December 27, 2021
His condom punchline went viral on the first ever UK drill No 1. Now, inspired by his mum’s graft and witchcraft, the 19-year-old has four Top 10 hits to his name
ArrDee: the chart-topping Brighton rapper with the UK’s cheekiest bars
Nursing a hot chocolate in a coffee shop in his home town of Brighton, Riley Davies exudes ebullient excitement, the same ebullience you hear when he raps as ArrDee. Almost uniquely among the current crop of British rappers, the 19-year-old invariably sounds like someone who is having the time of his life, as if he’s grinning from ear to ear whenever he gets on the mic. He says he’s always been like that, ever since he was a kid, when his relatives nicknamed him Smiley Riley, and what he calls “the whole cheeky chappie thing” helped at least a bit in what sounds like a turbulent adolescence. At one point, he says, the police were at the door of his mum’s house so often that “the landlord started moving a bit funny” and they were forced to relocate to a different town. “But then, as I got older,” he says, “I think I realised that life gets a bit easier if you’re not a prick to everyone.”
Even if it wasn’t in his nature, you couldn’t blame him for having a spring in his step. When we meet, his single Flowers (Say My Name) has just entered the charts at No 5. It’s his fourth Top 10 hit in 12 months – two solo, two as a guest Rapper, including his meme-inducing appearance on the remix to Tion Wayne and Russ Millions’ Body, the first drill track to reach No 1. The other week, he says, he posted his FIFA Ultimate Team on his Instagram story, “and Ian Wright DMed me! I had him in centre-mid and obviously he’s not a centre-mid, but he’s like: ‘For you, I’ll play midfield.’ I lost my mind, and then Rio Ferdinand DMed me! He’s like: ‘Why haven’t I made the cut, I can’t be a defender?’ Rio Ferdinand! I was calling everyone, bruv. This is mental!”
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