Be a “Better Version” of yourself, by lending your ears to Che Lingo’s wavey music.
Photograph by Zek Al-Bostani
It all started with a little 16-year-old boy, who had just learned how to write and arrange music, which is already quite an impressive feat for a child. This young boy then went on to successfully create his first production, and yet he still wasn’t quite done with being awesome just yet. He kept pushing himself even farther, even improving his rapping skills by endlessly rapping over the instrumentals of his favourite Grime & hip-hop artists. Fast forward years later, and that same boy is performing at shows all over Europe, opening for the likes of Stormzy and Lady Leshurr, and selling out his music on iTunes. And that boy is none other than the artist known as, Che Lingo. It’s probably safe to say that 16-year-old Che would definitely be patting himself on the back right now if he could see that all of his hard work is going to pay off.
This rapper/Emcee from South West London has certainly come a long way from playing in Clapham Junction youth clubs. Most recently, on the 9th September, Che is releasing his new EP titled “Better Versions”, as well as a single of the same name. He already released a music video for the single, which was beautifully shot by Noble People. This new single is a follow-up to the artist’s debut, “Channeling The Waves” which, on the power of preorders alone, ended up reaching the top 50 in the Hip-hop/Rap iTunes chart.
Che released his first EP titled “The Risk Is Proof (T.R.I.P) in 2015 via Soundcloud. It gained a lot of attention from critics and it was even anticipated by MOBO. MTV called him “refreshing” and “unlike anything you’ll see today”. Che deems his rap style as inspired by the Grime & hip-hop music he grew up on, eventually using those influences and evolving into his own individual style. His bouncy hip-hop beats are brought to life with his energetic rapping and considered lyrics. Che has had recent collaborations with the likes of Kojey Radical and George The Poet. Not only that but he’s also had support from the likes of SBTV and multiple radio stations.
Wonderland caught up with Che for a little chat, interrogating him before he hits the bigtime and forgets about us little guys.
How would you describe your sound to us?
I’d describe it as Hiphop/future beats because it fits best in those genre. Somewhere between Jazz, Grime & 90’s HipHop.
How did you break into the music industry? Was it difficult to get noticed?
I’ve always been good at rapping according to my peers in school, college etc. So when I decided I wanted to try and make a career out of it I just stayed consistent. Everything else just fell into place via some very genuine people and even better opportunities to show people what I’m capable of creatively.
Talk us through your creative process while making this EP, any particular challenges?
Working with the producer KutFlow on Better Versions was a risk because people are used to hearing more HipHop from me so the challenge was find a way to communicate the same effect with this EP that I have with prior songs over such a sonically different sound. I just felt comfortable over it because it encompasses everything I love about music in my genre, from its versatility to the faces it can have you make when it drops to the instruments we incorporated. Listening carefully you’ll hear loads about who I am and what I feel as well as how I feel about my past and how it effected me/still effects me now.
What’s the story behind the name “Better Versions”? Did you have any other options before deciding on that name?
The story rings true to my reflective nature I think (I’m a massive over thinker). I wanted it to be a verbal journey over some crazy sounds that gives people an insight into where I grew up, what struggles I faced being introvert and getting bullied at points in my childhood, my opinion on social issues, how my black male friends are perceived by society all the way through to not having a father around to raise me. Writing it I found myself speaking from a point of wanting better not just for myself but my childhood friends who I see trying to find their way in life after being involved in gang culture and crime. It’s a message/story of self and social observation. The name “Better Versions” was the first one I thought of and as soon as I did I smiled and wrote it down. Its a title represents everything I wanted to say.
Do you have a favourite track off of the EP? Which is it and why?
My favourite song is one called “Stephanie’s Crib” it talks a time when I used to go to my friend Stephanie’s house when her dad wasn’t home (he was a writer and had loads of ink) and we’d print cd covers for the dubs I’d recorded at my local youth club, cut them out and put them into the cd cases I’d bought from poundland with my pocket money. It’s a memory I’ll never forget.
How do you feel about the London music scene, particularly the grime scene? Is there anything you dislike about it?
I’m excited about the mentalities of the artists in the scene and how genuine they seem with they’re motives for the future. They’re a lot more community/family orientated than what I knew prior years to be in the music scene half a 5-10 years ago. Grime is a genre I’ll always love because of artists like Dot Rotten (now Zeph Ellis), Ghetts, Chip and PMoney but moving into rap/HipHop scene (with this ‘alternative’ lane I’m in now) homage has to be paid to Wretch 32 and Shakka whom I rate massively. Sonically I’d like to see more live music incorporated into the sound and more experimentation. Which is what I feel I’m going to move into doing more myself as my sound continues to develop.
What was it like opening for artists like Stormzy and Lady Leshurr? Intimidating or enlightening, or both?
Performing alongside them/opening for them (in their earlier legs) was humbling and motivating at the same time because you want to do better and show them how good you are almost as a ‘thank you’ to them and every that supports them (and you).
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?
Chance The Rapper.
Who are you favourite grime artists at the moment? Anyone who influences you?
Chip is doing amazing things with his content right now. His ability to push out music is exactly what that genre needs to remember how to do. Speaking honestly, he’s the most excited Grime artist in that genre right now.
What are your thoughts about performing live? Do you prefer it over studio recording?
I love both equally because they go hand in hand. I’m working on ways to make my live even more enjoyable. With my friend/DJ One99.
Where would you like to see your career in 5 years?
Regardless of where I am, I want to be able to pay my bills and keep my family happy. If I have to become a globally known star in music to do that in the respective time, so be it.
Working on any exciting new things at the moment that we can look forward to?
Always new music and better versions of what you’ve heard/seen already. KutFlow and I have some amazing records coming as well as some with the producer of my debut single “Channelling The Waves” SJ Reid.