We spoke to South London Rapper, Ché Lingo, about his influences – ranging from youth clubs, to Ghetts, to his nan – ahead of the release of his latest EP, Sensitive.

Despite only going full-time as a musician two years ago,  Ché, has been making music from as young as 12, spending many of his formative years mixing in youth clubs across south London. His new release, Sensitive, is an even more introspective piece of work than Charisma, in the sense that it’s about how Che felt not being in control over relationships.

The London borough Wandsworth has played a massive role in Ché’s music. At the time, there was a lot of crime in the area, which he saw first-hand. But, deeper than crime, he also dealt with self-confidence issues surrounding his appearance and non-confrontational personality. “Growing up in Wandsworth was an amalgamation of different things. I always had my problems like everyone, but these problems stemmed from the fact that I didn’t have a strong character.
“As a kid, I had a lot to say but it was difficult when I was confronted. I was always the butt of jokes which knocked my confidence.
“I also had problems with my appearance and weight, I was mad insecure.
“There was loads of madness. It heavily influenced who I am, my nan sheltered me a lot so when I went out, things outside of my house would affect me would be double.
“Me and mum later identified that as me having high levels of sensitivity. I was a sensitive youth.”

“The mixture of music I listened to growing up was very “for the people” or f**k the system. That’s subconsciously been instilled in me and my music, I’m very for the people.”

Ché cited his nan and mum as major influences on his life growing up. He described how his nan would tutor him after school and place an emphasis on articulation and English. He described her as a “prude academic” while he said his mum is a G. She taught him the life lessons which gave him the skills to live alone. Che’s nan also influenced him musically, constantly seeking out music and playing Reggae in the house.

Despite the reggae influences from his nan, it was listening to grime that formed the basis for Ché’s unique sound. Outside of the house, Ché listened to Hip Hop and RnB but mainly Grime, starting with So Solid Crew, and really found himself relating more to MCs like Ghetts and P Money. Che said: “I really appreciated the way they piece together music. The mixture of music I listened to growing up was very “for the people” or f**k the system. That’s subconsciously been instilled in me and my music, I’m very for the people.
“I think those three types of music are very evident in what I do, less so reggae. The soulfulness crossed over with grime and hip hop to make me who I am. That’s why you can get a song like ‘No Sidekicks’, it’s very evident grime flows, but the song itself has nothing to do with what the core values of grime and it’s over a soulful-house style beat.”

It wasn’t just the women in his life that cultivated his talent, youth centres were a major reason he was able to pursue a career in music. He said “If it wasn’t for the youth clubs I wouldn’t be here because that was one of the first places that cultivated my talent for rapping and making music. I would go there whenever it was open to record my music.”
With continued cuts to youth services, Ché said they should get more funding but also recognised that youth centres don’t always give young people the freedom they crave musically. “You have to let a man live his truth and speak his reality. That’s why you don’t really find them in youth clubs making music,” he said.

Listen to Sensitive here.