Posts tagged ‘interview’

September 23, 2013

Lunar C Talks Good Times and Dead Brain Cells, Yorkshire Talent and Bold Twitter Statements [Interview]

Lunar C is well known for his battling days with the coveted Don’t Flop where although he only did 6 battles he won all of them leaving undefeated. Following on from the release of his 2012 mixtape ‘SewerSideSex’, he is back to show a more deep and personal side to him with his new EP ‘Good Times and Dead Brain Cells’.

You are due to release your EP ‘Good Times and Dead Brain Cells’ in a few weeks. Tell us how you have far you have come from the 2012 release of ‘Sewer Side Sex’ and how this shows your development as an artist.

It’s come a long way, there’s a lot more deep, personal stuff on there. I just think overall it’s a lot more better, a lot more personal, the things I talk about and the subjects I touch on and the concepts. There’s a good mix of stuff, I reckon it’s an all round improvement on my other material.

Can you go into more detail the personal subject matters you talk about?

There’s a track called ‘Good Times and Dead Brain Cells’ it’s a loose concept about life and embodies what I mean when I say good times and dead brain cells. It explains what the concept is talking about; you kind of have to listen to it to know what I mean. There’s another one on there called ‘Contradict’ which is about how I contradict myself a lot, and how I look at things differently when I’m in different moods. It shows how I’m a bit egotistical and self depreciative at the same time, all the things about my personality that contradict each other.

Do you find it hard delving into your personal life and exposing yourself?

It’s new to me I’ve never really done that, especially with battles and stuff I usually keep things like that close to my chest so I don’t give anyone any ammo. It’s not the most natural thing to me in the world but I definitely enjoy it.

Your working with a lot of really strong upcoming artists such as Mic Righteous and Scrufizzer, what other collaborations can we see on the EP?

There’s not a lot of MC’s on the EP. I got them two on the track because they’re my favourite two new UK rappers at the moment. Other than that I’ve just got Orifice Vulgatron from Foreign Beggars who I’ve been a fan of since I was young with Pete Cannon and Wizard on production.

Was there any decision to not choose more established artists?

I did try and get one other artist on there who is kind of big but the collab didn’t happen, so I’m not going to lie and say I purposely didn’t try and get big artists on there. It was never the intention to have big names on it in the first place. It’s more about who sounds good on the track.

Not many names come to mind when I think of MCs from Bradford. Has your initial success inspired more of a scene in Yorkshire, and is there anyone from your neck of the woods you think we should look out for?

There’s kind of a movement going on up north in West Yorkshire everyone called it WY, they have t-shirts like the Yankees one but instead of NY it’s WY, a lot of people are pushing that. There’s quite a few artists doing their thing like Chief Wiggs, Minus, people in my crew Fly Tippers. DS Fam who have been doing there things for a long time. Craze Nott have got a new project coming out which should be amazing. Everybody also look out for Jack Flash he’s going to be doing some massive stuff soon.

A lot of rappers in the battling scene stay there and don’t really make ‘tracks’. Did you always know that you weren’t going to stay on that scene forever?

It was always the plan, I did music before battling so it was always just a thing where it was just to get me some hype for my music. I was always aware of the fact that battlers always get caught in the loop of just having to battle until they fall off and they become irrelevant and never really do anything with the hype that they have gained. I always wanted to do what Eminem and Professor Green have done; they actually used the hype for their music and actually got somewhere. They didn’t get eaten up by the battle scene and that’s what I aimed for.

That’s what propelled you into the limelight and got you recognition so will you ever return?

I don’t think I will ever return I’m grateful for what it’s done, but I always saw it for what it was. Myself and the people that run it Eurgh, we always had a clear understanding of why I was there, I was always there to promote my music. Admittedly I only wanted to do one battle but I ended up doing 6 because there was a demand for it..

You said this statement on Twitter “I can’t lie theres MC’s I rate but cant listen to coz I think they are a b*****d”. Is there anyone in particular this applies to for you especially in the UK. Don’t you think there music is more important then their personality or do you think artists have to have image, personality and music?

Yes but I don’t want to say there name and give them promo because there a b*****d. I think people took what I said on Twitter a bit too personal. I don’t have to personally no or like someone to rate their music, that’s not what I was saying at all. I just think there are some artists who have a really s**t attitude towards what they are doing, and when that shines through in your music and your actually talking with that perspective in your music it just ruins it for me. Dudes who are clearly from a rough place who have been doing grime music and rapping about guns and knives for years but now there an established artist, they don’t need to still be proving that that’s who they are. It’s not positive for anyone, there’s a time and place to talk about violent stuff, I’m all for that I do it myself, if deep down that’s all your trying to promote and prove to people your some road guy, it’s a s**t attitude to have, that just makes me hate some artists. 

You’ve always come out with some quite funny stuff on Twitter, does this ever get you hate, what kind of reaction do you get?

I think most people no I don’t take myself too seriously and I’m winding people up. Some people do take what I say seriously though. I said something like “real rappers take heroin” and I’ve been getting questions about whether I take heroin. I put the worst things up sometimes just to make people talk and it works. Real rappers don’t take heroin by the way!

Apart from yourself who in the UK hip hop/rap scene do you think deserves to blow and why?

Jack Flash he’s been doing a lot of stuff that people aren’t taking notice of, but I think soon they will. Mic Righteous, Scrufizzer. I rate Remus he’s Farma G’s son, Chester P’s nephew, there UK hip hop legends. Now he’s a bit older he’s doing his own thing, I reckon he will be one of the sickest artists. I’ve done a track with Remus and the Rascals on their EP so look out for that.

 *Published on SBTV on 18th September 2013.
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

September 2, 2013

MTV The Wrap Up: Cashtastic [Interview]

Cashtastic is a rapper who over the years has developed a sizable fanbase, and even a publishing deal with Universal. Seeing his growth and determination to succeed really does prove that hard work leads to triumph…

Now he is in the studio with people like Esmee Denters. “I’m with her now. It’s just music. I’m just experimenting and trying to see what I can do; her vocals are crazy. We met through the label, my A&R just lined it up, it was a good move and I’m enjoying it.”

Speaking on the publishing deal with Universal, a massive step in an artist’s career, we discussed the advantages. “I can access a bigger and wider range of producers and songwriters. Not necessarily better than the ones I had before, but I was limited to what I could do. Evidently, since I’ve signed the publishing deal, I’ve made some massive records that I couldn’t have made unless I was in these sessions with these producers and songwriters.”

He has an EP coming out soon that he says will include “tracks that I had already been working on. It was inevitable I needed to put out a project anyway for the New Year. I didn’t want to do another mixtape so soon, and I haven’t done an EP, so it was the perfect time to get that out.”

Currently also working on his debut album, it’s too early to say exactly what’s in store – but Cash does know one thing. “It will be epic, I hate to sound cliché, but it will be epic. You have to expect the unexpected, it’s going to open a lot of ears and a lot of eyes. It won’t be out this year, for the rest of this year I will be working on it.”

We went back to an earlier phase of his career, to a mixtape he put out called ‘A Lil Bit Of Cash’, which for me was something that really got people talking about him.

“The release of ‘A Lil Bit Of Cash’ was important to me. I always look back at that [and] I don’t regret not embracing it, but I feel like I could have embraced it a bit more. A bit with the Universal deal as well. One thing with me – my gift and my curse – is because I love working so much, I always get tied up in working on the next thing rather than embracing the moment.

“When ‘A Lil Bit Of Cash’ came out, it was a great thing – I was 17 and my CD was in HMV, my music video was playing on BETMTV… everyone was telling me and I knew it was going on, but I was like ‘what’s the next project, let me work.’”

He gives some advice to other artists about consistency, and that doesn’t mean putting out a track every week, it just means being relevant.

“I think to stay consistent you have to know how to pace yourself. It’s about understanding that your music isn’t enough sometimes. With me, there have been times when I haven’t put out songs but I’m still relevant, because I’m either at this event or doing this show, or I’m on this blog or that magazine. There are times I don’t put out music but it doesn’t mean I’m not working on music.

“With social media, a lot of artists are quite closed with exposing what they are doing, but I feel like that helps with consistency as well; because if you’re not releasing music but you’re on Instagram and Twitter and you’re not giving people something to look forward to, then they’re not going to know.”

We move on to talk about women – as Cash is a bit of a ladies man, I’m sure lots of girls out there want to know what he looks for in a woman. “Obviously I like a pretty woman, but primarily I like a girl with a good personality. I’m very bubbly and I’m not saying a girl has to be bubbly for me and her to be together, but she has to have a sense of humour, because I tell a lot of jokes.

“If I’m telling jokes and she’s not laughing then I’m going to feel unappreciated. I love a girl that has a good sense of humour, dress sense and ambition, and knows exactly what she wants to accomplish in life. Even if she doesn’t know exactly how she is going to do it, just the fact she wants to do something with her life.”

Would he date a fan? “Yes I would. My choice with that may change as my career goes up but at this current moment I probably would. I feel like she would appreciate me.”

So girls, have a sense of humour and make him feel appreciated… oh, and he likes Janelle Monae, Beyonce and Selena Gomez!

*published 25th July 2013

July 26, 2013

MTV The Wrap Up: Raekwon [Interview]

The Wrap Up caught up with the Wu-Tang Clan’s own Raekwon as the crew get ready to come to the UK in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of their monumental debut album ‘Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’. The record brought East Coast rap to permanent prominence, influenced the careers of artists from Jay Z to Nas and pushed hardcore hip-hop into the face of the mainstream. Simply put – they are your favourite rapper’s favourite rappers.

We gave Raekwon a call at his hotel in Milan during the clan’s tour through Europe, and the lyricist was in high spirits. He said of their forthcoming UK performances: “It feels good to come to the UK ‘cause we don’t get to come too often. We felt it was important for us to do an international tour and talk about the twenty years that we’ve been in the business – and of course, perform.”

Wu-Tang Clan members GZARZAMethod ManGhostface Killah, Masta Killa, U-GodInspectah Deck, Raekwon (and not forgetting the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who passed away in 2004) have been a collective for over twenty years; a long time in an industry that sees groups split frequently.

“You know, we brothers. We’re able to still have that respect for one another and love each other. Of course, we grew up in the business together, and everything’s been cool. But the politics and the business side of things – we have to protect ourselves when it comes to business, you know what I mean?

“Personally it’s been good but with business, we’re still learning and it’s important for everyone’s business to be right.”

Speaking of their upcoming album which was said to be called ‘A Better Tomorrow’, Raekwon revealed: “The name might change. It was a name that RZA wanted, but we all agreed that it might change. We’re still trying to sort out the production side of things; we still got a lot of stuff we need to do. We don’t wanna rush something that’s not what it’s meant to be. We taking our time right now.”

The crew will be performing in Manchester on July 25 at the O2 Apollo, and will then come to Brixton Academy on July 26 before performing at Bestival on September 5.

Mic Righteous is supporting the south London show. We asked the ‘Ice Cream’ artist to share his thoughts on UK rappers.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of guys getting strong with their music out there [in the UK] and it’s a good thing, because believe it or not, a lot of production that comes to the States are made by international artists and producers. Everyone is starting recognise hip-hop for what it is – one nation. Everybody’s growing, you know what I mean?”

Moving forward, not only can we expect a record from the collective, their first since ‘8 Diagrams’ in 2007, but we can also expect solo projects from the clique.

“I got an album coming out possibly at the end of the year called ‘Fly International Luxurious Art’. I’m still working on it right now and I feel good about it. Because it’s our twentieth anniversary, there’s gonna be multiple projects coming up from the whole of Wu this year.”

You can get tickets to see the Wu-Tang Clan HERE.

May 12, 2013

MTV The Wrap Up – Context [Interview]

Four years ago in 2008, Context released his debut EP ‘Dialectics’ with Huw Stephens, revealing his first track to the world on BBC Radio 1. This was a fantastic start in his journey as a music artist, and he later went on to win MTV’s Brand New Unsigned Artist competition in 2012. Now the narrative story-telling MC is back with new single ‘1.4 at 12’ – he talks The Wrap Up’s Shireen Fenner through his sound, going to university and what’s next for him…

The Wrap Up: What was the foundation to your journey as an MC? 

Context: I was always really into rap music in a major way. I moved out of home when I was 19 and I was working in a call centre; I just started messing around, writing tracks to talk about what I was experiencing. I just did songs about living in a ropey house, having a ropey job, but also having a really amazing time with my mates.

Of course, as I’ve got older and experienced more, I have more and more to write about; but at its core, my music has a thread running through it, and I guess that thread is me – exploring what it means to be a young man from a small town. I guess exploring parochialism and everything that comes with it.

TWU: Your sound is very unique, mixing dubstep productions with hip-hop and indie sounds. How did your sound develop?  

Context: It just came from the fact that I’m into a lot of different stuff; but the main reason is a bit more conceptual I think. The whole of idea of being unashamedly yourself is something I’m really keen on. People like Giggs or Drake; they just do exactly what they want musically. Whether you like them or not, you can’t deny that. I rate that a lot.

TWU: Where does the influence for your sound and lyrics come from? 

Context: My influence is my life and the life of my mates. I felt like “Urban Music”, for lack of a better term, didn’t speak to us at all. All our life we grew up on hip-hop and grime, but apart from The Streets, we never related to the artists in the genre. We’re not living in the hood, but we’ve not got any money either. Who speaks for us? Who tells people how large amounts of young people live, well, at least the young people I know anyway, day to day? I felt like I had to do that and do it honestly.

TWU: How do you feel about being called a ‘game changer’? 

Context: It’s great. All I really ever wanted to do was tell our story. I wanted to take the music that I loved and grew up on, but use it to tell people about how we live. Everyone loves to listen to the stories of people in far off lands like Queensbridge or the Marcy projects. When you live in Norwich, London is glamorous too! Like when we heard ‘Boy in the Corner’ – what did we know about Bow? It’s a different world to ours. So if people like the fact that I’m changing the focus of attention to different groups of people, I think that’s great.

TWU: Whilst you were releasing a lot of material, you were at university. Wasn’t it hard to balance the two?

 

Context: It’s a doubled edged sword. Of course it slows you down, but uni is the ONLY reason I can make music, that’s a simple fact. How else would I live day to day? I can’t live with my parents; my dad’s in Scotland and mums in Manchester. My student loan IS my income. Music is an incredibly expensive hobby. It’s like a full-time job that pays no money in the short term. I would always tell people to go to uni if it’s right for them.

TWU: Your new track ‘1.4 at 12’ was just recently unleashed to the public – Tell us about the track.

Context: I was driving around Norwich on a Saturday night going over to my mates. I started writing down all the things I was seeing; a guy bleeding outside a kebab shop, ‘rudeboys’ in maxed out cars, couples arguing… I started thinking about the track ‘Aston Martin Music’ and was just like; the whole ethos of that track has nothing to do with our lives. It’s meaningless to us. This is our life. And honestly, it’s great! Who else is chatting about this? The song basically wrote itself.

TWU: What is Context up to this year?

Context: I’ve just dropped ‘1.4 at 12’ and the video for that. There are a series of remixes dropping in the next few weeks too. Then I’ve got an EP of entirely new material dropping in April or May called ‘Lacked Capital’. I think there will be another single from that EP too. The plan then will be to start getting everyone ready for the album, which is mostly written now. I’ve also got some amazing live dates happening this year too!

Words: Shireen Fenner (@Shireenxoxo)

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

MTV The Wrap Up: Kof [Interview]

KOF is not only a singer full of soul but a writer, producer and director of his own videos, amongst other talents. After releasing the ‘An Alternative Soul’ EP, the artist from Liverpool has now given his fans some free tracks in the format of three downloads – ‘SOUL: Love, Life and Live’. The Wrap Up’s Shireen Fenner caught up with the lovely KOF in London to talk about how personal his music is, his upcoming tour and the forthcoming debut album…

The Wrap Up: It’s been a couple of years since you last spoke to us. Tell us briefly what has happened in those few years…

KOF: I’ve totally changed my music style. I’ve worked with a bunch of different artists from Wiley to Terri Walker to Manu Bibango. People seem to be respecting me as a songwriter, producer and as an artist a lot more.

TWU: Your lyrics always possess realism which many people can relate to. Is it hard to let people into your life and do you ever feel like your privacy has been invaded?

KOF: I don’t talk that much about the stuff I go through, so music is my platform for me to do that. If I’m going through something and someone else is going through the same kind of thing and they hear someone singing about how they deal with that situation, it’s going to be beneficial to that person. On ‘Soul: Life’ there is a track called ‘My Child’ where I talk about the situation of an unplanned pregnancy and how that can affect someone from a male’s perspective. That’s one of the deepest songs I’ve written. I haven’t even told the person who it’s about that I’ve written the song.

TWU: We know music isn’t your only talent. For those who don’t know, tell us more about the versatile KOF and what other talents you have.

KOF: I’m into art; modern art. I love to edit videos, all my own stuff; I find it hard letting other people do it. I’ve written one script called ‘Dark Star Rising’ which was an amalgamation of a bunch of my songs; we put them into one story for a youth theatre group based in Liverpool.

TWU: The last time I saw you perform live, you had the audience in a trance. Do you get nervous with so many faces all looking at you and how important are live shows for you?

KOF: I always get nervous before a show. If I do get nervous before a show, I will always have a good show. When I don’t have nerves and I’m on a kind of cocky vibe I usually f**k up or I don’t have a good show. Live shows are very important, especially with the new music I’m making where I’m talking about the different things that have happened in my life – I’m able to connect so much better with the audience.

TWU: Speaking of live shows, you have your ‘An Alternative Soul’ Tour approaching. What can we expect from the show?

KOF: There are a couple of surprises; Terri Walker will be performing on the Birmingham date and she is going to pop up at a few different shows. I’m trying to bring out a few different people from each city I go to. You’re definitely going to get a few previews from the album; there is a track called ‘Never Sober’, which will be the first time I’ve played the guitar on a track.

 

TWU: You’re in the process of releasing a series of free EP’s ‘Soul: Love, Life and Live’. What was the motive behind this?

KOF: Just to connect with the audience and for those who supported ‘An Alternative Soul’, it was to give them a snapshot of where I am since then. I recorded most of the records earlier on this year, so musically now I’m in a different, improved space. We wanted to put some kind of structure behind it, which is why we split it into ‘Love, Life and Live’. ‘Love’ isn’t the soppy kind of love – it’s a different aspect of love, ‘Life’ is a bit introspective and ‘Live’ is the studio and acoustic stuff.

TWU: What can expect from the upcoming album?

KOF: I’ve written some stuff for Benny Banks and I’ve worked with Ratlin and Nutty P. ‘Dirty Love’ with Sam Frank is one that stands out more than anything, so I’m still trying to look at creating records that can complement it because I really love that song. In terms of song writing, expect that same realism, positive and socially in-depth. The first single should be coming out before the tour, but I don’t think I’m ready [to release the album] so I’m going to push it back and it will be out early next year.

TWU: You have some international releases as well; tell us a little more about them.

KOF: A couple of years ago there was a label in France called Border Blaster, they heard one of my tracks called ‘All Good’ and they wanted to sign it, but it never happened. After they heard ‘Be Like You’ and ‘Child Of The Ghetto’, they called me over and wanted to distribute the album through Europe over over different territories. We went over to Cannes earlier on this year, did a couple of live showcases and sealed the deal. Now we will be releasing a deluxe version of ‘An Alternative Soul’ on November 19, so were having a launch in Paris for that and the following week in Amsterdam.

TWU: Nice! Finally, where do you see your career in the future?

KOF: More collaborations and more experiences that I can turn into music again. That’s all I can ever see myself doing, anything that’s in touch or attached to music. I really do want to write a lot more songs for other artists. I feel if I give myself time, I can get into the headspace of another artist, whoever that may be and actually create a good song for them that means something to them and their audience. I just want to make everything I’m doing better; the production and videos – I just want to push myself.

 Published on 15th Nov 2012
Tags: , , , , ,
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

April 14, 2013

Lay Z Brings Us Lobster [Interview]

Lay Z is a grime MC affiliated with BBK. He has recently just dropped his Lobster EP which is 9 tracks deep and features Scratchy from Roll Deep, P Money, Footsie from Newham Generals and more. Shireen from Flavour talks to him about the EP, how he met BBK and started to make music with them, Lord of the Mics and what other projects are in the pipeline.

For those who don’t know about you tell us how you got into music and became affiliated with BBK?

I always knew JME and I always knew Shorty because they went to my school even though they’re older than me I knew them as bredrins. Skepta went to my school but he was a lot older than me, when he was in Year 11 I was in Year 7. As me and Frisco got closer he brought me round them lot, because I already knew them we already had a friendship anyways aside from music. That’s how we started and got close, we just did more together as bredrins and then the music came into it. We made tunes together, went studio more. I’m not in Boy Better Know, there’s 7 MC’s in Boy Better Know, that’s the frontline. I’m the Boy Better Know family, that’s my family.

As a group how do BBK function and work together?

The Boy Better Know album I’m going to be on there. When it comes to the Boy Better Know Frontline there’s 7 MC’s, then there’s producers, I’m in the family. When it comes to stage shows I’ll be there, videos I’m there. It’s difficult to explain, it seems like I’m in it.

As a whole how well do you think the grime scene is doing and what do you think about the current state of it?

I think it’s good, it’s more professional now, its more business minded. It’s not really just about I just want to get my tune out now, I just want to make a tune and just let everyone hear it on the radio, it’s actually I just want to make a tune and make money out of it. How can I get it playlisted? How can I get it on TV? Before it wasn’t really looked at like an avenue I can live off. It wasn’t a scene I could make a career out of it, it was more I’m having fun with it, its giving me a little bit of money. There’s elements that’s been taken out because everyone is trying to be so professional. The rowdiness of it has gone; people actually care too much about what other people are going to think. Before grime was a thing where I’m doing it how I want do it, if you don’t like it you don’t like it. I think the way it’s developing it’s got its positives and negatives. Its growing to a wider scale now, it’s more accepted overall, but at the same time there’s elements missing because of that now.

Your new EP is out ‘Lobster’ why did you decide to call it this and tell us about the tracks on there?

I went to a restaurant one time and there was a lobster dish there, and the lobster was about £150 and I was thinking all these people talk about yea they can buy this and that but they can’t even afford the lobster when they go out. I put that in a bar something like ‘Every other guy wants to act like they’re balling, but they can’t go Pétrus and order the lobster’, when I sprayed that bar in Rinse one time with all of the mandem, they all went crazy, Shorty, JME, Skepta. Then all of the supporters went mad, I kind of got known for that bar. I thought let me call my EP that. The third track is ‘Come Around’ the single that I’ve just done featuring JME and Shorty. I’ve got a tune called ‘Outside Ting’ which is a bit controversial, but for those that know just know it’s obviously a bar from Lord Of The Mics 3. ‘Highlife’ is my favourite personal tune produced by Skepta and it’s got a guy called Matt Devenport singing, that’s what I’m banking on to be my proper single.

You seem to have a lot of features on the EP, who do you decide who to work with?

I decide to work with people simply if I rate you. I wont work with you if I don’t personally rate you. I’ve got a tune called ‘Another MC Gone’ which is the last track it features Scratchy from Roll Deep, P Money and Kozzie, all three of those MC’s I rate. I like MC’s that are not big headed and gassed over themselves. Footsie is a legend to me so when I had the chance to do a tune with him I jumped at it because it’s a dream come true. Them guys Footsie, D Double, JME, and Skepta they’re all inspirations for me growing up trying to write my lyrics.

After the EP I’ve heard you’ve got a lot coming out with your brother Solo 45, can you tell us more about this.

Solo he’s got his own project coming out ‘Phantom Addition’, me and him we’ve got a tune coming out that’s going to be on that, which is a very big tune. We’ve got another tune after that a single coming out hopefully next year. All I can say is it’s going to be massive, it’s going to cross the borders, it features another artist from Roll Deep and its got a signer on the hook.

Your also working on an EP with Frisco what’s going on with that?

Me and Fris started working on an EP about 6 months ago, we started a few tunes. The supporters have been asking for one for a very long time, so we thought lets do it. We didn’t want to rush it so were taking time with it, whenever it happens it happens. It’s definitely going to happen next year 100% it will be out.

Lord of the Mics is approaching, what clashes personally do you think will be interesting?

There’s JayKae and Discarda that clash is probably going to be the best clash on the DVD, I know them both there both funny. Blay vs., Fangol, Blay is a personal bredrin of mine, and I know he’s talented, he’s a very good MC so that’s going to be a good clash as well. Fangol’s good as well.

What do you think about the whole Jammer Snakeyman beef?

I think its funny; I wouldn’t even look at it as a beef. Jammer makes me laugh everyday, he’s just a character in the grime scene and that’s needed right now. I don’t know if Snakeyman is going to want to clash him, I don’t think he does. If it does happen its good if it doesn’t happen its even better, it would be peak for Snakeyman to be honest.

Are there any more projects after this that you can tell us about as a solo artist?

I’m going to be working on a free EP after the whole Lobster EP project is finished and give it as a free download. Its about time I give back to the supporters they deserve something. That’s going to be in mid 2013. At the end of 2013, I’ll give them a full mixtape because even though my EP was 9 tracks which is a lot it’s not enough for a mixtape. Then after I’ve done those two things I definitely think it will be time for my album.

Published on Nov 8th 2012

Tags: , , ,
April 14, 2013

Introducing: Charlee Drew [Interview]

Introducing Charlee Drew, a Leicester based artist who last week released his debut EP ‘You Did Me A Favour’.  Charlee started off singing cover songs and putting them onto his MySpace and YouTube pages building a strong fanbase and following, which lead Skepta to discover him. Last year he wrote, produced and sung on Skepta’s ‘Doin It Again’ album and musically directed his sold out tours. ‘You Did Me A Favour’ went straight into the Top 20 in the iTunes singer/songwriter chart based on pre-orders alone, and has been championed by 4Music and the BBC amongst others. Shireen spoke to Charlee about being from Leicester, Skepta, his EP and forthcoming album.

How would you describe your musical style?

That’s a difficult one, but I think it’s got an element of all sorts in there. It’s quite poppy, the vocals are r&b I’d say, but with a pop element to it.

You first joined a band when you were 14. What happened between then and now?

When I was in the band we toured all around the country and did lots of shows, but I got kind of fed up living in the back of a transit van. I just wanted to write music. I ended up leaving the band and just spending a lot of time in my studio writing. Skepta heard one of the tracks I had written and wanted to jump on it, so I ended up doing a track on his album last year. I went on to musically direct all of the tours that he did last year and played keys and sung on some of the live shows. We did Glastonbury, and Radio 1 Live Lounge and all sorts of stuff like that. I started work on an EP; and now were here with the EP and the single.

What was it like working with Skepta?

It was good. It was quite easy for me because he hadn’t done stuff with a band before so he was gassed to hear what we did with it. We took all the tracks he already had and made it live. He knows what he wants.

You’ve built a strong fanbase from your cover songs on YouTube. Did you ever think you would attract so many people?

I hoped, I definitely hoped I’d attract so many people, and I still hope that I attract more. You can’t get complacent. I’ve done my best.

Being from Leicester did you ever see a disadvantage or advantage to not growing up in the music hub of London?

I think a lot more people will say it’s a lot more difficult living in Leicester, and it is because you don’t know anybody. Then again, you’ve got social networks, you’ve got MySpace back in the day, you’ve got YouTube, Twitter, and so everything is at your fingertips. You can do it quite easily as long you keep your head in the game and know who you need to talk to and what you need to do. The only thing that holds you back is the transport costs, the fact the trains are a complete rip off.

What about the networking side of it, is it harder to meet other artists and people in the industry?

Definitely, but it does happen as things progress, as long as you know where you need to head you’re going to definitely meet people. I’ve probably got less friends in the industry than anybody that grew up in London, but at the same time it probably doesn’t hurt. You spend less time watching what your friends are doing and more time focusing on what you need to do.

You’re working on a track with another Leicester based artist Luke Bingham. How did you two meet and are you both singing on the track, or are you producing or writing for him?

Me and Luke didn’t even know each other, but were both from Leicester. He is on the same label as Skepta, so I know the guys at the label quite well and we thought we might as well hook up a session. I’ve written and produced a track for him, I think  he’s going to be using it as a single, but if not it will definitely be on the album.

Ed Sheeran and Sway have both praised your music, but who is the first celebrity to notice your talent?

It’s got to be Skepta. I’ve got him to thank for a lot like the breakthrough into the actual industry. He found me on MySpace maybe 4 years ago, and the tracks I was doing. He was the one that brought me through, he took me to his video, and we started working on some stuff, and that was my first step into the London music scene.

You’re a writer, producer and singer. Which one of these do you believe to be your strongest asset and which one will you concentrate on the most?

I think singing is probably my strongest asset. I spend more time singing than I do anything else, but obviously I want to write, I enjoy writing so much and I want to be able to write for other people, and I’m writing stuff for my own album. I want to be able to produce stuff because I need to vent. I want to focus on all of them but singing is the main focus.

You have your first release out at the moment ‘You Did Me A Favour’, can you talk us through what the tracks about and what kind of reactions you have been getting from the release?

It’s been a great reaction so far. I’ve had loads of people jumping on like 4Music, BBC, and so many people have jumped on it’s been great. The track is about a messy break up, but it’s one of those situations I think everybody has been in. They’ve been in a relationship and they think it’s great at the time, but then they come out of it and realise it’s not all that great at all. The whole concept is ‘You Did Me A Favour’ thank you for making us not be together anymore because I got out lightly.

Was it written with anyone in mind or drawing upon a personal experience in your past?

I think every song has to draw upon some personal experience to get the feeling and to get other people to relate to it. Everything has got some personal experience there.

You’ve begun working on your album. What can we expect from it?

More of the same. The whole idea of the ‘You Did Me A Favour’ EP was to kind of give people a taste of what kind of sound and what to expect from me as an artist.

What’s been the pinnacle achievement of your career so far and what do you hope to achieve with your music?

Doing Radio 1 Live Lounge was my favourite experience so far. There was 5 million people listening, and it’s the only time I’ve ever been mildly nervous before. It was the strangest feeling because you couldn’t see the 5 million people. Obviously I was there singing and playing piano, and I was being me, but it wasn’t for me. My goal right now is to get back into the Live Lounge, but do it for me.  I hope to achieve all that can be achieved.

Apart from the album, is there anything before that being released?             

I think there will be another single and a tour before the end of the year, and then the album will follow in early 2013. I won’t stop putting stuff out, whether it’s a single or a free download, there will be lots more stuff before the end of the year.

Published 25th Sep 2012