At the age of just 22 Blanco is firmly established as a drill pioneer and innovator in the UK rap scene. As a member of Harlem Spartans he was at the forefront of a U.K. drill scene that has gone from being an underground phenomenon to a staple of the mainstream, paving the way for a generational sound. Now firmly establishing himself as a solo artist he’s determined to forge his own path, looking to his Angolan heritage and love of Brazilian funk music to create a sound unique to himself. Mixing hard-boiled stories from his own life with the sounds of the favelas, Blanco remains an outlier; unafraid to go against the grain and always pushing things forward.
“I hate following the crowd,” Blanco explains. “I’m determined to stand out and be myself. You don’t have to be the same as everyone else.” For proof of this mindset you only need to look at Blanco’s string of releases in 2020. Memphis, Anakin, and monster hit Shippuden, streamed over 11.7m times across streaming platforms and featured in Grand Theft Auto V, showed a smoother side to Blanco’s work - allowing his versatile, innovative wordplay to thrive and the good vibes flow. Pull Up, meanwhile, was used by Michaela Coel in her critically-acclaimed, award winning TV series I May Destroy You. Combined with 2019’s English Dubbed EP (a nod to his beloved anime), these form the backbone of Blanco’s work as a solo artist. Working with producers from across Europe on his Brazilian-influenced sound and littering his verses with Potugese phrases gleaned from his Angolan heritage, Blanco has struck upon a global formula.
Born and raised in south London, Blanco remembers hearing music at the Angolan parties he’d attended as a child but, once he hit primary school age, he fell in love with hip-hop. 50 Cent, Soulja Boy, Dipset, and Giggs were among his most formative influences. It wasn't until a little later, when local artists like Stormzy and Section Boyz achieved international success, that he considered the possibility of a life in rap.
He built his confidence up at Alford House Youth Club in Kennington, where music production and recording equipment were among the services offered to 8-21 year olds. Alongside the rest of Harlem Spartans “have fun coming up with the best bars and helping each other out.” Blanco attributes Alford House with helping him at an early age with where he is today. “I think I was meant to do this so I think I’d have got there eventually,” he says. “But I don’t know how I’d have pursued it if it wasn't for the community centre.” There was only one rule back in those days; no swearing. “I still don’t really use bad language to this day and I think that’s why,” Blanco says with a laugh.
“Music has the power to change my situation and I started taking it a lot more seriously when I got out.” Firmly established on the right path, Blanco began the roll-out for his next project when he joined forces with Central Cee on “The Great Escape.” He followed that with Darkoo-collaboration “She Like” and has a Brazilian-themed mixtape titled City of God in the pipeline. Never looking back, always looking forwards; Blanco’s bold approach to music and life puts him in a class of his own. He’s determined to succeed and won’t compromise to get where he needs to be. The results look set to expand the U.K. rap landscape into worldwide proportions.