UK rap star AJ Tracey: ‘I’m not all the way out of the streets’April 16, 2021
The west Londoner is up for two Brit awards and is hoping for a No 1 album – but fame and success haven’t eclipsed his insecurities or impoverished past
On the cover of his eponymous 2019 debut album, AJ Tracey was already pronouncing himself the greatest of all time, or GOAT in rap parlance, by posing with an actual goat. He used two for the shoot so neither would get lonely. What happened to his animal friends? “I donated them to a farm in Hounslow,” he says. “They’re pygmy goats, so they’re way smaller, but all the other goats there are scared of them. They run tings.”
The goats are more widely symbolic, then. The 27-year-old Tracey has come from a poor background to end up running things, dominating British rap’s mainstream as a fully independent artist. Known for his party tunes and his gorgeous, low vocal delivery (there is a Reddit post titled “AJ Tracey’s voice could slide the knickers off a nun”), his funny and boastful bars flit glossily over any beat: UK garage, grime and drill, but also Caribbean soca (his dad is from Trinidad) and US trap and R&B. He has even folded in a country music influence.