When it comes to UK Drill it's only right to give AM a commendation for his formidable contribution to the scene not only as a solo artist but as part of the legendary duo 'Skengdo x AM'. After releasing his first solo project this year which features his big singles of this year 'I Ain't A Yardie' and 'Monster' the rapper has also delivered some melodic vibes as well as his notoriously menacing and provocative beats. With that being said his immense fanbase wasted no time in letting everyone know that AM is in fact the coldest in the Drill scene.
Photography by @martaliterska on Instagram
Seeing themselves [Skengdo X AM] through a lot of controversy and having made “legal history” as stated in their interview with The Guardian, the highs of AM's career are not easily dismissable. The duo crafted an explosive international affair making them the only drill act to link and collaborate with major renowned Chicago Drill artist Chief Keef, ultimately popularising the genre and crashing into the iTunes hip-hop charts at #1 (above Jay-Z and Stormzy) with their debut mixtape 2 Bunny.
Now sharing his first solo EP, having incredible knowledge of Drill and life in general AM's project saw him speak on topics that promote the truest version of himself which would provide interesting and thought provoking conversations. Fortunately enough, we were able to have a phone call with the drill veteran himself where we discussed his solo project as a whole, mental health, funny Youtube comments and more.
Q: As a whole, what does Mally mean to you??
A: It’s a very personal project and basically, obviously the M in “AM stands for Mally” “Ace Mally” even the track list spells ‘AC3 MALLY’ so I decided to make the EP just represent me and represent the kind of styles that I do. It’s a mixture of drill, rap, there’s a bit of melodies in there as well but yeah for the most part it’s a very personal tape; it’s a reflection of me at this stage currently.
Q: On this project there were no features outside of 410. Is that something you did intentionally and plan on sticking to?
A: No, that was only for this tape specifically, obviously in the past, we just really didn’t rock with a lot of people like that, but looking forward there’s a lot of features that fans have been asking for things like that, so that’s why I feel like there’s a lot of music that wasn’t been released yet that people are waiting to hear so for future projects that will be covered
Q: You’ve said numerous times that you’re a perfectionist so in terms of production how was the process of that this time round?
A: Yeah, I feel like the beat choice and things like that was a very important part because I would have the content and I was trying to find the right beat for it so what happened a lot of the time is that I would be writing to a template, just a beat that I know I’m not gonna use but I like the bpm then I would try find the perfect beat that matches the lyrics and the vibe of the tape as well.
Q: On the track ‘Antebellum’ you stated how you “Never chose this life, never chose this pain” and how “When your friends turn bros, then your bros turn snakes”. When it comes to these sorts of altercations and even the tribulations you’ve dealt with in life, how have they impacted your mental health at all if they have at all?
A: I feel like in terms of music wise, everything’s kind of been a walk in the park and mentally because its challenges we faced growing up and obviously experiencing um people that you had a lot of love for betraying and all these other emotions um it gives you thick skin so when you get into the industry and there’s all this sort of stuff going on it doesn’t affect me one bit and obviously we were going through these challenges when we were younger but we kind of felt like it was just life. It wasn’t something new it didn’t stand out like “of course that happened” So it didn’t really have a big effect on us and obviously I have a strong mindset and a lot of willpower, a lot of things don’t really get to me I have a different perspective on life so I managed to stay on the ball but I’ve realised in the community a lot of people suppress like how they’re feeling and a lot of people are dependent on like drugs or alcohol to block out the negativity but obviously that’s not dealing with it and it has adverse effects in the future so I tend to deal with stuff and move on from it and yeah just leave it as it is.
Q: Following on from that would you say you don’t feel the pressures surrounding the stigma of Drill music?
A: No, I don’t. Obviously, I acknowledge it, but it doesn’t really affect me.
Q: Establishing a strong connection with supporters is a really important thing for artists and ‘Dr Mally’ is a little segment that you’ve been doing on Instagram recently, so what was the reasons behind that and for anyone who may not know, what is it for?
A: Basically, let’s say we’re going to shows and stuff in the car for like an hour and a half and everyone’s just bored, the guys usually just start talking about stuff and I realised if I’m like debating with someone or speaking on a topic I listen to people first and I understand their point. So, I’m either gonna agree with you or disagree, but they have to fully understand the point. I’ve realised I’m good at listening and coming up with solutions I took it to Instagram, and I was on lives and people were telling me relationship problems and stuff like that and then I was giving them my take on it. After the live people were dm’ing me like “Bro I heard what you were saying” etc and from there I just kind of made it a little thing and gave it a little name made it that space for people like if you decided I wanted to ask this guy for something.
Q: So, I was browsing through the comments of your videos and there’s a lot of jokes going around that “AM has definitely got A*’s in English and “Drillology” and even more about how crazy your wordplay is. My question to you is do you read any YouTube comments at all?
A: Yeah, I do, like I’ve got to the stage where it’s easy to filter out people that are trolling from constructive criticism. First of all, because at this stage in music I’ll do things intentionally and see if people picked up on it and see their take on it, so I know what I’m looking for in the comments. I always definitely go through it and see what I like to get people’s feedback and I watch literally every single reaction video; I see all of it so I can understand where people are at with what they hear.
Q: In addition to that, I’m sure everyone would like you to clarify whether you were really good at school and if you read a lot/actively seek out knowledge for your bars?
A: Well with school like GCSE’s, I got like 12 A* to C’s when I left. But I didn’t find them hard it’s literally the work and revision that you put in. I was good with numbers, I used to like playing around with numbers because its logic it makes sense to me. The way my brain works it has to make sense so that’s why I was good with numbers and doing all of that multiplication.
Q: The song “Love is Hate” on this tape was another melodic vibe that we’ve heard before from you, is this something you’re slowly trying to incorporate a lot more and maybe relax on Drill or is it just experimenting with songs?
A: What it is, is that from early I enjoyed making that type of music in the past I would have like one song like [love is hate] that a year. So, ‘Trust issues’ and then before that I had ‘Flex Til the Morning’. In “Attempted” there was a bit of melodies so it’s something I enjoy. I enjoy making that sound. But obviously people know me for the deep voice, dark music, dark lyrics, I had to keep incorporating that consistently so that they understand that this is a part of my sound as well and it’s not alien to them. If I just did a whole 3 years of dark music and then tried to switch it up out of nowhere then it wouldn’t really translate, especially with the EP that’s meant to represent me, I definitely thought it was a really important song to have in there so that people know that that’s still my sound and I think that’s the 3rd most popular on there.
Q: The big ‘Chop that Freestyle’. How did you piece that all together? We need to know the creativity behind this one.
A: So, I didn’t want to release another music video from the EP. So, my manager said just release a freestyle then init. And it’s crazy because the turnover from the time I wrote it to the time I shot it was like 2 days. So, it was like today’s Monday I’ve got studio on Wednesday and I’m shooting on Thursday. So, on Monday I’m thinking what freestyle I am gonna do. I’m thinking I don’t just want to do some any freestyle. I want to make it a bit interesting and obviously I’m a big fan of Papoose and he did the ‘Alphabetical Slaughter’ years ago. So, it was just one of those things that when I was listening to my music, I’m like you know what I’m gonna do this because it’s been done before so it’s not impossible. I then thought the most important thing was I need a beat. That’s when I flicked through the beats then I asked my manager, Ghosty sent me a pack and I’m running through the pack and I’m thinking I dunno, I dunno, but I heard one and I was like “Yeah.” It’s like a mysterious vibe that I rocked with and I started on the ‘A’s’ once I finished all the ‘A’s’ I was like yeah, I got this I didn’t even care. Obviously, I got stuck a couple letters like what am I gonna do for ‘Q’ and that but then I just started flowing with it and it’s hard as well to make it rhyme and make sense at the same time but literally, I was rocking with it, I had the beat on in my car that’s when I isolated myself from all the guys and it worked.
Q: How confident were you with the execution of it all?
A: Nah in terms of music I’m confident, a lot of the times I don’t like to rush as well. When I’m putting in gimmicks or certain things in my music, I like it to make sense and to be natural and if I’m rushing it might not come out right, so I take my time, but I enjoyed it I definitely enjoyed doing the ‘Alphabetical Slaughter’.
Q: Okay so, in terms of not rushing yourself, you said that the ‘Alphabetical Slaughter’ was done in two days. Is that your normal process for writing or was this time frame specific to this freestyle?
A: I mean sometimes we have to write in the booth like with the ‘Mad about Bars’ a good 70% of it was written that day that we done it. It’s crazy, imagine we done that, cause there’s two songs within it. As we were going back-to-back, we wrote that without hearing each other’s bars. So, when we got into the booth, they were like what do you have for it I’m like he’s going so lemme come in there and it just worked the rest of it we were in the studio just trying to write and then Kenny shouted us like “we gotta go.” Cause I think M Huncho was in there before us so while M Huncho was doing his one, we’re still trying to write like "oh yeah get that." We’re just standing in the corridor writing and then we've gone in there. That’s like one of our best pieces of work to date.
Q: Overall, do you think that there was anything you were nervous or unsure about on this project?
A: The only thing I’ll say is as much as you want your project to do the best it can I knew that it wasn’t really a project that I would want to chart, like obviously if it would then I would be grateful, but it wasn’t specifically intended to be like “yeah let’s get this one in the charts”. This was more personal, because I know me as an artist with the elements that my fanbase would want to hear in order to fully take that on and push it fully like that it would have been more drill songs and all these features they’ve been asking for. So yeah, there was that element of me knowing that potentially this won’t be my best piece of work or what my fans specifically want to hear but it’s gonna be the closest to me and myself. It’s not gonna be my only solo piece of work but, for the first one this is how I wanted it to be.
Q: For people just getting into Drill that need to hear the best sounds to start off with which 3 songs of yours would you have to recommend?
A: Macaroni, Mad about Bars ain’t even a song it’s a freestyle but I would say I have to recommend it and last one maybe Crash, it’s one of those authentic old school Drill songs that naturally got the traction of kids everywhere.
Q: This might be too early to ask but just so we have a taster of where your head is at in terms of music, do you have any short-term goals that you want to execute or get ready for?
A: Yeah, a lot more features. I haven’t done any industry features in my whole career so definitely features and more projects: solo, duo and group projects. But for now, that’s the goal right now working with more producers, sounds and just working like that.
Whilst we wait for anything AM has next to grace us with check out his newest music video for 'Monster' below.