Originally published for The 405.
Many current hip-hop artists can be accused of focusing solely on fuckin’ bitches and gettin’ money; but for 25-year-old, Essex-born rapper Nick Brewer, that is not the case. His first EP since signing to Island records, Four Miles Further, is a showcase of his skill as a wordsmith and a storyteller, with tales of his youth and commentary on modern society. “I can’t really claim to be a gangster,” said Brewer, who seems reluctant to get caught up with the hip-hop aesthetic.
“I’ve found that talking about what I’ve experienced and what I think and what I’ve gone through, that’s when I make my best music,” he added. Brewer’s style is not entirely dissimilar to his UK contemporaries in terms of subject matter, but his flow is more in the realm of that of a spoken word artist. “I’ve actually got in to writing spoken word more recently in the songs that I do when I’m performing live. I feel like it’s a really good way for people to get to know you and take in what your saying and I feel like they connect with you,” he said.
Beginning his path in to music DJ’ing when he was just 11 years old, Brewer became a fan of the rising UK grime scene at the time but, while he also took an interest in rapping, it wasn’t until he was much older that he became comfortable calling himself a rapper. “I always rapped secretly. I got in to rapping when I was about 16 or 17 but I didn’t really take it seriously until I was about 21,” he said. Brewer’s narrative rapping style has garnered praise from critics and earned him the tag of an “urban poet”, much like many of his influences. “I think all my favourite rappers are just wicked storytellers. Nas and Eminem are probably top of my list, but even guys like Drake, Chance the Rapper and J Cole as well, they can really paint a vivid picture and take you on a journey,” he added.
Brewer has worked with an array of up-and-coming UK talent, from spoken word artist George the Poet to rapper Little Simz, both of whom feature on his Four Miles Further EP. “I really like to work with people obviously that I’m fans of but I also kind of have a personal relationship with, especially because I feel like the audiences are people who understand you and you understand them,” he said. The EP was produced by Brewer’s long-time collaborators The Confect, who have worked with him on the majority of his music. “We just locked ourselves in the studio and got cracking on it. Some of the tunes have been there in a less developed form for a while,” he said.
While many rappers his age may be attracted to the elaborate lifestyle that comes with being a hip-hop artist, Brewer has managed to stay grounded and focus on the music. “I feel like rap music is one of the main genre’s where you can really get to know the artist, whether you agree with what they’re saying or whether they’re painting a positive picture, they’re kind of describing who they are and what they do. On the whole, it is somewhat of a lost art but when it’s done properly, I think it can be really powerful.”