Primero is a force of nature. The London native and musician pulls from the rawest, heaviest elements of UK and US Hip Hop while maintaining a contemporary yet personal feel to create his unique sound. These qualities will see him continuously push the boundaries of our culture and music, as he ventures throughout his trajectory. Since releasing his first single entitled, ‘Ari Lennox freestyle’ earlier this year – which features a soulful Ari Lennox sample-lead-backdrop, that acts as a showcase for his introspective lyricisms and charismatic appeal. – We’ve been left wondering what’s next for the MC.
Pie Radio caught up with him to find out more…
Welcome! Can you tell us what your name Primero means and how that name came about?
As a rapper, it took me a long time to come up with a name I liked. I struggled with this over the years. I’ve had loads of different stage names in the past, but I never really liked any of them. I wanted a stage name that I could be confident in; something that rolled off the tongue nicely. In my humble opinion the name ‘Primero’ did just that. Originally, I came up with the name ‘Prime’. After looking up all the definitions of the word ‘Prime’ felt it represented who I was as an artist and individual. Somehow, ‘Prime’ turned into ‘Primero. I think I preferred how ‘Primero’ sounded and looked written down. It reminded me of a carnival act or a magician’s name like ‘Houdini’ ; plus, ‘Primero’ means ‘first’ in Spanish. I thought that was cool I guess.
What part of London are you from?
Was born in North London, but I’ve lived all over the place: Edmonton, Enfield, Wembley, Wandsworth, Camden; even outside of London and the UK: Stourbridge, Bristol, Wymondham, and Nigeria too. I’ve never lived anywhere predominantly, so I don’t really claim any area as home like that.
How has moving around influenced your music?
I think wherever I go or wherever I’m at definitely plays a part in what I write about. A bigger influence in my life is the internet, social media, TV and radio. These things have always played a huge part in cultivating my obsession with hip hop, rap and grime music; music as a whole to be honest. I love hip hop so much. American and British hip hop . I love everything about it. From the culture, the history, to the music. I would definitely say it hasn’t only just influenced my style of music, but also my way of life and school of thought.
So, you’ve only recently started making music, why now?
I’ve always wanted to. Since I was in year 7, I knew I wanted to rap. But I was too shy and I lacked self-confidence, It’s was only in the last couple of years that decided this is what I really and truly want to do. I kept it very lowkey from my family, and only a couple of close friends knew how serious I wanted to take it. I was too afraid of what other people would think, but now I couldn’t care less what other people’s opinions are. They can’t live my life for me.
You said you were always into music as a kid on your IG – who were you listening to growing up?
As a Kid, I listened to most things hip hop. From the 80’s to the present day. I guess the artist’s in my heavy rotation was Jay Z, Kendrick, Andre 3000, Rick Ross, Kano & Ghetts. I wouldn’t call myself a Hip Hop historian or anything, but the culture fascinates me so much. I feel like one of the reasons I make music now is because the feeling music gave me as an early teen is no longer there in today’s current music. Not to say today’s music is not good, but I miss the nostalgic feeling of listening to the style of music that was coming out when I was 14-17. What I aim to do with my music is give listeners a feeling of nostalgia but add a new refreshing twist.
We love the ‘Ari Lennox freestyle’ – talk to us about the initial inspiration for the song?
My boy JJ On Wax, who produced the instrumental, was playing me all the new stuff he had been working on. We hadn’t had a studio session together for a while and we were just catching up. He then played me the beat and I thought it was hard. I wanted it immediately. But he had already promised the beat to another rapper. He even played me their version of the song, and in my honest opinion (No offence to the rapper), I thought his rendition was dead. Very disrespectful to the instrumental and also JJ. So I made the song out of spite. I wanted to prove to JJ that I could make a way better song, and I was willing to compete for the beat. The lyrics to the Ari Lennox Freestyle were originally meant for another song but they worked good enough with the instrumental. I think I could’ve written something new and even way better, but in the little time I had to prove to JJ, this is what I came up with. The only reason it’s called ‘Ari Lennox Freestyle’ is because I couldn’t think of a name. Ari Lennox was sampled in the beat, and my verse is more or less a freestyle of mine, so it only made sense to call it the ‘Ari Lennox Freestyle’.
How would you describe your music?
Nostalgic, but also refreshing at the same time. I think that’s mostly down to my beat selection. You’ll just have to wait and see.
Talk to us about your collective Watch Out Records, what are your plans for the future and how did it come about?
Watch Out Records is a collective of creatives from all different backgrounds. As it currently stands, there are 5 musicians in the collective: Emil (Producer), Bzerk (Rapper/ MC), JJ On Wax (Producer), Off Key (Producer/DJ), and myself. There are also two videographers who make up part of the collective: Ali and RemxRaw. They work together as a production team under the name ‘Raw Input’. I think as individuals, we all have different styles of music we create, but it’s also similar enough to a point where we blend well as a group. I think we would all love to do a collective album but that’s not really gonna happen anytime soon or in the near future. I think everyone in the collective wants to work on their crafts before we form like Voltron to create a collaborative project.
How do you go about writing music, what inspires you? Do you prefer to share personal experiences or observe?
I can do both. I like to call myself a social forecaster, but then again if I’m being honest, I never know what I’m gonna say on the mic before I say it. It depends on my mood, the beat and my environment. I just got to catch a vibe.
Can we be expecting any quarantine freestyles, to keep us entertained during lock down?
I’m always working on new material. As for quarantine freestyles, I’m not too sure about that, but who knows. I got a remix of the Ari tune featuring another rapper called Shar, which I’m thinking of putting on all streaming platforms. Not just SoundCloud this time, but I want to release a couple more singles before I release it.
When can we look forward to a project?
I’m currently working on an EP. It was projected to come out around August time, but with quarantine going on, I might have to reschedule and push a few things back. Fingers crossed. In the meantime I wanna try to drop a new single each month, God willing.
Listen to Ari Lennox Freestyle below