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Pa Salieu wins BBC Sound Of 2021

By | Published on Thursday 7 January 2021

Pa Salieu

Pa Salieu has been announced as the winner of the BBC Sound Of 2021 poll. The Coventry rapper says that he was spurred on to make music after surviving being shot in the head in 2019.

Speaking to the BBC, he says he hopes to give a voice to friends and others who have died, changing public and political perceptions of victims of street violence. “If I actually died [when I was shot], in their eyes I would be a criminal”, he says. “‘Gang-related’. ‘Drive-by shooting’. Trust me, the whole perception would be different right now. You would have never heard of me. If you did hear of me, [it would be], ‘That’s that kid that died’. ‘Gun crime’. ‘These foolish youths’. No”.

“Police used to say I’m in a gang”, he goes on. “I wasn’t in a gang. I was never in a gang. Because I used to try to survive? I got caught with a knife when I was seventeen? What, because I’m paranoid of the streets? I got shot in the head. People get killed every day for no reason where I’m from”.

“The thing that matters is what you’re going to do with it – let it eat you up or rise above it”, he goes on. “Getting shot is the same as getting fired from your job. What are you going to do with it? Rise up, or what? That’s life. Everything is a lesson”.

Commenting on topping the Sound Of poll – which is voted for by a panel of music industry experts – the rapper says: “I was just really happy to even be included on the list alongside some amazing artists, a few of who I know personally. They’re all crazy talented, so to be the winner of something like this so early in my journey just feels mad”.

Pa Salieu’s debut mixtape, ‘Send Them To Coventry’, was released in November, including a track featuring Sound Of 2019 nominee Mahalia, ‘Energy’.

The five finalists of this year’s Sound Of poll are:

1. Pa Salieu
2. Holly Humberstone
3. Berwyn
4. Greentea Peng
5. Griff