Kid Bookie Breaks Down His New Album ‘Songs For The Living // Songs For The Dead’

Kid Bookie Breaks Down His New Album ‘Songs For The Living // Songs For The Dead’

25th April 2024 0 By Jon Deaux

Tyronne Hill has never fit in. He’s never wanted to, either. At school, when his friends were listening to grime and hip-hop, he was into metal and rock. And when he started making music as Kid Bookie, despite being taken under the wing of grime MC/rapper Dot Rotten, he never felt at home in that genre. Partly because he was restless and ambitious and wanted to transcend the genre, but also because he didn’t want to be a stereotype and make the music that he was expected to make as a young Black man. Rather, he wanted to follow his heart and make the music he wanted to make, regardless of convention, expectation, or whether it played by the rules. He did experience some aspects of what it’s like to grow up Black and without privilege in London – “I’ve been in gangs, and people have stabbed me repeatedly,” he says, referring to that time as his “youthful days of madness” – but when it came to his music, Kid Bookie has been forging his own path without compromise from the very beginning. Fiercely independent, ruthlessly ambitious, and obstinately original, he’s been swimming upstream in an industry that really doesn’t like people coloring outside the lines – especially people of colour. While he was aware that not making hip-hop or grime might make things more difficult for him, he also realised that he wouldn’t be happy or fulfilled if he didn’t make the music he wanted.

“That’s why I chose not to be in rock music for so long,” he says. “I fell into grime because I wasn’t accepted listening to rock music in my peer group when I was younger. I was never able to express myself musically. Even with the music I listened to, when people came to my house, they’d say, ‘What the fuck is this?’ So, you alienate yourself and force yourself into crowds to be accepted. I liked grime when I was younger but don’t like it as much today. At the time, though, it was a platform for me to learn how to be a rapper.”
It was, though, thanks to that platform that Bookie’s profile began to grow – and with it, his confidence to follow his heart as a songwriter. As an avid listener of alternative rock and metal music, rapping wasn’t necessarily the path he wanted to take, but learning how to do so helped him become the musician he is today. Both his 2016 mixtape, You’ll Rate Me When I’m Dead, and 2018’s Publish This was big stepping stones towards that. The latter was, technically, Kid Bookie’s first album, but he adds the disclaimer that “it was so premature – there are no mixes, it was just me in my room bouncing songs out of Logic.” It was with 2021’s ambitious and expansive Cheaper Than Therapy that Kid Bookie truly found himself – a record that didn’t so much as push boundaries as obliterate them. The best example is ‘Stuck In My Ways’, a blistering tornado of abrasiveness that featured vocals from Slipknot’s Corey Taylor. Despite Bookie embracing his outsider status, it was a profound demonstration of the size of his crossover appeal. That’s only grown since, resulting in glowing coverage in Kerrang! and NME, as well as nominations at both the 2022 and 2024 MOBO Awards for Best Alternative Music Act.
Of course, as someone who has never fit in, the irony of questioning where he does fit in reveals a deeper thread at the heart of this record – Bookie’s vulnerability and his insecurity as an artist. They’re separate concerns but interlinked. Yet there’s a double irony here because by being so forthcoming about those insecurities, Bookie has made his most self-assured record to date, one that transcends the uncertainty of its inspiration and flourishes defiantly as a result. Furthermore, it’s by not fitting in that he’s been able to connect with so many people – perhaps more than he would have done by towing the line. That’s not without its drawbacks, however, not least the effect it’s had on his own psyche.
Moments of vulnerability and feelings of inadequacy in love, life, and art are beautifully conveyed in the quieter moments of this album. The first of those is ‘Purgatory’, a tender ode to the hopelessness and helplessness of being in love. It starts off gently with an acoustic guitar and some gorgeous, honeyed vocals before Bookie declares that ‘no matter how much I try, I can’t stop loving you’ in a voice that, as it cracks desperately, is both restrained and on the verge of exploding. Elsewhere, the moody ‘Nothing To Believe In’ confronts the harsh reality that, sometimes, there really isn’t any hope. For Bookie, that often comes down to his obsession with death and the many, often depressing, existential quandaries his overthinking leads him into. “Time and time again,” he says, “I lose hope. I’m trying, but there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, there’s actually no positive ending. You can’t always write a story with a script that the hero saves something because sometimes the hero dies. Everyone dies.”
That might sound pessimistic – if not downright nihilistic – but at the same time, and again ironically, its existence actually is the light at the end of the tunnel. As is the blissful pop-punk of ‘Love Drunk’, the forthright intention of ‘Love Me When You’re Angry’ – a song Bookie says is “about wanting to be vulnerable with someone without losing them on the first instance of showing who you are” – and the pulverizing, slow-motion chords of ‘Scars’.
It’s immediately apparent just how authentic and sincere his music is. Just like Bookie himself, it doesn’t fuck around. Songs For The Living // Songs For The Dead is the best illustration of that to date. It’s an incredible, genre-defying collection of songs that marks him out as one of Britain’s most special and unique talents. What’s more, it demonstrates his methods and attitude are working perfectly and that his decision to make his own way and swim against the current was absolutely the right one.

“I approach everything I do with the idea that it’s a game,” he says. “So, how do I become a glitch in that game? And sometimes you have to throw a grenade in places, blow it up and just rebuild the infrastructure. I only have one chance to revel here, so let me be as transgressive, as raw, and as authentic as I can be. I want to be that glitch, that little ‘fuck you’ inside the system.”
‘Songs For The Living // Songs For The Dead’ will be released on 12 September 2024 via Marshall Records. Fans can pre-order vinyl bundles and more HERE.

Songs For The Living // Songs For The Dead’
AI (Save Yourself)
Nothing To Believe In
Interlude 1
Self Control
Love Drunk
Love Me When You’re Angry
You Only See

Connect With Kid Bookie
Instagram / Twitter / TikTok

How useful was this post?

Click on a thumb to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.

As you found this post useful...

Follow us on social media!