Meet Bad Boy Chiller Crew, the Bradford outfit that have gone from local jokers to one of the most hyped acts in British music today
If you cut to the core of Bad Boy Chiller Crew, they’d have Bradford written all the way through them like a stick of rock.
“When we make our videos, we want to represent what Bradford’s about,” says GK, the oldest member of the crew. “The rally driving, the nightclubs, the horses. It’s like every typical thing you’d see in Bradford shovelled into one video.”
The trio, comprised of MCs GK, a former ice-cream van man and Kane and Clive, ex factory and warehouse workers have become a bonafide phenomenon and the de-facto voice of working class Britain thanks to their high-energy take on the classic bassline sound and breathless vocal delivery on tracks including ‘Pablo’, ‘Bradford Crew’ and ‘450’.
They began their journey by posting videos of themselves doing stunts on social media. With a roll call of characters that included Gilles the Yorkshire Farmer, PC Bill Bacon and Danny Boy The Gypsy Fighting King, they began to rack up views in the hundreds of thousands. But the trio really hit on a winning formula when they decided to transfer their talents and brand of cheeky Yorkshire humour to music and caught the attention of everyone from Vice to Hypebeast.
“Bassline is what we’ve been brought up on,” says Kane. “In clubs, coming out of car windows, classic bassline is what you always hear in Bradford. It never died.”
Ploughing the sound of niche bassline, popularised in Yorkshire during the 2000s at Sheffield’s Niche club and beyond, the trio unleashed a slew of tracks that saw them gleefully rap about everyday life in Bradford, from pulling doughnuts in a Vauxhall Nova, chatting up girls at parties to buying designer clothing on Klarna.
Initially selling their CDs under the counter at local Vape stores and corner shops, a chance meeting with Darren Booth, AKA their now manager Dr Google, helped set them on path to where they are today. “I met them and saw the numbers they were doing on their videos,” says Darren. “I showed them how to monetise their content and a few other things and soon I found myself putting more time and effort into Bad Boy Chiller Crew than I was into my own career!”
The rapid popularity of their homemade videos meant that by the start of 2020, their videos were racking up millions of views on YouTube, their social media following was rising rapidly and Vice came to Bradford to make a documentary about the crew which has since been viewed over 20 million times. They even had offers coming in for them to play live as far afield as China.
“Because they take the piss out of themselves and don’t take things too seriously people can think they’re just a bit of a joke,” says their manager and effectual fourth member Dr Google. “But they’re so talented and driven. They can make a beat and write a song in 40 minutes that gets a few hundred thousands views in a couple of days, then come in the day after and write another that does the same.”
While Covid-19 scuppered their plans for UK tours and huge festival shows in 2020 the year did see the release of their debut mixtape ‘Full Wack no Brakes’, cited as a ‘joyride through provincial Britain’ by The Face Magazine and ‘a barrage of 100mph baseline rap bangers’ and ‘a shitload of fun’ by the NME. The mixtape won fans in tastemakers like Annie Mac, Jack Saunders and Tiffany Calver and proved the BBCC blueprint has staying power. The mixtape – which featured collaborators including local trap MC S-Dog - was a massive success, with lead-track ‘450’ on almost 20 million plays across Spotify and YouTube combined and the trio getting features in The Guardian, Pitchfork and on the BBC.
2020 also saw their social media profile rise even further, with fans finding an escape from the mundanity of life in lockdown in the trio’s antics and ever-escalating stunts.
But not ones to rest on their laurels musically either, BBCC released the Tactics produced ‘Don’t You Worry About Me’ which reached the UK top 40 earlier this year. The ‘Charva Anthems’ EP, comes after signing with iconic British label Relentless, home to tracks including ‘Re-Rewind’ by The Artful Dodger and ’21 Seconds’ by So Solid Crew, “Relentless just felt like the right home for us,” says GK. “They’ve released so many iconic dance and garage records over the years, we felt like we’d fit right in.”
A collaboration with one of UK raps most promising prospects, Salford rapper Jordan on ‘Footsteps on my Shoes’ followed just a week after the release of the EP and they’ve also teamed up with Nottingham rapper Bru-C for summer anthem in the making ‘Free’ and British house music phenomenon Riton for another gear change with a slick and sophisticated French touch tinged number called ‘Come With Me’.
With their sound evolving to include slick Euro dance, classic house and euphoric touches of rave, and their talents as MCs and wordsmiths constantly evolving, Bad Boy Chiller Crew are ready to pick up where they left off as life slowly returns to normal.
“We started off as a bit of a joke but with our new music, it’s time to get serious,” says Kane. “The songs are better, the beats are better and we’re better rappers now. We’re determined to get out there when we can and absolutely smash it.”
Words: Sean Griffiths