Headie One is a name that now rings bells across the country louder than Big Ben.
The Tottenham-born artist has consistently expanded his musical repertoire through his releases, as he poignantly illustrated earlier this year on GANG – his genre-breaking mixtape with Fred Again. The experimental project marked a watershed moment in his career; it pushed the boundaries of his artistry and showcased his versatile lyricism, which has subsequently positioned him as a vanguard of the UK rap scene.
His debut album, Edna, lands on Friday (9 October). Having dialled in a network of top-tier artists like Skepta, Stormzy, Aitch, Drake and AJ Tracey, along with fast rising hit-makers Young T & Bugsey, Ivorian Doll, Mahalia and Young Adz, the album promises to deliver an eclectic synthesis of drill, trap, R&B and rap.
The core concept of the album is one of introspection. He reflects on the passing of his mother Edna, and reveals how it has framed his journey so far. On his first full-length LP, Headie One can be heard questioning how events could have panned out differently if she had been there to guide him. “The theme of the album is that there’s a lot of deep and negative stuff that I have been through,” Headie says from a London studio, “but it’s a nice balance between positivity and progression.” Forgiveness and faith are highlighted as key lessons, the former being one he seeks to be taught and the latter sustaining him through trials and tribulations. Irrespective of past situations, his stoic-like philosophy to embrace the highs and lows has become the building blocks of his vision.
Speaking for a disenfranchised younger generation also plays a crucial role. Against a backdrop of austerity, a spike in youth crime has emerged and a holistic societal approach is needed. The 26-year-old offers insight into complex circumstances – such as a decline in youth services, lower-income council estate life and failures in the school system – that lead to the realities these young people face. “Listen to it with an open mind,” he tells us. “I don’t want anyone to take anything away from it, I just want people to take it in. Any way it can help them in their personal situations, then they can use it to their advantage.”
Ahead of the album drop, we link up with Headie to break down each track on Edna.