Do you Ghetts me? Rapper reflects on Plaistow roots

Ghetts arriving at the Mobo Awards last night

Ghetts arriving at the Mobo Awards last night - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Fresh from performing at the MOBOs and about to embark on a headline tour, rapper Ghetts’ star is firmly in the ascendancy.

Ghetts has been nominated in three categories in this year's MOBO awards

Ghetts has been nominated in three categories in this year's MOBO awards - Credit: Archant

But the Plaistow born-and-bred wordsmith admits that his East London roots are never far from his thoughts.

From freestyling about St Bonaventure’s School - “I school more MCs than St Bons”, a nod to the Forest Gate boy school’s wealth of rapping alumni - to returning to see his parents, the area continues to provide an inspiration.

“Of course, you can’t detach from where you’re from,” Ghetts, real name Justin Clarke, says. “I’m influenced by my upbringing, especially with my early music, and it’s something that I reflect back on. With some of my lyrics there are things that only people from Newham would really understand.”

Born in Forest Gate hospital, he went to Brampton Manor before continuing his education in North London. Save from a spell in prison, he only left Plaistow to settle in South London a couple of years ago.

You may also want to watch:

When we chat he’s still reeling from last Wednesday’s MOBO performance which brought Wembley’s SSE arena to a standstill, something which he describes as a “milestone” in his career.

He’d performed onstage at the prestigious awards with Kano on his track Typical Me almost a decade ago, with last Wednesday’s performance announcing his long-awaited return - and with three awards nominations to boost.

Most Read

“It was a pleasure to perform with my band on prime time TV - it was brilliant,” Ghetts, 30, admits. “It was a good feeling as well to see my progress. I felt like I wanted to capture a moment in that performance especially for people who don’t know who I am and never heard my music.”

He believes that missing out on the awards will just make him work harder.

“It’s weird because I am a great believer in hardship and the way it can transform a person and give them longevity,” Ghetts says.

“I never expect to win and then when I don’t it’s like nothing, I just feel normal. The biggest thing to me was performing.”

When his tour’s over, he’s looking forward to getting back in the studio after his debut album Rebel With a Cause charted at number 23 following a decade of mixtapes and singles.

“I really do enjoy performing but what I enjoy most is being in the studio, blocking off from everything outside and trying to capture a moment in life and things that I’ve gone through,” he said.

Ghetts plays London’s Borderline on November 16. For tickets, visit

Read more: Plaistow rapper Ghetts performs at MOBOs

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter