Hailing from Peckham, South London, ALQAE are the gully, fun-loving trio scheming for world domination. Although they have been rapping for a minute now, they are still relatively new to the scene, but not enough to grant the title ‘newcomers’. Their music speaks to real experiences – of life on the roads, the grittiness of the South and their self-christened milieu of ‘The Surface’ – that immediately paints a Picasso of their lives.
The triple threat of Jiggy Jim, Jonno AQ and Floss AQ bring variety to the table; for every amazing banger, there is a conscious ode to self-advancement, diverging from places of pain and conflict, and happiness and leisure. It is a diversity that can elude many similarly skilled artists, but ALQAE have achieved it in such a short space of time, which is kind of scary considering they haven’t drop a full-length project yet (although that is on the way).
Talking to them, we discovered a common bond, spending a prolonged time reminiscing about the school we all went to in Peckham. Details of just how messed up that school was might be too long to even mention – the words riot and scandal come to mind immediately – but we were howling with laughter; I suddenly remembered being a prefect and trying to chase these boys in the lunch hall as they tried to escape without putting their trays away. It got that deep. And yes, I was a prefect, so??
But after sharing memories, I sat down with ALQAE in a pub in the heart of SE15, along with their manager SP, as they chronicled their journey, ambitions, and their upcoming mixtape.
How would you describe your music?
Jiggy Jim: Fun. Hopefully the listeners can get that vibe from it as well.
Jonno AQ: I agree. Especially when it’s a collective effort, which is totally different to what we do individually, but I wouldn’t put a label on our sound. What we release on our upcoming tape is not going to be the same as next time.
Floss AQ: I might just jump on some rock n roll ting, you know. But we’ve come from a place and an environment where a lot of negative things have happened and we have that aspect to the music. But we’re also trying to show the light. Our sound is authentic and reflective of ourselves and how we met. We felt like outcasts when we started making music, and even in the way we used to move, go to events, speak to girls. So we’ve always been that, and even the name ALQAE derives from Al-Qaeda, but we’re trying to be outcasts in a good way.
Jim: And we stay within ourselves as well, most of the time.
How would you guys describe each other individually?
Jim: Jonno is completely unpredictable, and him being unpredictable is predictable to me! That’s my guy, he’s loyal to the cause on a different level, very generous, and a clean heart but he does have an evil side to him. He even stabbed me once when we were playing around! And Floss is my guy; he’s a mad character and we can make even the deepest situation mad funny. I have a lot of first experiences with him as well. A flashy yute, too.
Jonno: Yeah, Floss is definitely a very flashy guy, always got something to say, he speaks his mind all the time. He is the funniest guy I know…
Jim: He’s very emotional, he used to have mad little man syndrome!
Floss: But I’m not little anymore! I used to have it though!
Jonno: Jimmi is very laid back, doesn’t take anything seriously, like he wouldn’t be fazed even if Jay-Z wanted to sign him!
Floss: Jonno inspires man to do different things, he started music late, he’s been rapping for about a year and a bit, but he inspires both me and Jimmi. His vocab is mad, a very smart one, he’s the guy but we clash a lot. With Jimmi, we started doing music in 2009 at the age of 14 and he has changed my life. We’re too alike; we’ve shared a lot together. He was my first brother.
Your Soundcloud page says you were born and raised on ‘The Surface’, but what is ‘The Surface’?
Floss: I made the term for us, and it’s a big part of Peckham and Nunhead, where we’re from. After school, we would all chill in Nunhead, and there was a hill there where you can look over everything and we would always do something there on Fridays called Waterworks. We would get girls over there, smoke, drink and wild out and it started to become a regular vibe. Then we decided this area is significant to us, where positivity was festering. But also, the negative things like police sirens, people getting nicked, cars getting shot up. People only know one side of Peckham but the other side was a madness as well. Then I was doing one tune talking about the bad situations and called the area ‘The Surface’ because it felt normal, so it’s a little insight to our back ground. It’s the story.
So, what do each of you think you bring to the group?
SP: When you hear ALQAE together, you hear something gritty, something fun and a lot of different styles. It’s very raw but, individually, I would say that with Jiggy (Jim), the name suits him. He’s very jiggy, the cool guy and he m