M1LLIONZ: DARE TO BELIEVE
A personality forged from the fires of adversity and equipped with the fearlessness, desire and strength to go further. To break borders, rules, beliefs, premonitions and conventions. To go further than what has gone before. To leave a legacy bigger than the life they lead.
To find yourself, you have to think for yourself. To reach the unknown, to step into the depths of your dreams and into a world outside the range of human perception.
This is what happens when you dare to believe.
Of all the experiments, sounds and new tracks laid down by artists across the entire landscape of UK music over the last 12 months, M1llionz is the one who has come up with something that actually feels innovative. Not only by sounding different to anything else out there but actually feeling different. Like something underneath our feet has shifted. The sound, the vision, the videos, M1llionz’ influence extends beyond a single song or art form. His vision of the future is equally kaleidoscopic. When he talks, you can see the shifting, turning, tumultuous thoughts full of colour morph in his mind. But he doesn’t let on. Everything he says is delivered with a soft cadence and a seriousness that also has its own sense of divinity. The truth is, though, everything he serves up is meticulous and personable; exactly how he sees it and exactly how he wants it. There is no secret to it, he just gives himself the freedom to explore. “Never force it,” M1llionz says, not for the first time today. “That’s the one thing I will never do with anything in life. Because when you force it, that’s when things happen that you don’t want or need. My music is exactly the same, it’s my release. At that moment, I’m just letting everything I have out. ” He pauses. “Life is a lesson in patience.” Taking your time is a luxury in life and it’s something that M1llionz understands you can’t waste. So, it’s ironic that his career trajectory thwarts that narrative. In a little less than a year, since he released his breakthrough track North-West as an ode to his residence of Handsworth – a suburban town and also an inner city area in Birmingham - his rise has been relentless.
"I create a proper picture with my music. You don't even have to imagine it, you can see it. You live it."
“I was born and raised in north west Birmingham. Then I moved around a lot… north Brum, south Brum, London, then back to north west,” he explains. But, throughout it all, throughout the upheavals and change of scenery, one constant remained. His mum.
“She’s a hero. She’s always been there. It was only ever me and my Mum. Of course, I’ve got my Nan and my Aunts and Uncles and all that, but it was only ever really me and her for years. She taught me everything. There’s no Dad thing. She played both. She looked after me, took me to football. Everything.”
M1llionz talks with a candour and warmth that matches his moniker. It’s the same energy that not so much carries you through tracks like Lagga and Y PREE but allows you to levitate above them. His rawness and off-beat delivery makes tracks feel more like stories than the usual repetition of trap and drill beats that fill the UK soundscape. Enriched with elements of patois, his tone is something, again, he thanks the influence of his mother for as it seems to stem from his early exposure to his Jamaican roots.
“I don’t know where my flow comes from exactly,” he contemplates. “The way I’ve crossed my sound with the Jamaican influence is different. But, it comes from within me. I’ve always had it. It’s the way I write, innit. I don’t write to beats, for one. And two, I do a thing where I miss the drop. I don’t do things in set form. I like the feel of doing it a little off. I do it because it allows me to tell a proper story.”
The same energy is there when M1llionz talks, but it feels different. His delivery does not stutter or obstruct but it glides like a pebble scaled over water. He’s concise, considered and careful in his construction of speech. Not because he has to think. It’s more that he is careful in regards to the information he wants to divulge. Nevertheless, his insights are immediate, insightful and profound.
“To find yourself you have to think for yourself. To push the boundaries of what they all thought was possible.”
“If you were doing stuff before that wasn’t too good and you start doing music, you see stuff that you never thought you would have seen,” he empowers. “It opens up the world."
“I’ve always had the drive to see more and do more. I never wanted to grow up and be broke. Not even money wise, in terms of life experience. I’ve always wanted to do something with my life. To dream bigger.”
Despite the big splash, M1llionz has only dipped a toe in the waters of what the world can expect from him. And, consequently, what he can expect of the world. He’s not a new breed of UK artist but an entirely new species. He exists as a bubbling influence in the culture, someone who’s fluent in the language of life – he knows and sees more than he ever lets on – but he talks very little about himself. He’s on a wavelength that rises above and resists a lot of the regular impulses of UK artists. He even spends most of his time in Jamaica to avoid such distractions.
“Jamaica gives me a different type of energy, he explains. “The way they attack music is different out there too, the whole place just gives you energy. But, the whole place is calm, you know. You can just relax. You can take your time with things, still. England is 24/7, a million miles an hour. Over there, you can relax, take your time and really think about things.”
M1llionz is too sly, and perhaps shy, to say it outright, but his videos are also one of the reasons he’s been able to sell and share his vision to the wider world. Whether it’s Y PREE or Lagga, each video is a tour through the real life fantasyland that he’s curated in his mind as one of leading culture movers of his generation. The mere mention of one of his videos is enough to rouse a wry smile. Does he know what impact that they’ve actually made?
“I’m only realising now,” he admits. “I’ve done Y PREE, that was in Jamaica, Billionz and that was in England and obviously the last one in Kenya. So, yeah, they’re all good videos but, again, I don’t think about anything bigger than what they are. At the time, I just wanted to do something different. When it comes out, ‘I’m always like, yeah that’s nice, still,’ but in the moment I’m just in full focus.”
So, what’s the formula? “I dunno, you know. It’s more about living in that moment. Lagga, for example, It was all natural.
“My team had the link to someone in Kibera [an area in Nairobi and Kenya’s largest slum] and, after that, it was just about getting down there and living. Experiencing the culture, interacting and learning from the people and that was the end result. It’s probably why it came out so good because it’s just the way it happened. It’s all natural. There was no big picture or big idea. It’s all real life,” he adds.
“Sometimes, you can have too much structure. You just need to see where that moment in that world will take you.”
M1llionz’ influence looks set to extend beyond music and videos into art, fashion, business and beyond. No matter the eventual avenue, it all comes down to the same motive for M1llionz. Legacy. To leave an imprint that dwarfs his current standing, to create a sound that inspires new energy and to build an empire that ensures family, friends, associates live a life beyond they could ever imagine.
“The vision is to be a billionaire,” he says with no pause for thought. “I want to be a proper business man, you know? Labels, clothing lines, restaurants. Everything. I want to build something that is way bigger than I could ever imagine. More than just music.” To M1llionz, it’s not so much that music is the most powerful form of currency. It’s that authenticity is. Which is why he’s quietly becoming one of the most influential artists in the UK. His voice, his delivery, his videos have already earned Millionz three integral pieces in the puzzle of UK music. We’re just waiting to see what else he’s got in his hand to lay down next. Whatever it may be, you can be assured that you won’t see it coming. “Right now, music is my outlet, he explains. “It’s like an artist that paints pictures of what they see and their vision of the world. It’s their life, you can see it and you can feel it. I create a proper picture with my music. You don't even have to imagine it, you can see it. You live it. Even if you don’t relate. You can feel and understand the story. This is only the start, though, I want to take it further.” By the end of the interview, I notice how still he is. And how he has been the entire time. He’s capable of remaining in complete focus and serenity. Which, in the world he operates in, and the speed in which he works, moves and thinks, is not only noticeable but admirable. Even when he’s at work, he’s at rest. Because, he knows, he’s always known, everything will happen for you if you just go with the flow. “You just have to go with it,” he affirms. “You can never give up. There’s always light. Things can change. Never feel like it’s the end. Your life can change in a single moment.” Shop all Burberry looks at Flannels Man.