23-year-old UK rapper Wesley Joseph has released “Thrilla”, his first new song of 2021. The booming track is co-produced by Jai Paul collaborator Lexxx and Joseph himself. It arrives via a self-directed music video featuring one of the two working DeLoreans in the UK. Stream the clip below.
“Thrilla” is propelled by a heavy 808, but the production is also layered with funk-inspired guitar licks and gothic strings. In an interview with BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac, Joseph said he freestyled the song’s lyrics while drunk “off the rum and orange juice.”
Accordingly, most of the track features swaggering rhymes, but Joseph also gets introspective at times. “Visions in my dreams, who do you believe / They fear the change,” he raps. “Looking hollow tomorrow, dividing barricades / Thought I saw the future coming close but that was yesterday.”
“The name ‘Thrilla’ literally comes from that gassed drunk freestyle and it just stuck — the song is true to that bigger-than-life feeling you get in those moments,” Joseph explained to Mac. “Six months passed and I had started to slowly take the song apart to restructure it with absolute attention to detail. I wanted to make something that felt big, but also had depth and a sense of journey to it.”
He continued by recalling how he finished it at Lexxx’s studio. “I would be working round the clock, experimenting with different transition ideas, or throwing in new licks, samples, and grooves to glue the whole thing together without losing anything, and he helped hugely at that stage of the puzzle.”
Born in Birmingham, Joseph came up as a member of UK’s OG Horse Collective alongside rising R&B singer Jorja Smith before moving to London to study film. In 2020, he broke through with a series of buzzing tracks, including “Imaginary Friends”, “Martyrs”, and “Ghostin'”.
“Thrilla” is a preview of Joseph’s debut project, ULTRAMARINE, due out later this year.