Realness: the rarest commodity in these filtered and manipulated times. Forever sought after, impossible to synthesise; realness can’t be controlled or counted or rated by numbers. You either have it, or you don’t. And Bru-C has it by the bucket load. “I’m just Josh from Long Eaton, you know what I mean? I wear my heart on my sleeve,” grins the man himself from the comfort of his living room. “I feel if I’m not showing the real version of me, then I’m lying, and I don’t like lying. I like loyalty, I like realness.”
DJ Mag has caught Josh Bruce during a rare moment of downtime. Fittingly for someone who thrives off realness, shit has most definitely got real for him in recent years. Having squeezed the most out of 2021, making up for lost time on lockdown, he toured relentlessly (his own headline tour sold out within a week and he became the first rapper to ever sell out Nottingham Rock City), dropped a series of six singles (amassing well over 100 million streams), and finished the year with arguably the biggest label signing a UK MC could ever wish for. Once a firm member of the highly popular UK bass collective CruCast, where he rolled with the new generation of d&b and bassline headliners such as Skepsis, Kanine and Darkzy, he’s now a member of 0207 Def Jam, the UK arm of the legendary hip-hop institution where the likes of Stormzy is a label mate and the highly influential Boateng brothers are his bosses.
“Straight family from the jump,” says Bruce. “In this industry, it’s hard to differentiate between the people who really fuck with your shit and the people who just want to make coin off you. But I felt authentic vibes from the whole Def Jam team. I never thought I’d sign to a major to be honest, I like having full control of what I’m doing, but it felt right.” For added authenticity, he signed his Def Jam contract on his old street in Long Eaton. “Where I was born and raised,” he explains. “I’d have never done that five years ago. I’d have been doing that in London sipping champagne and all that shit. That’s not me, though.”