Big Narstie has told Sky News he thinks the country will be surprised at Ed Sheeran’s rapping ability, and says it was a "blessing" to work with the Shape Of You singer on his debut album.
Sheeran – his friend of many years – sings with the grime artist, presenter and social media star on BDL Bipolar, a 26-track album that Narstie says is inspired by his own struggles with mental health.
Narstie – real name Tyrone Lindo – says his debut, which reached number four in the iTunes hip hop charts, is connecting with fans despite its sometimes dark subject matter.
The album is just putting out there an awareness of mental health and people who do suffer with bipolar – like being subject to various emotions – and it’s worked well for me, he said.
Being a person who can be so happy to go to so sad in minutes, that’s what the album comes form. Like a roller coaster ride.
There’s a big song on the album called Help, featuring LaVille, and the main message in that song is not being afraid to ask for help. Famous or non-famous – everyone needs help.
Narstie paid tribute to Sheeran, who collaborated with him on the track Hello Hi 2.
The country’s so surprised that Ed Sheeran can rap so well, but I’ve been telling people since the day, my broski is the shellers [surprising]. The fact that he honoured me enough to jump on a track with me and complement my culture and what I do, instead of me like trying to conform and jump on what everyone expects of him, it’s such a blessing.
He also worked with Craig David, who he first met back in 2015, collaborating on the album track Sunshine.
But the 32-year-old insists none of the big names who have worked with him on the album are there just because of their star billing and large social media following.
He explains: I’ve known Ed Sheeran for so many years, he’s godfather to my daughter, but this is the first song I’ve ever jumped on with him in eight years. It had to feel right, I didn’t just want it to be a promotional scam, I wanted it to be pure of essence.
Same with Craig David, I was a big fan of him for so long… Everything on the album has been authentic and genuine. None of it has been done for political gain, like ‘He’s got a big fan base, let me just reach out and do a song with him’.
As for reviews – he’ll be reading them in the smallest room in the house.
I’ll be sitting on the toilet late at night… scrolling through all the messages.
But I appreciate both good and bad – I don’t want to sit in a bubble where everyone just tells me everything positive to keep my morale high. The only way you can learn is by analysing yourself and taking in your mistakes.
And it’s not just new music he’s putting out there. Narstie has also landed his very own late night chat show.
Described by TV execs as bonkers and like Graham Norton on acid, the host himself says it’s like nothing else on TV.
The Big Narstie Show is basically Channel 4 gave me a good amount of dough to be myself… I’ve got an infectious personality, I don’t mean to be a comedian, and it’s just naturally how I am. I’ve been like that from a kid. So the fact that me being my natural self has landed me a TV show, I couldn’t give God any more thanks.
So would he have President Trump on the show?
No, I wouldn’t let Trump on my stage… I’d just rather fight him in the car park. Proper Millwall.
However, Narstie, who first shot to social media fame with his Uncle Pain YouTube advice videos, did have some guidance for Mr Trump: Just be a nicer person, and think before you speak.
The Brixton-born artist also says he hopes both his show and his music will give England something to think about.
Never one to lack creativity in his similies, he has one big ambition: I want to make something that will stick to the fabrics of time and be a trademark part of the country. I want to be like a Cartier watch, or a Vauxhall Nova – proper English stuff – or a Cornish pasty.
BDL Biopolar is out now, and The Big Narstie Show airs on Channel 4, Fridays, at 11pm.