The Blackpool grime star discusses the viral popularity of ‘M to the B’, its association with ‘chav’ culture, and reacts to your viral videos on TikTok
It’s December 2016, and 16-year-old Blackpool grime star Millie B has just released the video for her diss track, “M to the B”. “If you don’t know me, I’m M to the B, coming in hard, you better watch it Sophie,” she raps to camera, the visuals flitting between KFC and Lidl.
The song is a ‘send’ for Sophie Aspin – a once-notorious figure in Blackpool’s tempestuous grime scene – and is teeming with blistering – and very British – insults: “Looking at your face, what the fuck’s your contour? Do you want me to lend you a blender? I’m being serious, I’m not trying to offend ya.”
The release of a NOISEY documentary investigating the astronomical rise of the regional genre preceded Millie’s track. After it dropped, the seaside town’s biggest names found themselves at the centre of an internet storm. Figures like non-PC pre-teen Little T, local celebrity Afghan Dan, and supposed Queen of the scene Aspin achieved global infamy, as the short film explored the increasing ubiquity of YouTube channel BGMedia, which spotlighted these unique talents.
Millie – real name Millie Bracewell – joined the Blackpool grime scene when she was 16 years old, having been a fan of BGMedia for years. “I just decided one day I was going to go on there myself and have a bit of fun with it,” she tells Dazed. “I didn’t know how far it would go.”
For those who didn’t spend the mid-2010s engrossed in the drama of teenage rappers on YouTube, this scene involved a group of young rappers from the Lancashire coast whose careers centred on low-budget videos, crude lyrics about each other’s mums, and heated rivalries. These kids weren’t afraid to offend, either, with Little T – just 13 at the time – spitting racial slurs and threats of sexual violence.
One feud at the centre of all of this was between Bracewell and Aspin, who sent for each other repeatedly – each track wilder than the last. In her reply to “M to the B”, Aspin is joined in Lidl by Little T as she warns Millie, “I’m gonna burn you up, put your ashes in a zoot”.
By 2020 though, it appeared to have all come to an end. Bracewell is now a mother and an Avon Cosmetics seller, while Aspin has her own YouTube channel, on which she promotes her new, poppier music and shares ‘Get Ready With Me’ videos. That is, until August, when “M to the B” was discovered by TikTok.
“There’s a big debate about how it got so big on TikTok,” says Bracewell. “The song was big when it was first released in 2016, so was always out there, but it sort of died off for a bit.”
An unassuming video by US TikToker Bella Poarch ignited its return. The clip (named TikTok’s biggest viral video of the year) sees Poarch head-bobbing to the track, and is currently sitting at over 43 million likes. From there, “M to the B” took on a life of its own, soundtracking ‘chav’ make-up tutorials, confusing the subjects of viral pranks, and generally taking over TikTok, being used as the sound for 7.4 million videos. Superstar influencers James Charles and Madison Beer even recreated Poarch’s viral video.
“It’s a weird one for me,” reflects Bracewell, “because it’s my least favourite track I made. But it benefitted me and Bella, so I’m not complaining.” Bracewell has reaped the rewards on TikTok herself, amassing 1.3 million followers in just two months. Her first post? Joining the “M to the B” trend, obviously.
“I wrote the lyrics down one day, and recorded it the next,” Bracewell says of the song, adding: “I didn’t pick the location; if I’d have been given the opportunity to choose, I probably wouldn’t have gone for KFC! But that can’t be changed now.”
With just 13 seconds of the track typically used on the video sharing platform, it’s easy to forget its subject matter: the rivalry between Bracewell and Aspin. “There was no actual beef with me and Sophie,” Bracewell explains, “we didn’t know each other.”
“I didn’t pick the location; if I’d have been given the opportunity to choose, I probably wouldn’t have gone for KFC!” – Millie B
She continues: “We have spoken since the diss track and we actually did a track together in 2018, which was a reply to Little T (called “About That”). Obviously people were confused, but we’d stopped sending for each other by then – it couldn’t go on forever. I did my final reply in early 2017, someone had to end it!”
Faux feuds aside, an insidious trend began to emerge as the track went viral on TikTok: it became the soundtrack to videos mocking British ‘chav’ culture. Short clips of young girls with fake eyelashes, puffa jackets, and drawn-on eyebrows permeate the “M to the B” sound on the app, with creators across the world using it to mock the very British phenomenon.
The cultural proliferation of the ‘chav’ emerged during the New Labour government of the 00s, under which it was in vogue to demonise the working class. However, speaking to Dazed in July, criminology professor Majid Yar said he doesn’t believe those joining the ‘chav’ trend on TikTok are doing it to be classist, explaining: “For today’s teens, too young to have encountered the first ‘wave’ of such representation in the early/mid 2000s, this is something new and ‘humorous’.
Bracewell holds this same view, seeing her association with the trend as “funny”. “It doesn’t bother me to be honest,” she says. “That’s how I looked in my music video and that’s how I came across, so I can’t complain. I don’t take it to heart.”
She even uses the phrase herself, to explain how her life has changed since she created “M to the B” four years ago. “I’m not the chavvy kid in the tracksuit no more. Life has changed massively for me, but totally for the better. I couldn’t be happier!”
With a new, global fanbase, 6.7 million streams, and a UK Spotify number one, would Bracewell ever consider returning to the world of grime? “I don’t know what the future brings,” she muses. “If I was given good opportunities, I think it would be hard to turn them down.” But, she concludes, “my main priority is providing the best possible life for me and my daughter”.
On Friday (November 27), Millie B took over Dazed’s TikTok to react to your viral “M to the B” videos. Watch them here.