The Boys Of British Hip Hop

West London collective, WSTRN, talk music and influences ahead of their Mad Yas Island gig

Hold tight all you fans of British hip hop and R&B, because purveyors of that distinctive sound, WSTRN will be gracing the MAD Yas Island stage on Friday March 23. Consisting of Akelle Charles, his cousin Haile and close pal Louis Rei, the West London trio boast an impressive musical heritage thanks to Akelle and Haile’s fathers, who were in the same reggae band. They also boast a celebrity fan base, with fellow Londoners Lily Allen and Rita Ora both championing the guys. So as the group get ready to wow their fans in the capital at MAD Abu Dhabi, we let the talented trio spill all on their music and influences in their own words. Over to you, boys…

On relatable rap: “I’m going to rap about personal stuff like relationships, pain that I’ve gone through, pain that someone else has gone through. Real life stuff that people can connect to. So they can hear the song and they’re like, ‘Oh my god, this guy is talking about me’.” – Akelle

On London life: “What’s unique about West London is you can walk down a lovely high street and you’ll take a turn and suddenly you’re on a council estate. So you’ll have friends from different walks of life. You just get to experience things from a different viewpoint. It rounds you as a person.”
Louis Rei

On keeping it real: “The story of us coming together is so organic… We was all doing our own thing prior to this. You can’t fake realness, if that makes sense.” – Louis Rei

On their influences: “Lauryn Hill, Brandy, Cassidy, Fabolous, Jada – ​old school stuff as well.” – Akelle

“I’m more of a Marvin Gaye, Evelyn King kinda guy.” – Louis Rei

“Nas, Jay Z, Laila Hathaway; I like some of the new heads like Young Thug and Future too, though.” – Haile

Sources: bbc.com; standard.co.uk; complex.com

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