Make It Music: Belly Squad
London trio Belly Squad are key players in a new wave of sound coming fresh out of the capital. This rapidly growing dance hall inspired scene, championed by the likes of J Hus, Mo Stack and Kojo Funds is a fusion of afro beats, grime and hip-hop with the vibrancy of African pop and bashment.
We meet the group in West London’s Metropolis Studios, lounging in one of the swanky recording suites. Hailing from South and East London, the trio consists of Yung Max (real name Remmi Maxwell) and Ty Jombla – both 18 -who met each other at school, while Ross Jombla, 20, is Ty’s cousin.
An addictive mix of inner city rhymes, melodic hooks and afro-rhythms have turned Belly Squad into something of an Internet sensation. Their track ‘Banana’ went viral before it’s release, when a clip of Ty singing bars from the chorus was recorded on his friend’s phone and posted on Vine. The squad have also generated a buzz with remixes of US rap anthems like Young Thug & Travis Scott’s‘Pick Up The Phone’, Designer’s ‘Panda’ and Drake’s ‘Controlla’.
Already a key afro beats track in its original form,“Banana (Remix)”showcases Belly Squad’s boundless talent and charisma by fusing clever rhymes and tongue-in-cheek innuendos with an addictive hook, while passing the mic to some of the UK’s biggest names; including MOBO Award winner Abra Cadabra, Black Butter signings Young T & Bugsey, Timbo, andShowkey (recorded before the rapper’s passing). The video has racked upover 5 Million views on YouTube and stands testament to how their energeticsound is shaking up the industry.
For their Make It Music session, Belly Squad have recorded renditions of their track ‘Morning’ and the Migo’s track ‘Bad and Boujee’ for us. We dare you to try and sit still!
How do you describe your music?
Ty Jombla: It’s something new. It’s unique, as it’s a mixture of Afrobeats, rap and bashment, combined as one. It’s the sounds we grew up with, from our home and the people around us. We’ve combined all of it and just put it together.
Yung Max: My dad played drums in a reggae band and my mum was a singer – that’s actually how they met. So I grew up hearing different sounds at home and in our music we try to fuse all that in to one sound.
Can you describe your sound in three hashtags?
Ty Jombla: #fusion
Yung Max: #vibe
Ross Jombla: #emerging
What is your biggest musical inspiration?
TJ: For me it’s probably Skepta or Stormzy. Stormzy actually reached out and gave us some advice – like, keep doing what you’re doing, don’t watch other people and always focus on the positives.
YM: It’s Chip or Tupac for me. Chip tweeted about us too saying we’re wavy – it’s mad.
RJ: I was going to say that as well. It has to be Chip.
TJ: Why Chip?
RJ: When I used to watch him, it was the way that his stage presence was, his delivery of bars… it was proper. He tweeted about us saying we’re wavy. Migos and Section Boyz are sick too.
Tell us about the EP you’re dropping tomorrow.
TJ: The EP we are dropping tomorrow is the ‘Banana’ EP. It’s got the original ‘Banana’; the remix of ‘Banana’ and three additional tracks. So one’s called ‘Papa’, which is out on GRM Daily; ‘Like That’ and ‘Morning’ are coming out on Link Up TV. It’s similar tracks to Banana – similar dance vibes, saying go out and have fun, you get me?! It’s quality music.
YM: It’s a sick EP. It’s exciting to release it.
What’s in store for the rest of the year?
TJ: More bangers, more banging music, more banging visuals and work. We’re looking to broaden our fan base and drop quality stuff. Try and get a MOBO and some quality awards. Try and get some festivals.
YM: We’re trying to widen our margin right now by dropping a lot of songs. The songs we have now are good, but we’re recording a lot, so we’re excited to release the new songs and let people hear ‘em.
RJ: Yeah, we’ve been the studio a lot recently, recording a lot of songs, so this year I think that a lot of people will get the chance to find out who we are individually. This year’s gonna be sick!
So, do you have any festivals lined up?
YM: We’ve just played The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, but we’re at Sequences Festival in Bristol too.
JM: That’s in July. There’s Notting Hill Carnival after party too. That should be sick as well.
What’s your most used emoji?
YM: The eye emoji.
TJ: Maybe the banana emoji. I send that to a lot of girls, you know. It still bangs.
What would your super power be?
YM: I’d be invisible. That’d be a mad ting!
RJ: I’d like to be able to read someone’s mind.
TJ: I’d like to be able to read people’s thoughts as well.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
YM: What, like unhealthy food? That’s one innit, eating junk food and that.
TJ: Yeah, I’ll go with that as well.
RJ: I eat a lot of junk food too, still.
What’s your party trick?
RJ: I turn into some mad dancer.
TJ: I just chat to everyone!
YM: Give people drinks and stuff. Pour drinks on people. No tricks – just have fun, innit!