If longevity were the aim of most rappers newly starting their careers in hip hop in the noughties then the majority of them would be well out of luck, producing their latest ‘Best of’ compilations or hoping for an unlikely shot at a comeback. There are very few artists that have been through the musical meat grinder to come out sounding better than what they were when they started well over a decade ago, Taskforce are one of them and the other is Mystro. Mystro aka MysDiggi is a seminal force in the underground rap scene, having started rapping when he was 12 and progressing to being one of the most well-known names in the industry today. His music has reached international status, being popular in Australia and New Zealand, he’s toured the UK endlessly with his high-energy stage shows and his creation the Yearly Rap Up has been featured on 1xtra since its inception in 2009. It’s easy to say he’s a hip-hop superstar but who really is Mystro? We caught up with him at Hoochinoo’s night at Madame Jojo’s in central London to see what he had to say for himself…
Hey Mystro, how is it going? What have you been up to recently?
Mystro: Recently I’ve been promoting my new LP Mystrogen which is out right now; I’ve also been working on filming some stuff. I’ve got a lot heavier into that recently, and I’ve been working on trying to sharpening my tools when it comes to editing as well. So for the first quarter of the year that’s what I’ve been doing as well as promoting the LP. Yeah it’s been kind of busy.
You have a lot of nicknames, where do they come from?
Mystro: Erm, well it started off as Mystro then I think MysDiggi came in because it just kinda had a ring to it, but then my friend in Australia started calling me Digmund Freud, and I ended up using that as an EP… I like the sound of it because it’s like Sigmund Freud; you know what would Digmund Freud do?! In the hip hop world it’s kinda cool to always have a nickname…
You’ve been around for a long, long time! How did you get into rapping?
I mean it’s a long answer but to try and shorten it a bit, I’ve been rapping since I was 12 or 13 but I never knew I could turn it into a career. I was always messing around with music but at one point I got really, really ill and I was pretty much on my death bed, so I was thinking to myself about what I’ve done in the last 17 years and I wasn’t happy with it. I thought I should try and do something I’ve always wanted to do and at least then if I die I felt like I tried. So then I really got into it, it took me about two years to get better but in that time I was practising freestyles, going round my friends and rapping over beats and stuff like that. I then got asked about doing open mics at Deal Real Records, I went there and from that they asked me to keep coming back and eventually four ‘mics into it they said ‘We’re going to put out a single and we want you to be the first guy on it’. That’s what it all stemmed from, but I think I was bringing something new into it which not many people were doing at the time in the UK scene. I just wanted to show people I was this crazy guy… and it spiralled from then and I never thought I’d be in this position now where I’ve been living off it for the last 11 or 12 years now. That’s because I’ve had the mentality to not be afraid to ask for what I need or deserve as well as obviously treat this like a business and just keep bringing something different to the table that people aren’t doing and you know here I am.
How would you describe your style of rapping to people who perhaps haven’t heard it?
I would probably say, slightly unexpected. I can be funny, deep; I think it’s quite vast. You never know what you’re going to get next but you know it’s me. I think it’s authenticated by me just being who I am. Don’t be afraid to be who you are, I think it’s weird because there’s a whole load of people trying to be the same. I’m not really sure, I just enjoy doing it.
Would you agree that quite a lot of hip hop these days is fairly boring? Who do you think that’s out there at the minute who is killing it right now?
For me Homeboy Sandman is fresh, he’s one of the people that I just hear and think wow. I buy every album he does and I’m really into the sort of music he makes and luckily for me he was into the music I make too which ended up with us collaborating.
Whatever happened to Natural Born Spittaz and are you guys going to release any more music?
We’re still about yeah. Jargon just had some stuff happen where he lost part of his memory, and we were dealing with that with him but all will be revealed soon! He’s on the digital version of Mystrogen , there’s a track on their called Aite Then features him. Nowadays because of how the indie scene is where you want to do something but it takes a bit longer I can’t really put a date on it so yeah look out for that we’re still around.
I’ll watch out for that! So what about the Yearly Rap Up are you still going to be doing that now?
Yeah… [pauses for a while], I don’t think I’m going to do that anymore. I mean doing the research and writing is cool but after what I don’t like is people aren’t really that patient about it. They’re always asking where’s the rap up? And we’re in March or something. Like as if I don’t do music and other shit all throughout the year haha! Other than that it’s quite time consuming getting guys to film, edit and find the footage. I don’t think people realise how much work it takes to create it… Show us a bit of love man! I think if we get some sponsorship I’ll probably do it again. But yeah I wanted to do it so I could shout out our stuff as well as taking the piss out of pop culture which I’m not really into. So I could shout out Don’t Flop, Tony D or big up Lowkey… you know the music that I do follow so I can bring some attention to.
Do you think Don’t Flop is good thing for hip hop? Or do you think it’s taking away from other rappers that aren’t perhaps getting the opportunities people involved in are?
It’s think it’s definitely a good thing. It’s good for MCs, and when you start off battling is the thing to do. You wanna show off your skills in front of other MCs, so to that extent that I definitely think it’s a good thing. I do think that because some MCs don’t want to do anything but battle it makes people think it’s a not a good thing. Because they’re not putting out music, they’re just cussing people continuously. But it’s like a sport, kind of like boxing where people actually punch each other in the face… So in that sense I think it’s pretty cool, that there’s people who dedicate their whole career to doing that, then let them do it. It’s probably the best place to find out whether or not you should be doing music in the first place….
Where can we see you in the next six months? Where are you going to be in terms of the festival circuit?
Boom Bap, Symmetry Festival in May… Then there’s another festival called Mischief in September as well. There’s a few more if you look on the Sika website I’ve linked up with them so they’ll get me in a few more as well.
If you had to live on a desert island and you could only bring three records what would they be?
It would be Mystrogen, America’s Most Wanted by Ice Cube and probably say… something like Essential Mini Ripperton. Something smooth you know just in case a chick on another island wants to get down.
Any shout outs while we’re at it?!
Yeah shout outs to my brother Jargon, my DJ Lok, Dan DNA, Yungun, Them and Us, Hoochinoo, Tigermonkey, everyone who’s been supporting Mystrogen and the movement. There’s a whole lot more coming so watch out!
Interview by @lubrisbane
Taken from the debut LP Mystrogen out in all digital stores on Don’t Bizznizz
MYSTROGEN (Album Sampler): http://youtu.be/SUUzjJ2y7H0
download ‘MYSTROGEN’ here - http://bit.ly/MystrogenLP
Mystrogen CD here - http://bit.ly/MystrogenCD
or for more info http://www.mysdiggi.com
When we got the word here at the Boom Bap HQ, we couldn’t possibly be more hyped to tell you that we have none other than the legendary Chester P from the Task Force performing live on the main stage at Boom Bap Festival 2013. A man who really needs no introduction amongst hip-hop fans the world over, Chester answered a few questions on MFTC 5, Festivals and Mosh pits.
Over to you, Mr Hackenbush…
For those who don’t know who Chester P & Task Force, enlighten them.
Well Task Force is a movement made up of me, my brother and Slippers mainly yet there have been a number of others who have been with us over the years. Inja, Badbonez, Eno Redrum, Remus and so on! We’ve been about for over 20 years now and it’s fair to say we are the official granddads of the game, only out aged by the godfather himself Rodney P and the likes of Blade (who is one of the nicest people I ever met) and Million Dan and so on!
What inspired you to get back in the studio and start work on MFTC 5?
Well just life is the real inspiration really! It’s a burning sensation in my soul I feel insisting I create! And sometimes its music other times not but this time it was MFTC 5 the last instalment! We promised 5 and we are keeping our promise!
Out of the previous releases of the MFTC series do you have a favourite one or one you are particularly proud of?
I’m proud of all the music we have made even the bits I dislike! I don’t listen to myself much, only during recording process then I go back to folk music! Probably why I never know my lyrics cos I don’t ever listen! But I am proud of everything we’ve done as I am aware of how easy it would of been to do nothing at all!
You’ve performed a lot of shows ranging from the traditional hip-hop set, spoken word and even with a live band. What is your favourite aspect of performing live?
My favourite aspect of performing is the crowd, the people who come to see us! It’s an immense responsibility to me and one I take seriously! I try my hardest to give money’s worth and Task Force ethics are give your all on stage- save none! I love seeing people throwing each other around in our mosh pit as long as it doesn’t turn messy and end in childish fist flying antics!
You’ve performed at many festivals across the UK; do you enjoy the festival vibe? If so, what were your favourite festivals?
I used to love festivals but I am not a huge fan now! Glastonbury is my favourite but I’m talking early 90s when travellers got in free! It was real then not pretentious poshos having a meltdown! I’m not feeling that! I think ketamine is destroying the hip hop nights I been too lately! I don’t think people know how it looks to a sober person when there on their horse tranqs! All I know is it don’t look nice and it is weird performing to people who are so stoned they forget they saw you the next day! Put down the ketty!
We feel we have created a home for heads far and wide at Boom Bap festival. What excites you about the prospect of an on-going festival that is solely dedicated to UK hip hop?
Well it’s exciting to know there are enough people actively involved in hip hop to make it happen successfully! I find what’s happening in general exciting as it is breathing again! Far from dead and nearly on its feet!
Having worked with Jam Baxter on his latest feature project, who within the UK hip-hop scene would you like to work with now?
I would like to work with Baxter again along with Ed Scissortongue and James Dike too, Kashmere and Badbonez and the Abnoxshus team I will be working closely with.
What has Chester P been listening to recently?
I’ve been listening to beats mainly as I’m getting nuff work done this year so been listening to beats! Mainly from Chairman Maff and Pete Cannon. I’m also making beats again with JCA from Abnoxshus who is the second member of beat club! But you know the first rule of beat club, so…!
With the UK scene seemingly on resurgence at the moment, what do you feel needs to happen for this music scene to advance or at least maintain its current hype?
It’s all ebb tide man- nothing last forever! It’s like George Harrison said all things pass! It don’t matter what we do, it will pass! What’s important is making the most of it while it’s here. It’s like life we can try preserve it, plastic surgery and so on but it ends eventually for all of us! And people spend so much time in the future they don’t enjoy nor understand the present! Be here and now! The rest is not certain!
Having been a main figure in UK hip-hop’s “Golden age” how does that time compare to now in terms of the output and quality of music?
We were main figures in the second golden age for UK Hip Hop actually, before us we witnessed the golden age when London Posse and Demon Boys and Blade , Katch 22, Gunshot, Sons of Noise, MCD and a long long list of artists that seem forgotten! But we saw that happen like you guys saw us happen you see! I don’t compare things but I can only hope we try unity this time instead of competing so much! I’m up for creating community spirit! Each one helps out! If that fails and people want petit squabbles and disharmonious relations then as history has proven, I’m ok! Haha! I’m all for love everyone is a friend until they make an enemy of me!
Peace and love until that don’t work!
DON’T MISS CHESTER P PEROFRMING LIVE AT THIS YEARS BOOM BAP FESTIVAL – EARLY BIRD TICKETS ON SALE FROM 8PM ON SUNDAY 31ST MARCH!!! WWW.BOOMBAPUK.COM/TICKETS
The Boom Bap crew hooked up with another heavyweight head-liner from the festival line-up. This time, Stig of the Dump. With the release of the new Cannon Fodder EP and with Boom Bap Festival being a matter of DAYS away we thought it only right to bring you an interview with this certified microphone badman! So check it out and read on to what is one of our most frank and straight to the point interviews to date!!
For the heads buried in the sand, tell us about yourself…
I’m Stig of the dump aka Stevie dickhead, the sexiest fat man in show business, Team Hate member number 1, I’m fatter than you, my Wiz is still fitter than yours, I drink more than you, smoke more than you, i’d probably win in a fight. Generally, more people like me than they like you and I still cry myself to sleep at night with insecurities.
You have many nicknames, where did your Stig of the dump name come from?
Oh there’s more! Stiggasaurus Wrecks, Dr Stigathy Jones and his boyish good looks, Stigmata, Stigmund Freud, Stigganometry, Stiggy Smalls. There’s loads. Piff Tannen, Piff Rhys Jones, Lean Simmons, Reefer Sutherland, Doobie Howzer (mc), James Blunted, Cold Stoned Steve Austin, there are LOADS. I just hang around with idiots that take the piss out of themselves & each other. My original name comes from when I was a kid, and it’s the title of a book by Clive King. It’s about a kid who goes away for the summer holidays, stays with his granddad and plays in a rubbish dump. Whilst he’s there he meets a cave boy and when he asks his name, the cave boy replies with a word or a grunt that sounds like “Stig” and that’s how he gets his name. When I was a kid I liked the book for one, secondly, I was the type who climbed trees and played in mud and my room was a shithole! My dad would call me Stig when I was like 4 or 5. I first got into rapping quite late in my teens compared to a lot of people. I lived in Newcastle and at the time it was a mainly Dance orientated city, there was no hip-hop really. But when I did get into it I tried loads of conceited names like Eye See One (IC1) which is police code for a Caucasian male. I was trying to be as metaphorical as I could basically. Then I became homeless and I thought, what’s this bullhshit pretence I’m trying to hold up? So I thought fuck it, I’ve been called Stig for years, it’s part of who I am, so I just ran with that as it sums up who I am quite well.
So, originally from Newcastle…
No, not originally from Newcastle. I’m an army brat. I was born in Catterick north Yorkshire, then at 3 months old moved to Germany. A lot of people say if you’re from Newcastle, why don’t you sound like a Geordie? My family is from Newcastle, I love Newcastle, I lived there for just shy of ten years of my life, so I call it home. It’s where I go for Christmas and every now & then to see my niece. Ultimately, I’m an army brat, I’ve lived all over, including Cyprus & Germany. I moved to Newcastle at the age of 14 and when I moved up there from Dover they didn’t really get my southern accent. Now it’s like, this guy is from Newcastle, why doesn’t he sound like a Geordie- he’s a sell-out! Those people can suck a fat dick! I talk how I talk, I sound like however it comes out. I never think about how I’m talking, i just talk. I’ve been in London for almost as long as i lived in Newcastle. Anyone who comments on my accent, doesn’t know my background & is just jumping to conclusions but i don’t catch feelings really, fuck em.
Was it hard to break through in an area where a hip-hop scene isn’t as strong?
I say there’s not much of a hip-hop scene, but there’s talent there! There are guys who’ve put out projects and been involved with a few things like Charlie Sloth’s “It’s Grime Up North”. People like Dialect, Text Offenders, Ken Masters, Image, The Skrufz, Gremii Da Muke, Projekt and no doubt plenty emerging since i left. When I was up there, there were a maximum of about 20 or 30 active artists, but they also made up the bulk of the crowd & every show was the same line-up, the same artists, the same faces. I don’t mean that in a negative way, that’s just how much of a small microcosm it was. Joe public never really gave a shit about it, outside of the core few involved in it. Aside from the odd bit of Hip Hop played at Drum & Bass or Student nights, there was pretty much just one main record store called RPM; there was one main venue which held an open mic once a week or once a fortnight & there was probably one big name came to town every few months. It was enough to keep you going, I learned to freestyle up there, there’s a lot of influences up there, some of the names I’ve mentioned were big influences, Subliminal from Text offenders, to this day is still one of my closest friends & i speak to him on the regs, much love to him & his robot arm. There is definitely a scene up there, it’s just not really enough to maintain a serious artists career. That ultimately is why I moved. Rick Fury who was on the Charlie Sloth feature, there’s talk of them linking up again. There are a few people who get a bit off buzz but in a tiny microcosm with no actual infrastructure or local support. Some petty people get all mad like “oh Stig moved away, he’s a sell-out”. But fuck those jealous cunts, there is a reason I moved away. I’m very, very serious about what I do, as much as it’s a laugh and a joke, and I love it, it was until recently the only thing I cared about. I didn’t care about ANYTHING except for music & my peoples. Now I’ve got a few other passions in life, a few other things I give a shit about but Hip Hop & music was something i was willing to relocate & leave behind my entire life to chase. And in all honesty, much as i wish it weren’t the case, i wouldn’t have had the miniscule amount of success i have had, had i not moved. And at the same time, simply relocating isn’t a guarantee, i have had to work every single day in some capacity to just tread water & cover my rent but it’s second nature to me now, it’s what I chose to do & although it is the hardest thing to maintain, I couldn’t think of anything else that is as fullfilling.
It’s been 6 years since “The Homeless Microphonist” dropped. How did that project come about?
I was living down in London, id recently become homeless; I ended up sleeping on loads of mates sofas or floors & ended up taking residence in the Foreign Beggars studio, in their vocal booth for a few months. Basically becoming a burden to everyone!
I slept rough a few nights here and there when i had no option or wasn’t in the frame of mind to beg some mate for a spot as i felt like i was imposing. Often I’d go to jams like Speakers Corner & mind sweep pints to get really drunk then be like, where’s the party? Or occasionally i’d roll up sober, look for an after party & pretend to fall asleep drunk, so i had a place for the night. It was a pretty fucked up time. Right in the middle of it all, i was still trying to get bookings for money & I went and performed at a night in Brighton called Beer & Rap which was run by a friend & DJ called Newborn (who I don’t see enough of, but I love the guy) He now runs a few of the nights at Vibe Bar on Brick Lane, where Suspect Packages Live is on. While I was down there we had a laugh and he looked out for me. I then came back to London, ended up sleeping on Dr Syntax’s sofa who was living with Metropolis from Foreign Beggars , a bad man arist called Jimi Crayon, Newborn & an American student wifey. One day shortly after the Brighton jam, we were drunk at a mate called Steve Greer’s house in Bethnal Green and John (Newborn) said “why don’t you put something out”? I had no answer, other than not having the funds. He said if i put my mind to it, i could have an EP done in a week and he’d put it out.
For once in my life a drunken conversation turned into- fuck it, I’m going to! I was sleeping in Foreign Beggars vocal booth; I had no excuse not to! They rallied around me, a lot of people showed support to me, favours i appreciate to this day & could never fully pay back. I called out a lot of producers and links that I had, a guy called Ido from Brighton, who is an absolute legend and a saint not to mention a good producer, Blufoot, who had produced for Mystro & went on to make White Rhino. Whinchester from Pentalk & my dude Steve Clear. Just getting a few beats from friends of friends or jacking the odd famous beat. I wrote and recorded to un-mixed and un-mastered mp3’s then just put it through compression and put it out! Literally, 7 days later Newborn took it to a manufacturing plant, i had a friend Doobie (from Underground Alliance) working job experience at a P.R company, he took my EP on as a free project, because he is a god and the rest is history! I took over the world! Haha.
You gained a lot of exposure through your Jumpoff Battle with Asher D. What do you think of the current battle scene?
Battling was something I did as a means to an end. I was homeless at the time; it’d mean a bite to eat and a drink or two, or some beer tokens in my pocket. That’s why I did it. It was fun, i enjoyed it but it wasn’t so much a route I chose to go down, just a side avenue to earn money & maybe get some connects. Then the Asher D thing went viral, it’s at like 325,000 views or some shit and that’s the second time it’s been up as it had to be replaced with better sound! It’s mental, it was just something I got into purely for some money and to pass the time, I wasn’t really dedicated to it. I don’t think I was particularly good at it, freestyling- at the time was something I was into; I just don’t think the standard was very high. Now the battlers have months to prepare & they come with fully written verses plus pre prepared flips. It makes for a more entertaining battle, but i personally feel if i’m going to write 3 verses, i’d rather they were for a track. No one is going to be listening to a battle in 10 years time, no one watches Supanat vs Juice on the regs, which is a hugely historic battle but everyone still listens to a Slick Rick track on the daily. That’s what I want.
Ultimately for me, not to be condescending to anyone who chooses to do it, but I view it like “Friends”, if it’s on- I’ll watch it. But I’m not talking to the lads about “Friends”. I’d rather watch a good nature documentary or a film rather than Friends! but if there is nothing on, or i want to switch my brain off I’d still watch Friends, it’s the same with battling & battlers. With that same comparison, a good battler to an actual good recording artist is like comparing Bryan Cranston as Walter White from Breaking Bad, a multi layered complex actor with Matt LeBlanc who plays Joey Tribbiani in friends, your average random couldn’t play Joey, it takes a skill most people don’t have but at the same time no one is asking Matt LeBlanc to play Walter White. I think it serves a purpose i just think unless you are making music, it is a futile purpose.
As I said i do watch it occasionally; there are a few people who I rate, if it’s on in the background I’ll take interest. But it infuriates me as well. There must be something about getting into rap through battling that lends itself to the worst kind of deluded cunt. Battling is such a microcosm, there’s a core bunch of people who don’t realise that, they aren’t aware of their relevance beyond the microcosm or how it translates to Joe Public. Occasionally I’ll watch & there is the odd head i check for, like Bender from Canada, Illmac from America. In this country, Eurgh who runs it has some skills, Lunar, Tony D, Unan. I could sit here and mention names that I rate, there’s a guy called Jefferson Price, people like him, Tony D & the afore mentioned overseas cats are the dudes i rate most- the dudes i see come at it from a rappers point of view. They construct bars, they construct lyrics, flows, metaphors, similes. They think about cadence & delivery as opposed to the vast majority of people who follow a formulated template of multis and punch lines. And you’ve got people who are the king of that, they can fit a hundred million multis into four bars with an aggressive punch line at the end, but for me, there is no finesse, it’s formulated and fucking boring! I also have a huge issue with watching someone who would probably be a victim in most situations shouting about raping someones family or stabbing/punching someone because they can hide behind “battling”. It almost facilitates delusion & distorts ego to those people. That said, I’m not taking anything away from it or the entertainment value when it’s done properly, which is where i think my main problem lies but I don’t watch curling, however if you like curling- watch it! Who am I to tell people what to watch.
On your previous releases and also your live show, you go in with double time rhyming, how did you get into double time spitting and what inspired you?
I guess the double time influence; you’ve got Right Whino on my first EP which was probably my most popular track to the fans off that EP. When Id perform that, live crowds would really react. That track was the first ever time I’d written double time lyrics and I enjoyed performing it. I remember at the time thinking it was quite difficult and I like to master things. I’ve recently quit smoking, after reading a book that, in short, explained that the only reason you smoke is because you’re addicted to nicotine & every other reason you have for smoking is purely the nicotine convincing you that you have valid reasons.. Once i digested the book fully & clocked how true it was, I thought fuck this, I’m not having an addiction beat me & knocked it on the head. It’s the same with the double time thing; I like to master my weaknesses & I didn’t like finding it difficult. I really like the energy behind double time; i like a lot of dubstep. I know a lot of people who are quite close minded and shit but i think it’s dope, i like some grime, some drum n bass, as always, if it knocks, i’m on it, simple as.
Double time rapping is just another element of hip-hop. Twista, Busta Rhymes, Chip Fu all had double time locked and I want to be the best rapper I can be. Also there is a freedom to it, my style of writing is very much about content, be it a turn of phrase or a funny punch line or wordplay or even just substance in terms of talking the truth. I very much deal with my honest opinions. Double time, at first, was just about flows. It was something that was new and fresh to me, I enjoyed the feeling of not caring & just playing with flow patterns & cadence. I’m an absolute stickler for not making sense; I won’t allow myself to write anything that doesn’t make sense in correct English but with double time, as long as i had ticked that box, i was free to experiment & go where i chose.
I’ve been doing that a few years now and found my comfort level, now it’s second nature like everything else & all these things like substance and content have crept in, I’d like to think that I have both the skippy flow and the content. I just enjoy rapping, I don’t care what it’s over. I just love writing bars and reciting bars. I mentioned Dabbla, a very good friend of mine, he’s an unbelievable double time rapper, and whenever I see him smashing it on double time I just feel inspired & to quote him “Give a fuck if it’s Drum & Bass, Hip Hop or Grime/ Any time, i grab the mic & bad it up like it’s mine”.
We often ask about positives for the scene, but what negative influences do you think plague the scene?
As too not take up the next 12 hours of your life, i am after all a hater & miserable cunt. I’ll tell you this, anybody who prioritises anything over their art, has a negative effect on hip-hop & fuck off & die twice.
Not to say you can’t be diverse and you can’t try different things. Make the more commercial side of music if you want. But if you prioritise something else over your own self-expression then you’re making it for the wrong reasons and that’s a negative thing. There are two main different groups I feel have the biggest negative influence & in turn that I hate I with a visceral distain.
Firstly, I find that there are a lot of people trying to get a vicarious identity through hip-hop. They’re some bland grey nobody and they’re like “I love hip-hop now”. I’m off out to buy whatever is popping in “urban fashion” or I’m going to completely change the language I use, not just naturally pick up slang but make a conscious decision to switch & completely disregard who I am & the way I conduct myself. All in some desperate attempt to give off an impression that I belong. I think that’s indicative of a huge percentage of people in all niches or walks of life. We have an affinity with a certain style of dress or “image” but I’m Stig/Steven, before I’m a rapper. If I meet people, I never tell them I’m a rapper unless it naturally comes up on conversation, its irrelevant, I define myself by my actions not some twisted perception of what I aspire to be for all the wrong reasons..
But that’s just a minor to the people who are chasing money, as I know some people just got to write that- there’s nothing else for them. I listen to that music sometimes, but it has to be something that’s counter balanced with humour or with someone who appreciates the repercussions for the actions that they talk about, I think some people don’t have that balance.
Secondly, and ultimately my biggest hate is for materialistic rappers & , those fuckers who chase or idolise money..
I’m a victim of materialism on occasion, i talk about my Jordan’s every now and then; I talk about my ray bans. But if that’s all you rap about; all you represent is money, then you’re feeding & perpetuating the evil bullshit that comes with it, the lack of humanity, the insecurities that mean humans feel their worth is somehow directly correlated with how much stuff they collect. It’s that flossy, popping champagne, diamonds and all that. Truly I’ve known a few very rich people through various legitimate & illegitimate reasons, and I don’t rate any of them for their money. One or two of them are totally down to earth, you wouldn’t even know that they were rich apart from they dress wrong! And that I rate. You need money to get around in this world, I wish you didn’t, but to celebrate celebrity and possessions over integrity and artistic merit is the worst thing you can do. Aside from fingering a child or something.
Who or where do you draw influences from when making music?
When people have always asked me about my influences in the past I’ve always made a concerted effort to state that I don’t take influence from people, I am myself. But the older I get I guess I did draw influences just not as surface based. I’m not just like “oh he did this, so I’m going to incorporate that” know what I mean? I guess if you’re directly applying someone’s style I see that as biting. I guess subconsciously I’ve taken influences, for example, Jehst’s turn of phrase and imagery is just unbelievable. Brother Ali’s soulful autobiographical style, Doom’s turn of phrase, Redman’s character, Pharohe Monch’s story telling, etc etc. I guess a lot my hatred and anger towards things influences me, T.V & film influences me & I reference them a lot. In terms of music or beat style inspirations it would be from my favourite rappers who are the likes of Sean Price, Rustee Juxx, Redman, Method Man, Action Bronson.
From the UK, Dabbla, Baxter, Dike, SonnyJim, Genesis Elijah. Characters that incorporate technicality as well as punch lines but allow them to come through naturally, without forcing them . I’m into these sorts of characters too, people who have a strong individual identity as they entertain me much more. But I don’t know if that’s because of who I am. If I would have started rapping back then I think I would have been very influenced by what I was listening to. I guess I was fortunate enough to have discovered who I was, to a certain extent before I started rapping. By that point it was less about wanting to start rapping because it was a cool thing to do, it’s was more “I like that, I’ll do me”.
The UK scene seems to have a sense of unity right now. How do you think the scene has changed?
I don’t think it’s a case of gaining unity. I think there have always been those camps. Look at lowlife back in the day you had Jehst, Task Force, Rodney, Supa T. That was the camp, they were all together and that influenced everybody and I think other people have made that comparison with High Focus. I don’t think there has ever been that lack of unity I just think hip-hop in itself has been through peaks and troughs in this country. So when it wasn’t as popular, it didn’t look as if it had much unity as less people were doing it, less people were interacting, less people were making music. I guess there might be a bit more than when I first came in. I think I came in just as that first wave was starting to dip, some people see me as part of the older generation, whereas I don’t see myself as a part of that- I think I came in just before the current generation.
Hip-hop becomes popular, it attracts glory hunters and people who are in it for the wrong reasons but when it dips it disappears, it’s gone. They’re not there through the dark times. It’s a cunt for the artists, for the fans, for the promoters but I think it’s necessary. I think right now the High Focus lads are leading a certain assurgency. I think it’s just some like-minded individuals like myself and Dabbla from LDZ and the likes of Baxter and Dike who actually socialise together. Not all the time as we live in different places but we hook up if there’s anything that were playing at, we’ll all go down, were mates.
There are a lot of these cats from London and Brighton and all over. Syntax when he used to live down here and the likes of Big Dave, were all friends through the mutual respect for making music. Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of outskirts that aren’t any of the circles that I’m down with, but there is that snidiness and bitterness from people who don’t want to hear that hip-hop, but fuck that- I listen to me and mine, and me and mine have always been dope so fuck your small time bate jealousy!
What are you most looking forward to about Boom Bap Festival?
It’s never happened before. The closest thing we’ve had before is FRESH or Deadbeat, in terms of festivals. But nothing was purely UK Hip-Hop. The Brighton thing was good, but it was just a day on the beach and heavily Brighton influenced. And I’m not against American headliners, but right now, it’s a UK festival, it’s an amazing thing. I’m not really nationalist or patriotic but ultimately, I am, and it’s what I’m a part of, and it’s just incredible. To take my artist hat off for a second, I’m going to be hanging around with a bunch of mates and getting ruined for three days, know what I mean? The only reason I don’t get wrecked every day is because I’ve got bills to pay, so I’m really looking forward to it. I’m really looking forward to hopefully playing to big crowds, that’s always been my thing. Irrespective of if you like my music or not, I’d like to think my show is rowdy enough to get people moving. The more people there, the more elbows get thrown. Basically I don’t really like the idea of festivals, I don’t really like festivals, I’m an ageing miserable fat shit who likes his TV, sofa and bong too much, BUT this one sounds incredible. The line-up- everything! Just really looking forward to it.
Beer, rap or pussy?
Rap has been the biggest thing in my life, it’s been the most consistent, and the thing I’ve loved the longest. I’m actually a big drinker but the older I get the less I care about going out and getting drunk. If someone was like “drink or drugs” I’d always opt for piff over booze, either way sobriety is the last option ha ha. I’d say that beer is the last priority & the thing with rap is, I LOVE it but I also have other genres of music I like so could probably JUST get by without it, perhaps, maybe. However, I don’t know that I could live without pussy. Much love to those who do but I personally don’t like any other genitals, so if I had to go without pum, I’d probably inevitably end up watching more & more aggressive/offensive porn, continually desensitising myself & slipping into a vicious circle as I chase stimulation & gratification, until I’m eventually sat with a laptop monitor tan, spending half my waking day looking for progressively darker porn & to beat my weathered & half hardened piece to while crying like a kid who dropped his ice cream… possibly.
Shout outs to everybody, your mum, your Nan! If you feel like I haven’t shouted you out then that’s because were not tight and I don’t like you! You know if I love you, I’m true to my friends and my people. Big up to those I’ve mentioned in the interview and those I haven’t. Biggest big-up is to my niece, you can all die slowly in comparison to her! & go cop or pre order the Cannon Fodder EP & put it behind your ears.. now.
FOLLOW STIG ON TWITTER @STIGOFTHEDUMPUK
COP THE NEW CANNON FODDER EP HERE - http://stigofthedumpuk.bandcamp.com/
The Boom Bap crew headed to Camberwell, South London to hook up with one of the most talked about producers on the UK Hip-Hop scene. The man behind the boards on many of your favourite tracks opened his doors of his studio to a host of UK talent to film the first instalment of “184 + The Purist presents.. The South London Ciphas”. In between takes we nipped out to grab an interview with the man himself…
For the people who don’t know, tell them a little about 184…
I’m 184 and I’m a producer from South London making hip-hop beats for a lot of the current UK artists and various other types of music on the side.
How did you first get into production? Who introduced you to the art of beat-making?
I started off DJ’ing and I had this mixer that had this little 12 second sample trigger on it. I figured out when you listen to hip-hop beats you can just hear a certain drum break that you’ll recognise from, a soul record or a little sample from something else. So I thought “Yeah- I could knock that up!” just on a little punch pad. So I’d get a record on one turntable and a record on the other, just press it, loop it and then my brother, Salvo, would rap on it basically. We’d just make little tapes out of that and it came from finding breaks on vinyl that I was collecting. I was probably about 16.
Who was your main influence?
I was always listening to Gangstarr so Preemo- obviously, Pete Rock, A Tribe called Quest, Gravediggaz and also a lot of UK stuff like Task Force, Evil Ed (one of my favourite producers) and Harry Love. All those involved with that golden era UK sound.
From an MC’s perspective, you can sometimes find that the beats write the bars, so to speak, when you’re making a beat, do you have an MC in mind for someone you want to hear over it?
Sometimes I do write specifically for people, like if I’ve had an artist ask me for a beat with a certain style that they’re looking for, somebody might want bangers or some hard shit so ill write that with them in mind, but a lot of the time I’m just finding samples and just going with what moves with that, ya know? Sometimes the beats do kind of write themselves and then it’s down to finding the mc who likes the sound of it. I’ll make a beat then afterwards I’ll have a few people in mind who might work well with that sound.
You’ve produced for an array of dope artists, Jehst, Buggsy, Jam Baxter, Fliptrix and Sonny Jim, to name a few, what can we expect from future releases?
I’m just going to keep working with those artists, man. Keep on maintaining. Try and bring through some people that need to get a bit of shine as well that I can help and try getting them a little bit further along with what they’re doing. Still always up for putting a piece of my sound into what others are doing.
Any interest from across the pond in the U.S?
Yeah we’re making those links with King Kong Holding Co. We just dropped UK producer The Purist’s 7″ vinyl featuring Roc Marciano and Action Bronson. That was also accompanied by a video for the Roc Marciano song from that release, called “Change”. We went out to New York to film that. We ran round Manhattan for a week filming shit. We had a couple of actors in and had to hire a taxi and attaché a car mount for a camera and het him to drive us round New York to get these really nice “scene-scapes”. It was fucking banging! It looks just like it does in all the films ya know? New York’s something different man it’s crazy out there.
When Telemachus produced for Jehst he gave him a list of words to be incorporated into his rhymes, is that something you’ve ever done?
I normally leave it artistically up to the person who’s writing the verses. It’s my job to do the music while they’re writing the lyrics. I’ll chip in if I have any suggestions but it’s still like their own artistic endeavour, it’s their part and my part. I wouldn’t be adverse to trying something like that though, it sounds interesting… I’m always open to ideas.
Do you ever have MC’s that present you with something they want on a track?
Sometimes people come to me with a sample and have an idea for a tune or that direction to start with then it’s real easy to make it happen.
If money was no object, who would you love to sample?
The way it is now, we get away with sampling anybody! I won’t even say names but there are big US producers that have dropped big tunes and never had to clear a sample and never have to worry about that, it’s all fair game. Rather than sampling I’d like to get the original artists and get them to do something new. If I could work with any live band, dead or alive, I’d bring back Nirvana or Nick Drake with those nice guitar licks. King Crimson, big fan of them as well, they’ve got all those nice progressive layers.
What can we expect from 184’s set at the festival?
I’m going to have the best MCs in the UK scene doing one or two tunes each for me, I won’t give the names out now but it’ll probably be the people that you’d hope to see on my beats. It’s going to be good; everyone’s going to come through with their best shit and best performances. Everyone will be together and wanting to come through with the top shit you know? I think in reality it’s gonna come down to whoever happens to be sober enough to string a sentence together at the time… In theory though everyone I’ve asked is down for it.
Sounds unique! Have you ever played a set like that before?
I did a set like that before a few years ago at Beer & Rap. I had a load of good guys come through like Dr Syntax, Mole & Iris and a few others. It went down really well! It’s been a while but I’m looking forward to doing it again.
What excites you about the boom bap festival?
It’s a good excuse to get everyone together and get wasted in the sun! (…or rain, either way.)
What are you listening to at the moment?
I’m listening to some new school US hip hop stuff. Baxter’s new shit is crazy and still bumping the Fliptrix album too. Other than that I’ve had Diamond Dogs on repeat for most of the week.
Mind Travelling is one of my favourite beats on that album, that vocal sample is crazy!
Cheers! The vocal is by a friend of mine called Gemma Williams, who’s in a band that I work with called “Becky Becky”. She also sings a few vocals for “Baby Button Eyes” which is a sort of trip-hop, Electro sounding side project that we’re doing. The sample is from a song called “Pisshead” off the first album.
Any shout outs?
Yeah I’d like to thank yourselves and everyone that has been supporting my music lately and give a shout out to all the heads that work hard, so we can keep doing this.
DOWNLOAD 184 – WHERE’S MY PARADE VOL.1 & 2 HERE!
Some have labelled this guy a modern day Braintax due to his tireless work with his own record label High Focus. The labels success mirroring that of Lowlife records in UK Hip-Hop’s “golden era”. This is Fliptrix, or Big Owl. Or to his friends, simply Z. As he states, he states, he’s just a lyricist- but he’s far more. With a strong belief in his own music and that of the artists around him, couple that with a head for business and a strong work ethic, Fliptrix is man with a work schedule like no other.
We hooked up with Fliptrix just as he was receiving the latest batch of official High-Focus clothing so we took a break to discuss High-Focus, his latest album, and of course, THE BOOM BAP FESTIVAL!
For the few who may be un-familiar, give us an introduction to who you are…
I’m Fliptrix, just a lyricist basically who likes to experiment with a lot of different flows and concept matters and various different topics. I’m also the C.E.O of High Focus, so running the record label is a full-time job in itself and then finding time to do my creative process in my spare time. It’s what I love to do- I’m just a music man innit!
2012 has been a big year for High Focus so far, how’s everything been going for the label?
Really well man, it’s going from strength to strength. We’re getting lots of new people are finding out about us. We’ve grown due to doing so many live shows all over the country we’re now even getting bookings from abroad. Me and Leafy should be going out to Barcelona, there were even rumours of me and Dike going to South Africa- so hopefully that comes through! The YouTube channel has had over 3 million views and counting, that’s a big way of us getting out there to the world and a lot of people are tuning in.
Did you ever expect High Focus to take off like it has?
It’s all about belief and believing in all of the artists and all their music. The sky is the limit really. I just want to carry on going; everyone on the label has the talent. We’ve got some real big MC’s who’ve done real well. I don’t think anyone is any less talented than anyone else. There’s a big pool of talent so it comes down to how you present yourself and what you do with your music. It’s all about how you come across as people and how professionally you put out your product. Also with the times were coming into, people are a lot more conscious in terms of listening to hip-hop; everyone is talking about specific things. You can really get a message across in hip-hop more than any other genre. A lot of people can relate to it in 2012 and beyond that’s why I think hip-hop is going to grow more and more.
With your latest release “Third Eye of Storm” gaining critical acclaim amongst the UK hip-hop scene, how do you feel you have progressed from your debut release, “Force Fed Imagery” …?
Quite a lot man. Force fed Imagery was just me putting my foot in the door as an artist and it was kind of like a mixtape really in a way. Something that I could just take out to shows and open mics and sort of say, this is me! Theory of Rhyme was a big step up, not only in the lyricism but in the delivery and the production. Even the way it was recorded, mixed and mastered. That was just a big step up. Now with Third Eye of the storm I felt that I’ve just developed even more not only as a person but as a lyricist. I think my content has evolved and this album takes you on a proper journey. Even the package has evolved with the artwork and the 16 page booklet with all the lyrics and the fold out and stuff. It’s all evolving!
Is there a standout track on the album that is a personal favourite, or one that you’re particularly proud of?
It’s tough really. There are certain ones I like for certain reasons. Like “War to your door”, I like it because it’s just like POW! Ya know? Then you’ve got a track like Paradise, it’s a real nice track that people can relate to. I also really like the verse that I did on “The Essence” as it was just long and flowing.
I’m fond of all of the tracks really so it’s hard to pick a favourite; there are different tracks for different moods. If I’m feeling hyped then I might put on one near the start of the album.
One track that I am really pleased with is Soundscapes. It was classic to collaborate with Farma just because I’ve been listening to him since I was like 15 and he delivered such a sick verse it was a nice moment. And that beat is so sick it sort of reminds me of some of the old stuff that they used to do like the MFTC sound. I sent him one beat, and he was like, “this beat is perfect”. That beat is produced by a crew called “Extrateless”. Their a group consisting of DJ Madnice, rebs and Max Atlas. Basically it’s three friends who sit together and make beats! As for Farma I just hit him up on the email, and he told me to send him over the beat. Having liked the beat I recorded my verse and sent it over to him. A week later I had an email back and he’d recorded a verse on his mac. I was really appreciative that he’d come through, we then went down to Chemo’s in Camberwell and recorded the tune together. It was a good day man!
At The Boom Bap Festival you will be performing as Fliptrix and as “Big Owl” alongside the rest of The Four Owls. How do the two performances differ?
Big Owl’s like my alter ego, The Owls Show is jokes as we’ve all got the masks and there’s four of us on stage so there is some crazy energy and we all just really go for it and the crowd really feel that and vibe off it as well. My solo show has also got a lot of energy but it’s more of a personal thing in a way as it’s more one on one rather than in a group. I recon I do write a bit differently as Big Owl rather as me, as it’s a big group thing with slightly less introspective. I’m still talking about a conscious subject matter, but from a different angle. That’s why we decided to do the whole mask thing as all of us individually have got our own solo stuff, if we came out and were all showing our faces it would just seem like a big feature thing. But it’s like our faces are gone and we’ve got different names, it’s like were a whole different thing, we are The Owls! People who maybe didn’t know us so much before, like we’ve had people who’ve been a fan of Fliptrix then a fan of The Owls, or been a fan of The Owls then a fan of Fliptrix and realising I was actually in it- like what?! Haha! They should know the voice but surprisingly it does happen! It’s just nice to have a bit of fun and do something a bit different.
What are you most looking forward to about The Boom Bap Festival?
The unity of it is a big thing for me. It’s so sick that everyone is coming together- that’s what makes the scene strong. There’s no divide and everyone is just coming together. All the record labels like Boot Records and Eat Good and then all companies associated with it like Dephect, Suspect Packages, Sika and Hoochinoo. Everything and everyone that’s related are just coming together for Boom Bap and it makes for a proper big unified event. You guys have brought this really big line-up together it’s just going to be epic, all the artists are just as excited as the fans I’m sure! Everyone just wants to be part of it and it should be sick! There’ll be kids spitting bars all around the campsite!
Who are you looking forward to seeing perform at the festival?
Because I’ve been in the scene for like ten years, I’ve seen a lot of guys but I’m looking forward to seeing everyone really. Jehst with his live band is classic, Phi-Life Cypher, Buggsy, Badbonez. Everyone on the line-up has got a great energy with their live show and they’re all coming with different styles and concepts so it should be real exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of the support as well. It’s my chance to see a load of new talent; people who I haven’t necessarily seen perform, so yeah it’s good to see all the new crews coming up.
Any plans for any new artists to release music through High Focus?
It’s funny because High Focus has pretty much turned into a label basically. Fundamentally before that, its’ a group of friends. It’s mad, everyone was just quite good at what they did and it just came about. But yeah, we’ve got a new album from Ed Scissortongue coming out which is sick, it’s produced by this guy Lamplighter from Glasgow who produced the whole thing and it’s got this real atmospheric and cinematic feel throughout the whole album and his bars are sick. There are a couple of things I’m looking to do, but I can’t say just yet as they’re yet to be concreted but there are a couple of surprises! We’ve all just got so much material, right now there are a lot of projects that are all getting completed, we’re just waiting on all the artwork and getting the videos sorted.
You must receive a lot of beats, what’s your process like when it comes to writing rhymes?
I do tend to write to specific beats these days. When you’re listening to a beat they have a certain feeling and emotion in the track. That Paradise beat for example, I heard it and knew I had to come with that whole Paradise concept. Personally, that’s how I feel I get the best tunes. Obviously there have been times when I’ve written a verse and ill find that it fits really well over a beat and that can work, but in terms of creating a song or an album, I’m quite specific about the beats that I choose. Writing to the beats, you just get down the flow perfectly over the drums.
Do people give you a lot of beats?
I’ve got so many beats! It’s a bit ridiculous; I’ve almost got too many! I’m going to end up inundating myself with so many beats I won’t know where to begin. Although I’m around a lot MC’s, there’s a lot of producers behind the scenes working away and passing on the beats to us. Dike loves making beats man; I think he’s been making more beats than he has writing rhymes! Making beats is bare fun, just getting that original sample and putting it in the MPC and playing in the drums. I started making beats for a couple of years before High Focus started up, and then I had to leave that. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I’d have wanted my beats to be proper sick, but couldn’t continue to be an MC and run a label as one of them would have ended up suffering. But I am going to get back into making beats in the coming years as it’s just so much fun.
Having listened to “Third Eye of The Storm” we can detect a lot of influences from different genres. What music were you into when you were younger?
I like a lot of reggae and a lot of dub music that’s bare chilled. When I was real young like about 12 I used to listen to a lot of those One Nation drum and bass box tapes. There are blatantly a lot of flows that I used to love off those M.C’s. I remember cycling to school back in the day getting bare hype listening to those! I then got into a lot of American hip-hop like The Fugeez, Jay-Z, Nas and Wu-Tang.
What inspired you to start making hip-hop?
I’d always listened to hip-hop, but when I realised there was a UK scene with the likes of Taskforce, Jehst, Skinnyman and Mystro- all them guys, I realised that these guys were doing it over here and there was no reason why I couldn’t do it, and just got into it straight away. One of my mates started writing bars, so I started writing bars for a laugh. We’d go over each other’s houses and spit verses to each other and record on some shabby microphones and it just went from there really. I fell in love with writing bars and making tunes and it just spiralled from there like a big development. It wasn’t something I’d decided, it just sort of happened. I’m one of those guys who can’t really compute in a 9-5 society, so I felt I had to do something else. I’m just fortunate that my passion can be my living really, and it means a lot to me. Anyone can do it man, you just need to have a dream and go for it! That’s the bottom line; if you believe you can do something, you can definitely do it. Like you guys with Boom Bap, you believe in what you’re doing and I think it’ll be a massive success.
Do you still listen to much American hip-hop?
I do listen to a fair bit; I’ve been listening to a lot of Roc Marciano recently. There’s just something about his voice and flow and the beats he chooses that just sounds real sick. Action Bronson’s been killing it with all his stuff lately too.
If you could work with anyone on a track from the world of hip-hop, who would it be?
Do they have to be alive? Haha. If they weren’t it’d have to be Biggie, Big Pun and Big L over a Premier beat, that’d be the dream collab. The three “bigs” and I’d have to be Big Owl! That’s a tough question really, working with Roc Marciano would be sick, obviously the Quasimoto stuff is real sick too. I’ve always been a massive fan of Method Man too.
Shout to all of the artists on High Focus. Big shout out to Boom Bap festival and shout out to Disorda at Suspect Packages. Basically to anyone who I make music with and anyone repping the UK scene and doing their thing to push the UK scene forward and make everything work.
CHECK OUT FLIPTRIX @ www.high-focus.com
On another sweltering day in South London, the Boom Bap team headed to meet up with, at the time unannounced act, for Boom Bap Festival. The duo better known as Prose aka Steady & Efeks, are quite literally Boom Bap Hip-Hop; personified. The term, (and name of their record label) of Boom Bap Professionals doesn’t quite do these guys justice! On the eve of them dropping their latest project, “Kill The Noise”, we caught up with these two in Steady’s studio to discuss what we discuss best!
Give us a quick introduction to who you are…
E – We are Prose. I’m Efeks, the MC.
S – And I’m Steady, the producer, beat maker and tea boy!
Who are you really into music wise right now?
S – That’s a difficult question. Lots of people, anyone that’s genuinely doing the music, not just for the love but because their dedicated to it and they are passionate about hip-hop music like we are. In terms of US and UK hip-hop there are so many different people, I can’t really think of a specific act can you?
E – In the UK- same as usual. The likes of Jehst, TY, Blak Twang and all the pioneers.
S – All the veterans, man and all the new blood. All the people that are starting up their own record labels and taking it into their own hands and just doing what they feel is good hip-hop music.
E – Same goes for the US as well.
We love the formula of dope rhymes, heavy beats and mad cuts on the decks. What group would you say encapsulates that sound best?
S – For me, I’d have to say Gangstarr.
E – Yeah I second that. I’d have to put Pete Rock and C.L in that too. They are definitely big inspirations for us anyway. That’s like the template or the blueprint for two man teams.
S – They set the benchmark for the producer/rapper combo.
E – You get a consistency, you build up that chemistry man.
S – You have a lot of time to go over things and re-invent what you do. Instead of creating something blindly, I suppose, you can throw things back and forth with a partner. If you’ve got a friendship within that business it helps even more.
Being the producer, did you come from a musical background before you started making beats?
When did you start writing rhymes?
E – I started writing my own rhymes in high school times. I was probably about 15. Before then I was just kind of mimicking other artists that I looked up to. I moulded my craft around other people that I respected until I then slowly built up the confidence to have my own style. It takes a while as you’re always influenced by the people you look up to. At first it was just memorising other people’s lyrics and then I gradually started writing my own stuff.
What does the future have in store for Prose?
S – Most recently we formed a group called “Kill The Noise” which is myself, Efeks and Crusada, with me handling the production and those two on the mic.
We’ve both worked with Crusada before and I made “The 11th Hour Massacre” with him. He has featured on our stuff, and we have featured on his. We have just put out our self-titled debut EP which is available for free from the BBP Bandcmp. Then we’ve got a Prose EP followed by another full length Prose album, to come by the end of the year, hopefully by the end of summer. Ready for The Boom Bap Festival!
How did the hook up with American artists such as Reef the Lost Cauze on “Force of Habit” come about?
S – We’ve got a mutual friend basically, in Philly, where Reef’s from called Cimer Amor. When we were putting Force of Habit together we were looking at getting features. It’s not that we’ve never wanted to do any features, it’s just we’ve always been quite self-contained and happy doing what we do.
Anyone who comes in on that is cool, but we’ve never really reached out to anyone specifically but when the opportunity came up with Reef we took it happily and he felt what we were about. It was good because we’re obviously fans of his too. I met him out at Hip-Hop Kemp a few years back, he’s a cool dude and we’re really happy with how it came out.
Has having American artists on your album helped with getting your music heard out there?
S – As far as we know, yeah. Obviously getting college radio plays and things like that. Hip-Hop over there is a whole different game to the UK.
E – Through them and their own social networks we’ve gained exposure. Everyone’s got their own little circuits.
S – Everyone out there is just grinding like we are. There not signed to major labels or anything, they’re just doing their own thing, so they could see where we were coming from and vice versa.
Is there anybody out there you’d like to collaborate with?
E – I’m in the process of putting together a solo album so there are a few people that I’ve reached out to so I’m going to keep tight lipped about that one right now!
So is that a completely side project to the Prose stuff?
E – Steady’s branched out and he’s worked with other guys so for me, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Since I came out it’s always something I’ve envisioned.
S – It’s still going to be on the label, so it’s all still in house so to speak. All the projects we’ve done through BBP, we’ve all worked together on them anyway. You know, like Efeks was present when other things were recorded just like I’ll be present when a lot of his album is recorded and I’ll be obviously dealing with it’s release.
E – Just new challenges man! It’s like a side project. Like with Steady’s stuff with Oliver Sudden and Crusada.
S – It’s still Prose coming through in that music you know? It’s still all love, it’s still family. Everybody involved in the album are people we both know already pretty much.
It’s refreshing to see that you enjoy constantly taking on new projects and making music, it never seems like a chore to you guys…
E – I feel like I have to make music man. For the both us, it’s what keeps us going. It’s what gives you that balance in life! The day to day stuff can get on top sometimes- so you need music. For us it’s like catharsis, you need to have that outlet or release. If I didn’t make music then I’d probably be a serial killer or something by now! Haha!
S – Like Efeks said, it’s really difficult not to make music. We’ve put out a slew of singles and even quite a few full length EP’s, compilations and an album or two as Prose as well as all the other stuff on the label. We’ve brought out quite a lot of stuff now and it’s never felt like hard work.
E – We’re not under any obligation to make music, it’s not like were fulfilling a contract we have to do. We’re doing it genuinely because we want to. Doing it for the love can become a bit clichéd, but we are genuinely doing it, for the love. If you can make a viable living through music then I take my hat off to you, but the majority of us, we’ve all got day jobs. We’ve got bills to pay and families to raise, that’s the reality of it.
Music’s like an integral component, if you don’t have it, like I said, that other stuff gets on top. We just love making music, and it pains me to say but we quite enjoy each other’s company too!
Any last words or shout outs…
S – Shout out to you guys man at Boom Bap festival, what you’re doing is monumental. Hopefully you will set a new bench mark.
Hopefully it’ll mark a new era in UK Hip-Hop. When people say hip-hop is dead, that’s bullshit, it never died. I think the real hip-hop fan died. That’s the problem, I think people just stopped supporting it or lost interest in paying for music or whatever. I think that’s just as prevalent in the UK as it is in the US.
E – The essence of it has kind of eroded a bit, that’s what it’s all about- bringing it back to the roots.
S – That’s what hip-hop stands for, unity and educating people as well as entertaining them at the same time. I think that’s been lost by a lot of people. Looking at what you guys are doing and looking at the names involved, we probably know 90% of them on a personal level or have at least crossed paths, and yeah, it’s clichéd once again, but they’re doing it for the love. Yeah, people are trying to make money from it, but at the end of the day you wouldn’t be doing it if you didn’t enjoy doing it because there is just not enough money in it. Unless you are a commercial artist, but you’re not putting on commercial artists at Boom Bap- thank god!
E – Shouts to everyone in the UK who’s doing their thing and to all the artists making good music and making it for the right reasons.
S – Shouts to the fans, man. Keep demanding good music, if it’s whack and shit- don’t support it. Ignore it and faze it out, that’s what should happen, if artists are garbage and taking the piss out of the culture, just push them out the way! Don’t buy their music or go to their shows and the real music will prevail and flourish.
Both – As we always say…Keep it boom bap!
On one of the hottest days of the year so far, Boom Bap faced the crowded streets of the capital to catch up with 2/3′s of one of the most critically acclaimed, yet deep underground, crews that the UK Hip-Hop scene has to offer. We initially met up with Skirmish and Possessed in a packed out Soho Square where we filmed a little promo video, announcing there participation in the Boom Bap Festival. What better way to cool off than a refreshing pint, so we ducked into the nearest boozer to discuss everything from the current state of the scene to the current state of Rhyme Asylum! In what was one of the most frank and straight to point interviews we have conducted so far, these two dudes are real hip-hop heads at heart and spoke with true passion for the music.
For those who are unfamiliar with Rhyme Asylum, tell us a little bit about yourself?
Skirmish – Were Rhyme Asylum, a three man crew based in London. It’s just the two of us here today as Psiklone couldn’t be here unfortunately. We’ve dropped a couple of albums over the last 4 years.
It started off with five of us in the crew when we did the first album “State of Lunacy” but it became just the three of us for the second album, “Solitary Confinement”. We dropped that in 2010 and I feel that was more of a solid project to be honest. We’d learnt from the first album and just progressed. It was more of an enjoyable process to put that one together.
How did you all come together to form the mighty Rhyme Asylum?
S – Me and Possessed went to school together. We’ve known each other for like 15 years or something. I met Psiklone at Skinnyman’s album launch party at Cargo. We met each other outside whilst we were both spitting. We exchanged numbers and just became friends since then. We’ve all known each other for ages.
Music wise, what have you guys been working on since “Solitary Confinement”?
Possessed – Not a hell of a lot to be honest. I’ve been really slow at working on stuff. Skirmish has been spitting a couple of verses here and there. I’ve wrote a couple, and I stress, a couple. To be honest we’re not really working on Rhyme Asylum stuff anymore. I am going to get back on it though, do some solo shit and have my right hand man, right here on board.
S – Everyone’s just on other shit right now you know? Everyone’s own lives have just taken over. Everybody has their own distractions. We will be working on more stuff, it’s been too long. When you go so long without doing anything you just miss it. You get the hunger! Although were still doing shows up and down the country, I still miss performing new material. We’re still doing the same show and it gets a bit monotonous. Even though we still enjoy it, I’m sure we will be making some new music soon. Never say never, man!
P – Never say never, but in terms of another Rhyme Asylum album, probably never!
How do you feel about the current state of the UK hip-hop scene?
P – The UK scene is not quite what it was unfortunately. There are still things happening here and there, The Boom Bap Festival for example. Don’t Flop’s also been doing their thing for a while now, too. Obviously, it’s mainly battle rap, it’s almost like a separate thing. It’s like a separate lane, and I’m not really running in that lane anymore. So there’s not really much left for me! London’s a bit shit for hip-hop, in my opinion.
S – It’s not like it used to be. Back in the day there would be so many open mics and shows…
P – And there was Deal Real, Speakers Corner, Kung Fu and loads of pop-up ones now and again. And the music’s fallen off a lot as well. There’s hardly anyone doing anything worth a damn.
S – Personally, commercial wise; it’s in a better state but not the underground! There are more artists, but the music is watered down. I mean take Pro Green, he was an MC and now he’s a pop star.
P – I think he was always a pop star, man. That’s nothing against him, in fact, that’s a positive. He’s not someone I ever felt sold out. He’s doing something he’s always wanted to do. It’s fortunate he wanted to be in a field where he would get commercial success. What I want to do is be an MC that plays with words. A sick MC that just raps over some boom bap 90’s shit.
Unfortunately, it’s not the 90’s! And nobody gives a shit! It’s either rap for myself, or don’t. The scene had a peek, but it’s come down. It could rise up again, and I hope it does. Most people just got fed up and bounced.
S – Talking of commercial success, the sky’s the limit. People are getting bigger and bigger by the day. You’ve got artists like Wretch32 who all have big things coming up.
P – The fucking industry is just a hell hole man! If they pushed some more real hip-hop, then real hip-hop would be the norm. Record labels rarely take chances. They want something that has worked before. And you have to suck a lot of dick these days too, just to get anywhere. We’ve never been down with giving head!
Who are some of your favourite artists and biggest influences?
S – In the UK, I’d have to say Possessed and Psiklone. They’re my favourite MC’s. But also the likes of Jehst, Chester P, Mystro, Klashnekoff and Kyza. I used to love all of Lowkey’s old stuff too. Those entire Key to The Game albums, I went out and bought all those albums, man. I was fully supporting him, he was a good dude. US wise, my favourite rapper ever is probably Nas. I rap because of Nas. After hearing “Halftime” I was like, I want to be a rapper!
I can’t forget Big Pun and Big L. They’re real big influences. When I first heard Big L I was like “Wow!” you know?! “Why has my brother not been listening to this” as I listened to whatever my brother had, like he missed out, this was some classic shit. He’d put me on to Pun. Capital Punishment, well, I can’t say nothing else! Like can you believe they were both 24 when they died? Take Biggie- the impact he had in those three or four years! I can’t even get into it- it pains me!
P – Method Man is my favourite rapper. I love him, man. Everything about him- he’s just hip-hop to me.
S – Jay-Z, Biggie, Old Eminem, Canibus. All that. Now days, it’s different. I like Joe Budden and that whole Slaughterhouse thing. I love Kendrick Lemar, he’s one of my favourite MC’s in the last 5 years. There are a lot of artists out there I like in the states. I don’t really listen to much UK anymore.
P – I’m not really feeling Odd Future much. Frank Ocean’s the only one I like. It’s beyond me how they are where they are. They’ve got some good beats- I’m not fronting on that, but as rappers they don’t warm my loins man! I’m not as fussy as I used to be, otherwise that’d be a very short conversation!
S – Yeah I could’ve probably named you three artists and that’d be it. But I’ve grown up now and broadened my horizons a bit.
Which track or album, are you most proud of?
P – Solitary Confinement is my favourite album. As far as an individual track goes, I don’t really know. I can’t really pick a favourite track.
S – Solitary Confinement I think. As a whole the project was just very solid. Don’t get me wrong- I love State of Lunacy, but Solitary was just better. The way we put it together, the production, lyrics, flow, delivery- Everything! I feel like we got better over the years. Favourite tracks though, “I Know”, “Holding On”…
P – So, basically none of the raw shit!
S – Nah! “Art of Raw” and the track “Solitary Confinement” you know, I probably like the tracks that I’m not on, better. Seriously though, “Broken Window” is one of my favourite tracks. All that story telling shit.
You mentioned that you were a lot happier with your second album. In terms of independent artists, we feel that their music gets better and better. Whereas some big artists rarely manage to emulate the success they had with their debut album. How do you feel about that?
P – Well Nas for example, he dropped Illmatic and everybody loved it, the money was rolling. Some may say he then slacked off. It’s not even a conscious thing; he’s just got other things to think about.
When people make their first album they have all their energies pouring into it, all their inspirations all going in.
That’s one problem in all areas of art. People always have to compare shit. Were all guilty of it. But what difference does it make? If it’s good, it’s good! Instead of comparing It Was Written to Illmatic, compare it to another Hip-Hop album and it still might beat it hands down.
What would you say to aspiring artists coming up and taking you guys as influences?
P- Forget about breaking the scene. I think if you love rapping, and you love writing, just do it because you want to do it. Never settle for less. Always try to be better and push yourself, if what you do is good and worthwhile people will want to listen when it finally gets out there. But it takes a lot of effort and hard work. Don’t give up on it, do it for the love of it. At the end of the day that’s all that matters.
S – This is going to sound clichéd and corny as fuck but don’t do it for what material rewards you could possibly get. Do it because you feel you are getting the self-satisfaction and fulfilment inside. When I started rapping I wanted all that bullshit, but that fades man. None of that shit means anything.
P – I’ve never been about the money; I’ve never given a shit about that. It’s just not me. Not because I’m some silver spoon guy or whatever, far from it. What I’m saying is the money don’t mean anything. Not that we know because we haven’t even had a taste of money! Fuck all you money orientated dudes!
Any shout outs?
P- Shouts to all the rappers in the game, all the money grabbers! Haha!
S – Big up Mystro, he’s a good dude. And big up my mum, man. My mum’s a g!
Massive shout to Skirmish and Possessed for the interview. Check them performing along with Psiklone as Rhyme Asylum at The Boom Bap Festival in Peterborough from the 14th-16th September. Limited tickets still on sale at just £45 from the tickets section on this website.
The BoomBap team caught up with Heavy Links down at the local in Lincoln for a pint or two and to discuss the new EP and their participation in The Boom Bap festival. Pictured above (from left to right) Donnie Propa, El Tel The Dopeness & MC Habitat speak on musical influences, the process behind creating the new EP and what it means to be a part of The Boom Bap Festival.
For those who haven’t heard of you before, Introduce yourselves…
I’m Donnie Propa, I’m the DJ and I make good mix tapes- so I hear!
I’m El Tel the Dopeness, MC and producer from Heavy Links!
I’m MC Habitat; I’m Donnie Propa’s big brother. I’ve been rapping with him for years. It’s only just really come together this last 18 months. We’ve got two EP’s and a new one coming out very soon called “The Essence”. We’ve been playing plenty of gigs getting out and about- repping UK Hip-Hop!
Your new EP entitled “The Essence” follows on from “The Heavy Links EP” and “Bombsite”. How does this differ from your other releases?
The first two EP’s were produced by this guy Exclusive Ramone. The first one- Bombsite, we used his beats but by the time we actually put it out it was 6 years old so we didn’t really push it or anything. It was more to just get it done, and actually have something out. The second EP “The Heavy Links EP” we took the same approach but we got a lot better feedback than we were expecting. Even getting one of the tracks featured on Channel 4 randomly! Which we still haven’t fucking been paid for!
That helped a lot. We had people linking it from the channel 4 advert. Luckily El Tel played us a load of hip-hop beats that he’d made and they were ten times better than anything we’d already rapped over. And he had about a hundred of them by the time he’d ever played us anything, so we picked the best ones out of that for our new EP. There just a step up from the beats we had been using, it’s more to that sound that we want to be creating. It’s that clichéd golden age, boom bap hip-hop sound that we’re in to.
It’s the first one where we’ve all been there together recording the tracks in the studio. It seems a lot more focused.
Rather than being like, I’ve got a verse; he’s got a verse and just put it all together like that. This one we sat down and discussed how we were going to write about this, what it’s about, decide on all the cuts were going to use. It was defiantly more of a group thing.
Having been involved with us through the nights we have run in Norwich, we’re pleased to be putting you on at The Boom Bap Festival. What excites you about being involved with the festival?
Literally going to play at a proper UK Hip-Hop fest alongside acts that we like. Just a really good excuse to go and get pissed, go rapping on stage and meet a lot of people.
We are all proper fans of the music first, not on an ego tip about it or anything like that; I’m as excited about seeing acts as I am playing at it. Maybe even flog a few records or two, who knows…
I recon it’s the exact thing that the scenes been waiting for. The scenes been building back up and it’s at that stage where it could blow up again, but still on an underground level. The line-up for the festivals just wicked and it’s exactly what we need and I’m just pleased to be a part of it.
Acts wise I’m particularly looking forward to Dayse & Aver. We did a show with them a few months back in Huddersfield and they were one of the best live acts I’ve seen in this country. They were real tight. I’m also looking forward to seeing Split Prophets and Prose.
Big up Efeks from Prose for the feature on our new EP!
Individually, how long have you been doing your thing?
I started seriously producing beats about two years ago. I slowly started getting more equipment and began to create that sound that we want. That classic 90’s sound is what we’re going for.
About ten years. Although I didn’t take it seriously until I moved to Australia for a year and sort of missed doing it I suppose. While I was out there I heard Cappo “Spaz the world” and that really grabbed my ear properly. Then when I came back I decided I wanted to take it seriously. I used to DJ all that commercial shit round Lincoln at nights but that was fucking soulless. I got bored of doing it. I would prefer to be DJing to five real hip-hop heads than two hundred cheesy bastards pretending they like hip-hop.
About 6 or 7 years ago when Donnie started getting well into it, the more he was playing it the more I was getting into it. There were a few of my mates that started rapping round Lincoln so we had a bit of a cypher going on. There was good little hip-hop scene around Lincoln back in like 2003-2004. That’s what really inspired me to start writing rhymes. A lot of the stuff I’m into is like Cappo and Scorzayzee and that whole Nottingham sound. When I met those guys and saw that they weren’t much older than us and living a similar life, I just thought I’d do the same thing. I’ve been a long time doing it but it’s only these last three or four years I’ve been getting seriously on it, since Donnie’s been getting more recognition for his mixtapes, we decided to actually release some stuff to see what people think of it. I get such a buzz out of it- I absolutely love it! I wasn’t really feeling doing it live, but some of the shows in the last few months have just been proper good fun.
We know what we’re doing a bit more now in terms of generating a live show.
The live shows definately a lot tighter, we try not to waste a minute of our time.
Getting to support Phi-Life Cypher and The Four Owls in Norwich was the sort of thing we were waiting for and was the kick up the arse we needed. We were happy with our set and people seemed to get into it, so since then it’s like yeah, we’ll do this properly.
What artists have you been listening to lately?
Doppelgangaz, Dayse and Aver, Celph Titled and Blahzay Blahzay. But Doppelgangaz has been on non-stop rotation.
Just anyone that’s making it big and loud. Put it on and if you start nodding your head and it’s got good lyrics and some nice samples and cuts. That’s hip-hop to me. We’re not doing this to try and make money from it. Were just doing it to make it what sounds best to us. If it sounds good to our mates- safe, if it sounds good to other people that’s even better.
How do you feel about the current state of the UK Hip-Hop scene?
It’s damn good at the minute. It died a horrible death with the creation of dubstep and how that’s taken over for the last few years, hip-hops been kind of on the back burner. The last 18 months you’ve seen it bubbling up with more and more new crews coming out. The Four Owls, what they’ve done for the scene is absolutely next level. That album is one of the tightest things to come out of the UK hip-hop scene in a long time. They seem to be proper repping the scene and helping push things which is making people go out and check other stuff. Split Prophets also, I’m well into what they’re doing. Dayse and Aver who I was bigging up earlier, Cappo’s still soldiering on- everything he releases is absolute quality. Big up Chrome from Norwich too.
And Prose too. That’s the sound I like, that Force of Habit Album especially. Damn I could talk about Hip-Hop all day!
Any last shouts?
Big up Chrome from Deftex. The first time we booked him we weren’t really taking this thing seriously. He sat and listened to some of our tracks and without him giving us the support that he did and giving me the kick up the arse I needed there would be no Heavy Links as there is now. And big up Estuary Heads; Mr Smith and DJ Whoner outta Cleethorpes.
Big up Luke from Holding Court too. And those guys Boom Bap from Norwich suppose they’re all right! And a massive shout to Disorda. He’s been putting my mixtapes out for free and playing Heavy Links tracks on Suspect Radio which means a lot to us. Anyone who we meet and support along the way basically.
Interview by Whack Ronald
CHECK OUT HEAVY LINKS ON BANDCAMP – http://heavylinks.bandcamp.com/
CHECK OUT EL TEL’S BEATS ON SOUNDCLOUD – http://soundcloud.com/el-tel-the-dopeness
DOWNLOAD DONNIE PROPA MIXTAPES FROM – http://donniepropa.bandcamp.com/
The Boom Bap team assigned there special “wild life” unit to South London to try and catch a glimpse of a rare species. This owl, commonly known as Bird T, gracefully flew down, de-masked, and went inside Bar 61 on Streatham Hill.
With the owners of the place keen to show off pictures of how a certain Vanilla Ice had previously graced their bar, we explained that they were in the company of a certified G! Formally known to the Hip-Hop community as Verb T, we sat down with the microphone veteran to talk about the current state of the UK Hip-Hop scene, producers, Don’t Flop and taking part in The Boom Bap Festival.
Give the readers a little introduction to yourself…
I’m Verb T. Old man in the game. Putting out music since 1999 and one fourth of the quartet that is The Four Owls. Im the red masked one, Bird T. And I’m going to be one of the acts that are performing at Boom Bap as well as Outlook and Nozzstock. But Boom Bap’s going to be the best one!
What excites you about performing at boom bap?
Im just really excited at the prospect of it. As soon as I heard that the first lot of tickets went within the first two hours, I was just so happy about that. There’s never been a show I’ve done where I want it to be a bigger success, because if it is a big success it’s going to be amazing for everyone involved. It feels really good to me to see all the other artists like “you’ve got to go to this festival” it’s created a unity within a lot of the artists that are performing there.
Me personally, I’m just really excited. It’s probably a mistake but I’ve put myself up for the Don’t Flop tournament. You know, I might lose first round but I’m just so hyped for the whole thing. I want to be part of the tournament and I can’t wait to perform as The Four Owls and also do my solo material. Just getting to watch all the other artists! But the main thing is that it just brings people together.
Everyone’s going to be there chilling, the vibes going to be amazing. I hope the right amount of people are wise enough to get tickets and come, but obviously they are so far! It’s been going well and I just encourage anyone who may be reading this to come down. All the artists are super hyped and I think they’ll be putting on some of their best performances; it’s just going to be amazing.
Speaking of Don’t Flop, how did you start battling?
I was watching the Don’t Flop battles before I did them, and I just enjoyed them. Not all of them, there were some I didn’t like, but the good battles really made me laugh. I went and judged an event and after that I thought I’d like to give it a go. So I called Eurgh, and he was like- yeah, of course. The first couple of battles didn’t go too well. I always say to people that it’s like my version of playing tennis or 5-a-side, like something I do on the side. I’ve noticed since doing it I’ve kept my head a lot sharper. After every event I come away with a bit of inspiration to go and create something. And also the performance aspect of it, you look at performing on stage in a different way, so far as your body language and your projection are concerned, There’s a lot of that I could use from my experience in Don’t Flop to perform better on stage at shows.
I know there are people that really don’t like it and there’s people that are massive fans of it, but me personally, Im a big fan of it and I really enjoy battling. If I put more time into it I could probably do better than I have done! You know if I’ve got an album to finish, that takes priority over my battle bars.
That’s not to say I don’t see it as an important thing, it’s just the album and shows- that’s the bread and butter. That’s what I do for a living whereas Don’t Flop is something I really enjoy and I hope people enjoy the battles too. I give a massive shout out to Don’t Flop as I think it’s a good movement. They’ve grown massively in the time since I started battling. Now I’ve just watched how they’ve taken off with the hard work they’ve been putting in, the events they’ve been putting on, they’ve built it up really nicely. It’s nice to know that I got in there before all of that. I didn’t want people to think I was using that to try and help myself, that’s not why I did it. I do it because I enjoy doing it.
Having worked with the likes of Harry love, Leaf Dog and The Last Skeptik to name a few… what different methods do they use when producing an album?
Everyone’s completely different. Harry love for example, he’s the kind of guy who will get me to do a million takes as he’s got a very specific idea as to how the track should sound. Obviously I have my input, like, “I think you should have dropouts of the beat there”. But generally he takes hours to go over stuff, whereas Leaf Dog for instance, he’s more impulsive in the fact that he goes off inspirations and has a lot of energy. It’s not that he doesn’t pay attention, as he works hard on his beats but, he does all that before he sends it to me. With that I’ll just do my take in the way that I want to do it as he’s already spent the time on the beats, which is a quicker way of working. Not necessarily better or worse. Harry will build a lot of stuff around the vocal; where with Leaf he gets the beat sounding nice and then I’ll sort of write around the beat.
A lot of your previous releases have featured production from just the one single producer. Do you think this benefits the album in terms of giving it more of an identity?
The Four Owls album was all produced by Leaf Dog. I think that’s kind of why people sort of got into that sound. I think there are benefits from working with different producers. My upcoming album has four different producers on it, but I sort of went for a specific sound from those four producers. So I think you can get the same from multiple producers but when it’s produced by one person it’s got a clearer direction and think it’s easier to digest for the listener. There’s different ways of producing albums but the EP benefited from just me and JJ working together on it as it defiantly has a more specific sound.
During your time in the game so far, you have put out music through many different labels. You now find yourself as part of the UK powerhouse that is High Focus. How did this come about?
Actually, I met Fliptrix before there was a High Focus. We’ve got a mutual friend who was putting on a party in Clapham junction at a bar called indigo and we both played at it. Flips hadn’t had anything out, but I just thought his set was really good and quite raw and I just felt he had good lyrics and a different sort of style. So I just went up to him afterwards and told him that I liked his set. We then exchanged numbers and that with a plan of working together in the future. He was working on his debut album Force Fed Imagery, which he released himself- but it was before he had come up with the High focus name, and I featured on that. I produced two tracks and featured on another and he was toying with the idea of taking it to labels, or should he put it out himself. But he made the decision and he called the label High Focus and that’s where the label sort of started. We’ve been making music ever since.
I’ve released music through a few labels, obviously Low Life’s not around, Silent Sound is not around, YNR is about but they’re busy with certain things. For me I think High Focus is the best label out there- not a knock to anybody else out there, just me and Fliptrix are good friends and it feels better to me to be working with High Focus at the moment. Especially having been a part of The Four Owls. It just works, were around each other a lot anyway.
You produced the track Graffiti won’t Die on Fliptrix’s Theory of Rhyme album, were big fans of that particular track. Are you into graffiti?
Yeah- but I can’t do it! I don’t know too much about Graffiti, I’ve never done it myself. But yeah, I can appreciate it. Fliptrix came up with the idea, and as a producer it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever produced. Im glad he picked that beat; I like the story that he did with it; it’s a true story as well.
Do you have a particular album that you’ve released that you’re really proud of?
For different reasons, it’s hard to pick out one. The album with Harry Love, “Bring it Back to Basics” that’s like a photo album of my growth in hip hop. Harry’s beats that he gave me for that album were all really inspirational. It took us so many years to make. We had a finished version of it years before it came out- but then we’d be just making new tunes. So that one’s like my childhood sort of captured on an album.
“Verbs with a Vengeance” was the first one where I took care of everything myself. I organised the beats even producing some of the beats myself, pressed up the cd’s myself and I sorted out all the distribution too. I still really like that album, the way I put it together. All my work went into it. The new album I’ve got coming out is like; I’ve got all the experience there now. It’s going to be called “The Morning Process”. Lyrically- it’s by far some of the best stuff I’ve ever done. Like I’ve never really written something where I’ve actually been able to say something I wanted to say. I find it easy to write flows and punch lines, but to actually speak on something that I want to say, I’ve never felt more able to do it than I have on the new album.
Having listened to some of your verses on Natures Greatest Mystery, it seems you’re getting deeper with your subject matter…
I defiantly agree with that. With experience I know it’s important to just speak your mind rather than be worrying about whether it’s a dope verse or not. Obviously I want it to be a dope verse, but I want it to get a message across. I defiantly feel I’m better now than I was before. Experience is either going to kill of your hunger for something and go off in a different direction or make you more hungry for what you’re doing- if you’re going to keep doing it. If People start to get desperate, then maybe you should quit. Personally I’ve just never been hungrier for making music.
Have past experiences ever made you bitter towards the scene?
There’s been a time when I was bitter, I’ve been real bitter. It always comes to a point, do you want to stop or do you want to continue on. I’ve just always wanted to continue doing it. Definitely what I’m doing now, and the next Owls album- we’ve started writing it now, I definitely feel lyrically I’m better than I have been before.
How’s the game different now?
When I started it was all about vinyl. If you had the vinyl it was the sign that you was serious about what you were doing. There was mix tapes going around and stuff but they were just tracks on a CD not mixed! Everyone had a mix tape because nobody wanted to make a debut album and for it not to do well, so everyone just tried to build up hype through mixtapes. Now it’s all digital, but I think that’s the only thing that’s changed- the formats. Now people don’t buy stuff as much perhaps. I think there’s a bigger audience now, there’s more opportunity now than there has been before.
That’s not taking anything away from some of your early releases on Low Life, maybe ahead of your time?
Braintax used to say that about the Backhand slap album. It was maybe a bit too early to come with that kind of sound. I don’t know- I’ve never really thought of it like that. I just think the audience we’ve got now is into that classic sounding hip-hop. And people that like rap and “rapping” are not necessarily into hip-hop and hip-hop music but more into that electro sound. There are a lot of people who come with that future beat in this country which is technically really good but find it hard to find a fan base.
Just because I don’t feel that it’s as popular in this country. I think the classic sound if it’s done well, it doesn’t have to be a Premier bite or a Pete Rock bite, but just in the way that it’s the same hard hitting drums, chopped up, it’s just the same formula with a modern twist. In terms of audience I think they have gone away and comeback. There’s a new audience now of younger people who are bringing a new energy to the scene and I think that’s really good. There might be some people complaining that they can’t make their mark or find their audience, or promoters aren’t booking them. There are still artists out there that are doing well. You can’t blame the fans or the promoters; you got to do what you do.
For me personally I hold the Showbitchness 12” in high regard as it was one of the first records I owned. Do you have a particular record that got you into Hip-Hop?
Yeah literally the first hip-hop record I heard! I said it on Not Like Before, it all started when I heard Slick Rick and Dougie Fresh… I actually heard the record years after it originally came out.
My dad had a massive record collection. He liked hip-hop but he had tons of genres. But for some reason that was just the one I picked out and listened to, it was The Show by Slick Rick and Dougie Fresh. As soon as I heard it I used to try and copy Slick Rick and write rhymes, I was about eight years old! I would rap about, say, my teachers a dickhead or something in a Slick Rick style. I made my own chain out of string! Literally I thought he was the coolest person I’d heard in my life.
After that I’d say the first record I bought in my teen years, was again Wu-Tang. Literally all those I shout out on “Not like Before”. The most important records to me, as an artist were that Slick Rick record, 36 Chambers, Midnight Marauders and The Pharcyde; Labcabincalifornia and Bizarre Ride.
To me, Labcab was more influential as an artist whereas Bizarre Ride, I listen to it as a fan. It’s the same way with MC’s. There’s a lot of MC’s I love, but they didn’t actually inspire me, I just love listening to their work. There’s a guy called Main Flow from a group called Mood. He was someone who was influential because of the way he rhymes, it just grabbed my ear and I looked at writing and rhyme schemes in a different way. I wouldn’t necessarily name him as one of my favourite MC’s to date, but I had to give him that respect when I heard him, I thought damn! He made me start thinking in a different way.
If you could put together a track of your choice, what would the line-up be?
Producer wise, I know it sounds obvious but I’d have to say Pete Rock. Just because I’d like him to break out some the old ’94 beats. MC wise, Fatlip from The Pharcyde. I’ve always thought he was quite underrated. All his verses on The Pharcyde albums just stood out- they were so good. His verse on “For better or for worse” on Bizarre Ride, and his verse on Runnin. He’s someone I’d like to work with; I just think he’s an interesting artist. He doesn’t just rap about rapping. He speaks a lot of personal stuff and that’s kind of what I’m into at the moment.
Obviously people are going to get bored of me mentioning Slick Rick, but I’m never going to stop mentioning him! I would love to do a track with him because he’s the whole reason I started rapping in the first place. So if Pete Rock’s reading, do a beat for me and Fatlip! Verb T feat. fatlip produced by Pete Rock! That’s the one.
Who’s music are you really into at the moment?
Obviously, everyone on High Focus I am fully behind. Not just because we’re crew, but because I truly believe that everyone on that label are great lyricists- great artists. Aside from that, Cappo is someone who I think is really dope. Skriblah Dangough. I think his album that came out, The little White Dot, I just think it’s a classic album, I really enjoyed it. Is he coming to boom bap?
Yeah he is!
That’s dope. I think he might have produced a lot of that album himself. If not all. There’s just a really good original sound to it, and lyrically it’s really deep.
Also there’s a new guy called Cracker John from Croydon who I think is really dope. I really do apologize to anyone I forget! US wise, I really like KA. He did one album called Iron Works which I didn’t catch on to but the album after that, Grief Pedigree- it’s incredible. That’s probably my favourite American album for a while. Action Bronson’s really dope. I think I prefer Roc Marciano and KA. They’ve got that laid back style that I’m personally into.
Any last shouts?
Shout out to everyone who is organising Boom Bap Festival and all the artists that are a part of it. Genuinely everyone I know who is performing at the festival is super excited about it. Just shout out to everyone in the UK Hip-Hop scene that’s got their heart in what they’re doing whether it is producers, MC’s, DJ’s or promoters.
Anyone that’s making a positive contribution to the scene. At the moment it’s quite exciting times and I’m really happy to be a part of it. Let’s keep pushing, let’s keep going because were going in the right direction. It’s easy to get disheartened and it’s frustrating at times but let’s keep going. Producers keep making dope beats; MC’s keep writing dope lyrics! Promoters keep putting on these nights, everyone, just build.
Interview by Whack Ronald and Caramel-Eyes
Check out the new EP from Verb T “More Dynamite” over at his bandcamp, http://verbt.bandcamp.com/
Check out the review of “More Dynamite” in the reviews section!
Massive shout to Verb T. At Boom Bap we’d like to say a massive thanks for time and we hope you’re all hyped to catch Verb T live at Boom Bap as part of the 32 man battle tournament on The Don’t Flop arena. Also as a part of The Four Owls and his own solo set with material from the new album, “The Morning Process”.
For more information on Verb T, check out www.high-focus.com
LIMITED TICKETS FOR BOOM BAP GO ON SALE, FRIDAY 1ST JUNE @ 7PM. £45 BUYS YOU A WEEKEND TICKET TO BOOM BAP COMPLETE WITH THREE NIGHTS CAMPING. AVAILABLE FROM THE TICKETS SECTION!
With High-Focus Records seemingly lighting the touch-paper to ignite the current UK Hip-Hop scene, it has a weapon in its arsenal to well and truly blow the doors off! Due to drop next month, Jam Baxter drops his follow up to his last album- the double disc, Rinse Out Friday Spack Out Monday. The Boom Bap team caught up with Jam Baxter on a North London rooftop to discuss the up and coming “Gruesome Features” album, The Boom Bap Festival and his foray into the spoken word aspect of his live show. Having featured at other Boom Bap nights on a regular basis expect to see Jam smashing the Boom Bap main stage with a live show to leave the audience in a state of “shock and awe”… Over to it then!
Were hyped to be able to announce you’ll be playing at The Boom Bap Festival in September, what excites you about it?
When I was like 16 or 17 if there’d been an event like this where pretty much everyone that I rated in UK hip-hop was playing all in one place over a weekend that would have fucking excited me. Now what excites me is the prospect of slinking around in the mud like a creepy old man making kids feel vaguely uncomfortable and occasionally shouting into a microphone at them.
If people haven’t seen you live before, what can they expect?
Varying states of intense intoxication, nonsensical rambling at length, uncontrollable sobbing, facial injuries, torn muscles, craters, wooden prawns. An overwhelming feeling of shock and awe.
Your also going to be performing in the Spoken Word tent, tell us a bit about that?
Spoken word is something that I’m going to start pushing more. The spoken word things that I’ve been doing have been bars that I’ve written over beats, but I just spit them acappella. It’s good because it’s a different way of performing. It’s less of a rowdy live show format, where nobody’s really digesting the bars, they’re just feeding off the vibe, whereas the spoken word thing is a whole different type of live show and I enjoy it. In terms of writing pieces that aren’t written to specific beats or locked down to a particular rhythm, I’ve only got a few things that I’ve been playing with, but it’s something I’m going to be doing a lot more of in the next couple of years.
What have you been working on since Rinse out Friday Spack out Monday?
I started this project which is now called The Gruesome Features, but it’s kind of a compilation of some stuff that I’ve been working on for the last year or so. It was just meant to be like a random collection. It started out with me not wanting to make a project, then all of a sudden I had loads of tunes and I was like fuck, it’s a project, and now it’s this whole thing. I like it though; it’s some of the best music I’ve made. That’s coming out on June 18th hopefully. I’ve also made an album with Dabbla from LDZ and a producer called Ghost Town and that’s almost finished. I’m real excited about that one, it’s sounding banging. I dunno when that’s out. Me and Dike have almost started our project. It’s coming out tomorrow at an unaffordable price.
Who will “Gruesome Features” feature..?
Ed Scissortongue, Mr Key, King Kai from The IRS, Leafy, Ramson Badbones, Dabbla, Dirty Dike, Chester P, Verb T, Fliptrix and Mowgli. They all absolutely destroy it.
Jam Baxter and Chester P! Can’t wait to hear that track- how did that come about?
Yeah it’s got two tracks on it. I met him at secret garden party a couple of years ago while hallucinating. I didn’t even know he’d heard any of my music let alone was into it, and I’ve always been into his music so it was good to meet him. He brought me up on stage and I could barely see the crowd, I think I mumbled about half a verse and stumbled off. We vaguely talked about doing something then, but it took months and months of us both being a bit disorganised before we got in the studio. It was worth it in the end, the man can do 60 bar verses off his blackberry in one take at 4am after a substantial amount of K cider.
When did you first start writing bars?
I guess I started writing during that lowlife era. I started writing just before I found out that there was a big, thriving UK hip-hop scene, I was listening to a lot of US hip hop and writing a little bit just for the jokes of it until I was about 15. Then when I heard that classic lowlife and YNR shit I realised we had a real scene over here and it quickly became something I wanted to dedicate my life to.
How did the connection between Contact Play and SMB come about?
Mr Key introduced me to Dike when I moved from London to Brighton. Contact Play had been around for a few years before that, it was me Ronnie Bosh and an MC and producer called Jimmy Wahgwan. So yeah, I moved to Brighton, met Mr Key from SMB and started doing tunes with him, then he then introduced me to Dike who then introduced me to Ed Scissortongue, we were all on a similar vibe and making a lot of music together so it made sense to merge it all together. That was when the five of us came about. Just after our album dropped our DJ, Sammy B-Side, started DJing at our live shows. He smacked it so now he’s our resident Contact Play DJ.
Anyone else you want to big up?
Much love to everyone killing it in their chosen field right now, I see so much talent around me every day and it’s fucking inspiring, too many heads to mention. Big up all my High Focus family, CP, SMB, RLD and DPC.
Interview by Whack Ronald & Caramel-Eyes
Catch Jam Baxter, Contact Play, SMB and the rest of the High-Focus crew performing live at the Boom Bap Festival. The third tier of tickets go on sale, Friday June 1st at 7pm from www.boombapuk.com/tickets
The Boom Bap team took a trip to West London to catch up with Natural Born Spittea, Mystro. After overcoming the hurdles of poor London Underground navigation we met up with a legend in the game to talk straight Boom Bap!
Mystro aka MysDiggi, aka Digmund Freud- if you weren’t aware, is an absolute don in the UK Hip-Hop scene. Having been consistently releasing dope home-grown hip-hop music for over ten years we are very much pleased to have Mystro on board with Boom-Bap festival. You’ll find him trawling the festival site, magnifying glass in hand with film crew behind him as he takes upon a “Mystro Investigates” special at Boom Bap. Oh and did we mention headlining the Boom Bap Main stage?! Real recognise real.
Tell us a little bit about what Mystro has been up to this last year?
This last year I’ve just been promoting my album, soon to be released called “Mystrogen”. I released a free EP called “What type of drug is Mystrogen?” and I’ve just released a video called “Dat There”. We’re going to do a few more videos to get you mother lovers ready for Mystrogen the album.
You’ve gained acclaim from a wider audience through your UK wrap up track that was heavily played on 1xtra. What’s the writing process with a track like this?
The first time I did it I just thought back to it at the end of the year, like I’d ask people what really stuck out in their heads. The second year I tried to write it as I was going through the year, but I’ve got a lot of other stuff going on, and the main focus isn’t just on this one tune. I think I got up to about March and I didn’t do any more to it. So now I just wait until the end of the year, I’ll try and write down bits that stick out in my head. I tried it for this year and by March you’ve got a full rap-up. So it’s best I remember bits I know, then ask people for input at the end of the year, it’s better and its more organic, otherwise think I’d end up with a ten minute rap-up!
You were associated with the legendary Kung Fu nights that brought live UK Hip-Hop to London. Any plans for a comeback?
Yeah I’d like to, but I was just a host, I wasn’t really behind the scenes in terms of a promoter. I did want to get into it, but when I saw what goes into it, what you really need to do if you want to put 100% into it, I kind of feel it’d be better to get people who are experienced in promotion and I could still then have a hand in there. It’d be nice to have it back, and I think there are some nights coming up- but I don’t want to say too much! You know how it goes in that game!
Who are you feeling right now amongst the UK scene?
Ramson Badbonez, Jam Baxter, Dirty Dike, More1, Limbz, Rewd Adams, Rhyme Asylum, Jargon- that’s like my favourite rapper! He’s coming out with stuff later on this year, so everyone will get to know who the other half of Natural Born Spittaz is! Haha! Finally! But yeah, he’ll be with me at The Boom Bap festival.
But yeah there’s a bunch of cats that I like, but they’re the ones I see coming through. I’m proud of them man, especially Ramson Badbonez.
The closest thing I’ve been to over here was like maybe 7 years ago(or longer?), the Deadbeat weekender! I was lucky enough to do one of the last ones with Braintax, Fuck Da Taxman Haha!
So like there was that, now years later speaking to you guys about the prospect of doing it and it happening and now seeing it and that people really do want it! One of my first questions was weather people do want something like this. We don’t know as there’s no real hub for the UK hip-hop scene anymore. There’s no record store where everyone communicates, then one or two of them will go on to a message board and say what’s happening. There are all these forms of communication that we have, we just need to sort out somewhere where everybody goes to find this out!
Whether it’s going to be The Boom Bap website with news like, Jehst is putting out a new album or there’s a hip-hop night in Leicester or something going on. This festival has proved that there is a scene out here and now we’ve just got to build up on it and deal with the mistakes that were made before and learn from them.
If you could be part of a track featuring anybody from the hip-hop scene, past and present, who would it involve?
Come on man! That’s got to be like a Dilla produced track with Big L and Big Pun feature ya know what I mean?! Haha. At the least!
The Mystro 12” “Telling You” was one of the first records that got me into UK hip-hop. Is there a significant record that got you into the music?
I wasn’t really a vinyl collector but one of the first tapes I had was Amerikkka’s most wanted or it might have been one of the NWA tapes before that. I had a neighbour where we used to go and they used play Public Enemy and NWA out the window. I’m coming with the whole Michael Jackson trying to moonwalk and I’m hearing that like “Whoa!” We were hearing all that hard-core music and I don’t know somehow- maybe I stole it off a friend of another friend, but somehow we ended up with a couple of those tapes and one of them was NWA Straight out of Compton.
I was really young but to me it was like Raaah! This is madness! Its only when you get older you’re like, oh that’s what they’re talking about!
Any last words?
Look out for the album MYSTROGEN and come down to Boom Bap you mother lovers!!
also follow me on twitter @Mystrogen or check my website www.mysdiggi.com & download ‘What TypeOf Drug Is MYSTROGEN?” here: http://mysdiggi.bandcamp.com/album/what-type-of-drug-is-mystrogen
Interview by Whack Ronald & Caramel Eyez
Shortly after our endeavour with Disorda we linked up with another legend in the game. Poisonous Poets member and high calibre UK hip-hop ambassador, Reveal took us for a stroll around Edgware Road to talk all things Boom-Bap!
Reveals excitement as we begun to talk about his involvement with the festival was evident from the get go! With his initial concern of “won’t it be cold in September?” his excitement for the festival was clear for us to see and we shared the buzz from there on in.
After shooting a quick promo video with Reveal announcing his participation in the festival, we moved the interview on to the inner confides of Reveals humble abode. The day’s soundtrack continued in the same manner as Reveal pressed play on Action Bronson’s latest offering, Blue Chips. After getting comfortable and twisting one we let him loose on some issues that he wanted to get off his chest!
You’ve been absent from the scene for a while, what made you want to start getting involved again?
Well from about 2005-2006 I started heavily getting into Iranian hip-hop. A lot of people in the UK music scene thought that I’d stopped making music or something. What happened was, it was at a time when the UK scene was just about to break through, but it hadn’t quite yet, and was still an underground thing in terms of hip-hop events with not a lot of people turning up. The music industry hadn’t really clocked that the more UK flavour music was going to sell more than American music, so major labels, if they were backing any UK artist it’d be more people like… do you remember big brovas? More like them guys.
As poisonous poets we got signed to a record label between 2000 and 2002. We were on Arista BMG so we went on tour with a lot of big artists like Bustah Rhymes & De La Soul and I could kind of see where the industry was at. At the same time I started travelling to Iran where I met up with some Persian rappers and we started making music and it got really popular within the Persian community world-wide. And at a time when the UK scene still wasn’t paying too well for a show and there wasn’t really a big crowd- we got invited to start doing shows internationally in places like Malaysia, Holland, Germany, L.A, Canada… these were big shows with big audiences! We were getting put up in nice hotels and getting good money out of it, so that’s what I thought I wanted to go after.
For the last five years I’ve been touring doing a lot of work with the Persian hip-hop audience. But right now I’m just trying to plug back into the UK scene man, because a lot of things have changed. Just recently I’ve been putting out a few videos, I put out a 7 track EP called “Seven Shades” dropped that in February. It was like an alternative release. Right now I’m working on my new mixtape, it’s got the working title “One for the Road”
How do you feel about the current state of the UK scene and where it’s headed?
Overly, I feel positive because I see things that were not there when I was growing up a lot younger in the scene. A lot of doors have opened up now for artists and also for the audience. You talk to a lot of artists and they are selfish, just talking about how the industry is for them- I tend to look at it more from a point of view as a listener. See as a kid it was harder to access music, like before the internet, if you heard a song on the radio that you liked and you didn’t happen to be taping the show- it was gone!
I remember the first time I heard slim shady on the radio I thought it was John Forte from the Fugees! I just heard the half end of the song on Westwood and for some reason I just thought it was him! So you just had to try a bit harder to find out about the music, like going to the record shops and going to events- nowadays, it’s just slap bang in front of you! But that can never be a bad thing. When you’re seeing Tinnie Tempah on never mind the buzz cocks, hosting! Not just a panel guest, that’s when I knew things, had completely changed.
With that also comes a sort of loss for the scene that happened before it and it gets swept under the rug. You got to remember that history was always written by the person that won. The reality of the matter is in the UK music scene it’s going to go down that the likes of Giggs will get remembered as the first British rappers, by some. It’s really important not to be bitter- that’s whack and I lose a lot of respect for artists that I used to listen to when I hear them talking all jaded and bitter about new artists. They feel the only way to big themselves up is to put other people down. They say these kids don’t know what music is! Of course they know what music is- music is entertainment. So if they’re feeling that and they’re not feeling you, it’s because you’re not as relevant as you used to be. And that’s just the harsh reality of the matter, it’s like Sugar Hill gang for an obvious example, it gets credited as being the first hip-hop track. You ask anyone who really knows about hip-hop that the track was just packaged by a record company, and put together by ripping off and taking bits from what other mc’s were saying at the time. You have to read between the lines, there are always two sides to every story.
I get upset when I think people forget about where it came from! The UK scene had some really advanced artists, people like Task Force, Blak Twang & Skinnyman, they were so far ahead of their time! Kids now who are like 15-16, they don’t remember who Klashnekoff is! For them it started with Dizzy and Wiley, kids look at them like I looked at N.W.A.
Now I work with a lot of MC’s from my area, I tell them back in the day- the best you’d hope for would be a little write up in HHC! Now they see their favourite rappers have been signed to Roc Nation. So whatever you think of their quality of music, as a listener, they’re looking at a bigger picture.
Who are you feeling in the music scene right now?
Me I just try and search for pure hip-hop, whenever- wherever I can find it! I listen to a lot of music from the UK. As far as influences go, I’m mainly still influenced by old stuff like old Wu-Tang, Nas & Rass Kass; those are who I’d say are my influences. The way I listen to music has totally changed, its transient, like steam it just comes and goes it’s more about trying to find something that’s really listenable!
What artists can we be looking out for that you’re working with?
I’m working with some young MC’s, Ash B, Streets Disciple & Owlboy. At the same time there are also people who I’m doing work with who have been in the scene a bit longer- my boy Locksmith and Tony D, were coming back together to do a little project entitled “Poison Inc.”.
There’s another MC called Josiah Matrix who is sick! Also an MC from west London called Gemstone. I’m seeing a whole bunch of people from the UK who I actually want to listen to their music!
We are excited to have you performing at the festival. What excites YOU about the festival?
I’m a strong believer in this belief called synchronicity, where the universe brings things into synch with each other. From the start of the year I’ve been throwing this phrase around, “Return of the Real” and I’ve got a track titled the same as well.
I think the timing of the festival is linked to that energy I’ve been feeling, the fans have matured, and they know what they want now, those fans out there that still want that hard core meat and potatoes hip-hop, not that fast food shit! I saw that the limited tickets sold really quickly when they went on sale, that’s a good indication of what the people want to see! I feel proper positive about it! If you’re complaining about the UK music scene you should plug into something like this festival, get behind it as it’s going to make a difference.
If you could work with anyone in UK Hip-Hop, much like you did with Poisonous Poets, who would you chose?
With no hint of arrogance I really feel that poisonous was the best team, with the best people I could hope to work with. I know this might sound mad arrogant, we used to think of ourselves of like knights at the round table, there were certain other rappers that we used to say were poisonous! Like, “He’s poisonous level!”
There were bare other rappers that we’d say were poisonous level but they’d be affiliated with another clique or something. I feel proper privileged to have worked with some proper good MC’s man. There’s MC’s that I like, but I don’t feel we’d necessarily make the best song. I would love to work with Rass Kass! It’d have to be the right setting though; I wouldn’t just want to get a random verse of someone.
What can people expect from you’re live show?
The show is just going to be the Return of the Real! Live Hip-Hop, no gimmicks man. Just rocking a crowd stuff, coming with that old school vibe of people just out to enjoy themselves.
With the interview concluded the mention of dropping a little exclusive ignites Reveal into action- after selecting a personal favourite of the Boom Bap personnel, Diamond D – When it pours it Rains, he flips the instrumental to hit us with a little exclusive fire from his own booth!
Massive shout to Reveal for blessing us with the time for the interview. Don’t forget to check out all the relevant links below, but most importantly- don’t forget to check out what promises to be a Return of the Real Reveal.
Interview by Caramel Eyez & Whack Ronald
On the Saturday night at The Boom Bap Hip-Hop Festival we are proud to announce that Disorda will be bringing his “Suspect Packages Live” night to the festival.
Taking over the “Hold it Down” arena for the whole day we thought it would be only right to go and hook up with the man himself to talk all things music!
We are greeted at Disorda’s Suspect Packages HQ, firstly by his excitable dog Monty! As we head to the nerve centre of the operations (better known as the bunker!) it’s clear that running Suspect Packages is no small task! What with holding down the day to day mail outs of music, updating the website each day, running a live music night and recording radio shows whilst at the same time being a father, we were honoured to pick the brains of one of the lynch pins in the UK hip-hop scene. Whilst all these stresses may be a burden for some, the sense that he gets so much pleasure from working with his passion for music far outweighs any strain that comes with it.
So for those who don’t know who the hell this guy is or what he does, firstly- SHAME ON YOU! But if you don’t hopefully you will gain an insight into how much he has helped the UK Hip-Hop scene in the last ten years and beyond.
Tell the people a little about yourself and what you do…
I’m Disorda and I run suspect-packages.com which is an online UK Hip-Hop store, but also an online resource I guess for everything British hip-hop. I have been running it since 1996 and the website has been online since around 2001 I think? However I don’t want it to be just an online store, I want it to be a place where there is news about new releases coming through, links to nights, events and all that kind of thing. Just a hub for British hip-hop and the scene that there is. A fresh new website is currently being worked on too.
That’s it in a nutshell, I also DJ and put on nights. Oh, and I am also a father and a dog owner!
What can people expect when Suspect Live takes over the “Hold It Down” Arena on the Saturday…?
They can expect the cream of the UK hip-hop scene! We’ll be hosting some of the best live acts that we have had come through the regular night that we do in London over the last three years.
There will be lots of onstage banter from our host with the most Mr Enlish, and I might even say a few words here and there! And of course DJ Lok & myself on the one’s and two’s. But all in all, a good party really, it’s just about exposing British talent- artists that are coming up through the ranks and acts that people will be familiar with and hopefully have a lot of respect for. They will have bought their releases in the past and get to see them on stage doing what they do best.
We’ve had a lot of people come through Suspect Packages Live, the majority of which have all been really good and really smacked it and I’d like to bring that to The Boom Bap Festival and share it with everyone.
It’s not just about the live acts either; it’s about the DJ’s too at SP Live. DJ Lok is on board with me and he is a dope DJ who is bringing all sorts to the game and will no doubt get you moving! And I will be on the decks myself also.
You must receive music from up and coming artists on the daily, how do you deal with it all?
I’m constantly listening to new music! Even when I’m not working I’m listening to new things- not always Hip-Hop either, I do get sent a lot of stuff. I do try to listen to everything that gets sent to me, but it’s not always that easy.
I think artists probably get frustrated that I don’t get back to them straight away – there are only so many hours in the day. I am very honest with my feedback, and I hope the artists respect me for that. I do try to promote as many people as I can through Suspect Packages, but I am very limited with time and of course I need to earn a living! I ‘m often mailing out promo releases with my orders along with bundles of stickers, flyers and anything else we can get our hands on. Everyone loves a freebie and good service – right?
Whilst chatting about music in general Disorda plays us the new AG album “Everything’s Berri” which swiftly becomes the soundtrack for the rest of the interview. He also shows off the new Ka vinyl and we talk about our mutual liking of Action Bronson and Roc Marciano.
Back to the UK, who are you really feeling in the UK Hip-Hop scene right now?
I’m really into the Split Prophets from Bristol, Krate Krusaders, Jack Flash and Wizard’s new album, Brighton towns Rum Committee- they’re a really nice rowdy crew with some wicked production and a good stage show.
Obviously the whole High Focus crew. I’m into Fliptrix and I’m really feeling Dike and Jam Baxter and the whole Contact Play crew. Buggsy as well. Defenders of Style, there’s loads. Newcomers wise, Ben81, Unseen & Deeflux- I like their stuff production wise, really nice old school boom-bap sounding. Ill Move Sporadic their stuffs real nice too.
Just check my radio show, everything I like I play on there. There’s a lot of shit out there- but there is also a lot of really good stuff which is very promising for the scene.
People seem to be working together a lot more and there is a lot more unity going on which is good, as people used to work on their own and not really give a fuck about anyone else. But we all have to unite a little bit to build up this scene, there is too much pop-rap out there for my liking!
It’s not just about the music, it’s about your actual show and how you deliver it, this is what hip-hop’s about. It’s a performance art! It’s not just about how you put down an album in a studio and then nobody hears it, you need to take it out on the road!
Who are you looking forward to seeing perform at Boom Bap from a hip-hop heads perspective?
I’m really looking forward to seeing the High Focus show, they’re always really good performances. Caxton Press- they tear it up! Boy! Everybody on the line-up really kills it!
Skriblah also, we had him at Suspect Packages Live and I wasn’t actually at the night where I had him on! I was ill and missed the show and it was one of our best nights! I was gutted, so I’m really looking forward to seeing him live. I’m looking forward to seeing Camouflage Children and Heavy Links too. Also looking forward to seeing Split Prophets! I love watching everyone to be honest, it’s what I do and what I live for and everybody on the bill is really good!
What excites you about Boom Bap Festival and what do you think it could do for the scene?
I think it can ignite some real passion back into the scene which I think it’s already doing! There’s been nothing of its kind in this country for a long time. There has been similar things in the past like Dedbeat and going further back, UK Fresh- this is where I show my age!!
But for something to be solely a UK Hip-Hop festival with UK artists is just phenomenal and I’m really glad to be a part of it. Just from looking at the people involved and the amount of people that want to go to it, I think it’s just outstanding and it’s great to see so much passion for the scene.
The main thing we need now thought is for those same people to put their money back into the scene by supporting the artists and buying their product, so they can continue making music and build an even more solid fan base.
You’re also bringing Extra Classic to the festival. Tell us a bit more about Extra Classic and how you got involved with reggae music…
I got into Reggae music at the same time as Hip Hop, late 80’s, and started collecting it at the same time. One of the first ways I heard Reggae was through John Peels radio show, I used to sit there throughout the whole show waiting for him to drop the 2 or 3 Reggae and Hip Hop tracks he’d play (if you were lucky), and tape them. Also we had a Reggae sound system in Peterborough (my home town) called Jam One; I’m getting hairs on my arms thinking about it- it’s mental! They used to set up during the day on a Saturday in the centre of town, at an open air bar called Miss Pairs, I used to go with my mates and somehow get served, I was 16 then. And basically caught the vibe of the Reggae music there, it’s stayed with me ever since, the bass, the message, the melodies, I love it.
When I heard early UK Hip Hop with that Reggae influence like Demon Boyz and London Posse it blew me away and I delved deeper… When I moved to London I got heavily into promoting UK Hip Hop, as most people know, and that took me on the journey I have been on for the last 20 years with Suspect Packages. The hunger and passion for Reggae music has always been there, and I’ve always collected it as I love vinyl and you can’t beat the sound of Reggae wax played out through decent set up. Hip Hop just took over my life a little more, and recently, over the last 4-5 years, I’ve decided to let my Reggae side be heard as I have so much good music in my collection and I want to share it, I still continue to buy today, new releases, old releases, it’s a drug. I’ve always played Reggae as much as I can when DJing and it’s great to now be able to bring it to the people more.
How did Extra Classic come about?
I bumped into an old friend Al Fingers a few years back, we used to work for Fatboss Magazine together, and we realised we both had the same passion, and collecting habits, for Reggae. We decided to set up a night playing Reggae, Extra Classic was born, named after a Gregory Isaacs album. Just good tune after good tune, Extra Classic tunes! We’ve extended the crew to two others, Sash Kuttah & Cool Hand Luke, two like-minded Reggae lovers, plus Seanie T on the mic. And it’s gone from strength to strength; we play anything from early Ska and Rocksteady, to current Dancehall, Bashment and Steppas. We’ve all got an unhealthy vinyl buying habit, which works well as I think we all try and outdo each other! And Seanie on the mic just kills it. We have special guest selectors come down and basically have a really good party, the beauty with Reggae music is it’s an uplifting music, and can also be very spiritual, it makes me happy when I listen to it, every time! And most importantly, it’s a music you can’t help but dance to!!! And that I love. Word, Power & Sound. ‘One Love’. There’s a lot to be said for those two words right there.
Since setting up Extra Classic I’ve been asked to play at other Reggae dances alongside some big names I really respect, so it’s been real fun. I’ve also set up my Dub Chronicles show; again, just letting people know I’m not just ‘Mr UK Hip Hop’, this is my other love. And more recently the show has been picked up by Kane FM and I now I go there once a month and it’s broadcast live to the world. Even better. Check it out.
Massive shout out to Disorda for taking the time to chill and do the interview! Check out all the links below and don’t forget to come down to Suspect Live this Friday!!
Interview by Whack Ronald