North West London rapper Nines drew a loyal fan base through a dichotomy in his music that celebrated the grim reality of the streets while expressing his aspirational drive to escape them.
Hailing from the Harlesden area of London, the burgeoning star (real name Courtney Freckleton) steadily built up an audience through a series of mixtape releases. The first, From Church Road to Hollywood, arrived in 2012, and seemed to reference the notorious London Church Road gang that his murdered brother was allegedly a member of. He was awarded Radio 1Xtra's People's Choice award in 2013, and nominated for a Mobo in the Best New Hip-Hop category. That same year saw the release of his follow-up mixtape Gone Til November, but it also marked a period when his career was put on hold after he was sentenced to an 18-month imprisonment at Wormwood Scrubs for unspecified crimes. Despite this setback, the prolific artist went on to release a further two tapes, 2014's Loyal to the Soil and 2015's One Foot Out. Over the course of his four mixtape releases the rapper had increased his profile, thanks in part to millions of YouTube views, and he signed to XL Recordings, which would go on to put out his debut record. One Foot Out was released in early 2017 and it featured collaborations from Akala and J Hus. The record shot straight to number two in the U.K. iTunes chart. ~ Bekki Bemrose, Rovi