Most people hold negative perceptions of Bradford. Race riots, the Yorkshire Ripper, deprivation and petty crime dominate the collective consciousness of the UK. More forgiving individuals may recognise the Wool Capital for its part in the formation of the Labour Party, for painter David Hockney or maybe its nationally-regarded South Asian cuisine. The city, however, is not foremost one known for its music scene.
Besides reference to the cult anarcho-punk venue, 1-in-12 Club, or to native Bradfordian Zayn Malik, Bradford has little in the way of national influence or even recognition for its music. So when Vice UK released a documentary on local rap group the Bad Boy Chiller Crew, it was an almost surreal experience.
Bad Boy Chiller Crew - BBCC for short - is quintessentially Bradfordian. The crew rap bars about partying and grafting laden with Bradford slang over bouncy bassline instrumentals. Their tracks and music videos are a crash course in the culture of the city: Dirt bikes and quads, shisha bars, Bradford City football kits. Their music has been recieved with a mixture of bemusement and amusement, but also genuine appreciation.
UK rap is overwhelmingly a southern phenomena. Nearly all of the biggest artists come from in and around London. A lot of the music coming out of these scenes tends toward a darker, more serious and brooding sound. BBCC eschew this. Their lyrics are irreverent. They MC over a genre that appeared to have only lived past the early 2000s in West Yorkshire. One of the members, Clive, sports an enviable mullet. This almost aggressively Northern aesthetic, one that's funny and fun, comes across as almost novelty. Grime and drill has spawned spoof acts such as Unknown P and Roll Safe that aim towards this sort of tongue in cheek music. The difference with BBCC is they make it authentic.
Their music has been recieved with a mixture of bemusement and amusement, but also genuine appreciation.
Though some listeners laugh at the BBCC, others laugh with them, and their reach has grown tremendously. The Youtube comments on their latest song "Guns Up" has users from Canada, the US, South America and Ireland all expressing their love for the group. This is no doubt an effect of the Vice documentary, and whilst many listeners may see the BBCC as nothing more than comedic, they have just as many fans in and out of Bradford. The beats are catchy and fun, and MCs like Kane have undeniably skilful flow. This newfound widespread popularity makes me wonder how long it will be before the residents of Castle Leazes will be adopting bassline as their new party soundtrack.