Strandz talks chart success of breakthrough single Us Against The World and Digga D remix: "It's worked out exactly how I planned it!"
Strandz has finally arrived on the Official Charts, and he's not wasting this moment.
The ascendant South London rapper - who was born in Germany, before relocating to Nigeria and then finally making his way over to London - has recently burnt a trail up the Official Singles Chart with Us Against The World, a love track indebted to the 90s East Coast rap he grew up on almost as much as it is to his girlfriend.
"I love the classics, like Jay Z and 50 [Cent]," he says to us on a call from his flat, looking remarkably calm and composed as his music career is blowing up around him. "But I listen to a lot of R&B as well. I love Rihanna. I love Destiny's Child."
And you can definitely hear that influence on Us Against The World, whose bare production seeks to hone in on Strandz's bars and musicality as much as it does the swooning Smokey Robinson sample built around it.
Now joined by Digga D on an ascendant new remix, Us Against The World has quickly become Strandz's Top 40 debut on the Official Singles Chart, and it just might crack the Top 20 this week too.
In a wide-ranging chat, we discussed his plans for world domination, how his journeys as a young child centred him and how he wants to influence the next generation with positivty and love.
Hey Strandz! Thank you for talking to us today, on what must surely be the busiest two weeks of your life
It's been crazy. I've been sitting and just trying to slowly adjust [to the success]. But now, I'm kind of focusing on the next thing. That's the way I work. A few months ago, I was really focused on [Us Against The World]. I process things very quickly and think...how do I get to the next stage? I've been busy stratergising!
So, take me back a few months ago when you first started working on the track - did you have an inkling that it was going to pop off?
Yeah, I always had it in my mind. I knew that. Like, it was my plan that by the end of the year  I'd had really specifc goals that I'd promised myself. I'd read a book called Think And Grow Rich, it's all about stratergising.
Last year was when I first properly made a plan; laid down the goals that I wanted to reach and figured out how to do it. It's kind of worked out exactly how I planned it!
Something told me that I should drop this single. It wasn't necessarily because it has the sample [Us Against The World samples Who's Gonna Take The Blame by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles], something just told me I had to do this one. So I followed my gut!
Can you tell us some of your goals for the next year, then? Or does that ruin it?
I can give you an overview! The goal is to obviously grow in the UK, become fully established here and then I can start expanding into Europe. I want to start that this year, and I want to go to America too. I've never been before. But the focus this year is definitely the UK and Europe.
Strandz (r) and Digga D (l) on the set of Us Against The World (credit: Becca Wheeler)
We have a feeling Us Against The World is going to get you there! It's just become your first-ever UK Top 40 hit - congratulations! How do you feel about it all?
I haven't really clocked on to it! I've been so busy, I haven't really had chance to think about it yet. It's pretty exciting to witness. From when I was growing up, I always had a stubborn mindset [of making it] I always believed in myself...but now its given reassurance to those around me. Like, my parents ain't got to worry about stuff. If I want to do something, I want to be at the top of the game.
You teamed up with Digga D for the remix of the track, how did that come about?
It came about really organically. he was showing a lot of love from when I first dropped the song. He was kind of locked in. We spoke briefly on DM and talked about the music. Originally, I didn't even [think of featuring someone], and then I started thinking about it, and it really made sense if [the song was going to blow up, it would be with Digga] because he was already showing love. I ended up reaching out to him, we were in the studio just after Christmas.
Obviously Digga has become not just one of the biggest drill stars in the UK but rap in general over the last few years, at this stage in your career what does a co-sign from someone like him mean to you?
I think the focus everyone has right now is on musicality. I don't think people are so in love [with me] or want to work with me because of how big I am. I'm not really at that stage yet. The music is just so strong, people are attracted to it.
How was the reaction been from people? What's been the best feedback for you?
A lot have people have been like, "this is the hardest thing I've heard and I don't listen to UK rap before this," so that's cool. The main thing for me is the message behind the music. Which is a lot of [my music], not just Us Against The World and as well with the Fully Lidge stuff I've been pushing. I think that means the most to me, when people reach out and say the message connects with me, this helped me figure stuff out. That means the world to me, you know? That's what I'm trying to do with music. So people can listen and think - this is me. There's a box a lot of people are in that they don't even know exists.
Your story is also fascinating because you've moved from Germany, to Nigeria and to South London - you did that when you were so young, how did that impact you and your music?
From a young age, it gave me a lot of life experience. I understand my heritage, especially over in Nigeria where I feel really connected to my culture. I already had a sense of belonging, so when I came [to London] I didn't fall into that block mentality. You feel like your area is your whole world. I fell into whatever I fell into, but quicker than most I realised [what was going wrong] and cleaned myself up. There's way more to life than that.
From what I've seen and experienced, you're either legit and you're with all the other legit people...or you're on the other side. But then there's cases like me. All my bredren are my bredren, but I want to be legit. I want to show the younger generation you can be friends with the people who have been there for you, but you can be legit.
A lot of people fall into that lifestyle because of social pressures. They want to fit in.
And that moves into your work with the Fully Lidge movement, can you explain that to me?
It's about showing people that being fully legitmate is not just the stereotypical white guy who works in an office 9-5. There's so many different ways to live. And you can hustle. You can be self-employed, you can own a business, you can do fashion or music or whatever. And you don't have to be percieved as boring or whatever. I'm Fully Lidge, I'm still respected by most of your favourite rappers. I'm still in that clique.
Right now, a lot of that culture, where the culture's at right now, the whole bad boy [image] is seen as respectable by the younger generation. I want also to make it an option like - cool, you can do that or you can be legit. You can still be friends with everyone, you can still go to the same parties...it's baby steps. Because once you start getting on that path, you start to actually realise that that's not the only way to go about it.
A lot of people will be looking at the success of Us Against The World and wondering - what's next? Can you tell us?
The next thing is ready to go. We're still planning the video, but we're keeping that under wraps. I want to almost be like a surprise. We're gonna be expanding!
Us Against The World is out now via Relentless.