While S-X (Sam Gumbley) might be releasing his debut album in 2021, he has already more than proved himself as an artist. His sounds have long been shaping the industry, it’s just that now for the first time his voice will truly be heard.
The Wolverhampton Wonderkid has spent years making a name for himself with his production prowess, working with the likes of Lil Wayne, Childish Gambino, Chance the Rapper and J. Cole. There’s his Grammy-nomination and gold and silver-selling records; international touring with Lily Allen, too. Years in the making, though, his first solo record marks the 28-year-old’s arrival: a graduation into a class of his own. It was worth the wait.
“My album was finished a year ago,” he says, “but I’ve spent lockdown building and elevating. It’s like playing a video game – I’ve unlocked the next stage and levelled-up.”
It’s a step-up S-X has been preparing for since childhood. He was the class beatbox at school, the soundtrack to MC-battles; he started DJing – and making his own tracks – at his estate’s youth club in his early teens. S-X quickly tapped into raw talent, drive, and determination: he’d travel down to London and stand outside the Radio 1 studio with copies of his mixes, desperate to ensure the result of endless hours spent perfecting his craft received the audience it deserved. And it worked.
Even back then, S-X’s output was prodigious – he’d written Woo Riddim (grime’s biggest instrumental) and collaborated with Chipmunk, Wretch, Tinie Tempah and Skepta before he was old enough to buy a celebratory pint.
Despite being signed to Warner Chappell, and producing for iconic artists from London to Los Angeles, in 2015 – with all eyes and ears on him – S-X stepped away from music completely despite his ascendancy. “All I’d ever wanted to do as a producer was work with Lil Wayne,” reflects S-X today. “My life goal? I’d achieved it. I needed time to work out what next.”
Taking a warehouse job at his beloved Wolverhampton FC, he started a family and dedicated time to his head and heart. Unknowingly, he began to lay the groundwork for his musical progression as well. “For the first time in years,” S-X says, “slowly music once again became a project of passion. I was writing both beats and lyrics on my own terms.”
With no pressure or expectation, he uploaded self-produced tracks which built a buzz of their own volition. As his numbers started clocking up higher and higher, so did the quality of his catalogue of work. It’s no great surprise that soon S-X returned to making music and working with big-hitters: he has a producer’s ear, a pop-star’s voice, and is one of the nicest guys in the business to boot.
S-X has arrived, and it Feels So Good.