Creating a beat comes naturally to Joshua ‘Blanco’ Eduardo. A huge player in the UK Drill scene since his earlier days in the collective Harlem Spartans, Blanco now looks to break the mould with a fresh new track just in time for summer. The first single from his hotly anticipated mixtape, ‘The Great Escape’ sees the rapper join creative forces with Shepherd Bush’s Central Cee, a collaboration that fans will be pleasantly surprised by.
Pairing the rapper’s versatile voice with Central Cee’s charisma and wit, ‘The Great Escape’ moves away from Blanco’s Drill playbook and breaks into a Latin inspired hip-hop track. Recorded in Manchester, UK, the new single from the yet-untitled mixtape sets the pace for the new music. “[Fans] can expect a lot of versatility, Drill rap and Brazilian,” Blanco explains. Released at the end of April, the infectious track ‘The Great Escape’ found its way into the highly capable mic stand of Central Cee, an experience Blanco references as highly productive. “He’s a calm guy, really humble,” Blanco recalls. “I work with him still; he’s the best guy. I like working with the best people. He’s really about hard work – when he’s in the studio he just wants to just record. Mad humble; I like humble people.”
2020 saw Blanco step away from his Drill roots with Brazilian inspired drops ‘Anakin’ and ‘Memphis’, finding an inspired new audience and 15 million accumulated streams on Spotify in the process. Coined ‘Blanco Wave’ by the artist himself, the genre debuted during the singles saw the artist step into his love of Brazilian beats. “I would love to perform in Brazil,” Blanco tells me. “I was watching Michael Teló performing ‘Ai Se Eu Te Pego’ [to] a massive crowd. I would love that to be me.” After a seven-month hiatus, the new single is the first insight for fans into the debut mixtape. Delving into the tape and its content, Blanco explains, “It doesn’t really have a message that I want to get out there. When I first started the tape I was thinking, ‘should it have a message that I want to get out there?’ but my mind came to the conclusion that, ‘not this tape, maybe the one after.’ It doesn’t really have a message, it reflects who I am as a person. It’s got songs that are deep, songs that are vibes but it’s not a really overall message.”
Native Angolan Blanco found his way into music through rapping at his local community centre in Kennington, South London. “We had a community centre, obviously they’re all closed down now,”
Blanco explains. “But when it was open it was me and two friends; the other two used to rap there. They used to make their own songs and post them onto SoundCloud. I love music and literally had so many songs on my phone that I downloaded from the computer. One time I was in the studio with them and they gave me the chance to rap, so I went home and wrote some bars and came back. Everyone was like, ‘yeah this was alright,’ so I just kept doing it. Obviously the more you do something, the more you get better.”
This notion of ‘practice makes perfect’ is an ethic that Blanco preaches, inspired by a huge pool of musical and cultural inspiration across a wide range of genres as well as daily life. ‘The Great Escape’ sees Blanco rap about ‘That’s So Raven’, an early 2000’s successful Disney Channel show, with previously song ‘Memphis’ referencing Japanese game show Takeshi’s Castle. “I’ve just got a head full of stuff,” Blanco says. “I feel like I come up with more ideas as supposed to writing; I just come up with ideas so when it’s time to write I already have ideas down on what I want to write about. Sometimes I’ll just feel like writing or be inspired by something and I don’t really try to force it. When I feel it I’m going to write something then that’s when the best work comes out.” Drawing inspiration from his cultural roots and passions from across the world of music, Blanco’s mixtape will be one to look out for this year. Speaking about his music collection, Blanco explains, “It’s changed a lot – it’s broad and I’ve got some Jazz and Country songs. Most of my songs are mostly American hip-hop or soul music and I don’t really have those Drill songs anymore.” Contrasting with his teens where he listened to more underground artists, he says. “Section Boyz, Shower Malik, some guy called Rittz and all the 67 lot,” he says. “I listened to a lot of songs – even in the US I had a lot of Quavo and Migos.”
This plefora of music influences have seen Blanco expand into multiple genre crossovers, experimenting with a range of beats. Talking about his journey so far, Blanco tells me, “People say I have [come a long way] but I don’t feel it’s been a long way, I feel there’s a lot more to go. A small part in the road. The mixtape was a lot of hard work so even thinking about a full studio album – it’s a lot of work. You’ve got to think about if this song is good; I can’t tell if most of my songs are good.” He references his fans’ reactions as a huge confidence booster in his work. “I feel like when my music’s out there that’s when I get more confident in my music. When I do music in the studio it kind of gives me the confidence to know that, ‘they like this song, or they like this song but not as much as this song.’ It gives me the confidence to write.” This new-found confidence will also see Blanco return to the stage when the world is ready. “I’ve performed live a couple of times.
Obviously it used to be a horrible feeling at first – stepping onto the stage especially by yourself. Now I think I’m past that. It’s more daunting when you know that all of them [the fans] aren’t here just for you, they’re here for other artists as well. If you have your own show it’s not the case and it’s more calm. Don’t know how long they’re [the fans] going to wait for though.” Fans won’t have to wait long for the mixtape however, which is set to drop later this summer.
Blanco’s new single ‘The Great Escape’ is out now on all streaming platforms.