West London grime MC Che Wolton Grant (aka AJ Tracey) rose through the ranks of pirate radio, becoming one of the leading figures in U.K. grime's second generation of artists. Grant knew from a young age that he wanted to pursue a career in music, due in part to his parents; not only was his dad a former rapper from Trinidad & Tobago, his mother was a former drum'n'bass DJ from Wales. By age six, Grant had started writing rhymes, coinciding with the first great boom in grime. Although the genre temporarily lost its way, Grant soldiered on, unwilling to give up on his passion for grime. By the time he had reached his early twenties, grime had started another upswing. During this time Grant became proactive in his pursuit of radio spots, working his way up through pirate radio before scoring appearances on Rinse.DM, NTS, and eventually even BBC Radio One.
With his reputation in the world of radio firmly cemented, Grant released a string of EPs, beginning with The Front EP in July 2015, followed by the Alex Moran EP later the same year. In 2016, he further solidified his status as an emerging talent, with a combination of solid collaborations, more radio appearances, and the release of the Lil Tracey EP. The end of 2016 culminated with Grant's nomination yo BBC's Sound of 2017. That year saw him release a handful of EPs and singles including Secure the Bag and "False 9," as well as dabbling in production on "LA4AWeek." The following year Tracey delivered his first U.K. Top 20 single, "Butterflies," followed by the Top 40 single "Lo(v/s)er." Alongside the release of the singles, Tracey also worked on his debut album. The self-titled release dropped at the beginning of 2019, featuring a wide range of influences, including Afrobeat, dancehall, and country. ~ Liam Martin