Posts tagged ‘hip hop’

October 23, 2014

High Contrast (@HighContrast) – California Love (2 Pac Remix) [Audio]

Welsh D&B producer High Contrast has put his spin on the legendary record that is 2 Pac‘s California Love. I don’t think a lot of people should be doing this to such classics and it does hurt me sometimes to hear when people do, but this really isn’t bad. Check it out below and see what you think.

 

Advertisements
July 9, 2014

MTV The Wrap Up: UK Rap Rundown [News]

 

We’ve been hearing a lot from the Disturbing LDN and Parlophone rapper G Frsh as of late, as he gets us ready for his forthcoming EP ‘Alfie’; slated for an August release. He gave fans a present in the form of a free download for new track ‘The Hardest Part’ which of course sees G hitting us with some hard bars, and Sonny Reeves (also signed to Disturbing LDN) providing him with the vocals over a laid back beat.

Fresh from his ‘Lost Soul’ mixtape release, North London’s Coops keeps the work rate levels high and drops another visual from the tape ‘Rap Masterclass’ which seems to be set in Amsterdam. Produced by Talos, this is another banger with an old school hip hop vibe from a very talented and rising lyricist that a lot of people are calling one to watch. Coops matches laid back flows and beats to deliver us something special.

Now if you haven’t heard of Potter Payper, honestly I don’t know where you have been. Fresh from his incarceration, he is back to tear the streets apart as he shows why he is one is one of the most respected MC’s as he takes to Charlie Sloth’s studio to give him a Fire In The Booth. His wordplay and flow is exceptional, and this is the standard other rappers need to be looking too. From Drake’s‘0-100’ to Robin Shulz remix of ‘Waves’ instrumentals, he keeps the levels high.

Blue Borough’s (Lewisham) Dru Blu takes a totally British phrase ‘Let’s Avit’ which is commonly used at football matches or by people to mean ‘let’s have a good time’ in excitement as the name for his new track. Great to see UK artists capturing their British roots and essence, and Dru entertains too with the visuals for the track. Nice work!

Big congratulations are also in order for Krept & Konan who flew out to LA for the BET Awards 2014and bagged the award for Best International Act: UK. They beat Dizzee Rascal, Ghetts, Tinie Tempah, Rita Ora and Laura Mvula.

June 2, 2014

Coops (@CoopsOfficial) – Lost Soul [Mixtape]

I’m making no exaggeration when I say Coops is the North London hip hop artist everyone is talking about. He can already say he has opened for Nas at the 02 in London and his latest video release ‘Blessings’ from the tape was premiered by Vibe in America, Big!

The mix-tape demonstrates the lyrical genius of the 23-year-old and his ability to draw the listener in to every word. His deep and mindful views on his subject matter set on the backdrop of the intricately produced and very musical productions make for a collection of tracks that will give you some real food for thought.

With the majority of the Lost Soul mixtape being produced by Hip-Hop producer, Talos, it is evident that the pair have a real musical understanding of each other resulting in the creation of a fresh, yet deep rooted sound.

Released this week (2nd June) via his own website, the ‘Lost Soul’ mix-tape is a collection of tracks which represent a number of different meanings and emotions, as the title implies.

TRACKLIST:

1. Intro

2. So Cold Ft. Benny Banks & Sophie Faith

3. Why

4. On & On

5. Clouds Ft. Sophie Faith

6. 360 Degrees Ft. Twitch

7. Darcus Howe Skit

8. Blessings Ft. Rexx https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5KMt6Y62BA

9. Halftime Ft. Black The Ripper

10. Rap Masterclass

11. Make Things Right Ft. Sophie Faith

12. Soul Down Ft. Richy

13. Chillin’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSgUtNE4I40

14. Coops & P Freestyle

15. Pass The Weed

16. Odyssey Ft. Elz

17. This Is Rhymin

 

Download Coops – Lost Soul mixtape here for free 

 

January 26, 2014

Mynature – Spin Em [Music Video]

South London rapper Mynature returns this year with some hard bars and a confidence that no one else in the game will be able to go up against him, proving this on the track as he fluently switches up to a  jungle flow . His flow is second to none on this track, and his content as always strong with valued opinions not full of bragging about a lifestyle. Spin Em….

 

September 2, 2013

MTV The Wrap Up: DJ Muggs [Interview]

DJ Muggs makes up one fourth of Cypress Hill – the groundbreaking Latino quartet and one of raps most successful collectives hailing from America’s West Coast. He is a true hip-hop legend and visionary, known for mixing different sounds to create innovative music – and his latest album ‘Bass For Your Face’ is no different. The Wrap Up’s Shireen Fenner talks to him about mixing the British born dubstep sound with hip-hop whilst featuring a UK grime legend and some exciting US rappers…

“Everyone was trying to copy Dr Dre and that West Coast sound. We pretty much did the opposite of that and did our own thing. You didn’t have to copy him to make a ‘West Coast’ sound – make your own style and sound! You can still be from the West Coast but stop following suit; bring something fresh to the table.

“I’ve been a fan of electronic music since day one. I started off playing techno in Detroit… back then it was all gangsters; the crowds were all pretty much Latino and black all the gang bangers were pop locking to it. Now I DJ a lot, and I always look for new music to put in my sets.  I play a lot of electronic festivals around the world; I wanted to make more music to play in my sets so I made this record [‘Bass For Your Face’].

“I wanted to make it with an underground hip-hop spirit. Bring some of these hip-hop kids, open their ears and give them a different sound. A lot of rock kids back in the day didn’t like hip-hop but they liked Beastie Boys and Public Enemy, they liked Run DMC… I wanted to open their minds to different sounds.

“I wanted to get more underground MC’s like Roc Marciano. The song I did with Dizzee [Rascal] – I wanted it to sound like an 80’s West Coast hip-hop record. I have a friend called Bun B who is friends with Dizzee, and Dizzee was in LA and he said ‘I want you to get in the studio’. So he came through and we recorded about four songs; Dizzee asked me what I was working on so I played him a record aBun Bnd he said ‘I want to get on there’. I said ‘word, get on it,’ so he jumped on it.

Danny Brown is another MC on the album and one of my favourite’s out here right now. I didn’t want a full song, just some words from him. Chuck D’s been a favourite of mine for years; that song has more of a rock edge to it, so I wanted him on that and we worked on it together.

“I have been coming to the UK since the 90’s, and I’ve spent months out there at a time. I used to go see Goldie and the Metalheadz all the time; I did some remixes for them. From the jungle days to drum and bass, 2 step days, garage days… for all that stuff, I’ve been over there. Last time I was there I went to a couple of grime shows – I love the energy. I was out there with the guys from No Hats No Hoods.

“When I first started hearing dubstep in about 2007, I was like ‘what is this?’ – it worked with hip-hop. What I noticed about dubstep was hip-hop heads liked it. A lot of them didn’t like jungle and drum & bass because of the tempos. They liked this because it reminded them of early electronic music… The culture is changing out here [in LA] too. A lot of hip-hop kids couldn’t mess with it because it was real funny – everyone had glow sticks and vaporizers over their mouths. Finally, there is a type of electronic music that the hip-hop and rock kids can get into, and not only the dance crowd.

“What made me take notice of dubstep were the early Rusko records, the early Benga and Skream records and all those early Loefah records. Loefah had me when I first heard him – I was like ‘what the f**k is that?’ Loefah’s s**t was banging. I would love to work with anyone of them guys. Anything that inspires me to make more music and try new sounds and styles – that’s what it’s all about.”

*Published 22nd May 2013

April 14, 2013

MTV The Wrap Up: Mic Righteous [Interview]

Mic Righteous has risen steadily from an up and coming underground emcee to gaining positive mainstream success, most recently with tracks ‘Hold It Down’ and ‘Ghost Town’. With the release of his third mixtape ‘Open Mic’ which is currently storming the iTunes chart, The Wrap Up’s Shireen Fenner catches up with Mic to talk watered-down music, attention from the ladies and a secret exclusive…

The Wrap Up: Talk us through the beginning – what was the thought process behind your artist name and do you feel you’ve lived up to it?

Mic Righteous: My original rap name was Mr E; that was a name given to me by my older brother – I looked up to him. It was more of a jungle MC name, so I thought I needed to change it. I was thinking and then the word righteous just came into my head – I’ve always been a fan of mic’s, like Michael Jackson, Mike Tyson and Michael Jordan. I thought Mic Righteous sounded good so I went to my manager and I asked him ‘What does righteous mean?’ he told me what it meant [and he kept the name from then on].

Now I have developed into that character… it was like that name was given to me, I never found the name because I didn’t know what it meant at the time. [Therefore] it’s not a case of ‘have I lived up to it’, it’s ‘am I living up to it?’ I’m not him yet, God keeps putting these trials in front of my way and I keep tackling them, and that will enable me to develop into it.

TWU: Your third offering ‘Open Mic’ is your first offering that isn’t free for fans – why do you feel this EP is worth paying for as opposed to the others?

Mic Righteous: One of the hardest things as an independent artist is [the lack of] money and financial backing. If you want a video to look good, that’s going to cost you thousands of pounds – but we’ll put the thousands of pounds in. That money is coming out of the pockets we have to work and hustle on the streets for.

I do feel like the effort and work I’ve put into my mixtapes is the sort of work and effort that these artists are putting into their albums – and I’m just putting that out for free. That’s costing me a lot of money and I’m not making anything back, but to me it’s never been about the money, it’s always been about the love.

It’s about real hip-hop coming through. People with an opinion will always say ‘we don’t hear real hip-hop’ or ‘people don’t play real music’ – but that is because people don’t support real music or pay for it. So, this is not me saying ‘you guys have got to pay for this’, this is a trial to see if it works. Now’s the time to support real music.

TWU: You’ve expressed the dramas of your life in your lyrics. How hard has that been, or is it therapeutic for you?

Mic Righteous: Pain is just an emotion that’s a reaction to an action that goes on in your mind. The hardest part for me is the sacrifices I have to make. I’m a 22-year-old who has a child; he has a very good mum but unfortunately I can’t be with her no more – I can’t have that life. That’s part of God’s test on me; I have to do what’s right for him.

TWU: In an interview with The Wrap Up last year, you said you knew you would ‘have to water everything down’ eventually to win the public over. Did you follow through with ‘Open Mic’?

Mic Righteous: If you listen to ‘Open Mic’, you’ll hear what I mean – that’s about as watered down as Mic’s going to get. It keeps its credibility and it’s just me playing around with hooks. Not everyone is going to feel that aggression… I’ll never, ever, ever just jump on a Calvin Harris tune; I’ll go to the studio and get a beat made for me. I’ll go in the studio with a guitarist and asked him to mash up some Slipknot and I’ll rap to that. I don’t mind that because I like that kind of music; I wouldn’t mind screaming my head off on a rock beat and going crazy. 

TWU: What do you want fans to take away from ‘Open Mic’?

Mic Righteous: I just want them to understand that no matter what, I’m just going to be me – take what you want from it; but understand the work and dedication. I want them to fall in love with it and follow me on the journey.

TWU: Tell us something that fans would be surprised to know?

Mic Righteous: This is just a maybe, so I shouldn’t be saying anything but Shireen I like you and I like what your doing so I’m going to say it regardless of what anyone else has to say… As long as ‘Open Mic’ goes well, there MIGHT be a 30-track mixtape of pure hip-hop bangers. I dunno, I didn’t make it, this guy Mic Righteous did… It MIGHT be released – who knows?

TWU: This is one for the ladies….do you have a girlfriend?

Mic Righteous: A gentleman never tells…

TWU: But you get more female attention now… so how do you deal with it?

Mic Righteous: When I was young I never got female attention, so when I’m out here and I get female attention I lap it all up [laughs]. That’s just the way I am… I love women and I respect them fully. I like it, I can’t lie I really do enjoy it. I like hanging with females, sometimes more than dudes. I know a couple of girls that I can chill with and we get on better than most men.

TWU: Last message to the fans?

Mic Righteous: It’s all love. I’ve got love for every single one of you, old and young. The door is always open for more fans… I don’t even want to label you as fans because you’re not; you’re just people that I love. If you love me then keep listening to what Shireen’s doing because she is a wonderful person and keep reading her articles on The Wrap Up because she’s doing something good.

Published on 11th Feb 2013

April 14, 2013

Melanin 9 [Interview]

Melanin 9 dropped his first mixtape ‘High Fidelity’ in 2007 and has since become one of the most respected lyricists around in the UK hip hop scene. Ahead of the release of his debut album ‘Magna Carta,’ Flavour caught up with the rising star to talk music, beliefs, inspirations and more.

In terms of UK hip hop, what do you think about the scene here and the support?

In terms of growth, its come further than it ever has throughout the history of the urban music so to speak. A lot of artists are crossing over overseas and getting collaborations with US artists so it’s definitely grown. A lot of people from all over the world have started to recognise what were doing here. I still believe there isn’t much exposure for a certain type of style here in the hip hop scene. More artists need to be exposed who are doing different things, not all artists do grime, not all artists do dubstep, there’s artists who just speak pure organic hip hop, and I feel the scene needs to support that just a little bit more.

Your music has contained influences and elements from a variety of different individuals and belief systems, including Islamic Supreme Mathematics, David Icke, Malachi Z.York and many others. With such a diverse set of influences, how do you form a cohesive philosophy, and how does this translate into an easily understandable and relevant message in your music?

My music stems from what I do, my life and certain things that I’ve been taught. It comes from all kinds of things taught, from all kind of philosophers from different backgrounds and religions. I’m coming from anything that’s worth exposing to the world. If it makes sense to me I’ll put it in my music. In terms of deciphering, if I make it a bit more accessible lyrically, make it a bit more basic, maybe people will like it a bit more. I know it’s hard to hear what I’m saying at times when the flows a bit rapid and my vocabulary ranges a bit out of the norm. The only way to make it more understandable is to break it down, use more wordplay and more familiar flow.

You are known by both Melanin 9 and the shorter M9. You have previously stated that Melanin 9 represents your identity as a black man, and that the 9 represents you and your people and the journey and struggles of black people as a whole. This is a highly thought provoking choice of name, and yet M9 also stands for a popular handgun. How do you deal with this disconnect and do you ever worry that it sometimes misrepresents you as an individual and an artist?

At first I thought a lot of people would associate me with a handgun and I tried a lot in every single interview to make sure people understood what the M and the 9 meant. At first I was using M9 a lot and I was getting that perception, so I started using Melanin 9 properly, which is why the album is coming out under the proper name. I was getting a little bit of ignorance, but not really now as I’ve built up in my career, people seem to know what it means now. I think people address me as Melanin 9 aka M9 that’s my stage name.

You have done a lot with Triple Darkness. As a group of socially aware and outspoken lyricists, to what extent do you all agree on the messages you want to put out, and how did you find such like-minded artists?

I did a few things with them back in the day; I’m trying to do my own stuff at this point. Like-minded people came from certain places I used to go, hang out. I’d just meet certain guys round my way, people my age, we all rapped the way we rapped and liked a certain type of music, that’s how we found those who were like us. That’s how we built and got collaborations, it all stems from the music, we all like the same kind of things, that why we all rap alike and share the same thoughts.

It seems fortunate that you have been able to work with producers such as Chemo and Beat Butcha in the past, and their beats have added a lot to your music. How important is it to find producers who you work well with, and what do you look for when looking for beats to write over?

Just if it sounds nice. I like nice kicks and snares just like anyone else who makes hip hop would. Nice soul samples, jazz, something smooth is always good to roll with and is the approach I like to go for. I do a lot of searching online, there’s a lot of great producers out there. I’ve found a lot of good producers on Soundcloud, a lot contact me as well on social network and I’m always checking them.

What happens in the future if your current ideologies and beliefs change? What does that mean for the validity of the music you are making now?

My ideologies and beliefs are always growing it always evolves. I don’t limit my perceptions to one thing, I’m always learning, everyday I’m learning something new so that will never happen. I’m always adapting and looking at things differently, always researching. My beliefs are always growing, I don’t believe in one thing, I take whatever makes sense to me and I learn from it. I don’t stick to one religion, I believe in spirituality.

Your soon to be released album is titled ‘Magna Carta’. If you were to create a ‘great charter’ that would apply to the UK hip hop world, and its fans, industry and record labels, what key points would be in it?

Whatever I stand for freedom, spirituality, learning to grow, to read, to explore, to be creative, always try and work on your craft, believe in yourself, be you, be real. Be all the things that would be in the charter, that’s what I stand for.

Can you talk us through the inspiration and the reason behind the name?

I’ve done about 4 mixtapes and a lot of people thought the last releases were albums. A lot of magazines marketed it like it was an album. This is my first album, its all original beats from producers that I like. I wanted to make it the best out of all the other releases so I put a lot of effort into it and it took roughly about a year and a half to make. Hip hop inspired me, the purest form of it, all the people I looked up to when I was young, all new comers like Jay Electronica. I’m always a student of hip hop, so I’m always studying artists and what there doing, and what’s going on in the scene. ILife inspired me, knowledge inspired me, growth inspired me, my people around me inspired me, my daughter inspired me, just life.

 What are your plans musically for after the New Year?

I want to drop a new mixtape. I’m working with quite a big guy from LA an artist. Next year you’ll see an album with me and him and a mixtape from me.

Published Nov 24th 2012

February 6, 2013

Interview: DJ Nikki Beatnik [Interview]

DJ Nikki Beatnik is often quoted by others as being ‘The best female DJ In the UK’. Not new to the game, she has been turning heads and spinning music for a long long time and has definitely earned her stripes. She is a woman who a lot of other female DJ’s can look up to, who has helped pave the way for them with her femme fatale status.  Shireen heads to meet her at an event she has curated in Punk, the launch of Relentless Energy Drink’s Apple & Kiwi flavour, where we talk West End parties, being a female DJ, producing and getting to play at the best events in the world.  

How did you get into DJing, as it’s not really a hobby a lot of females take up?

It wasn’t when I did it (laughs). I went to music school from when I was like 6, and I was classically trained. I then really started getting into hip hop and dance music when I was about 11 or 12. By the time I was 14/15 I was already going clubbing, which was very naughty. One of my friends was selling decks and I was about 15/16, and I just saved the money and brought old second hand Technics. I got quite good at it, and after about 6 months I brought Technics 1210 which was industry standard in those days. Then I started playing out doing house parties and parties at college, then I started running my own club nights, and then basically I had about 3 clubs nights in the West End. They were all dominating the circuit at that time.

You started off as a hip hop DJ, how did you get yourself noticed on the circuit?

I had a night at this club called 57 Jermyn Street, and I used to promote it with my best friend, and because of the music and the way we did it everyone used to come. Madonna used to come, Missy Elliot, Eminem, Kelis. Everyone who was anyone in hip hop used to come. We did parties for Guru, Run DMC, Jam Master Jay, all them dudes used to pass through. I then kind of became known as the girl hip hop DJ. From there things spiraled, at one point I was running three clubs nights a week, and they were all rammed. Then it changed in the West End, because they started paying celebrities to come down, we never did that, we never even gave away one free drink ever. People would just come because the music was good, and it was very fashionable.

What do you think about this change in the West End?

That happened around 2003/2004. Competition started getting stiffer, and the people that we used to get for free because we had good relationships with them and the record company, other people would offer them £4,000. Then everyone else started doing it and it became a spiral. I heard crazy fees being talked about just to get someone to walk through, which just means they just have to stay 45 minutes. What happened was it started to deteriorate the nights, because they didn’t care about the music anymore, they didn’t care about the rest of the crowd. It changed the whole landscape of clubbing, especially in the West End. At that point I kind of moved into more eclectic music, mixing 80’s and 90’s and electronic music and drum n bass. I started doing a lot of fashion gigs like, Elle Style Awards and GQ Awards and Cosmo Awards. My career went down a different route, and I just kept it moving. I moved to east London, I moved everything, all my parties towards east because it was more how West End used to be ten years ago.

You are quoted by some as ‘The best female DJ in the UK’ but what female DJ’s would you put in your top 5 and why?

There’s a lot of girl DJ’s, my friend DJ Rashida, who was also on tour with me and Kelis for a long time. She DJ’d for Prince, she’s got a really eclectic style, and she’s a really subtle DJ. DJ Caper is really good. Spinderella the original, she used to DJ for Salt n Pepa back in the day, she’s got skill, she’s wicked. There are a lot of people on the house circuit that I really like. Back in the day I don’t know if anyone would have heard of her, but Princess Julia was amazing. She was similar to me, she did a lot of her own parties, she was so talented and a big inspiration for a generation of DJ’s coming up. There’s Emily who’s DJing here tonight, she plays really eclectic sets, she runs Supa Dupa Fly & Rock The Belles, she’s sort of doing what I did in a way, running her own nights and being an entrepreneur which I really respect. Melody Kane, she’s another one who is making her mark.

You’ve been called the female Mark Ronson, how does this make you feel?

These are the nice comments I guess. Mark Ronson and me were DJing the same things at the same times more or less. He had a club in New York, where all the same artists used to go to when they used to come to my club in London. Everyone would be like “Oh your like Mark Ronson, do you know Mark?” I was like who is this guy, and then he just went through the roof, next level and just started producing records. I really like him, I like his music, and I think he’s a wicked producer.

You’re not just a renowned DJ but a producer too. Is it as hard being a female DJ as it is to be well known in the producer world?

I don’t know about that yet because I haven’t had a No.1, so I guess when I have that, I’ll be like OK yeah. The more successful you get in each field, the easier it gets in some ways, but the harder and more complicated it also gets. It gets more competitive, and there’s more politics and stuff. This statistic always blows my mind but women own 1% of the world’s wealth. I think music and DJing and producing is something where you have to be quite solitary and spend hours on your own, which isn’t necessarily something that attractive for girls. I used to have to cart around 60kg of records every night, and that was hard physically. If you want to have kids, how are you going to do that if your touring all the time, and in nightclubs? It’s a different lifestyle for a girl, that’s why I think its more male dominated.

What tracks have you produced that you are really proud of?

I’ve been working for the last year and a half towards doing an EP and an album. I’ve been working with Terri Walker, XO Man, lots of British artists and some American that are all bubbling under and are really talented and are about to blow. It’s important for me to work with people that don’t need auto tune, that can really sing and really perform. Every tune that I’ve made so far, I’m proud of in some way or another. I’ve been making bits for Kelis’ live show and doing her intros.

Do you think to become a well-known DJ, having a certain image and style helps as well?

I think anyone in music now, style has almost taken from content, which is sad because it should be talent and content above style. I think definitely having a strong sense of identity and image and being interested in fashion helps.

Can you tell us about the event were here for today which you have curated the launch of the Relentless Energy Apple & Kiwi flavour?

Relentless Energy Drink asked me to curate the event; I basically put together DJ’s that I like. I felt it was quite important to get girls; we’ve got one guy DJ. I wanted to bring the other girls in; I get a chance to do so many good things. I’ve got artists performing tracks that I’ve produced, so it’s like a Beatnik sound system basically for Relentless. I’ve got Paige Richardson who we’ve done a track with, with a guy called Thundercat from LA, he’s the No.1 bass player in the world. Natalie May who did ‘Sexy Sexy’, we’ve done a track with her. A girl from Denmark too called Marie, we did a summer house remix of her tune and she’s performing that.

Do you work on many events like this, and do you hope to do more in the future?

If I get asked. It’s nice, it’s really fun. It’s using my skills to do something interesting, and working with bands that I really like. Relentless is good if you’re a DJ because it keeps you up (laughs). That’s what you see everyone drinking DJ’s and MC’s. If you’ve got 3 gigs in one night it’s a good look.

Nikki Beatnik curated the exclusive launch of Relentless Energy Drink’s ‘Apple & Kiwi’ flavour, www.relentlessenergy.com

November 1, 2012

Copywrite: Exclusive lyricism at its best [Interview]

Shireen from Flavour talks hip hop with Ohio’s Copywrite, an rapper who has brought together artists from the UK and US for his brand new album ‘God Save The King’  (Proper English Version)’, released 13th June. We talk about the hip hop scene in Colombus, Ohio, his reputation as a battle MC, and working with the UK’s finest MC’s.

How did your journey as a hip hop MC begin?

I actually started off by accidentally freestyling, spur of the moment in my friend’s basement, while he banged on the table and recorded it into a boom box. This was in 1990/1991 I was about 13/14; people in the neighborhood heard it and told me to keep going. They said it was good which we knew it wasn’t, but at the time and for people that we knew thought it sounded decent.  After that we thought lets try and write something.

Tell me about your early days with Megahertz?

Basically we started in Columbus, Ohio, Megahertz went through a few different phases with different members, but we were just a group of kids who really wanted to make a career out of it and go worldwide with it. We got a good response locally in Ohio and in Columbus, and we hoped the rest of the world would feel the same way the people locally did. We took it a little bit further every year.

You come from Ohio, what is the hip hop scene like out there?

It’s cool you’ve got a lot of people from out here who made a name for themselves. We’ve got Blueprint, Illogic; we have ten worldwide acts from Ohio, Columbus from the same area who just did their own thing on their own merit without help.  It’s quite a hip hop scene out here, the only downfall is we don’t have that many venues to perform at, so most of us go out of state to do our shows. Artistically it’s an incredible place, its birthed a whole lot of great artists and it continues to do so.  There are a lot of people on the come up, new artists that are just getting their names known.

As an MC what do you think is the most important to have; content, delivery, wordplay or flow’?

Flow. You can have the best lyrics in the world, but if you don’t have flow who would want to listen. I’ve heard some MC’s that don’t have the greatest lyrics in the world, but their flow is nice, so they’re listenable. Personally I cant listen to an MC if he doesn’t have timing.

You’ve got a reputation as a battle MC. How do you prepare yourself mentally?

I’ve never really prepared myself; I just go out there. In my earlier days I was just so hungry, and so angry, angry that other people were rapping so good. This was coming from when I was like an arrogant little 19/20 year old, and I would just have an arsenal of my legitimate thoughts. It was already there, these were the thoughts I had trapped in my head, and I was ready to direct them to whoever I thought was in the way or a lesser opponent. I’ve been doing it for so long, but there’s a time and a place for the cockiness and arrogance, which is important to but you learn that along the way. The studio and the stage is the only place for it.

What proportion of your battles is pre prepared and what is off the top of your head on the day?

When I battle it all it is off the top of my head. I wouldn’t go in there with any pre-written or pre-thought out stuff. I would throw all my thoughts in right then and then.

Can you remember a punchline that destroyed your opponent? 

There was a 50 Cent show I did and Jay Z was there, Just Blaze was the judge and there was a kid named Skyscraper and I said, “This aint event fair game, if you’re a skyscraper I’m the Taliban in an airplane.” It was like a crowd of 10,000 they all went crazy.

Which international battlers really stand out to you and why?

There’s a dude names Dirtbag Dan from San Jose, he does a lot of Grind Time battles, I like him because he has a different approach. He has all the basics an MC should have, but he has random stuff and will sometimes come off like a stand up comedian. He’s really good and really funny.

You’ve worked with various UK MC’s in the past. What initially led you to work with MC’s from across the Atlantic?

Early on in my career I got the chance to work with different cats. We went on our first tour in 1998, and Creative from Denmark was one of the first people we worked with. A kid named Formula 1 from Sweden we worked with. I learned early on that everyone has skill. Slick Rick was always one of my favourite MC’s, and to me he’s one of the top MC’s and he hasn’t fallen off. That always blew my mind, and people don’t really stop and think where Slick Rick’s from. As far as me being an Italian, a white dude or whatever, in the same manner I didn’t want people to discriminate against me for being white, I never discriminated against other MC’s for being from different countries. Music’s very transcending and I’ve always seen that.

On your forthcoming album you work with UK MC’s such as Genesis Elijah, Context, SAS, Bigz, Dru Blu and Akala. Why have you continued to develop this relationship with MC’s from the UK?

I think it’s just something different and I feel like with the Internet we have a real bridge. We speak the same language the only thing different is the slang and the accents. This border between us (the US) and the UK is real silly at this point. There’s a lot of politics in music, but I’m just really trying to show people there are a lot of talented people out there, and it doesn’t matter where they’re from. What I like about Context is his flow is real smooth and he has lyrics and he’ll rhyme in particular parts that you don’t expect to hear. Genesis Elijah is real raw and energetic and I always like that. SAS is real street with it. I like the kid Bigz a lot because he has a lot of punchlines and energy and bounces all over the meat. He’s really really dope, I get a really live visual when I hear him. Akala, just forget it that dude’s crazy.

You also feature a lot of US heavyweights. Why the decision to have so many features? 

A lot of people I’m really cool with in the industry, and it was a strategy of mine to get people to pay attention to the MC’s that they may not otherwise pay attention to. I’ve been doing this long enough to know the games that people play. I’m not really into the whole names thing, I base it on talent. I figure if I throw me and Royce and Genesis on a song, people are going to hear it. People are going to listen to it and it might open up their eyes to an artist they otherwise wouldn’t have paid attention to.

Do you think by having such a mixture of UK and US artists that your album becomes fully trans Atlantic or will one side still favor it?

I honestly think it will be trans Atlantic, I think both people will dig it. A lot of people out here really like the song I did with SAS and they’re not pressured into the fact their from the UK, there is no negative feedback. I don’t see how an accent can get in the way of people enjoying the music.

After the album, do you still intend to work with artists from all over the world?

Yes. It’s pretty much an ongoing thing. I get a kick out of putting people onto new artists. My biggest dream would be to do a song with Radiohead.

What is next for Copywrite?

Were working on the Megahertz record with RJD2 and the rest of the group. Our brother passed away from cancer, we’re doing it in honour of him, a tribute to him. We never got the chance to make a proper full length so that what were trying to do.

October 18, 2012

Sincere [Interview]

With a solid, loyal underground buzz behind him and the highly-successful releases of the ‘Ain’t Nobody Like You’ and ‘Deju Vu’ in his pocket, rapper Sincere is gearing up for a momentous 2013. The Wrap Up’s Shireen Fenner went down to the Red Bull studios in London to chat to the rapper and entrepreneur about his clothing line, career progression and crossing over genres for his upcoming album…

The Wrap Up: Hi Sincere! So, how would you apply the definition of Sincere to your personality and your music?

Sincere: I can apply it to my personality because I would say I’m a loyal friend and a good person. I tend to tell the truth 99% of the time. I mostly say things that I mean. In terms of my music, I don’t think I’ve ever lied in a song – ever, ever ever! I’m a sincere person.

TWU: When you were younger you were called Little D, right?

Sincere: Yeah, but then I wasn’t little anymore, so it was like, ‘how can you be called Little D when you’re taller than everyone in the room?!’ I changed my name when I watched the film ‘Belly’; I think Nas was in the film, he had the same white Avirex jacket as me and everyone was like ‘ahh you look like Nas in ‘Belly’ – he was called Sincere in the film.

TWU: You came into the scene at a very young age, featuring on a track with Skinnyman. How do you think you have matured as an artist?

Sincere: I was still in school at that time; I had one verse on the song and I wrote the chorus. The music was totally different; this was before Channel U and 1Xtra – before it was what it was. I’ve definitely progressed and the sound has moved forward; I’ve become a better artist now. I understand music a lot better; I’m more involved from the beginning stages of a record, from before the production is even made.

TWU: How do you think the music industry has changed since then and what is the most important thing you have learnt?

Sincere: Consistency. Anytime anyone asks me what advice I would give to an up-and-coming artist, I would say just stay consistent. It has changed because we’ve got things like Twitter – it’s one of the most amazing things. The other day I saw that a kid’s display picture was a picture of me and they had a caption saying ‘Sincere is the best…’ I mean, wow, you couldn’t see that before! Now it’s so instant and you’re so much more direct with the fans. There is so much more power in the artist’s hands, whereas before you could only get the spotlight on radio or TV.

TWU: Your last track ‘Ain’t Nobody like You’ was very well received. Can you talk us through the new one, ‘Déjà Vu’?

Sincere: I would describe ‘Déjà vu’ as the big sister of ‘Ain’t Nobody Like You’. Not an older brother, because an older brother would come in shouting. The older sister is bigger and more authoritative. It’s a bit classier and a bit more polished; but you can still hear that the tracks are related. That’s what me and Kidbass aimed to do; we didn’t want to lose anybody who like ‘Aint Nobody Like You’, but we opened up the sound to a wider audience.

TWU: Kidbass is a longtime collaborator of yours. Do you think it is crucial working with someone who knows you well?

Sincere: Yes. I think I’ve been lucky. If I didn’t have Kidbass it would probably be different. Look at Drake and how he works with [his producer] 40; you know that it is a Drake record. You can’t get that sound unless you go to 40 and he doesn’t really give out that sound. That’s what working with your own producer has allowed me to do; it is dope, because no one can have my sound.

TWU: What do you think ultimately sets apart British hip-hop from US hip-hop?

Sincere: Hip-hop was made in America by a Jamaican person. British hip-hop is probably grime in its purest form, if you look at it. That is Britain’s version of hip-hop. The accent, the production… we have a much more diverse music scene here, whether it be D&B, house, garage, grime, hip-hop – in one day, a British person can listen to so many different genres and styles of music.

TWU: You have collaborated with many artists from the UK. Who do you really rate and who do you predict is next to blow?

Sincere: I rate a lot of artists – I love UK music. Probably one of my favourite rappers on 140bpm would be Scorcher or Ghetts… G FrSh, Wretch, Chip… and I like Sneakbo; he’s sick, he’s got his own style. Next to blow? There are a lot of young cats coming up like Krept & Konan, Yungen, Cashtastic – they’re all dope. I can’t predict whose next to blow though, I’m not Nostradamus, I’m just Sincere. [laughs]

TWU: You also run your own clothing line, ‘XYE’. How did this come about and how involved are you?

Sincere: I am really involved – down to picking the materials. I met these guys, the House of Billiam – they run a clothing company based in Shoreditch. I sat down with them and spoke about the idea of making a clothing company. My record company is called Young Entrepreneurs; that where the ‘YE’ comes from. The ‘X’ comes from maths – it can mean anything, it’s ever changing. I want to be about a lifestyle, because I came up watching people like P.Diddy and Jay-Z – for them, it was always more about a lifestyle as opposed to just one song.

TWU: Can you tell us something about yourself that no one else knows?

Sincere: I have a stutter, but you wouldn’t know that from hearing my music. I have a stutter when I speak, I’ve had it since I was a little kid and not many people know.

TWU: Is there an album in the pipeline anytime soon?

Sincere: My album is called ‘Yours Sincerely’ – that will be out in the middle of 2013. I’ve been recording with a few great artists such as Wretch 32 and Popcan; we’ve got a big song coming out soon. It’s sounding very futuristic and we’re crossing genres – dangerously sometimes! Put on ‘Déjà Vu’ and then play Wacka Flocka ‘Hard In The Paint’ – you can dance the same way. You don’t realize, but you can. We are crossing genres like that and hoping it will be successful.