Wonderkid ArrDee has teamed up with the magnificent Cat Burns for a new track ‘Home For My Heart’, breaking genre confines to show everyone what he’s made of. Catch up with one of the hottest names on the scene for our latest The Cut cover.
Words: Martyn Young.
Some new artists have a good start. They get a few minor hits, a ripple of buzz, maybe a fleeting viral moment and a good chunk of critical acclaim. But it’s only a select few exceptional artists who truly burst onto the scene with such undeniable impact that they completely change the game. 20-year-old Brighton rapper ArrDee is one of those sensations. His rise has been super swift and super thrilling as he’s notched up hit singles and a massive online following making him officially the biggest breakthrough artist of 2022 certified by the Official Charts Company. His debut mixtape ‘Pier Pressure’ was an introduction that immediately announced him as a UK rapper with the potential to be about more than chart singles, but as he enters 2023, we arrive at a pivotal moment as Riley Davies looks to take ArrDee to a whole new artistic level.
“I think it’s fair to say rapid,” he begins, reflecting on the past two years of madness. “That’s the first word that comes to mind. It’s explosive, but also it meant that because of that trajectory into the lane I got I landed in, with big hits and the singles and the charts and radio, we had to stay maintaining that and proving that I could do that. It meant that, to some extent, there weren’t a lot of singles that catered towards building a love for me as a person and my artistry. You had ‘Pier Pressure’, which had glimpses of it, but it meant that there could be people who were a fan of ArrDee ‘Flowers’ or ArrDee ‘Oliver Twist’, but they weren’t a fan of ArrDee the person. I’m not complaining. I’m very happy I came into the game the way I did so fast, and we had all these hits because it shows that I can do it, but this year for me is definitely about proving my lyricability, my artistry, longevity and credibility.”
The first steps towards ArrDee showing a different side to his personality and who he hopes to be as an artist comes in the form of a stunning new single ‘Home For My Heart’ featuring Cat Burns. A collaboration between two of the most exciting new Gen Z artists in the UK, it feels like it captures a beautiful moment. It’s tender and reflective, with an instantly memorable hook that highlights the best of both artists. For ArrDee, it’s a long-awaited chance to show what he can really do on a deeper level. “I’m a hundred, million per cent going into a new lane,” he says confidently. “It’s just evolving and expanding. Growing up, I never wanted to be just a rapper. I always wanted to be an artist. Introducing that side of me and going into that lane feels like a big moment for me. I’m excited.”
“Charting and doing well is great, but that’s not why I got into music”ArrDee
It’s a landmark song for ArrDee in many ways. Showing vulnerability rather than the familiar brash exuberance, it makes sense that it’s a track that heralds a new phase after his overwhelming ascent. “It took me a while to get my head around, but the artists that I’m fans of very much humanise themselves, and you buy into their character and personality,” he explains. “Everybody has different personas. It would be fairly impossible for me to be ‘haha, cheeky chappy, let’s all have a party’ ArrDee all the time. I’d either get ill, or I’d be pretending. Everyone knows that, and it’s good to introduce a different side to me. Not that I’d ever change my personality just for the music, but there’s ArrDee, and then there’s Riley, and you see glimpses of Riley, and that’s quite important to me.”
Despite putting so much of himself out there emotionally on this track, ArrDee is apprehensive about explicitly stating what the song means to him, preferring to instead leave it open to fans to find their own solace in the heartfelt lyricism. “I don’t want to necessarily say what it means to me literally because I want it to be interoperable, but the hook says, ‘I’ve been grinding so hard, and now I’m home from my heart’. It’s about life moving fast and not really knowing where you land and where you start and finish or where you come from and where you’re going.”
“The song is for everyone, and it can resonate with you however you want it to resonate for you,” he continues. “Obviously, I’m talking about it from my perspective, but somebody else might relate with or interpret something their own way. That’s what I wanted to do with this,” he explains. “I always call them song writery songs, very metaphorical and open-minded songwriting. I’ve always wanted to do that. Obviously charting and doing well is great, but that’s not why I got into music. I got into this because I love music and want to create music that has a message and lives for longer than the two-week promo run. Then it’s in the charts and comes out, and no one ever speaks about it again, and it’s just a little viral moment. That’s the message behind the tune. I feel like this song has a deeper message to it and can live in people’s hearts.”
The opportunity to work with Cat Burns arrived at a pivotal moment for ArrDee as he contemplated how to move forward and what his next move should be and was looking to follow a different path than might be expected. “I was aware of some of her stuff before, predominantly ‘Go’ and the drum and bass remix of ‘Go’. I’m from Brighton, and we’re quite a heavy drum and bass kind of town,” he says of his introduction to Cat. “After the summer of last year, I had a little bout of just falling out of love with the craft slightly because it felt very robotic. Ok, we’re gonna get a 140bpm beat, and then we’re going to have me sounding happy on it and talk about partying on it and talk about girls, and it’s going to chart, and everyone’s going to go home and happy days. It felt a bit boring.
“When I came in and started working on this project, I made it clear to my team that I was not touching that tempo when we went into this camp. I want to create music and fall back in love with this because that’s the reason I do it. We had a load of different ideas, and I wanted some songwriters with me. I wanted some hooks. I wanted some female hooks, some of my favourite rap songs have people you didn’t expect to collaborate together, but it works. Cat Burns happened to one of the people who came, and it was one of the ones that stuck, as you can hear from the vibe of the tune; it worked, it clicked.”
There was something magical about that melody and those guitar sounds that sparked something in him. “You can never plan things like that. I’m a human, and everyone has different emotions and feelings. I always connect with strings. I connected with the guitar, and it made me want to open up and be vulnerable.”
The track marks the start of what should be a big year for ArrDee, who has been working hard in the studio with big plans to come. In typically energetic ArrDee style, he knows he’s created something special and isn’t afraid to let everyone know about it. “I don’t wanna gas myself up too much,” he laughs. “Full of myself is a bad term to use, but I’ve always been very confident and in love with my own music. In the last few months, I’ve been impressing myself with the songwriting that we have that I didn’t even know or couldn’t have assumed was possible. I talk about manifesting things a lot, and a lot of the time, I see things coming, but with the songs we have here, I didn’t go into this camp knowing we were going to be leaving with music like this. This is fucking incredible.”
“I’m bringing the whole ArrDee universe to life,” he proclaims. “I wouldn’t say that I’ve changed. People grow, but I’m still that kid. I’m still that cheeky lad, and that’s embedded in me, but for example, if I meet a stranger that’s the version of me they’re going to meet, but if they get to know me more, then you see deeper sides to me. I think it’s a perfect time to dive into that and build that connection with the fan base where they can love and support me as an artist and person and feel like they’re a part of something. This is a movement. In ten years’ time, we’re going to be like, yo, we were around when all of this happened, and shit was changing. It’s just going to evolve and be bigger than anything the UK has seen before.” ■
ArrDee’s new single ‘Home For My Heart’, featuring Cat Burns, is streaming now. Follow Dork’s The Cut Spotify playlist here.