AJ Tracey joined Capital XTRA Breakfast with Robert Bruce and Shayna Marie.

Joining Robert Bruce and Shayna Marie on Capital XTRA this morning, AJ Tracey teased details of his upcoming, yet untitled new album, promising that he will release the ‘funky’ new record by the end of the year. The London-based rapper also opened up about taking a year-long break from Instagram to work on his mental health, and gave his verdict on England’s chances ahead of their Euro 2024 quarter final against Switzerland this weekend.

AJ Tracey - AJT
Robert Bruce – RB
Shayna Marie – SM

AJ Tracey promises to release ‘funky’ new album that explores ‘what it means to be British’ by the end of the year

SM: “We have seen some album talk floating around, AJ Tracey, can we confirm that this is true?”

AJT: “Yeah, yeah. One hundred per cent. Album’s coming out before then end of the year. Before I was a bit hesitant to say that, because it wasn’t finished. But now it is basically finished.

SM: “ What can we expect on the album?”

AJT: “Good features, but I will say that it’s not all about the features. It’s about me, actually. Nah, big up the features though, they killed it, yeah. But obviously, do you get it, the majority of the work is me. A few features but they’re curated – I haven’t picked all my bredrins who are the most lit, I’ve just picked people who sound good on the record. So, it’s sonic, you know what I’m saying? At the end of the day – and that’s not shade on no one else – like, the big features, they matter, init? But I think it's more about making sure that the sound is cohesive and making sure that when people hear it they’re like, ‘Oh, these lot had fun making this record.’ Like, there’s a meaning behind it, rather than, ‘Oh, they’re both lit and they just kind of…’ You know what I’m saying? Butted heads. I can give you the theme. The theme is just being British – my British experience – what it means to be British. Me growing up, I listened to funky, so this rhythm is like a little funky reference; grime obviously, dancehall, like, whatever my influences are as a black British person, is going to be what the album sounds like.”

AJ Tracey discusses taking a year-long break from Instagram to work on his mental health and better himself

RB: “That’s sick, man. All that you represent. What has your journey been over the last couple of years, maybe since the last album?”

AJT: “Life’s good, man. Do you get me? My mum’s all happy and that, she’s doing well, she’s smiling, she’s got her own back garden now and that. I go visit my cat – these are little insights into my life. I’m working on different businesses outside of music, as you do, as we should be doing. But aside from the money stuff, my mental health is better than what it was before. I took a little break off Instagram – I think it was like 2019ish, I can’t remember exactly – but I deleted my Insta for like a year, because a lot of that pressure of just being an artist in general got to me. Obviously, where you’re from, where I’m from, it’s like these things are hammered into your head to be a certain type of person, and like to keep your guard up, you know what I’m saying? Not to trust people, not go on new experiences, or ‘I shouldn’t be there’ or ‘I don’t belong in that place,’ you know what I’m saying? I had to unlearn a lot of things that I had previously learnt. So, I took that little break off, worked on my mental health, and yeah, I’m feeling good, man. I’m feeling a lot more mature. I’m 30 now, obviously, so that’s a new chapter for me. I had to be like, ‘I can’t be acting like a kid no more.’”

SM: “You’re on the third floor now.”

AJT: “Exactly. Nah, honestly. Honestly. Honestly. It matters though, init? You’ve got to evolve as a person, as an artist, and your music will grow along with it, because as you experience things, you get to talk about them, do you know what I’m saying? And I’m sure everyone knows this, because I say it in every interview, Skepta is my favourite rapper. When I listen to his music, he’s always growing through his music. So, that is what inspires me to keep – do you know what I’m saying? – elevating and bettering myself. So that’s what we’re working on.”

Rapper AJ Tracey doesn’t think Gareth Southgate is the man to take England forward as he plays defensive football with the ‘best attacking players in the world.’

RB: “Quickly, your thoughts on England and the Euros, your thoughts for the quarter finals – what’re you saying?”

AJT: “Cool, cool, cool. So, I have a lot of friends who play football – big them up, big up England – I hope we win.”

RB: “Haha! The political answers.”

AJT: “Nah, nah, nah. This is what I’ll say yeah. Honestly, honestly, as a fan, yeah, I would love if we played better football. But as a Tottenham fan, if you told me we would play horrible football but win, I’d say, ‘Alright, cool. Let’s go, man.’ It’s just like tournament football at the end of the day. They’re playing differently, they’re playing to win. And playing to win is not always pretty, do you know what I’m saying? You might have a little scrap outside and you’ve got to kick someone down when you’re not meant to kick them – You’ve got to win. Do you know what I’m saying? It is what it is. But I hope we beat Switzerland; I don’t think we will. That’s my honest opinion. That’s my honest opinion. Because them lot are playing with such, like… Our team might be the best team on paper, but they’re team have got the heart. You know that Turkish team? They’ve got the heart, though. Like, they’re fighting with fire, do you know what I’m saying? So I don’t know, man. Our players are all like super well paid, celebrities, jumping out of their Ferraris.”

RB: “They don’t know the grind, they’ve got to get back to the grind!”

AJT: “They might know the grind, but do you know what I’m saying? It’s like they’re all Premier League players, Real Madrid players. Do you know what I’m saying? It’s like, some of the Turkish team are like, ‘This is our shop, man? This is our job’s here.’ So I don’t know. It’s different when you fight for their jobs, do you know what I’m saying? I hope we win though; I hope we win. I’m with them, I’m with them. It just takes someone to shake up the team a little bit, man. I just think like, respectfully, I don’t think Southgate’s the right manager. And I think we just need someone who is going to play… We have the best attacking players in the whole tournament, and we play defensive football. Which is just like… it’s not making sense.”