"We wanted to settle the score" – Yannick Bolasie on how he ended up recording an MC battle with Bradley Wright-Phillips

Yannick Bolasie
(Image credit: Getty)

Many footballers have a different hobby outside of the beautiful game. For Gareth Bale, golf is the best way to while away free time. Others enjoy going to the horses. But, for former Crystal Palace and Everton winger Yannick Bolasie, taking part in rap battles was always the only way to pass the time between games.

The ex-Democratic Republic of Congo star first learned to MC while growing up in London, and he has strict teachers to thank for finding the time to discover his love for grime music. 

"The passion originally came from when I was at secondary school," Bolasie tells FourFourTwo, now. "Sometimes in the school playground, the teachers would confiscate the ball and everyone would go into a circle and do grime battles and MC battles.

"I didn’t know how to do it properly and I wasn’t that good, so it was one thing I wanted to learn. I used to only scribble lyrics and practise my flow. Eventually I got better and better, and I listened to radio sets for hours – just people MCing.

"It became part of me. It takes me to a different place. As an MC, I’ve done battles, I’ve gone on stage and Eskimo Danced with some of the OGs. It’s a completely different pressure to football, having to sing in front of loads of people."

Bolasie spent much of his playing career in the Premier League, after rising through Non-League football to the very top of the English game. His love for rap music was shared by other footballers he met along the way. He even ended up recording a Lord of the Mic MC battle against Bradley Wright-Phillips, with whom he represented Plymouth during the early stages of his career. 

"I used to play with Brad at Plymouth," he explains. "And we’d just send voice notes to each other. He’d come for me, I’d come for him. It was just ongoing from there. One time I was with Brad relaxing in a studio with his other mates who do music. The Lord of the Mic Jammer was like, ‘I heard you guys are MCs?’. They asked, ‘Why don’t you guys come and clash?’ – It was legendary. You go into that room and it’s a different type of pressure again. So me and Brad said, ‘Let’s settle the score here’. 

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Ed McCambridge
Staff Writer

Ed is a staff writer at FourFourTwo, working across the magazine and website. A German speaker, he’s been working as a football reporter in Berlin since 2015, predominantly covering the Bundesliga and Germany's national team. Favourite FFT features include an exclusive interview with Jude Bellingham following the youngster’s move to Borussia Dortmund in 2020, a history of the Berlin Derby since the fall of the Wall and a celebration of Kevin Keegan’s playing career.