The Lowdown: Novelist discusses The Ruff Sound Movement

Despite the fact that he’s still only 19 years old, Novelist is one of grime’s most exciting and authentic young talents. We spoke to him on The Lowdown last year, shortly before his debut headline live shows with Red Bull and caught the vibe of an artist in ascendency — “testing his powers” in his own words — and beginning to make his ambitions a reality.

Since then, plenty has changed with Novelist. Breaking off from The Square to go solo, he’s continued putting out music and performing all around the globe, as well as heading off to New York to work on his album. Recently, however, we’ve seen a more considered, serious side to the young MC, including becoming more vocal politically and releasing tracks such as ‘David Cameron Riddim’ and ‘Street Politician’, which directly address issues he feels affect young people from his area.

Since then, he’s dropped a few more new tracks, tagged with the label “[Ruff Sound Movement]”, and all of which have had a similarly dark tone, slightly different to the bouncy good-time grime that he made his name with. I decided I’d catch up with Nov for a quick breakdown of what exactly the Ruff Sound Movement is, and what his plans are for the future…

What’s the thought process behind the Ruff Sound Movement?

My whole thing is something needs to change for people to be optimistic again, I will never denounce the sound that I already create, I’m just making a new one for my youngsters to build an industry off of and make some bread as well, because word is bond when I say all my young G’s need an opportunity. I’ve seen what to do and I’m very certain of what’s coming next for the Ruff Movement.

How does the movement differ from Tugg Set Mafia?

Right now, there’s nothing to speak about on the Tugg Set, the brand exists and that’s all that matters psychologically in the mind of consumers.

What are your plans for pushing the Ruff Sound forward?

My plans are to make the roughest sounds. That’s it.

Are you hoping to make a permanent mark on UK music with this new movement?

I and the supporters of the Ruff Movement already have made a permanent mark in the UK with the Ruff Sound, it exists and is moving.

The music you’ve released recently is noticeably darker and more serious than tracks like ‘Mmm Yeah’ and ‘Pengaleng’, is that deliberate?

Any song that is self-produced by me and featuring myself will show who I really am. I’m a serious person, who knows knows. Young and fun ain’t cutting it when you wanna stir the waters, and build a strong foundation for the same kids that ain’t got shit like the way I didn’t two years ago. Count anything I do now as ‘Novelist’ and not featured music.

Is this darker sound something you’re going to continue with?

My music on a whole now is about representing who I am, where I am, and how I want things to be, so this whole serious aesthetic behind my songs as well as optimism is something I’ll be running with. It’s where music needs to go but I won’t call it dark; there’s a difference between darkness and truth.

You’ve been more and more vocal politically recently, is that something you’re going to include in your music more?

As a young London boy, politics isn’t something that’s separate from my day-to-day, in understanding wargwarn in the world I live in. It’s not a theme I’m running with. Truth be told, it’s mad outside so I’m talking. That’s where it’s all at and what it’s all about.

Do you think young people from the ends should be/are angry with the way the government are running things?

Kids from the ends should be aware of what’s going on and know who’s in power to change things for them. Me personally, I’ve got a bit of a “fuck off” attitude towards the MPs right now but that’s how I feel myself, you get me. All the young dons out there gotta keep it real with theirselves and make their own choices for their families and friends.

Can we look forward to more Novelist releases soon? Last time we spoke you said you were planning a vinyl release for the streets…

There will be many Novelist releases, of a higher standard than usual. Kick back and watch the natural flow of things.

Anything else to say before we go?

Big up my manager Geeneus and my DJ Grandmixxer for expanding my vision, freedom is a must in ART.

Find Novelist on Twitter – @Novelist