his advantage to ensure a consistent work-rate. “Instead of me focusing on what’s gonna happen next week or next month, it’s about what’s going to happen today. I haven’t got a six-month plan or a yearly-plan, because it’s about working hard every day”.

Cadet has gone from encountering roadblocks and a lack of consistency to being one of few grime emcees who can tap into two entirely different ends of the content spectrum. There are very few rappers who can paint a picture like Cadet, and even fewer who are more honest. If around the time of this video, Cadet was ‘Krept’s cousin’, because his own music wasn’t warranting individual attention, then he is still very much Krept’s cousin by blood, but Cadet by name, and his name is something you associate with raw, authentic, sick music.

“All I know is I’m working hard today, tomorrow and the day after, so shit’s gonna come together. I’m just working hard every day, and that’s better than working towards something in six months, because I’m making the most out of today.”