BERWYN has a story to tell, and he does it in an unforgettable manner.Hypebeast
BERWYN was never meant to make a mixtape. He was supposed to return to Trinidad and forget the last few years of trouble, living a life that “felt like dancing on the edge of a knife.” He locked himself in a “shithole flat” and fuelled by toast, weed and insomnia, began writing and recording the music that would become Vega. This was a last roll of the dice.
“I made Vega from a mattress on the floor of a room I was staying in at the time. All of the stories are factual and all the pain is real. It’s the lottery and the lottery ticket all at once.” – BERWYN, April 2020
He had moved to the UK with his family at nine years old, Trinidad’s island paradise having been corroded by gun violence. He brought with him a passion and talent for music, ignited by his DJ father and his cousin Kerwin Du Bois, now one of the biggest Soca stars on the island.
The family settled in Romford on the eastern outskirts of London. Though school – and music classes in particular – offered BERWYN support and escape, life was complicated. His mum was in and out of jail so he made ends meet through a job at Subway. Not content with his lot in life, he fell in with the wrong crowd and soon found himself sleeping on hospital floors, in cars and on sofas in flats where there’s always someone knocking on the front door.
However, as the self-taught multi-instrumentalist raps on his debut track “Glory”, “sleeping in the car only filled [him] with drive.”
Over his own spacious production, “Glory” showcases BERWYN’s rare ability to move between rapping and singing with ease. It’s a talent that led to a call from XL Recordings founder Richard Russell, asking BERWYN to collaborate on the latest Everything Is Recorded album. BERWYN appears on four tracks, with Pitchfork describing him as “the record’s breakout star”. He’s since appeared alongside Headie One and Fred again.. on their acclaimed GANG mixtape, adding his vocals, songwriting and producing a remix to the tape’s title track.
But although his first introduction has been as a deft collaborator, it’s on the music he’s created on his own, a solitary figure freestyling through the night on begged and borrowed equipment – the music that became Vega – that BERWYN truly shines. All the stories, raps, production and melodies are his; every blemish, glitch and crackle part of the tape’s DNA.
BERWYN took just two weeks to write and record his debut mixtape, but it distils a lifetime of experiences existing on the fringes of London life. It’s raw and authentic, both lyrically and sonically, each song revealing further layers of BERWYN’s life. If you want to know Berwyn’s story, it’s all there in Vega’s tales of hope, hustle and struggle.