Alex Marshall, better known to the world as Big Rebz, is an emcee hailing previously from East London, and now Romford. Yesterday, Big Rebz released a track called Era of the Boom Bap, a track featuring two emcees of the three-part Nashville, Tennessee-based group Heru Heru. Something like Rebz himself, Foundation Mecca and Ah-Deli represent the SOuthside - albeit of another country - and look to bring the lyrical element of hip hop back to the forefront. ‘From South East UK to the US of A’, as the hook goes, this MR2-produced joint slaps for all the old heads.
Formerly a grime MC known as Rebel, Big Rebz has since grown older, and bigger - hence the name change. Rebel, as he was then known, took a step away from the rap game to focus on life and refrained from the stage for a number of years. Just a couple of years ago, however, Big Rebz’ second marriage with the mic took place after a one-in-a-million chance whereby his sister began dating a hip hop producer. Though a drum and bass DJ for Rude FM in the day, MR2 doubles as a hip hop producer and hit it off with Marshall, inspiring Big Rebz to give music a second chance.
“We talked about getting an album done,” Big Rebz explained to SOuthside in an exclusive interview last week. “That’s when Watch Ya Boy Shine come out...it’s all sort of escalated from there.” Since then, Rebz has been signed by G Unit Capo in the States and had an album produced by his 3133 ENT, been able to work alongside the likes of Paul Wall and had a track featured on Cassidy’s Who Got Barz, Vol 2 mixtape earlier in the summer, a mixtape that’s had over half a million plays.
Big Rebz has since been back in the lab with his now long-term partner, as him and MR2 are set to release a track titled Closed Eyelids on February 10th. “Closed Eyelids is a mental health tune,” Marshall elaborated. “It’s two stories of two people...and how the world sees people with mental illness. I had a guy I was quite close with from an organisation called Men Tally Up, really trying to push male suicide awareness out there, and he actually took his own life.
“We need to talk about stuff because if you don’t, one day, it can get too much.”
“I don’t think people recognise, and they don’t check in enough on people, you know? We shouldn’t be shy about it, we shouldn’t keep our thoughts locked in with it, we need to talk about stuff because if you don’t, one day, it can get too much.”
Big Rebz also let us in on some other plans coming towards the end of February. “Club Aid, I know, is gonna be huge. It’s gonna be an event which is streamed globally to over a million-plus people. Besi Frances [Off. SA’s manager] is running the rap room, so we’re gonna push that out there and it’s gonna be massive.
“There’s that, and then there’s a movement; and this I definitely can’t talk too much about,” Marshall teased, “you’re gonna see some weird algorithms and postings in my stuff which is mirrored by a load of other artists. There’s a movement that’s quietly coming called The Revival. It’s gonna be huge. It’s the takeover of hip hop - I’ve got no doubt. It’s a group of American and a group of UK artists linked together...there hasn’t been anything like it. It’s not crew, it’s not a gang. It’s a movement, and the way it’s being done is so clever and every single artist is so talented, hand-picked.”
A message for the fans: “I’m humbled that everyone has supported me over the years, but 2021 is different - it’s the takeover. This Revival thing is literally going to take over and change the way that everything is done. That’s all I got to say.”
Tap the album artwork below to stream Era of the Boom Bap.