The rapper, 37, on London’s sewage system, becoming a father and making pizzas with Gizzi Erskine.
Why are you getting behind the Tideway sewer project?
I think it’s brilliant. It’s crazy this is going on 200ft beneath us in London, unbeknownst to pretty much everyone. A 15.5-mile super sewer is being dug by giant machines because we haven’t had an update in our sewage system for 150 years.
Think about how often your phone updates — so it’s very important. I wasn’t lucky enough to get down there because of the restrictions but I did see it via FaceTime and the scale of it is insane.
For me, about to become a father for the first time, you worry what world is going to be left for our children.
What are the environmental benefits of it?
There’s a toxic shock that happens when sewage overflows into the Thames. It harms wildlife, it kills the fish and it makes the water quality terrible. The sewage system there now can’t handle the growth in population.
Are you going green?
I’m doing my utmost. I’m switching to an electric car and I’m always going through the fridge, trying not to waste anything. I look back and I’m embarrassed by my indulgences — clothes and things like that.
There was a sort of reward system there because I worked every day for about four years. Even my holidays were attached to work. That comes from working-class guilt: ‘I have to keep working.’
But it isn’t conducive to being content because you’re never present, which I wasn’t through so many amazing experiences. I’m much happier now I’ve simplified things.
What has the prospect of fatherhood [he’s expecting his first child with girlfriend Karima McAdams] made you more conscious of?
Mortality. I’ve been stabbed, nearly died after operations and squashed between two cars. You become more aware of the fragility of life when you’re about to introduce someone to the world.
Has it made you more creative?
I was in a really good flow with my next album before I got stuck in Morocco during the first lockdown. I’ve had a lot of different work, such as setting up Aguulp gut supplements and the Giz’N’Green restaurant.
It’s nice to own something but I’ve had to learn about business so I’ve used the academic side of my brain rather than the creative side.
What has Covid stopped you from doing?
I was meant to tour last March following a successful November tour. As an artist, you put out music and then you tour it, so it was frustrating to put out an EP and see how well received it was during that first tour, then have the life of that EP halted.
Have you been protecting your mental health?
I’ve been lucky enough to be occupied. I have my dogs so I have to get out and walk them every day come rain, hail, sleet or snow.
My mantra, of sorts, is that you don’t get through anything by stopping. That’s as literal as it is metaphorical. You have to keep going.
Will you take time off work when your baby is born?
Yeah, 100 per cent. They always say for the first few months all they do is sleep but, on the flip side, everyone else tells you you don’t get any sleep. I don’t know who’s telling the truth.
I know it’s not what you expect to come from a rapper’s mouth but cuddles are my favourite thing and I can’t wait.
Who did you look up to when you were young?
I had strong women in my family. My mum and dad were 16 and 18 when they had me so I lived with my grandma. She taught me graft because she was out working three jobs a day to support her mother as well as her grandchild.
My great-grandmother taught me how to read and basic numeracy so when I went to school there was a bit of her in every teacher. I wanted to perform well so sought validation in the right places.
You’ve been cooking with Gizzi Erskine…
It’s been hilarious. Giz’N’Green started while I was stuck in Morocco with dodgy wi-fi and it was nice to give people something to distract themselves with. And then I came home to launch a pop-up pizza restaurant that sold more than 16,000 pizzas.
They’re all passion projects. With Aguulp, I feel there’s a gaping hole where education about nutrition is concerned. Our gut health is linked to everything.
My first operation at six weeks old was due to problems in my digestive tract. I know now that my gut issues were impacting my mental health.
Watch Professor Green’s virtual tour of the Tideway’s super sewer on Instagram @tidewaylondon.