Reece D’Souza performing at Hip-Hop After Dark in Clare CellarsAlex Parnham-Cope with permission for Varsity

Reece and I went to school together, and he’s always been something of a music legend in our ends. South London and Cambridge may seem worlds apart, but he’s continued making a mark on a whole new audience. Recently, we took some time out of gossiping about life back home to talk about all things music and the many gigs, May Balls and Hip-Hop Soc events he’s played at university.

Name: Reece D’Souza

Age: 20

College: Lucy Cavendish

Subject: Psychological and Behavioural Sciences

Where’s home?

South East London, Penge!

How do you spend your time at Cambridge?

Either chilling at my friends’ places, going to society events, getting in the gym or stressing out in the library over all the essays and reading I haven’t done.

Favourite May Ball you played?

John’s May Ball 2022 by far. Performing straight after Rudimental, who had already drawn a huge crowd that then stayed for our set, felt like I was performing at a festival.

“Only the real Frank Ocean fans would realise how many of his tunes are slept on by the casual listeners”

Your favourite artist?

Everyone who knows me knows it’s gotta be Frank Ocean.

Your favourite song?

Damn, this is a hard one. It would probably have to be “Sweet Life” by Frank Ocean. That’s like one of his most underrated songs and only the real Frank fans would realise how many of his tunes are slept on by the casual listeners. Also, the vocals and production on that song are insane.

Best Cambridge club night?

The best Cambridge night is probably Fleek Thursday, but that’s not a hard title to get. Fleek actually plays decent music compared to the other club nights and, in a place where R&B, hip-hop and rap are not common, Revs on a Thursday is always quite refreshing.

Favourite place in Cambridge?

St John’s gardens (I sound like some John’s fanboy). The massive back garden that John’s has is the perfect place to take a break and chill with friends, especially when it’s sunny because all the sun seems to catch right onto that area and it’s just generally good vibes.

How does the Cambridge music scene compare to South London?

If I was to note down something, it would be that, in general, the Cambridge music scene really does not provide a space for rap music of any sort to be celebrated and enjoyed to the extent that genres like classical and pop music are. I think that the name of “Cambridge” comes with an inherent sense of prestige to it, and it seems like, unconsciously, everyone here seems to adhere to this and make room for only the “sophisticated” forms of music. This is way different to South London, where I grew up, where rap music is appreciated in so many different forms and it is given more of a centre stage than Cambridge provides. This is why rappers are so rare within Cambridge compared to South London, but I hope I’ve shown that rap deserves a larger platform throughout this uni.

What’s the best gig you’ve played at Cambridge?

Hands down pretty much every After Dark that Hip-Hop Soc hosts in Clare Cellars. Every After Dark gig I do there seems to get better and better and this is mainly due to the huge vibes that the crowd brings to this event specifically.

“Throwing the most lit music events in Cam is always a flex”

Best part of leading the Cambridge Hip-Hop Society?

Having the ability to be a spokesperson about something I’m passionate about, and holding some power and capability in being able to materialise this passion and help it grow throughout the uni. Also, throwing the most lit music events in Cam is always a flex.

What makes the Cambridge Hip-Hop Society the best?

We go so against the status quo that’s upheld in this Uni. People who have come to our events have stopped me afterwards and let me know how grateful they are to be able to come to music gigs etc., that they never thought they’d be able to access at a place like Cambridge University. I think Hip-Hop Soc is a much needed outlet for people like me and it’s a really beautiful outlet to have.

How much music are you writing these days?

I’d say I definitely write less during term time because of the workload. Intense. But during holidays or my free time (when I rarely have some) I’m able to write a lot more and I think I’ve struck a good balance right now.

Do you miss home while at university?

I used to miss home a lot because not seeing my family and home friends for so long was really new to me, but I’ve become a lot more comfortable in my space at Uni. Obviously I still miss my fam and friends though. And Six Wings and Chips.

What’s your favourite song to perform?

“Doo-Wop” by Lauryn Hill, I think. Our singer, Sarah, drops some insane vocals on it and my rap verses suit the beat well, so I’m very comfortable performing it. It’s also a pretty well-known classic so it always gets a good reception.


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Who’s your favourite student artist at Cambridge?

I can’t pick one person individually, but if I had to say it would be all the members of my band Quasar. Everyone is insanely talented. Shout out to you guys for real.

Who in the music industry do you aspire to?

I wouldn’t say there’s anyone who I aspire to be like, but I definitely want to create a similar vibe to rappers like Knucks, while also being able to create a sense of uniqueness like one of my favourite rappers, Westside Gunn, does.

What’s your guilty pleasure music?

Not gonna lie, I do dabble in a bit of indie music from time to time.