Teen rap-pop sensations A1 x J1 are back with ‘Baby’, the follow up to their smash hit ‘Latest Trends’ which went viral, reaching #2 in the UK charts and achieving 100 million global streams. Their unique pairing of hard-edged rapping (J1) and sincere, boy-next-door singing (A1) captured young hearts nationwide and their second single proves that they’re here to stay on the UK music scene.
Another summery slice of what it’s like to be young guys finding their feet in a post-pandemic world, ‘Baby’ further marks out their distinct rapping/singing tag-team and sensitive relatability. Its delicate piano and minimal beats stand out in a world of tougher sounds like grime and drill, as does its subject matter. “Guys put too much pressure on trying to have romantic relationships,” says J1. “You don’t need to focus on girls.”
‘Baby’ features London’s Afro-wave viral star Deno, who has previously worked with Stormzy and AJ Tracey. He’s an artist whose breakthrough success A1 x J1 can relate to. “Deno’s been in my shoes,” says A1. “He knows what it’s like to build a name around himself at a young age. And now us doing a track with him is just amazing. It just shows that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.”
Indeed A1 and J1 can. It’s been a whirlwind year for the 16 and 18-year-old, who, in the short time they’ve known each other, have pulled off the impossible: launched a successful music career in the middle of a pandemic, gone viral on TikTok and scored a number two hit with their debut single – all while they were still at school. They met each other on the Houseparty app during the first lockdown of 2020, bonded over a love of football and rap music, and when a snippet of the track ‘Latest Trends’ went viral on TikTok they launched into their career full throttle.
Fast-rising rapper Aitch loved ‘Latest Trends’ so much that he jumped on the remix, as did platinum-selling American artist A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and it rocketed up the singles charts while A1 was still attending classes. It led to a freestyle session on the hugely influential rap channel Plugged In W/Fumez, where all the most important names in UK music perform, and where you can see A1 x J1 effortlessly bounce off each other in the booth.
“It’s been a crazy year,” says A1, who has just finished his GCSEs and is ready to dominate summer 2021. “Life is getting much more fun now,” adds J1. Indeed it is: with lockdown restrictions slowly lifting, A1, who is based in Coventry in the West Midlands, and J1, who has recently relocated to Gravesend in Kent, have been able to get into the studio together and continue honing their distinctive style. ‘Baby’ is a taste of freedom – and what’s next to come. A1 and J1 are only getting started.