• Thelma Khupe

In Conversation With: 5EB

Prodigious rapper, 5EB is known for injecting a youthful energy into the budding UK trap-wave movement which is taking over the country. Having already made a statement on his 6-track EP, entitled “Highbernation,” The 17-year-old Londoner has since continued to build up the momentum with his most recent track “Follow The Leader” - much like the direction of his project [aforementioned], the cut boasts a wavey ambience that displays his singing and rapping ability atop of a trap-inflected production laced with gritty 808s and an infectious guitar riff.

Two years deep into his trajectory, 5 already has a headline sold-out show under his belt, which took place last year at the O2 Academy Islington. In addition to being amongst Labrinth’s diverse and talented roster on the label OddChild Music. 5EB has been included on Top 10 under 18’s lists, along with big features with the likes of One Acen, Smith Blaxk and Dreadz.

Photography by Charles Owusu

North London has influenced my sound. I listen to Chip a lot who lived two roads away from me when I was younger

First things first, can you tell me a bit about your stage name and how that came about?

I get this a lot. And there's not a sick story about how the five represents five generations or something like that, it's not nothing sick. I just went through a bunch of really, really sh*tty names to get here. And then I wanted to be called just 'Seb', but when I was going on Soundcloud, because most my music was on SoundCloud to start with, there were loads of DJ's with the name 'Seb' this and 'Seb' that. So I just ended up changing the 'S' to a five and then it just kind of stuck. And I made it a part of my music so now every 'S' is replaced with a 5.

What was it like growing up in North London? Do you think that environment has impacted your music?

Oh, a hundred and fifty percent, definitely. Living anywhere in London is going to impact your music. I felt like growing up in North, there's so much talent everywhere, like even now, there's so much upcoming talent. I've had the opportunity to be in a room with some talented people like Avelino, who taught me some stuff which I never would have gotten from any other side of London. So definitely, North London has influenced my sound. I listen to Chip a lot who lived two roads away from me when I was younger and I've got pictures of my friends being held by him. I'm from the same ends as Mostack too. And I feel like because of the amount of talent that’s around, it really motivates you to go harder and to try and be one of those names. So it's like you want to be someone, the people that have already done sick stuff.

Pattern you're sh*t early. Don't don't leave it to the last minute.

So you're a student as well as being a musician. How do you manage the two?

You Have to pattern your sh*t, it's actually not that hard. People always make it into a complicated thing. But the reality is most of the rappers who are successful now, they were probably students while they were on the come up. And if not, they just dropped out and said, f**k it, they can't tell you much. Vibha. I would say the thing to do is to make sure that do your do your work when you get and make sure you get sh*t patterned. So that you're not getting calls from people on the day of your shoot telling you that you need to finish college work! Pattern you're sh*t early. Don't don't leave it to the last minute.

When was the turning point for you that made you decide to pursue music properly?

I've always loved music and I've always been very passionate about it. I did lots of talent shows and I'd perform music from people like Tinchy Stryder and N- Dubz when I was five or six years old. And then I got given a notebook by my Godmother at like nine or ten and she told me to write song lyrics. But I never really took it seriously. And then probably around like 12, 13, I was just f**king around on Youtube type beats and stuff, just starting to experiment with it. And then I would say at around 15 I was like, ‘ok, this isn't just me messing around anymore, like I think I need to give this a bit more attention’. So I'll say at 15, I properly go into it. But when it comes to my passion for music, I've had that since birth, since conception.

If not music, what else?

I wouldn't do anything else. Even if I'm not a rapper, I'm gonna be in music. I know that. That’s why I go to music college. That's why I do everything I do. I wouldn't feel fulfilled at the end of the day if I wasn't doing something musical. I just don't feel like I'd be happy in life if I wasn't doing this.

Who would you say your biggest inspirations are when it comes to music?

Let’s have a little scroll.

5eb pulls out his Spotify.

Sahbabi, Potter Paper, I listen to bare of him. Pierre Bourne, Tupac and Gunna.

There's a lot of music I listen to in fact. I also really love soul music, jazz music and rock music and stuff. So my actual influences probably come from much wider than just what I listen to.

You released your E.P. ‘Highbernation’ back in May. What was the Build-Up towards that like?

Initially we had planned that in July we were going to drop my self titled project called [redacted, but keep an eye out]. I'm pretty sure I've just said too much leaked information there so put it as this:

had a project planned and then COVID came along and just f**ked it. So I just thought, let me put out a piece of work that's kind of dedicated to this period of time rather than force another project that can't be done properly now. So I wanted to make something that was actually reflective of what's what we're going through right now. So that in a couple years from now, we can be like 'rah do you remember when COVID was happening?'

One of your Spotify most popular releases is ‘Scum!’, your collaboration with One Acen. How did that feature come about?

My manager manages him and one day he just walked into the studio while I was cooking with Rough Riley, the producer. He heard it and said 'that's hot as hell'. And that was basically it, it was just all very natural. He just walked in and liked the music. So that was nice, it didn't feel too forced.

How would you describe your music in three words?

Eclectic. Diverse. Time travelling.

What can we expect from you post-covid?

You can expect loads of collabs. You can expect loads of new videos. And also my project that I've been wanting to drop and I guess a whole bunch of interviews and stuff like that. But you're just gonna see me everywhere, hopefully doing a concert. You can expect some Manchester collaboration's. You can expect some London ones too. I'm gonna get it all patterned.

By Thelma Khupe

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