Pioneering Birmingham grime artist Jaykae has told the 22 Voices podcast how pop superstar Ed Sheeran “showed love to every single person” when he took him for a curry on the city’s Alum Rock Road, after collaborating with him on the number one single “Take Me Back To London”.

Jaykae is the latest guest on the 22 Voices podcast series, from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, telling the stories of cultural trailblazers and sporting legends in the run up to the Games.

The Birmingham-born artist collaborated with Ed Sheeran, Stormzy and Aitch on a remix of Sheeran’s track “Take Me Back To London”, which reached number one in the UK Singles Chart in August 2019, after Sheeran sent him a message on Instagram:

“I’ve got a lot of love and time for Ed Sheeran. The first time I ever heard about that song I wasn’t involved in it. I was watching the Champions League final and I got a DM. From there he’s asked me to jump on the tune.”

Recalling working with Sheeran, Jaykae told the 22 Voices podcast about taking the singer-songwriter out in his neighbourhood in Birmingham:

We’ve come to Birmingham, and he’s like “yo, where can we get a curry?” Ed Sheeran’s hitting up Alum Rock Road! He just showed love to every person. He took photos with every single person, people asking him to do silly videos, he did every video. Everyone was outside the pub, people doing wheelies, people doing mad things.

“It was a mad thing to see him embrace everybody like that, cos he didn’t have to. Ed could have come down and acted like a diva and everyone would have accepted it. But I swear, he came out and showed time to everybody”.

One of Jaykae’s breakthrough hits, “Moscow” features a Peaky Blinders-inspired video. In the podcast, he talks about the hit BBC show, which is set in the Small Heath area of Birmingham where he grew up and still lives:

How often do you see a programme come out and it’s set in your area? It’s Small Heath, you hear them saying it. The pub they drink in, The Garrison, I swear on my Mom’s life I can tell you bear mad things that happened in The Garrison! That’s their local in the programme. It’s mad to watch.”

Jaykae’s debut album is due for release this year and he says he’s “sitting on a classic” and can’t wait to get out on tour once restrictions are eased:

I’m very confident with what I’ve got so far. I’ve not dropped an album in my whole career and I’ve been around some time. My debut album is a big thing for me. I definitely wanna tour my stuff. I feel like I’m sitting on a classic, so I don’t wanna drop a mad album and then not be able to tour it…Being around Mike Skinner [of The Streets] has inspired me in the sense that if you make a classic album, or two in his sense, you can come back in seven, eight years and tour them again.”

As a pioneer of the Birmingham grime music scene, Jaykae says that although the city doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves, the reputation of Birmingham grime artists within the music industry is undeniable:

“If you know then you know. There’s enough people out there, even other grime MCs from London that will say, “the Brum man kept the thing alive”. As a scene, as a whole, I don’t think we’ve got the respect that we maybe do deserve, but there’s gonna be a few pivotal moments in the next few years when it’ll be undeniable.”

22 Voices is available to listen and subscribe from www.birmingham2022.com/22voices, and from all major podcast providers.       

Previous episodes include world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson and sprint legend Mark Lewis-Francis.

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