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(UK Spotlight is an ongoing column designed to introduce GRAMMY.com readers to artists making waves on the other side of the Atlantic. You'll learn about the artists, their music, where they came from, and where they are going.)
Bashy is much more than a rave MC. His clever wordplay cuts through with a panache that is one step ahead of other grime lyricists, and his music proves it. Born Ashley Thomas in West London, the 27-year-old knew he had a talent for rhyming during his time in school.
"When I was vibing at school, people would laugh at the lines I came up with, just because they were funny," says Bashy. "My older cousin was rapping at the time, too, and I wanted to be like him. So Solid [Crew], Mos Def and Jadakiss were also huge inspirations."
Taking his first steps into music more than a decade ago as a member of grime's East Connection outfit, Bashy's loud fashion style and witty delivery helped him stand out from the grime norm. The genre holds a special place in his heart, and it always will.
"I love grime [because] that's how I started to really build my name. It has a sound that is very unique to the UK and, to me, it's a genre that is open to [interpretation]. I like to vibe over it when the moment is right, but I've expanded my musicality so much now that it's just one part of my musical puzzle."
Bashy has grown into a fully rounded artist over the years — evidenced by defining moments such as his 2007 urban music anthem, "Black Boys," and his debut album, 2009's Catch Me If You Can — building upon the fame gained from his work in the UK's underground music scene to allow him to be who, many feel, he has wanted to become: a mainstream-friendly artist.
"I've just gotta be myself at all times and I've learned to not care what people really think," he says. "It took a while though. I think that I've finally found my lane and I'm staying in it. My musical style is very personal and raw, and I give my perspective on all matter of things. People can relate to my music because it's relatable and contains real feelings, thoughts and emotions."
Building such a healthy career as an indie artist can be hard to do in this day and age, but Bashy has managed to do it with impressive results.
"My work rate and blessings by the universe have led people to believe I'm signed, but I'm glad you just cleared that up," he says. "I just think that God was keeping me hidden for whatever reason, but I'm sure all will be revealed in the future."
If all else fails, the former BRIT School theatre student always has acting to fall back on. After playing the role of Rager in the 2010 youth film Shank, playing Smoothy in Noel Clarke's 18.104.22.168, and supervising all music content for Adulthood, Bashy has already etched out quite a successful career within the film industry. But music is something he won't be giving up without a fight. In 2012 he released "LDN Town," a tribute to his hometown that features UK soul veteran Omar, and there is more music on the horizon.
"I actually have three films out this year: The Man Inside, Cockneys Vs Zombies and My Brother The Devil," says Bashy. "I'm focused on my music, though, and I'm currently working on my second album, so that will continue to take me on my roller-coaster journey. I feel positive that things are going to happen, and I'm very excited for the next few years. The energy is looking good!"
(At left, watch Bashy perform "LDN Town," featuring Omar.)
(From grime and UK rap to bassline and house (and even a bit of pop), Joseph 'JP' Patterson has played a vital part in promoting the UK's underground music scene over the years, with his no fuss, straight-to-the-point writing style. He is a columnist for MTV RapFix, and a contributor to MTV IGGY, Village Voice, Billboard and NME. Follow him on Twitter @Jpizzledizzle.)
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