Master Peace is settled into a booth at The Courthouse Hotel in Shoreditch. Nestled amongst bare bricks and leather seats, the South London MC oozes an infectious confidence as he sips an apple juice, looking at ease in his suitably comfortable uniform of cargo trousers and checkerboard Vans, paired with a black top.
Anyone familiar with London’s rap scene will undoubtedly have heard of the upstart, who’s been endorsed by everyone from AJ Tracey to Plastician. Despite not having released any of his own tracks, and simply featuring on releases with the likes of SILKY, YS Tekdinner and Nigz TG, he’s been performing his solo material live for a hot minute, and building a cult fan base off the back of these performances.
Although he found his feet in the grime scene, and respects it as the beginning of his journey, Peace tells us he’s at a critical turning point. The underground holds the DIY influence and punk ethos that Peace respects, but, he’s also honest about how it was naturally a stepping stone to him, and a place he understood he needed to start from.
“I knew who I wanted to be, I wanted to be a pop star when I started out,” Peace tells us, when we discuss his recent change-up in recording style — ‘Night Time’, is a million miles away from some of his earlier freestyles. “I had to go through certain things to be that. I had to go down to the underground, see it, see the long nights and all that stuff. I had to be doing those sets where the mics were half broken, where nobody turned up, where it was packed but nobody knew my songs. I knew this was going to happen. I knew it was going to get to this point.”
The transition into emo-rock-rap came from Peace’s love of being both a creative and emotional being. He noticed a gap in the market, “everyone in UK rap sounded the same” he says, and thus came Peace’s inimitable style. His inspiration, like most artists, comes from the music he grew up listening to: Sex Pistols, Nirvana and Fleetwood Mac. The lyrical content and emotive feel to the music, he explains, was pivotal to the direction his productions would take, even if he didn’t want to be a recording artist back then. ‘Night Time’, is an emotional, sing-a-long ode to late nights and the feelings they trigger, but his introduction to rap came through his brother — MC YS Tekdinner.
“YS was listening to stuff like Max B and French Montana, so I was hearing all of that. I wanted to be a contemporary dancer then, but a lot of things happened and my group kind of split up,” he tells us. “My brother and my mum kept asking me, ‘What are you gonna do after high school? You're just staying at home playing your XBOX’ and shit. I knew I had to do something.
“Around that time, the film Straight Outta Compton dropped,” Peace continues. “I was inspired by it. Eazy-E’s story and stuff. If he didn't know how to rap, I could learn it too.” After considering the inspiration he’d taken from the Compton rapper’s story, Peace started frequenting RADAR Radio. He didn’t know how to rap, he says, but it became his “religion”. “Like people go to Church on Sunday?,” he says, “We would go like that. Every week, we would go in. Learning how to write, learning how to spray.”
The now defunct RADAR Radio was where Peace’s career came to fruition. He mastered his art, and began to get opportunities “left, right and centre”. He performed at the Boy Better Know Takeover with the station in 2018, sharing a stage with the likes of A$AP Rocky, BBK, J Hus, and Slowthai. He already knew then that he didn’t want to be a regular MC.
"I became something a bit different,” he explains. “Not many people had seen what I could really do. But I had to get everyone talking about me, have people saying ‘have you heard of this Master Peace guy?’ I don’t like to wait around for things to happen.
“I went to Boiler Room and I met Jasmine [one of Boiler Room’s programmers],” Peace continues. “I told her I wanted a Boiler Room. I just straight up said it. And she liked the fact that I went up to her and asked her. She was like, ‘You’re Brave!’” Jasmine gave him the shot, and he credits his manager, Felix, as well as Jasmine, for seeing in him that which he says he couldn’t see in himself. They saw what he describes as his “energy”, one that Peace has since continued to bring to festivals, shows and numerous parties he’s curated for London brand Keep Hush.
His confidence could never be construed with arrogance. Peace is self-assured, but endearing. He’s not cocky, and pushes himself constantly. “Keep Hush was a way to test myself,” he says. “If people pull up when I’m the headline, then I know I’m doing the right thing. I was worried. I thought, ‘Fuck. What if people don’t turn up?’. A lot of people wanted to come who were industry. We sold it out in two to three days. I had to take the risk.
“Look at Sid Vicious,” Peace says, excitedly. “He wasn’t even the main guy, but eyes were always on him. It’s all about the energy.” DJ Mag asks Peace if he feels like there’s pressure to keep the energy plateaued now that he’s aware of it, but he tells us having ADHD is something that helps it to come naturally. “I’m always fidgety, I always need to be doing something. I’ve always wanted to be the centre of attention, my mum said to me the other day about not being able to see me doing anything else. I’ve always wanted to be that main guy running the show.”
‘Night Time’ was Master Peace’s first release in the style he’s been showing to crowds during his high-energy, sweatbox live shows over the past 18 months. It’s a sound inspired by the likes of Post Malone and Lil Peep as much as it is lyrically, he stresses, by Bloc Party, and The 1975. It’s a huge switch up, but he’s fully committed to his new sound. "I'm just trying to be myself. I want to enjoy the music I'm making, you know?,” he says. “People have said to me I sound too pop, but really and truly this is what I grew up on. Now I'm at a stage in my life where I can do something with it."
“I love The 1975. They just write about how teenage years were in such a playful way. Half of their songs are about drugs, sex — about a lot of things you wouldn't even realise. Rappers singing about getting all of this money and getting this girl or that girl. They don’t realise Matty [from the 1975] is singing about this stuff, but in such a way that it still manages to be inspiring.”
Master Peace reveals he’s currently working on a new EP that will drop next year, with tracks he’s recorded inspired by the previously mentioned bands, and even more surprisingly quotes Busted and McFly as artists he’s looking to for inspiration. He will also feature on a Strano Sessions performance at some point in the near future, where he’ll join the likes of Rex Orange County and Lord Apex on the channel. “‘Night Time’ is just a little taster of what’s coming,” he says excitedly. “I had to bridge the gap between rap and indie-rock to get to that song. It’s opening a door for me to show everyone what I can do.”