This year's Red Bull Culture Clash was full of epic moments and buzzworthy guest appearances, but none was more poignant than Taylor Gang bringing out Ice Kid. The lyricist has always been something of a musical deity, an artist who only really exists in the public consciousness in the form of rare, unannounced releases. Add to the fact that he was largely silent from 2011 until 2016, and is largely a mystery to an entire generation of fans.
Ice Kid's first foray into the music industry came aged just 14 when he appeared on Stylo G’s underground smash ‘My Yout’, with a verse that quickly garnered the respect of his peers. Shortly after, he caught the attention of Wiley, who eventually signed and mentored him along with Chip and Little Dee. Ice Kid was poised for stardom, tipped by industry insiders to be one of the biggest stars grime has ever given life to, but it just wasn't meant to be.
Now, all grown up, learning lessons and dusting off his shoulders, MOBO caught up with Ice Kid to discuss his appearance at Culture Clash, his relationship with Wiley and Chip, the pressures of fame, why he needed a break from the music industry and, most importantly, what he has planned musically for the rest of 2016.
Your appearance at Culture Clash came as a real surprise as we hadn’t seen you for a number of years. How did it all come about?
Basically, I got a phone call from Stylo G that morning asking if I wanted to perform at Culture Clash that evening. It's quite funny because I was in two minds about going, it was a split second decision and I thought to myself just go for it.
What was it like being back on stage and seeing the crowd’s reaction?
To stand in front of 20,000 people alongside Wiz and Taylor Gang was probably one of the most overwhelming experiences I've had so far.
There was a moment when the camera captured Chip’s reaction when you hit the stage. Out of everyone, he looked the most surprised. Have you seen it?
Yeah, I've seen it. To be honest, it was the first time we've seen each other in a very long time. Really, I was just as shocked as he was. I nearly stopped spitting to say "what's up" [Laughs].
You were one of Wiley’s premiere artists when he signed you to his label, alongside Chip. What happened to your deal and relationship with Wiley and Eskibeat?
Wiley is my brother. In the early stages of my career up until now, he has played a crucial part and all I can say is I'm thankful. God bless Wiley.
In an interview with Not for The Radio, Wiley said, “The difference between them two was that Chipmunk had more hunger and more “I want it” and Ice Kid had more “I know I’m good.” Would you say that receiving so much praise very early on in your career left you feeling a bit too comfortable at that time?
Not at all, I never really felt comfortable being the centre of attention, it just ain't my thing. If I could reach people through my music without the fame that would be an ideal situation. I just wasn't ready for all of that and the timing was not right.
For a lot of people, you were the chosen one, the one who had what it took to become one of the biggest stars of grime. Did you feel that energy when you were on the come up? If yes, did that put a lot of pressure on you at the time?
Definitely. At the time I didn't feel that I was capable of fulfilling people's expectations.
You came up around the same time as Chip, who eventually went on to experience great commercial success. How was it watching him develop into the artist he is today?
I watched him on his journey from the beginning and it is amazing what he has accomplished. People are always trying to make it look like we are rivals but it is nothing but respect.
Over the years, you’ve appeared on a couple tracks and dropped some freestyles but, for the most part, you’ve remained pretty elusive. Why did you need that extensive break from the music industry?
There are different types of artists; some want to be famous and some just want to make music for the love of it. I think at the time it was too overwhelming for me.
What do you know about yourself that you didn’t know when you were seventeen?
I have learned that you can't run from your destiny.
What’s in store for you musically for the rest of 2016?
I have a project called 11 dropping soon so look out for it.
Follow Ice Kid on Twitter @IceKidxi