“BRIGHTON made me who I am, not just as an artist, but as a person.”

Despite his astronomical rise to fame, in an exclusive interview with The Argus, Rapper ArrDee said he can’t “ever imagine” leaving Brighton and credits the city for helping him achieve his success.

The 19-year-old burst onto the music scene in April last year after the release of the chart-topping remix Body, alongside artists Tion Wayne and Russ Millions.

The Argus: Rapper ArrdeeRapper Arrdee

The hit song became an overnight sensation after his verse gained popularity on social media platform TikTok.

ArrDee, whose real name is Riley Davis, grew up in Woodingdean and often features landmarks from across the city in his music videos. 

He said he’s “incredibly proud” to call Brighton his home.

He said: “It made me who I am, not just as an artist but as a person. I would say I am comfortable and confident in my own skin, and Brighton I think played a massive part in that.

The Argus: Brighton-born rapper ArrdeeBrighton-born rapper Arrdee

“It isn’t a judgemental town, and you can be who you want to be, and you can recreate yourself.

“It definitely has a massive role to play in my character and in my brand, my music and everything.”

“I always say it’s the city that never sleeps. There’s always something going on.

The Argus: Brighton rapper Arrdee filming in the i360, BrightonBrighton rapper Arrdee filming in the i360, Brighton

“I don’t think I’ll ever leave. Everyone tells me that I will but I like it here. It’s peaceful. It’s easier for me to be about and be viewed as normal. Everyone knows it’s my town. "

Riley said he “can’t remember a time” when he did not want to be a musician and would often take his Sony Walkman CD player to Hove Park School and show videos of himself rapping to his friends.

He said: “I had a little following in Brighton. I had around 8,000 followers doing Instagram freestyles and recording my own stuff and putting it online.

The Argus: Rapper Arrdee filming a music video in BrightonRapper Arrdee filming a music video in Brighton

“At first, when I was in secondary school, I would share my music around there. As I started doing it more it started growing and people started seeing me on hashtag challenges and instrumental challenges."

Riley said his family were "heavily into music" and he grew up listening to rock music form bands such as Bon Jovi, Guns N' Roses and AC/DC.

While he moved away from becoming a rock musician, Riley said you can still hear its influence in the music he makes today.

He said: "That’s why you hear a lot of guitar melodies in my music, but from when I first heard Eminem, Lil Wayne and 50 Cent, I knew I was going to be a rapper.”

Riley was working at the Amazon warehouse in Littlehampton when he wrote the freestyle rap Cheeky Bars, which was released in January 2021. The song now has more than six million views on YouTube.

After leaving Worthing College, Riley said he looked for "odd jobs" to be able to afford mixing tracks and travelling across the south of England to perform at freestyle events

He said: "I worked in a chip shop but that wasn't really my cup of tea. I’ve done loads of different bits and bobs. I engineered a lot of my own tracks so Cheeky Bars and 6am in Brighton were engineered mostly by me.

“I used to run studio sessions out of a flat and people used to come and pay for that.

“I did painting and decorating with my uncle and my family own a butchers in Hangleton so I used to help out there when I could.”

The music video for Riley's latest single War, a collaboration with Manchester rapper Aitch, was filmed entirely in Peacehaven.

The video features dozens of masked extras, horses and expensive cars. A teaser posted on TikTok ahead of the song's release has been viewed more than two million times.

Later this year, Riley is set to perform at Parklife festival in Manchester, alongside his idol, American rapper 50 Cent.

He said: "I'm mad excited. I think I'm performing on the same stage as him. You might catch me in the crowd for that one."

War by ArrDee featuring Aitch is available to stream now.

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