Big Zuu: ‘Music and cooking make me feel euphoric’

Estimated read time 3 min read

Living in temporary housing as a kid gave me character and hunger. We moved all over London: Victoria, Battersea, Swiss Cottage and Kilburn. Growing up that way was very difficult, but I also appreciated the system for giving us a home. It’s a weird feeling.

I come from a massive family. My dad is one of five, and Mum has 13 siblings; my grandad was busy. I’m from Sierra Leone, where we have lots of kids, and most of our relatives still live there. It means I only have a small family here in England. I’d like to create a little one of my own one day.

I was a smart kid, raised by a woman with no education. Mum couldn’t read or write properly, but I did well for myself. I was the class clown and would try to make people laugh all the time, so I’d get into trouble. Thankfully, I’ve now turned talking into a career.

No, I’m not on Tinder. I’m pretty chilled right now, just going with the flow.

I started rapping on the block. I’d be free-styling, going back-to-back with my friends and having a laugh; we’d get really excited, because we could rhyme a couple words. At youth clubs we made our own music. It led us into the studio, then on to the radio.

There’s an award named after me at my old school. I do a lot of work with young people and do talks in youth clubs and schools. One day my old head teacher said he wanted to make an award for showing potential in performing and creative arts in my name. Honestly? It’s pretty awesome.

I’m a religious person, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what happens in Islam when we die. I know that you go to a waiting area to be sorted. How will I be judged? I think half of me will be in heaven, half in hell.

People always want what they can’t have. Music doesn’t last for ever. Your favourite artist is not going to make that first album 12 times in a row. Music is a moment, a snapshot. You have to appreciate it while it’s here. It’ll never be the same as it was back in the day.

Food was always a passion. I started making cooking videos to help promote my music, which led me to cooking on TV. The feeling I get working on music or food is the same – it’s euphoric.

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Receiving my Bafta made me want to cry. Winning was beautiful, it was bigger than me. If your average middle-aged white man wins an award, he’s thinking about where to put it afterwards, not the pressure of a whole community on his shoulders; how that moment affects thousands, if not millions, of young ethnic people. It was overwhelming. Still, I rode the wave and gave a good speech.

Big Zuu has partnered with belVita on its mission to harness the power of positive energy (


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