Naughty Boy began 2016 partnered with a global superstar, Beyoncé, on his worldwide smash hit Runnin’ (Lose It All). Now he ends the year by going back to his roots: bringing through new talent…! Listen here
With his storming new single the producer/writer – whose 2013 debut album Hotel Cabana helped propel artists like Emeli Sandé, Sam Smith and Ella Eyre to stardom – repeats the feat.
The dizzyingly infectious dancehall vibes of ‘Should’ve Been Me’ features vocals from British singer songwriter Kyla. The Brit vocalist has been everywhere this year – her captivating vocal appears on Drake’s chart-dominating ‘One Dance’ which spent 15 weeks at No.1 in the UK.
As Naughty Boy puts it with customary straight-talking passion, “I met Kyla and fucking loved her, she’s humble and she’s got heart…”
That knack for alchemising talent into song craft gold is clearly as strong as ever. It’s a point underlined by ‘Should’ve Been Me’s’ other feature, Popcaan, the Jamaican singer/DJ who’s collaborated with the likes of Drake, Jamie XX and AlunaGeorge.
The glorious Should’ve Been Me caps a busy year for Naughty Boy. He was a judge on the Mercury Music Prize panel, and is rightly proud of the part he played in the award’s recognition of British urban music with the victory of Skepta. He’s an ambassador for The Prince’s Trust, and an ambassador for the British Asian Trust. The man born Shahid Khan and raised in a working class household in Watford, who started making music in a shed in his garden, wants to encourage and enable young people, of every ethnicity, in whatever their dream may be.
His work behind the scenes continues via his record label, Naughty Records and publishing company Naughty Words.
In fact, Naughty Words has its own success story in 2016: it’s been responsible for some of the most notable tracks of this year, including Pillow Talk by Zayn Malik, Sam Smith’s Oscar-winning James Bond theme Writing’s On The Wall and Emeli Sandé’s comeback single Hurts. Naughty Boy himself has four tracks on the Scotswoman’s eagerly-awaited second album, Long Live The Angels.
Alongside all that, this year Naughty Boy has also found time to spend time in the studio with artists including Mike Posner, DNCE, Janet Jackson, Missy Elliot and John Newman. He’s not saying just yet whether all those sessions were for his own second album.
Still, we might be waiting a while to hear more tunes if Naughty Boy’s new single has anything like the life of his last single. Runnin’ (Lose It All) may have been released in 2015 but it keeps on, well, runnin’. It’s one of the Top Ten UK airplay tracks of the last 12 months and to date has sold 3.8 million copies worldwide.
But for Naughty Boy, fame and figures don’t mean that much. It’s all about the songs, and the collaborations, and the discovery.
As he says despite working with superstars he still loves the thrill of discovering new talent, “I can still be someone who can launch an Emeli, or a Sam or an Ella. I can still be that guy, and I want to be here for the next 10, 20 years. So I want my next album to feature six megastars and six new stars…”