“I feel like when I look at how my music career is building as well, we’re both growing and growing,” said AJ, back in the UK after his first worldwide tour. “I guess there are parallels. It has been unbelievable, really, the last couple of years - for both of us.”
Fast-forward to 8.35pm on Wednesday 1 November and a moment to treasure as AJ’s ‘False 9’, the soundtrack of our Nike kit launch in the summer, is playing out to 85,000 delirious fans at Wembley Stadium as we lead the reigning champions and 12-times European Cup/Champions League winners 1-0. An hour later and it’s all over, a famous 3-1 win and one of the nights of our illustrious 135-year history.
Can you even imagine what that felt like for Spurs fan AJ?
AJ is certainly in the Champions League of grime artists. His EP ‘Secure the Bag’, released last month, stormed into the UK’s top 20 album chart (peaking at 13) on its release and he’s been nominated for a MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) Award for the second-successive year in the Best Grime Artist category. R&B/garage royalty Craig David appears on the track ‘You Don’t Know Me’. Like the football team he loves, he’s on the rise. How apt, it’s just as our Nike kit launch stated, ‘Watch Us Rise’.
Back to the football...
To be the face of our Nike kit alongside the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen, Eric Dier and Toby Alderweireld - his heroes - was a dream come true for AJ, whose father, a Spurs fan from Broadwater Farm, Tottenham, put him straight into a Spurs kit. “Spurs have been my team forever,” said AJ, who explained what it was like to pull on the shirt with the first team.
“It was surreal - when I first got the call, I didn’t really believe it! When I then went and did it (the kit shoots) I thought ‘wow, this is crazy’ and then to see the Club Tweeting my face out there...there was a huge image of me in the kit at White Hart Lane!
“My dad saw that and he was just over the moon. He took a picture outside the stadium. Trust me, that was crazy.
“My dad used to live in Broadwater Farm. He supported Tottenham and the day I was born, he put me in a Spurs kit. The first kit I remember is the Pony kit, the purple one, late 90s!
“To then see myself in the new kit - there is no way to describe it, literally no way. When you are growing up as a little kid, sitting in the front room with your dad watching the matches to now feeling part of the Club, it’s just crazy.
“The only thing I like as much as music is football so it’s crazy to feel part of the Club. I’m very passionate about the Club and any chance I get to big up Spurs, I’ll take it!”
A presence in the ever-growing grime scene for a few years - his first material landed five years ago in 2012 - AJ, to coin a phrase, has ‘blown up big time’.
“Secure The Bag has taken me to a wider audience. After it charted, a lot of people who hadn’t listened to my music before listened to it and I got good reviews out of that.”
That includes a new following of Spurs fans. “It felt like I connected with a new audience with the kit launch and ‘False 9’,” explained AJ. “I had Spurs playing my tune at Wembley before matches, half-time and after matches as well and I’ve got loads of new fans through that, even people a lot older than me, different generations have come up to me and said ‘yes, I like your music’ and that it’s great to have music out there representing Spurs. I feels really good when I hear that.”
Having just played to a sold out 02 Kentish Town Forum, Secure The Bag still flying and the MOBOs up next, it’s glory, glory days for AJ Tracey - just as he’d script it.
'Secure The Bag' is available now
Follow AJ on Twitter @ajtracey HERE...
The MOBO Awards are in Leeds on Wednesday