“I’ve got massive goals and massive aspirations, so I’m just in motion, just on my way to what I believe I’m supposed to be doing.” Avelino (first name Achi, “Ave” for short) is a man who knows what he wants and is fast on his way to getting it. Since he started self-releasing on YouTube in 2011, the now 24-year- old Tottenham MC has become one of the biggest artists on the UK rap scene. His newly released playlist, No Bullshit is the result of an unwavering work ethic and determination to make a name for himself. Whilst referring to his mantra — “I always said I want to rap like Jay-Z and write like Chris Martin,” he’s unapologetically confident in his ability. “I wanna be Avelino,” he says. “I believe in self-belief, and that can take you anywhere.”
Released 26 October, No Bullshit combines inventive lyricism with “straight energy”. The playlist swerves between hip hop, deep house and Afrobeats, with some garage cuts thrown in for good measure. “There’s a lot of different styles but sonically I still feel like it’s centred,” Ave tells me. He owes this, he says, to the minimal production team of Raf Riley and Jason Julian who produced all but one track, “1 in a Million”, helmed by Jay Prince. “As much as I wanted to explore different styles, I wanted to make sure that the production was quite small so that sonically it all made sense.”
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Variation has always been a trend with Ave. He takes notes from the US greats: Tupac, Biggie and Aaliyah, through the emotion in their lyricism. It’s all delivered through unfaltering wordplay and acerbic wit, Brit style. He references intrinsic motifs of transatlantic pop culture: finding tenners (considerably less glamorous than 100 dollar bills) and name dropping Shawn Carter alongside Sean Connery. Even American brand True Religion gets a shoutout on “Long Time Coming”. “I remember being young and really wanting a pair but not being able to afford them,” Ave explains. “They were a classic jeans brand back in the day where I’m from.” Guided by a long-standing collaborative relationship with Wretch 32, having released joint mixtape “Young Fire, Old Flame” in 2015, Ave’s joining the ranks representing the UK’s best on a global stage, enlisting Skepta and Stormzy for verses on February hit, “Energy”.
“Growing up in my household there was a lot of music from my culture,” Ave explains, his third creative point of contact, his African heritage, audible on tracks like “No Such Thing”. As well as exhibiting melodic originality, No Bullshit uniquely threads snippets of an interview throughout the playlist, which Ave refers to as “the graduation”. In conversation with DJ Semtex, he addresses questions around his style, character and background, —“it was just about me literally saying this is Avelino, raw and uncut, hence the title, No Bullshit.”
There’s a debut album on the horizon, but for now Avelino is focused on spreading the No Bullshit message. As he tells us in “Outro 2 Da Beginning”, he has no choice but to succeed.
Taken from the Winter 17/18 Issue of Wonderland; out now and available to buy here.
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Shamirah Sairally using NARS, Dr Paw Paw and Bioderm