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From a boisterous star turn as Good Morning Britain’s guest weather presenter to featuring on Channel 4’s Big Fat Quiz of the Year, Big Narstieis arguably the biggest personality to emerge from the world of grime. While he’s undoubtedly a fireball of warm-hearted humour, such attention masks the complexities of a man who’s already over a decade deep into his music career.
Coming after an already hugely successful career that’s included four Best Grime Act Awards at the UMAs and 35 million streams of the Top 10 Craig David collab ‘When The Bassline Drops’, Big Narstie is set to release his debut album ‘BDL Bipolar’ on July 6th.
It’s a collection that reveals the real Big Narstie. It’s also packed with friends, artists and honorary BDL (base defence league) members such as Ed Sheeran, Craig David, Raleigh Ritchie, Moelogo, Scouse Tremz and Izzie Gibbs. Production credits include Trolley Snatcha, Star.One, PanjabiMC, The Heavytrackerz and Show N Prove.
‘BDL Bipolar’ album covers a spectrum of styles, from bass-heavy bangers full of charismatic rhymes to deeper reflections on love, life and loss.
“There are parts of it that are going to make you want to dance around your house and be really excited,” he says. “And there are parts that’ll make you want to think about stuff, while sitting around in your boxers and eating baked beans.”
Hit play and the first of those two approaches roars out of the speakers. The album’s opening track and lead single ‘Woah’ goes straight to the jugular with two-and-a-half minutes of ferocious energy and bludgeoning intensity.
“It’s basically about how things change,” says Narstie, real name TyroneLindo. “Like those people who put down their grime swagger and wanted to get into R&B or funky house, or fall back into swing. Grime is now a very talkable subject. The whole situation is just… woah!”
At the other extreme, the gospel-tinged closer ‘Blood’ is Narstie at his most raw and revealing. His rhymes document the traumatic birth of his daughter (“Thought mummy was going to die, I went crazy / Took eight doctors, baby, to restrain me”) and his unconditional love for her.
The plaintive, piano-based ‘Celebrate’ is about appreciating where he’s at right now but ‘Sunshine’ was inspired by a time when Narstie’s future wasn’t so bright. Hospitalised with a lung infection and a swollen heart, he emerged after his recovery to find that he was the talk of the town and the only way since has been up. The track features Craig David and reflects Narstie’s battles with mental health issues, as well as with his support for the NHS.
In contrast, ‘BDL Bipolar’ has lighter-hearted moments too, such as the medieval battle imagery of ‘Grime Battle of Hastings’ and another explosive smash in the shape of ‘Hello Hi 2’, which boasts what must surely be the toughest verse of Ed Sheeran’s career.
Big Narstie has been a constant fixture throughout grime’s evolution from an outsider art form to the nation’s biggest cultural phenomenon. Now is the time for Narstie to be recognised on an even greater scale.