ASBO Meets: 169

169 is a multi talented producer and performer rising out of the little known town, Streatham. I spoke to the multi platinum producer covering a range of topics, his production, his friendships and his future music.

The 25 year old had a calm and relaxed tone when we caught up over zoom, his energy a product of his hometown with 169 telling me “the energy in Streatham … it’s a very chilled area”.

169 has been making music for a majority of his life, first beginning his production journey in primary school with rather untraditional means with his father providing his first tool in the form of a keyboard, “my dad had one of these old school keyboards”. 169 used this keyboard to create his first tracks creating beats and rhythms with his fathers “old school keyboard”, primary school was the building blocks for the producer 169 has become today and was where he and a school friends created their first track.  

Secondary school saw the producer transfer his skills digitally as he began using programmes such as FL studios, leaving his keyboard behind him.

Streatham isn’t only home to 169 but raised the likes of Dave and Kyle ev. The neighboring towns such as Mitcham, South Norwood and Brixton birthed countless acts such as Ramz, Stormzy and Loyle Carner, just to name a few.

169 has relationships dating back to school times with a lot of these talented artists. We reflected on his relationship with the British superstar Dave, with a majority of the rapper’s early work leading up to his debut album being produced by 169, including his debut track JKYL+HYD which 169 told me was created the first time the two met. The pair may have been from the same area but first met at the beginning of their now fruitful music careers due to mutual friends pushing the idea, “he was getting a lil buzz from what he was doing … At the time I was doing my production thing getting a lil buzz on soundcloud”, their mutual friends coming together to let the both of them know “you guys are cold individually link up and see what you can come up with” and as the saying goes the rest is history, 7 years later and the pair have created a number of chart topping tracks with ‘Funky Friday’ ft Fredo and ’18 Hunna’ ft Headie one, as well as a chart topping album in Dave’s debut album ‘Psychodrama’. As 169 says “from the beginning it was just synergy”.

There’s a group of young artist who aren’t only highly talented but are friends who alongside each other have gone on to almost hold a monopoly on British rap and hip hop, 169 knows the impact and told me “we all wanna give each other room to build ourselves and not rely on each others pockets of fame … At the same time using the network we have now to help each other get into certain rooms”.

“You limit yourself when you box yourself into one genre, I’ll work with anybody that I find cold and is willing to push the boundaries”

It’s not only hip hop and rap that 169 works on, having produced hits alongside Craig David, Mabel, Kojey radical and many more. ” In my mind I don’t see a world where it makes sense to work within one genre of music, knowing that I’m talented enough to step outside of that”. It’s not only production that sees the highly talented musician maneuver within genres, his own music sees him use a number of different flows as he puts out wave influenced raps as well as dancehall inspired flows influenced by his Jamaican heritage, and while he has produced with artists from all differing backgrounds he has also created tracks alongside a plethora of different artists such as Jaz Karis and Wretch 32, the later being an artists 169 had always dreamed of working alongside.

“I’m supposed to be one of the or regarded as one of the top producers in the country, why should you expect to hear anything you’ve heard before”

The music scene is forever changing and 169 as a musician who has experienced it all in his decade long career and is doing what he can to help the next generation coming through, “you’re kind of doing yourself a disservice not showing the next set what to look out for, how to approach certain things …. The music industry is a dog eat dog world init, if you don’t know what you’re doing going into it you can easily get swindled”. The producer put on a workshop alongside FL studios for aspiring producers aged 14 to 18 helping them not only with the production side of the business as well as how to maneuver within the industry and scene, “I was once that age trying to get into the industry”.

169 is a all rounder with production skills that are undoubtable, this year he is preparing to go full steam with his own music, ” like I said before there’s nothing wrong with something taking precedent” and production has been that for 169 after dropping his last project in 2020 in unison with the coronavirus pandemic  ” I dropped my project ‘Sync’ in March / April that year so I had a whole lot of plans,listening parties, shows and it all we out the window … I almost had to reset and try again”. He had to readjust while the world and music industry was put on hold. This year however he’s ready to do what he had hoped for his last project, “I’m gonna get annoying now”.

Future plans for the south west Londoner are quickly changing,”at one point I used to say, [my dream] would be having a certain feature like a wretch 32 but I’ve kind of done it … For now it’s getting to a point where views in my videos are touching 100k, once I’ve reached that part on my personal music that’s my measure of success”. 

It’s go time for 169 “I’ve got plans of more songs coming out, I’ve got a project coming out may this year”. The multi talented artist is preparing to “get annoying” and has started the year with two  singles releases including his most recent track alongside Tottenham’s drill captain RV on what 169 told me was one of his favourite tracks to date, titled ‘Bracing’ the single is available to listen to here: