Enigmatic rapper and producer A2 makes music that matters. Whether writing over soulful electronica or woozy R&B, the 25 year-old creates considered compositions bound by a sense of mystery, introspection and a streak of vulnerability. To listen to A2 is to take a surreal journey through sensual soundscapes often unexplored; this is make-out, make-up, break-up music set to a rhythm and tempo of A2’s very own. This is cinematic music that has something to say, and A2 says it beautifully, with a subtlety rarely found within such obviously killer, yet brilliantly understated, pop tunes.
‘Holograms’ is a regretful repose set to a stuttering, punchdrunk synths which sees A2 take a wistful look on past relationships. “It’s probably what I would describe as my more melodic rapping side,” he points out. “That’s one of those tracks where the producer sent me the beat and I caught the vibe straight off.” The sentimental strains of ‘Gold’ sees A2 testing out his singing skills over another sparse, strange beat that ebbs and flows along with his yearning proclamations. ”I’m a rapper so I had to think about trying to sing, but it felt right on that track,” he says of the song, which has been one of his most popular to date. “I was in the studio and I decided I wanted to sing, so I sung!”
Towards the end of 2015, he featured alongside Etta Bond and Raf Riley on ‘Never Did’, while Krept and Konan dropped a version of A2’s track ‘Flowers X Patron’. Next up will be the LP ‘Blue’, highly anticipated by his fans, A2 points out. “I kept pushing it back because it didn’t feel right, but now I’ve got eight songs done and it’s the best music I’ve made,” he promises. “It’s the quality of what I’ve already made, but times 100. It feels, to me anyway, very real, very fresh, very new. It’s about the music, not me; I want the music to do the talking, I don’t want the focus to be on me.”
Indeed, little has been written about A2 to date; short of a few visuals, he’s preferred to retain an air of mystery. But as his popularity grows – he’s been featured on Westwood, 1Xtra, Rinse and has had nearly 1m plays on Soundcloud – A2 realises the need to step a little more into the spotlight.
Raised in Croydon, he points out the manor made the man and the musician. “I’m inspired by my estate,” he says, slowly, of his influences. “My area and my environment definitely pays a part in who I am and the music that I make. My music is also based around conversations that I might have with a girl, or my mum, or my friends. I take pieces of a conversation and subliminally drop it into a song.” A2 and his two sisters were bought up by his mum, and she encouraged her children’s musical inclinations. He learnt piano and would spend a lot of time listening to his mum and older sisters playing R&B, Jazz and Blues, trying to imitate them on the piano or keys. You can catch glimpses of those riffs within his own music, but as a South London boy he was also naturally drawn towards Battersea’s So Solid, Stockwell Grime producer and MC Dot Rotten and seminal grime track, ‘Creeper’, produced by Roll Deep’s Danny Weed and Dizzee Rascal’s manager Nick Denton, over which A2 and his mates began to practice MCing.
“Music in general has definitely influenced me, but I don’t listen to a lot of new stuff,” he insists with a laugh of his latter day inspirations. “I’m weird like that!”. Though he’s a British rhymer bought up around Rap and Grime, he gravitated naturally towards calmer compositions. “I just wanted something a bit quieter, more chill,” he points out. “I was done with all the noise, you know? I wanted to create music that was much more about easy listening, dark in its won way, but enjoyable.” Over the years, he’s perfected his craft, working hard to learn the nuances within producing, engineering and songwriting; this is a multi-talented man who is able to move easily between various disciplines.
2016 is shaping up to be the year of A2. He’s clearly a highly determined individual keen to make his mark on music in his own way, and on his own terms. “I want to be known as a master of my craft, and I want to create moments,” says A2. “A lot of people don’t seem to make music for the right reasons, or in the right way. I do this 100% for the love of music and art – that is what separates me for everyone else.” A2’s artistry isn’t about chasing views, likes and retweets, it’s about crafting a career within the creative realm that can last through generations. “This is about authenticity and longevity. Everything I do is about the passion that I put into it.”