My London: AJ Tracey on cutting loose with Big Zuu and talking Spurs with cabbies

AJ Tracey’s favourite bits of his city (ES magazine)
AJ Tracey’s favourite bits of his city (ES magazine)

Home is …

In west London and I live with my Mrs — I’ve lived there for five years.

Best place for a first date?

I would recommend going to Juno Omakase because it’s intimate, has good food and you can talk to the person you’re with.

Favourite shops?

I rely on Nike for my tracksuits and for my shoes and stuff; Harrods for my fragrances; Bloom Perfumery in Covent Garden and Selfridges — and Brixton Market.

Most memorable meal?

I’m not sure… because the best meals that I eat aren’t always from the best restaurants. But the best meal I’ve had in London: it’s bait but the Wagyu tacos from Novikov. That’s one of my favourite little guilty pleasures. I was with A Jewellers [celeb watch dealer Abtin Abbasi] when I had them.

Where would you most like to be buried?

I would rather not be buried in London to be honest! If there is a cemetery in Richmond, maybe there, it’s beautiful. But I’d rather be buried in Trinidad.

What would you do if you were Mayor for the day?

Make travel completely free for everyone up to the age of 18 — maybe even 20 to be honest. I’d make travel free for the yout dem. I’d also open tons of youth centres. So many young people give up on their ambitions because they don’t have anywhere to go, or anyone to turn to for support, so more youth centres and more funding for youth workers would be high on my list.

What makes someone a Londoner?

It’s in your swagger, in your attitude. It’s the way that you see the world. We’re creative but business-minded. We dress well. We don’t take any shit from anyone. We don’t have time for small talk. I love being a Londoner.

Best thing a cabbie has ever said to you?

I jumped in a cab one time and the driver had a Tottenham Hotspur charm hanging from his mirror and he said, ‘AJ Tracey in my cab. Come on you Spurs.’

Ever had a run-in with a police officer?

I used to have run-ins with police every day when I left my house. I won’t go into them.

Who do you call when you want to have fun?

Big Zuu, he knows all the best places to eat, all the parties. He’s the life of the party.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

My fragrance collection is worth a lot of money. I don’t need to go into numbers!

What are you up to right now for work?

The album, and I hope everyone enjoys it.

Who is your hero?

My actual hero is my mum, everyone knows this. She was a youth worker and I saw firsthand how important her presence was in the lives of so many people. I’ve been wanting to make a difference in that area so my work with McDonald’s on Makin’ It has been really exciting. My professional hero is probably Skepta, how he’s navigated and is still navigating his career. The way he holds himself. The way he doesn’t gatekeep — he bestows a lot of knowledge on everyone.

What do you collect?

I collect Yu-Gi-Oh! cards, I have hundreds. I’ve been collecting them since I was a kid.

What’s your favourite work of art?

There’s a Banksy on Portobello Road that I grew up seeing all the time. I also like that gold statue outside Buckingham Palace — I don’t know what it’s called, though! You guys will have to help me on that one.

What was the last thing you googled?

I use Google any time I argue with my Mrs, to make sure I’m right. Or any time I argue.

What’s your favourite grooming spot?

Mo Better Cutz in Ladbroke Grove.

What apps can’t you live without and why?

It’s gonna have to be Deliveroo, innit. Uber’s pretty useful if you ain’t got a licence, can’t be bothered to drive or are out on the lash. The calculator app is pretty great to see how much you’re getting ripped off in London.

AJ Tracey and McDonald’s have launched Makin’ it, which aims to give young people greater access to opportunities through youth work (