French The Kid has ensured he’s on the tip of the tongue when it comes to conversations around the UK’s most unique rappers. The bilingual artist, born in Romford, Essex, spent his adolescent years surrounded by various cultural influences that shaped him today. In his native England, he grew a close relationship with the traveller community before spending his adolescent years in Australia and France – where he became entangled in the street life. Yet, he returned to the UK at 16, and began experimenting with rapping, becoming known for his ability to spit bars fluently in French and English. His distinctive style and clear and obvious talents led to a ‘Daily Duppy’ freestyle (a huge look for any UK artist), which now sits at a massive 21 million views.
French continued to sharpen the tools in his arsenal, proving he was equally comfortable hopping on chilling drill beats, bouncy club bangers and introspective moody instrumentals. Lyrically, the Essex native isn’t afraid to get personal, often touching on issues surrounding mental health and the struggles of the life he led before fame. His relatability and no-fucks-given attitude have endeared him to an army of fans, whom he blessed last year with his debut mixtape Never Been Ordinary. Now, for his first release of 2023, French returns with his latest single, ‘Single Player.’ On the mellow, autotune-doused track, we see French explore his past, his preference for remaining antisocial and feelings of paranoia – another stern reminder of his talents. With a new mixtape, No Signal, also set for release this Spring, it’s set to be another landmark year for the star. Here, we sit down with the Romford rhymer to discuss his comfort in vulnerability and why a YouTube house mix is all you need to start a party.
You definitely have one of the most diverse styles in the UK right now; what inspired you to try out a variety of genres and sounds?
I grew up listening to all sorts of music. My mum is very musical, so there was a massive variety of music playing around the house that I latched onto from when I was young and implemented into my tracks today.
Are there any other sounds you want to explore in the future?
I’ve always been a fan of grunge and psychedelic rock, so who knows what could come out in the near future, but until then, my sound will change a lot anyways, so we will see!
How would you describe your creative process at the moment?
It’s very natural for me. I mean that in a way where I only really write when I’m feeling a certain way or I’m in a certain mood. Music has always been something to distract me and cheer me up, so my creative process reflects on how I feel and has done from the start.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your new track, ‘Single Player’?
It’s funny because it happened so progressively and slowly that me and the producers didn’t realise what we were making until around 2 hours in hahaha. The inspiration behind it was to create something completely different, but how I felt at that time reflected a lot on that track.
How has your life changed since you released Never Been Ordinary?, and what can we expect from you on future projects?
We have built my career in a constant progression, so I wouldn’t say life’s completely changed since that mixtape, but I definitely feel a lot more core love from my supporters, and that’s all that really matters.
You’ve shown a lot of honesty and vulnerability in your music over the years. Do you find the process of making music therapeutic at all?
Music is my therapy. I started because it always helped to keep me distracted from all the negatives in life that have happened.
What would you say has been the most surreal moment of your career so far?
Seeing my family finally understand how serious this all is and that I’ve made a career off it. Being able to provide for your mum is something I wouldn’t be able to explain in words. Especially when you know how much she’s gone through to provide for me!
You pay homage to a lot of communities that have helped shape you. Whether it’s your family’s Irish roots, time in France or your time in Essex – how have these communities helped shape you as an artist and an individual?
They’ve made me what I am now. I have a strong Irish family that has built morals into me and all my cousins, which are very rare to find today. I’m very thankful for it.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
The fact I’m here doing this interview shows I haven’t needed to tell my younger self anything. I dreamt it all into reality. Maybe just to keep my head up. Shit happens, you know?
You recently worked with Russ Millions and A1 x J1 on ‘One Of A Kind’ how did that collab come about?
Russ reached out a while ago, and as soon as I heard the sample, I knew I had to jump on.
You also featured on ‘Sad Girls’ with Clean Bandit and Rema; what’s it like getting the opportunity to work with these global artists?
I grew up listening to Clean Bandit, so when I heard they reached out, I was over the bloody moon! I appreciate every single opportunity I’m given, especially from people like them.
If you could collaborate with any artist right now, who would it be?
None of them are alive! It might seem far away for some people, but to share the studio with Hendrix and Cobain would be absolutely unreal.
What track are you playing to get a party started?
Any selected house mix on YouTube normally does the job. A bit of ‘Katy on a Mission,’ as well.
What’s the goal for French The Kid?
To keep turning dreams into reality and bring my people with me to experience it as well.