IIf you have any doubts about the level of anticipation for Essex French rapper The Kid’s debut mixtape, ‘Never Been Ordinary’, then check out his freestyle video Daily Duppy. The deft six-minute clip – in which he explores his past with refreshing honesty and gripping flow (“Daddy fuckin’ gone, mama still believed it / It’s Lucifer running from the sunlight when the dark goes on”), has amassed over 17 million views to date, surpassing equivalent efforts from J Hus, Aitch, and Kojo Funds.
French started posting his own freestyles on Instagram just three years ago, but he’s been immersed in music his whole life, thanks to the eclectic musical passions of his mother and older brother. It was his family’s return to live in England in 2018 that precipitated the start of his own creativity, after spending his teenage years in the south of France, a time in his life that has now given him the ability to sing and to rap in both English and French, which only expanded his ability to weave and interlock multiple strands of a story simultaneously.
With the release of ‘Never Been Ordinary’, NME spoke to French about his willingness to talk about his sanity in his music, the importance of identity, the difference between talent and hard work, and his recent collaboration with Bad Boy Chiller Crew.
Your Daily Duppy freestyle has been viewed over 17 million times on YouTube. Did you expect it to explode like this?
“Definitely not. I had done my ‘Mad About Bars’ [freestyle] and that’s how I exploded. And then the Daily Duppy is very similar, so I thought it was probably going to do as well, but I didn’t think it was going to do what it does now. But I’m happy, and I’m grateful that it was the one that did the numbers, because I did a good job on that one.
How did growing up around so much music impact you as a kid?
“It’s just good for the ear, isn’t it. I’m a lot more music oriented than I otherwise would be. When I’m in the studio with a producer, I want to make a beat with him. Growing up, it wasn’t just rock or hip-hop, my mom played everything, and I think that played a huge role in my career, to be honest, without me realizing it.
Your mother is Irish and you spent a lot of time in the Voyageur community when you were young. What do these identities mean to you now?
“I always pay tribute to Ireland and I always will. I have a lot of family there. With Irish blood they let you know [you have it], that’s how I grew up. And with the Voyageurs, I’ve been raised with them since I was a kid, from France to here in England. They’re completely different traveling communities, but it’s always been the same.
How does being a bilingual rapper set you apart from your peers?
“I just try to make myself, it’s just what I do. It’s my little twist on things. I don’t always do it, it’s not like I force myself to do it at every time on every track, it just comes in. And I get a lot of love for that, which is cool.
There’s a natural flow to your storytelling – it must have taken a while to come together?
“Of course! I say that a lot, but I don’t believe in talent at all. Growing up, I was always writing all the time. My first bars, honestly, they were so bad. It was like, ‘Why is- what am I doing?’ But I love listening to beats and naturally I had to write, and that’s how it happened.
Do you really think talent doesn’t exist?
“What is talent? Might as well believe in ghosts. I do not believe it. Being brought up in music plays a huge role, I get that, and then obviously some people have rhythm and some don’t. But yeah, it’s 100% hard work. With everyone in the scene, especially in the UK, it’s mostly [down to] hard work.”
“I don’t believe in talent, I might as well believe in ghosts”
On tracks like “Remedy”, you sing as much as you rap. How did you learn to slip so easily between the two styles?
“I just move with the music. Honestly, there’s nothing to do. If I find an instrument, it can be any type of instrument, I am in my state of mind and I do it. Nothing is really on purpose, except to remain authentic. It comes naturally with the process of getting better with music.
You talk about your mental health on the mixtape, especially on ‘My Mind’. Did you hesitate to be so open?
“If I try to be someone else and rap about other things, I’ll never get the crowd that I want to listen to my music. So when they listen to it, some people will relate, because I try not to hide anything at all. I’m just saying what I think, there’s no filter – honestly, there isn’t. I can’t hide anything, especially when it comes to mental health. Because [my music] might just click with someone; they might just hear it and think, “Oh shit, yeah, I really get it.” Everyone does it now, which is great.
How has your taste in music changed since you started releasing your own tracks?
“I barely listen to rap anyway. I listen to absolutely anything, it depends on my mood. I’ve got rock, I’ve got house, blues, Motown – there’s a bit of everything on my playlist. When I was 10, I used to listen to 50 Cent all the time – he was my boyfriend when I was little.
How does it feel to release your first mixtape?
“It’s crazy. Especially because a lot of the tracks from the mixtape that I threw away two years ago and now I can finally release them. I make music for music’s sake. There’s been a lot of times where it’s been, “let me jump on it to get to the biggest platform” but that’s not really about it i just want to finally release the mixtape and see the comments and then keep releasing after that I’m happy where I am The goal is just to get it out, that’s the goal for me I’m just glad all my fans are finally going to hear it because I’ve been talking about it for a while .
You recently participated in Bad Boy Chiller Crew’s “BMW” remix. What was it like working with these guys?
“They are just my kind of people. As soon as I heard this track, before it got big, I messaged them and said, “This is going to be huge.” They are real boys. It’s an absolute bang, that tune, to be fair. I told them, ‘Whenever you want to come to Essex, we’ll throw a real party.’
What’s next for French The Kid?
“I always think about [the future]. There are times when I just write and think “album, album, album”. I’m just waiting for this moment. I’m going to take this out [mixtape]and after that, it will be time.
The Kid’s Debut Mixtape “Never Been Ordinary” Is Out Now