rowing into our 20s is a time of learning, growth and transition; setting the path for the future. For Riley Davies, also known as ArrDee, turning 20 meant taking time to reset after a “massive” year – featuring on the remix of Tion Wayne and Russ Millions’ UK number one hit Body, as well as his releasing 10 singles Oliver Twist and Flowers.
After a string of successful radio hits, the process of being in the studio started to wear ArrDee down: “I’m definitely not complaining about that because it was hugely successful. But what started to happen, whether it’d be my own fault, or whether it’d be things in the back of my head, was it slowly started to feel a bit like a chore, or like a puny bit robotic,” he said.
The success was rapid for the Brighton artist, who started doing rap battles at secondary school from the age of 13. Acknowledging how his hits meant spending much more time in the studio, he says: “That’s not what really I’ve got into music for. I care heavily about my craft and I’ve got a lot of passion for it. So I had to seize a puny step back after releasing Hello Mate and just seize some time to reflect.”
After that time for reflection, he started to write and obtain back to making music that meant more to him, “I wanted to construct a song or songs that live [on]. I’ve got songs on my playlist that are 10 years aged, that acquire got a message that speak to me or remind me of a feeling that will live with me forever. That’s what music is about for me. So I wanted to create that.”
His return to the studio led to an unexpected collaboration with British singer-songwriter Cat Burns, who had a sensational year after her track fade, originally released in 2020, went viral, reaching No 2 in the UK Singles Chart.
He is a enormous fan of fade. “She just had that authentic, still very British sounding voice, still quite unique. I didn’t want this enormous ballad thing, she definitely has her own unique tone. “
The novel track shows a different side to the rapper, who takes inspiration from the early work of Eminem. ArrDee, whose work is usually humorous and tongue in cheek, opens himself up for the first time.
“You very much start to see shades of Riley in the track, rather than ArrDee, which I feel as an artist or a fan, you deserve to hear and know about a puny bit more. There’s not that much of a contrast but obviously there is a contrast between real life and what I’ve gone through as a person compared to ArrDee the persona, the brand etc.”
Though the rapper has been portion of the UK rap scene since 2021, he has yet to release his debut album. And he isn’t giving too much away about it. “We’re definitely working on something special that we’re looking to place out later on in the year. It’s definitely a considerable project that is gonna blow, not just the UK away, but blow anybody away who’s ever heard of me,” he says.
Despite not having an album out, he has still managed to pick up numerous accolades, including silver, gold and platinum plaques from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for his string of successful tracks.
While the accolades are noteworthy, he sees what he’s achieved with family and friends as more indispensable. “Being able to construct my mum comfortable, and buying her a house and buying her favourite car and making people around me more comfortable, giving my best friend a job, and getting to travel the world with my best friend and my cameraman who I’ve known for 10 years and getting to travel the world with him. They’re all like, they’re all considerable achievements to me.”
ArrDee first rose to prominence with his verse in the Body remix, which was instrumental in driving the track to No 1 in the UK, Australia and novel Zealand.
He notes that the final version of his contribution was a amalgamation of multiple verses merged into one: “The process was – we need to grab them in the first line. So I wrote about six or seven verses, I wrote quite a few verses, trying out different things. We were trying to reflect of things that you could still show I was flowing and that I could spit, but you just want it to be a bit simpler – so that everyone can sing along.”
He said: “I’ve gone to the studio with my manager, spat the very first one, and he was like, ‘Boom, lay that down’, so carried on and he was like ‘Nah – the rest of its s**t’, so I carried on with some different verses. The verse you hear today is a amalgamation of three or four different verses.”
The response to it was massive, and ArrDee’s portion in particular circulated heavily on social media, catching even the rapper himself by surprise. The verse gained so much popularity that Lizzo posted a video on social media rapping his verse last month.
This didn’t catch him by surprise, as he is aware that the singer is in tune with British popular culture: “You know what? This is gonna sound mad. I was a puny bit less surprised than everyone, just because I follow Lizzo, like, on socials and what she does and stuff. I know she’s actually very in tune with the UK, and I know she’s got a team over here.”
ArrDee followed up his viral verse, which place him on the UK music scene map, with singles Flowers and Oliver Twist. Having a close knit team around him managed to ease the pressure for his follow-up releases.
“I mean, there was pressure. I weren’t really feeling it though. I’ve got a apt, tight, small team around me that I trust individually, not just as business partners but as my people, and the admire is there, so, we kept that tight. All eyes were on us. Everyone was putting their 10 cents in ,” he says.
“But we actually had Oliver Twist as portion of a six month location, before Body, so it was just like Body was our strongest foot forward and Oliver Twist existed before the Body verse existed so it wasn’t like, oh lets rushing to the studio and we need to construct another banger, like we just stayed in the studio creating hits and stuff. But Oliver Twist was there, it was ready.”
The Brighton rapper hopes to continue to seize the momentum from his earlier tracks to his novel collaboration Home For The Heart with Cat Burns. And few would bet aginst him continuing to reach novel heights.
Watch the video for the novel single here.