BUGGSY LEAFDOG LARGE PRO BVA LUNAR C BAILEYS BROWN BISHOP NEHRU ROC MARCIANO DOPPELGANGAZ FREDDIE GIBBS
HIP HOP, STYLE AND GRAFFITI CULTURE
JOEY BADA$$ + PRO ERA CREW EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
£3.50 | ISSUE 13 | SPRING/SUMMER 2014
0 700587 063749
0 700587 063749
DJ Fingerfood Photo by Datachump
WORDPLAY Our own rumour has it that the foretelling of the 13th edition of the biggest hip hop, graffiti and culture magazine in the UK has echoed the walls of human endeavour since the dawn of time, and/or maybe rap music. The supposed unlucky 13th edition isn’t all that unlucky really. Since the last barnstorming edition we’ve been scurrying around the hip hop world, typing, snapping and gang-signing our little Wordplay trotters to the bone to bring you the biggest and baddest release to date. Our headline cover brings an exclusive feature with ludicrously talented rap rascals JOEY BADA$$ and the whole of Pro Era Crew, alongside words and wisdom with Large Professor, bonhomie with Buggsy, a liaison with not only Leaf Dog, but a cheeky bit of BVA too, and a one on one with Bradford’s Lionel Messi , Lunar C. Not only these, other editorial features await you within include getting deep with a massive Apathy and Celph Titled interview, a letter from the prison cell of Brotherman, Ramson Badbonez, Skinny Pete from Breaking Bad (THAT guy), The Skints AND Baileys Brown. Also, the Bluntskins, Doppelgangaz, Freddie Gibbs, Half Pint, Roc Marciano. And Bishop Nehru. And Chuck Inglish and Karen B. And a graffiti piece with Bode character bad man Bonzai. All this and we’ve linked with DJ Fingerfood to drop the heaviest hip hop exclusives on a CD (remember them?!) for our subscribers only as a special thanks for patiently waiting. We’ve been ridiculously busy to bring you hip hop goodness beginning overleaf, and we’re immensely proud of our fattest edition so far. We hope you’re feeling it and keep showing the love and support to help us make the next edition even fatter. Most importantly, this edition is dedicated to the memory and family of FIRE DFM, an amazing writer who died last March. We have a special tribute to him with loads of exclusive photos and words from Skore and his crew. Rest in peace! The views expressed and the images displayed in this publication are not necessarily shared by Wordplay Magazine. All images in this magazine are not to support vandalism but to document a fast moving culture. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, copied or saved electronically without permission in writing from the publisher. Wordplay is registered in England © 2013 Wordplay Magazine
Editor – Matt Neville firstname.lastname@example.org Deputy Editor – Rikki James email@example.com Content Editor – Craig Palmer firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising - Christine Walker email@example.com Head Of Photography - Anis Ali Anis@wordplaymagazine.com Photography Kevin Foster – kevfoster.com James De Ara – jamesdeara.co.uk Nick Caro – nickcarophotography.co.uk Clem Samuel – defbristol.tumblr.com Editorials Mike Pattermore – firstname.lastname@example.org Delphina Scott - email@example.com Luke Bailey - firstname.lastname@example.org Reggae Heads Robbie – email@example.com Jack Duffield – firstname.lastname@example.org Breakin’ - Joe Downes Social Networking Guru - The Kid Avalanche Palm Contributors Abi Lewis / Jess Johns / Oscar Berkhout / Rob Luckins Mark Jorgensen / James Munro / Alex Burnard / Claire Rye Umrish Pandya / Bonzai / Sana Sigola / Adam Chester Danny Hill / Ismay Mummery / Rosie Matheson / Matt Smith Cover & Feature Photography by Robert Adam Mayer Cover Illustration - Drip Drop Bang
W O R D P L AY I S S U E T H I R T E E N
W O R D P L AY I S S U E T H I R T E E N
Contributors THE BACKBONE OF THE MAGAZINE
I think I’m the funniest person I’ve ever been. I write about hip hop, weird stuff, complaint letters, interview people etc. I once drank from a girlfriends lukewarm morning hot water bottle when too hungover to move. Media wang.
Rudi Minto de Wijs
My names Rudi, I’ve never received any messages however. No Special ones anyway. I write because I love it and I feel it’s my most valid form of expression. I have two hamsters called Robert De Niro and Graham, they are both my biggest inspirations. It takes a little to realise a lot, so take your feet out the ocean and start swimming.
My pen is my weapon of choice! For what it’s worth, I’ve been a Hip Hopper since birth. I bring innovation to the interview game, ain’t bored an artist yet...
Mike Pattemore Umrish Pandya
Born and raised in the promiscuous plains of Essexyland, all my spare time is devoted to Mother Music and her devilish daughter Miss Hip Hop. I like my tea hot, my beer cold, my bacon crispy and my pasta al dente. I’m a liberty-loving communitarian; a community-building libertarian; an evergently, banter-friendly, smile-aplenty former vegetarian.
Aged nine I won the hip-hop music award at school. I’ve been hooked ever since. Based between London and Hawaii with beats soundtracking my travels, I’m always armed with my camera, snapping and interviewing global cool cats.
Got recruited to keep an eye on Anis when he’s out poking his lense at people and been stuck here ever since. I also scribble words to a certain degree and have a re-occurring trainer habit.
Luke Bailey Nick Caro Abi Lewis
My name is Abi. I once winded my best friend at school for mocking the music I was listening to- I think that pretty much sums up my passion. I write about music because it deserves to be documented, I listen to music because it just makes sense.
I’m a freelance photographer with a long connection to the UK’s reggae sound system scene. I love: Vinyl, clean lenses, AAA passes, warm valves, the smell of spray paint, Akzidenz-Grotesk, One Drop, dubplates, a firm mattress, Auto Save, the money shot, Sir David Attenborough, feedback, remembering where I left it, and my whanau.
Luke “Messenger Menace” Bailey is the co-capo responsible for the internationally known Hip-Hop hub, Conspiracy Worldwide Radio (http://www.conspiracyblog. net). He also co-hosts it’s flagship show, The Friday Night Live Show and writes for Cardiff based magazine THC. Strangely he looks like his girlfriend’s Dog.
The tail-end of 2013 saw the trigger-tongued Buggsy bless the world with the second instalment of his “Great Escape” series. After an afternoon of hitting the streets of Bristol and deliberating between Dunks and Jordans, Wordplay sat down with the Gizzle and reflected on his journey so far…
Azizi Gibson THIS WORLD WE LIVE IN HAS GOT ME SPINNIING PHOTOGRAPHY & INTERVIEW BY ROSIE MATHESON
Gibson just wants to have fun and isn’t afraid to show it. Coming from an Army background and witnessing the harshnesses of poverty whilst traveling through Asia as a child he tells “this world we live in has got me spinning”. Azizi is now ready to relax and take things in his stride. Azizi’s consistent flow, extended metaphors and confident voice assist him in conveying his skills, personality and realness, of which is of high importance to him. One month in from his mix tape release, over 1,000 downloads later, and fresh from a performance at LA’s Low End Theory, Azizi Gibson caught up with Wordplay Magazine to discuss his life, career so far and the future... How would you describe your sound? Very cultural. Knowing that I’ve lived all around the world, I would say it’s got a little bit from everything and everywhere, including every genre whether its rap, rock, even techno and a little bit of country. I try to combine it all together. Growing up in a variety of locations and cultures, how do you feel this has contributed to the artist you have become? I was raised most of my life in Thailand but I also lived in Zaire, Singapore and Cambodia for a little bit and I moved to America when I was almost 11 years old. I lived in Marilyn for 10 years and then moved to Los Angeles. I think it’s made me for sure. I take things so lightly because I’ve seen so many things and met so many different types of people, I just wanna live my life. I know that nothings too serious and its all about the music and having fun, that’s number one. When did you realise you wanted to be a rapper? I was around seven years old. I heard the Slim Shady song and I was like “I wanna be a rapper for sure.” I was already rapping as a kid but that was when I realised I really
wanted to do this. What is the Prehistoric Crew? Prehistoric Crew is a growing species everyday I feel. It’s something I started when I really, really got serious with music. I dropped out of college and properly started the Prehistoric Crew. It was just homies that I chilled with that made beats and rapped. Right now it’s pretty much the same just at a higher level. That’s what it forever will be. It’s called ‘Prehistoric’ ‘cause I wanna go down in history! How did you meet Steven Ellison, Flying Lotus, and become part of Brainfeeder? I met him in a gym one day. It was in a really small building complex I was staying in. He walked in and I was like “Yo do you know who flying lotus is?” and he was like “Yeah!” Then I asked him was he flying lotus and he was like “Yeah!” A week later I saw him again and I had a demo tape on me. I gave it to him and he hit me up that night! What are you inspired by? Money, women, clothing, shoes and my family living good. Everybody I know eating good. Honestly making sure everyone I truly love is smiling. Especially myself. That’s what I am pushing for everyday. Tell me about your writing process. What inspires a song? How does it feel to get down a song? It’s random every time, there’s no real process. It’s kinda like smoke weed and write a little bit here and there. “Hit a little weed then I hit a few lines.” Sometimes I write the whole verse and then sometimes I write half of it or write little bits and pieces. Some days I’ll be on so many buses and slowly I will jot down thoughts until I have a whole track. It’s really no special process, I think it’s really natural. If it’s something I really wanna talk about and the beat sounds good I just do it. I don’t even think about it. If you were stranded on an island, which 3 tracks would you take with you? I would take: Passin’ Me By - The Pharcyde Brain Damage - Slim Shady Flava In Ya Ear - Craig Mack What do you feel separates you from all other current artists? The fact that I am honestly a nerd. I am who I am and I really put it on the track whether it’s me reading or watching anime or manga. I don’t hide behind anything. I just look the way I do. If someone thinks my looks don’t match my personality and lifestyle then they are really mistaken. I do
a lot of odd things. My friends look at me like ‘woah’ what are you eating and what are you watching “It’s not even in english man.” I am just being positive to how I was raised and overall I’m just being myself. Songs you are most proud of? My favourite lyrical songs that I feel have a lot of meaning to them are Ghost in the Shell or Burning Bridges. What makes you happiest right now? Not knowing what’s next! That’s what makes me truly happy. What would you have been in a previous life? It’s hard to say. I’ve always wanted to get into some type of developing or animation. Maybe a video game developer or something like that. What would you do if you had 30 minutes left to live? I would probably bitch for like 20 minutes. (laughs) Then in the last 10 minutes I would try to find a cigarette and calm myself down! Whats does the future hold for Azizi Gibson? I’m gonna do my best to put out another solo project just like Ghost in the Shell, maybe not as long but with more of an album feel to it. There’s also gonna be more videos coming real soon!
AZIZI GIBSON INTERVIEW BY ROSIE MATHESON
AZIZI GIBSON INTERVIEW BY ROSIE MATHESON
Already rapping from a young age, perhaps the most important moment for 22 year old Azizi Gibson was venturing 8777 miles from Thailand to the United States. Here he bumped into Flying Lotus, catching his attention with hip-hop beats, mellow tones and intriguing lyrics. Within six months Azizi had earned a place on Brainfeeder. An interesting vibe is present in his music where recognizably hip-hop topics such as girls, weed and money meet and contrast against themes from Asian culture, with his mix-tape titled after popular manga series “Ghost in the Shell”. This combination of both Asian and American influences within his music separate Azizi from the crowd.
Planet Wax Discs SHAD INTERVIEW BY DELPHINA SCOTT It’s a Me, Myself and I situation. Canadian emcee Shad is stranded on Planet Saturn. There’s a space station but all communication equipment is broken beyond repair but plenty of water, oxygen and spaceship food and a pair of Technics decks & headphones. To help you survive this situation you are permitted to have the choice of the following 12 items and he has to take his pick… A book A luxury item A dvd player and x1 DVD Box set of your choice. x6 12inch vinyl’s of your choice x2 Albums of your choice For a book I’ll go with the bible - it’s long! Especially if I’m gonna be there for a long time. Also I grew up going to church so there’s a family connection so I make that connection to my roots and I think there’s a lot of different stories that could get my imagination going. Maybe get me writing some stuff. So I think if there’s a book to have forever, only one, then I’m gonna pick that one. A luxury item? That’s a difficult one, I don’t have any luxuries. The internet? (wp No outside communication allowed!) Ok then, a massage chair to watch my dvds on.
6) Maybe I want The Beatles In my Life on the A side and a day in a life for the B side. but maybe I’d be too sad! Ok I’m fine, I’m ok with that. x2 Albums of my choice Jonie Mitchell’s ‘Blue’ and Kanye’s ‘My Dark And Twisted Fantasy’ Double album can I cheat? Stevie wonders Greatest Hits would have to be my choice. Aquemini was an album in high school I was in to. I don’t even know if you’d hear much of that in my music but it’s a mindblowing album that has always stayed with me since then. Tribe, Nas, Kanye, those would definitely be reference points in my music, strong heavy influences. With the Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers choices, the spirit of their music I really admire. There’s like a generosity and joy and I just really look up to them. Now you have a brand spanking new creation ‘Flying Colours’, where was your heart and mind when you were creating this album? It comes across as a very personal piece of work.
1) Ok I’m gonna need Bill Withers on the A side’ Lovely day’. B side Lean On Me.
I guess at the center of it I wanted to challenge myself and really push my creativity and courage as much as I could. I wanted to make music that was worthwhile. I wanted to dig deep and find something I’ve got to offer that’s a little bit unique and deliver that as well as I could. And as far as themes and stuff I wanted to explore, I think the main thing I wanted to talk about is success and failure it’s sorta a thread throughout the album. I think I was at a point in my life where I was starting to take inventory a little bit trying to figure out where I’m at and how well I’m doing in some kind of grand scheme. That leads to what is success and what is failure. I knew that would give me a lot of room to go in a lot of different directions to talk about them from a personal perspective and talk about them more generally and always have that thread there. Ultimately I was trying to mine my ideas and experiences for something worthwhile to offer .
2) I’m gonna need Tribe Called Quest on the A side Award Tour on the B side ‘Find a way’.
You seem not to be stuck in a state of arrested development, hampered by being suspended into some kind of teenage state?
3) I will need Isaac Hayes ‘Look Of Love’ on a side. ‘Walk on By’ for B side.
Cool I appreciate that a lot. Yeah I think there’s a fear most probably with a lot of artists, as you get older do you have that sparkle? Do you still have that energy and that kind of thing. But for me it really felt like wow as I get older there’s new things to work through, new challenges and confronting them through music was for me, a really inspiring new stage to enter into.
DVD Box set? I gave this one a lot of thought too. My first instinct was 30 Rock cuz it’s my favorite show. Buuuut I feel like it might not last me a long time It might not be funny forever. So I was thinking maybe a drama, The Westwing? But I don’t know about that one either, so I settled on The Wonder Years. You know it’s 60s and 70s, it’s funny but it’s got a little bit of drama too. Regarding the x6 12inch vinyl’s of your choice, I have a qualifying question for this one. Can I press my own 12inch’s or do they need to be preexisting discs? For you we will make an exception!
Ooo wee it’s getting down to the wire. Outkast ‘SpottieOttieDopaliscious’ A side on the B side ‘Liberation’ I think I need some Premier, Nas A side ‘It Ain’t Hard To Tell’ and the ‘World Is Yours’ on the B side.
You come across as a real 3 dimensional person, not a character, do you think that helps you in the way you make your music? I think you do whatever come naturally to you. When I was freestyling for the first time when I was 14 / 15 I was referring to myself as Shad so that’s what’s always come naturally to me. It was a musical persona that was very close to who I am. I think there can be something kinda freeing about that, always allows you to always have new things to explore because it’s coming quite naturally out of your life but at the same time I think there can be something a little stifling about that. I don’t do the first name / last name thing but I know some people that do and I think they feel a little bit tied, they are always trying to be super authentic and earnest because it’s so tied to their name-name. And yeah that can be a bit stifling because at the end of the day you’re trying to represent ideas artistically and creatively, not necessarily state them plainly, your trying to represent them as an artist would symbolically. When you come back down to earth from your space jaunt what will be your plans? Yeah Just starting tours now, I’m on the road until December, across Canada and a few US States. Hopefully we’ll get out further in the new year. Well I think it’s safe to say if Shad was ever stranded on Saturn, the music choices he has made to see him through can surely only mean upon him being rescued and returned to Terra Firma he would go on with his career with flying colours! Pun intended. Dude has skills and imagination and he is keeping the culture moving forward. I hope he makes it out to the UK for some gigs, surely we are his second home as he has spelt ‘colours’ like us Brits do! Delphina Scott @rawbluecheese Shads New album release Flying Colours http://www.shadk.com/
Battle rappers can’t make good music. Or so says seemingly common consensus among UK hip hop fans. However, the emergence of artists such as Lunar C, Shotty, Dialect, and established artists like Verb T, Tony D and Soweto Kinch entering the battle arena, it seems a better idea to judge any artist on their output alone, irrespective of any genre or stature. Go on, admit it, I bet you like at least one boy band song too, so let’s not act hard. Lunar C entered Don’t Flop with a cocky Bradfordianistical swagger and quickly amassed an almost cult following, his transition to an artist focusing on music has been seamless, with a series of quality collabs and releases that have shown Lunar to be one of the most charismatic lyricists about.
LUNAR C INTERVIEW BY MARK JORGENSEN
We caught up with him in Greggs in Bradford for a quick fire interview: Highlights of 2013? 2013 was a fucking sick year man. Playing Leeds and Reading was probably my highlight though - that was crazy. We were on the same coach from Venice to Outlook in Croatia, and that was the first time you’d been abroad! That must have been a crazy place to experience being away from the UK for the first time? Ha ha yeah man Croatia was sick I’m looking to travel everywhere, I never got to do it growing up so now I want to go to every country I can!!! To address the battle stuff early doors, Don’t Flop was a great means of getting a presence, fans, and a platform to build your music career from. Was that always the plan? Yes definitely I didn’t honestly expect the plan to go as well as it did but yeah I always knew I was just doing it for promo for my music. I’ve never considered myself as a battler I always did music before battling but I have always noticed people saying battlers can’t make tracks and I’ve thought it myself at times because a lot of them cant, but there are some sick all round MC’s that can do both. You’ve also been pretty prolific on SBTV, has that given a big push to your career? Yeah I think so, especially down south I think a lot of people know me from SBTV, big up Jamal and the rest of the SB team! I recall seeing something where you said your first hip hop CD was Will Smith, Big Willy Style? Yeah man I remember I had that, ‘Home In-
Strong. Have you always been on an intended trajectory towards being a hip hop artist or were you one of those artists who were secretly a gabba techno DJ called ThumpSpaz or something? Hip hop has always been my favourite genre of music even though I hate the idea of a genre I love hip hop. I’m sure I saw in an old interview you used to do grime when you were younger, you’ve been working with grime artists, not fancy it again? Haha nah I never really did grime properly, I did a couple none serious verses on beats but I’ve never really been too much of a grime head. I always liked Dizzee, Kano and Boy Better Know but I never really thought the grime scene was for me. I do like the tempo though and I love doing double time shit but I never call it grime just because its 140bpm . What would your grime name be? You need at least one Z, think that’s the rule.. Zumbaman Nice. Sometimes there can be a tendency for hip hop to take itself a bit seriously – or at least lack humour in a lot of instances – you’re quite the opposite to that, is this an intentional direction or just a personality thing......... It’s just me to be honest I’ve never taken myself too seriously. I generally tend to laugh at everything, and it’s how I deal with life in general. In hip hop I think that’s rare but also a lot of people who have only seen my battles and my EP cover (which is pretty retarded) think I’m JUST jokes which is annoying sometimes, people who have took the time to listen to my music know what I’m about though so it’s cool.
If you don’t like dick bars then you’re gay. One of the major things I like in an MC is coming away with quotables from their bars which is where I think the humour can play a big part. You have probably as many quotables per verse as anyone. Ha ha thanks man, yea I’ve always tried to be the type of MC who can outdo everybody on a track or win a battle with like 4 bars, I still aim to be that guy. Some people might sneer but I think there’s a certain finesse to an infantile and well executed dick bar...... (Pause?) Defo, I am the king of rapping about my dick ha ha if you don’t like dick bars then you’re gay. One of my favourite tracks you’ve done is
Jesus Swag, it’s a bit of sidestep stylistically and really works. Do you feel as though there is a prerogative for you to show diversity as an artist? Yeah man I love doing different styles and switching shit up it keeps it fresh and exciting it’s like doing you’re wife in the arse every now and then, something different is good, I never want my tracks to sound like the last one. You grew such a big hype in such a short space of time, how do you find your perception from both artists and fans has been? Erm it’s strange. I dunno some people think I’m a rich kid which is funny, I think its coz I don’t rap about guns and ‘Road life’ They presume I must have an amazing life coz I don’t moan and pretend to be something I’m not. I was brought up on the dole on a fucked estate but I’m just a happy dude!! You’re now getting a lot of airplay both on music channels, radio etc, how are you finding being noticed a lot more? It’s good man It’s still new to me so I enjoy it, getting noticed in cities I’ve never been to is always really surreal The last EP Good Times and Dead Brain Cells, tell us about it.. It’s your new religion, you love it and you want to tell all your friends to buy it!!! I’m really happy with it it’s definitely my best work so far. I’d say go and get it and find out for yourselves ha ha! You’ve been collaborating with loads of top people from Labrinth, Dot Rotten, Pete Cannon etc. Do you think this process is all part of helping you develop and experiment with different styles? Yeah I like working with different producers it’s mad how much they can influence my writing. Like Raf Riley just makes me want to say something fucked up. I dunno why, he encourages me to be myself a bit more than other producers do, I think he’s a bit tapped in the head, so he’s cool with it. People on YouTube are mental. Dr Syntax once told me that on his Subcultures song he playfully mocks UK hip hop fans arguing about who’s better Chester P or Jehst, yet without irony, loads of comments on the Subcultures video were people arguing that exact point. What’s the best/weirdest/funniest YouTube comment you’ve seen about yourself? It really is. I think the funniest thing has to be battle fans who say I’m ‘banned’ from Don’t Flop. Some of the reasons they come up with are jokes but a lot of that is Eurgh’s fault, he tweeted that I slept with his fiancé and I’m still getting asked if it’s true. Which obviously it isn’t. I slept with his dog though, but keep it under your hat. What US rappers are you feeling? I listen to a lot of Action Bronson , Sean Price….erm….Chance the rapper and Mac Miller are ill too! If you could collab with a US artist who would it be? Hard one man, but I reckon maybe Action Bronson or Alchemist or DJ Premier or
LUNAR C INTERVIEW BY MARK JORGENSEN
These days I seem to judge MCs on quotables. Right or wrong, I can listen to someone execute a technically intricate 64 bar alphabetically ordered critique of the economic crisis, but someone could follow with 4 hilariously memorable bars about their wang and they get my vote instantly. Lunar perfectly balances intelligent wordplay with a quota of about 3 quotables every 4 bars and is vastly becoming an artist on the verge of blowing up.
vasion’ by Ice T and ‘Who let the dogs out’ by Baha Men on Cassette tape, that was my music collection.
RZA or Redman. Any of those, holler at me ha ha. What else have you got in the pipeline in terms of releases and collabs? Look out for my album on the horizon. No release date confirmed yet but I’ve started working on it and it’s gonna be dope. Also look out for my crew Flytippers mixtape ‘Litterman’ coming soon, and check my clothing
label Boisht.bigcartel.com In terms of collabs, look out for Dr Syntax’ and Pete Cannon’s album Killer Combo, I’ve got a feature on there with Dirty Dike, also look out for The Rascals EP ‘Class 90’ I got a verse on there too!! Finally, the question that’s probably been on everyone’s lips, if you had to
travel across the entire of the former USSR on a tandem bike with any musician (old or new), who would it be and why? I reckon Ollie Murs has probably got a strong set of calves on him I’ll go with Ollie Murs! Good Times and Dead Brain Cells is available from itunes
Brotherman OUT NOW
It’s cramped. A group of eight or so guys are gathered around a CD player, pumping out a number of Hip Hop instrumentals. The standard of rap is OK; there is some real talent here albeit rough, raw talent. There’s some more generic rap as well but it’s a good mix overall. The atmosphere is tense; rappers trying to prove their worth and each one itching to be next in line. They’re listening but waiting to rap at the same time. You can almost hear the gears turning as each man decides which verse will go best to each beat, waiting for the sixteen bars to end so they can start. Hip Hop is quite prominent here and the number of rappers is phenomenal; if you’re not a rapper, then you know someone who is. You can hear Hip Hop in various forms crashing like waves out of a number of rooms on this hallway alone. One of the guys leaves the room and calls out. “Brotherman! Come and shut down this cypher!” I come as I am called. This is not my usual crowd. I mean, I’m used to the huddled circle of rappers and listeners but this one differs. There is one common difference. Each and every member of this cpher is a prisoner, including myself. The room we are in is a prison cell. What are they in here for? A mixture of crimes; varying from stabbings to drug dealing. To be honest, I stopped asking after the first month inside. Unless it’s a really serious crime or I share a cell with that person, it doesn’t interest me. Hearing the stories people give, their reasons for being in here are in no way conducive to a positive mind state. I made a conscious decision from the very beginning to do all I could to stop myself from becoming institutionalised. I may be a prisoner but I refuse to be just ‘another prisoner’. I will make this time work for me and allow myself to use it to step back and reflect.
‘Hip Hop is quite prominent here,the number of rappers is phenomenal’
You may be asking yourself what crime have I committed in order to place myself here? I was asked by a friend if I could get him some drugs. I said no at first but a while later, money troubles forced my hand. I located and delivered to him that which he had asked for. This was not something I did regularly or at all for that matter. I just knew a guy who knew a guy. It was only after my mistake had been made that I discovered that my ‘friend’ was an undercover Police Officer who had been playing me for a number of months. It was a mistake though; one made by me and one that I own. Unlike most people in here, I at least accept responsibility for the part that I played. Little did I know that going to prison had the power to better myself. So here now I stand; a rapper and a criminal in the eyes of the law. Cheers rise as the person rapping finishes their bars. Someone says “run that back for Brotherman” and the beat is rewound. I pause for a second to the sound of a few impromptu adlibs. The beat drops. The rap I perform is unchanged by my incarceration. Most, if not all, of the rap I have heard behind bars has been gritty, violent and full of bravado and braggadocio; it’s about being in jail, the roads and how ‘man runs them’, the drugs they deal or the guns they hold. This never has been and never will be me. As I rap, some appreciate the structure, the flow and delivery but the lyrics are lost on most. The themes of bettering oneself seem almost laughable, given their situation. I continue and finish. I am applauded for my effort and leave. Few of those listening understand that my message has not changed through this, only gained strength. Since coming to prison I have strived to better myself through education. I have gained two qualifications in mentoring and additional learner support that I plan to use in workshops where I will teach through Hip Hop and poetry. I have also learned more about the skill that I have as a rapper and the power and responsibility that lies therein.
I’m lucky. For most up and coming rappers, taking a year out just as you are about to break through would be the end of a career. Just as going to prison can be and is on occasion, the breaking of a person. I on the other hand feel everything happens for a reason. I am fortunate to have a great team of people behind me. None of this would have been possible though without the love and support of my amazing girlfriend. I also have great support from UK Hip Hop itself; my fans and peers remind me that I have a job to do once I get out. I am fortunate enough to be featured on a release which has come out since my incarceration; Roast Beatz’ EP ‘Heavy Ear Play’ alongside Jehst, Stig of the Dump and Action Bronson. This experience has and still is teaching me a lot. I have a lot of time to think and while I am writing the odd bar or two, I find that for me, this is not the best place for it. This is a place to learn your wrongs, plan your rights and better yourself. It’s a place for reflection; where I have so far written a book of poetry, most of a novel and begun to plan an album and a feature film. If prison and the many times I have watched ‘Shawshank Redemption’ since coming in here has taught me anything, it’s catharsis; the act of going through the shit and coming out the other end clean. That’s what I plan to do. ‘Till then. Brotherman is now back in the studio.
Peace, Love & Safety Brotherman.
BROTHERMAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROB LUCKINS
DBROTHERMAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROB LUCKINS
After taking us through “The Dark & The Light” before an apparent hiatus; late last year saw new music emerge from Brotherman. Ever the narrator, we’ve been offered an insight into the past year of his life and it’s certainly not what we were expecting…
Apathy & Celph Titled STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOIN’ INTERVIEW BY MIKE PATTEMORE. PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANIS ALI
Let’s talk about the new Army Of The Pharaohs album. How does it differ from previous ones? CT: I think the main focus has been the rhymes. I don’t mean to take anything away from the production but with this, it’s more about hitting you in the head so many times and it’s less formulaic. Other albums have predictable, scratched hooks but with this, it’s more focused on the verses and everyone’s style. I would definitely say it’s the hardest sounding one. It’s coming out as one of two releases. How do you decide what goes where? A: It’s a complex process. We recorded a bunch of tracks, then tried to work out what should be done. At first, I thought we were going to separate everything and really organise it but I think we took all the hottest joints for the first album. Then we realised that by doing that, the second one was lacking so we’re now in the process of recording new songs for the second joint. CT: We threw around a couple of ideas like do a double CD or take the extra songs and throw out a 7-inch but decided to just give you two albums in one year. The second one will probably come somewhere around November. As artists, everyone’s dotted around America. How easy was it to put the album together?
A: Technology makes it way easier than it used to be. You had to wait for everybody, everything had to be scheduled and you all had to agree. If somebody’s energy is off or someone doesn’t feel like writing, it won’t happen. When we e-mail each other the joints, we can write when we’re most inspired. The luxury of modern technology really helps us out. CT: We can each be in our own space and do it when we’re in the zone. We’ve worked together in the studio for many years so we know how everyone sounds and how to bounce off each other. We’re all pros man. AOTP has a lot of individual talent. Do egos or showmanship ever pop up? A: If we were younger, I think that might be the case but we’re at the point now where we’re in our 30s and we just want to get it done for the betterment of the project. We all facilitate each other. If Celph has an idea, we’ll roll with that or if I’m the only one feeling one of the joints, then I’ll use that for some solo shit. We deal with each other really well so there’s no real ego issues. CT: Everyone works as a team. If there’s a beat with too many people or verses, it’s not a problem for someone to just bow out. It’s never really a problem. Sticking with the idea of growing up; on the intro to Reef’s recent project, he talks about
how music gives him an outlet for his anger. How much of a release is music for you to hit on topics you wouldn’t normally? A: I don’t really see it as a release, I just view it as part of the entertainment value of it all. When I came up, I heard my favourite rappers saying fantastical shit. When I heard Inspectah Deck say “…the imapct’ll crack statues” and “I’ll bomb atomically”; that’s the shit that sounds slick and really dope. That’s what I want to hear! Reef, he’ll channel it; it’s cathartic for him. For me it’s different, I don’t get a release. If I’m pissed off, I don’t write a rap but I write raps crazy just because I want to hear some mad shit said. Canibus wrote something like “I’ll punch you so hard your shoulders will touch”. That’s some crazy shit! CT: I’m the same man. I grew up watching Die Hard and Arnold Schwarzenegger movies with crazy, outlandish stunts so I try to transform that into rap form. I’m a stunt man, doing all kinds of wild shit. I hate the people that are fully “keep it real” or “this dude’s not really shooting rockets or throwing grenades!” Of course not man, it just is what it is. A: On that same note, it’s crazy to me when people take rap too literal, when they’re like “Yo, I want just to hear about your real life”. I’m thinking ‘Oh word?! You want to hear about how I ran out of toilet paper yesterday? Or I need some dental work done?!” Nah man, you need some entertaining.
APATHY & CELPH TITLED INTERVIEW BY MIKE PATTERMORE
APATHY & CELPH TITLED INTERVIEW BY MIKE PATTERMORE
DGZ. AOTP. Independent legends. When Ap and Celph hit UK shores, Wordplay had to sit down with the duo to get the lowdown on upcoming releases, MP3s, trolls and assholes
A: It definitely has. I collect cassette-tapes. Back in the day, I had The Fugees’ The Score, I listened to that all the way through; you had to. That one album would be worked for like 2 years. You would drop a single in like ’94 and still be working the album by early ’96. When you look at the first Cypress Hill album, they had like 6 videos from it. That’s just a testament to how much more indelible or more real the music was at that point. Kids nowadays, they can get albums at the click of a button. I had to pre-order Illmatic when it dropped. I had to special order it from the store. Then I had to get a ride to the store, get the money up for it, almost jump through these hoops so that when I finally got it, I felt like I had fucking accomplished something; there was a bond there. Nowadays, somebody could be like “Yo, the new Ghostface dropped” and I would be like “Oh word? CLICK” and 2 seconds later, I’ve got it. Then when I check it, if I’m not forced to listen to it over and over, it becomes disposable. No matter how good an album is, because of the media format, be it good or bad, it’s too disposable. CT: I think it’s created almost a sense of entitlement, a real dickhead entitlement, to a lot of fans. There’s a certain aesthetic that comes from going to a store, digging through the shelves to actually look and find something. You get spoilt if you can just jump online and get it. Then people get
mad when you tell them that they should go out and buy it. A: Kids think they’re doing us a favour when they tell us “I won’t buy your music but I’ll come to your shows”. That doesn’t mean anything, you’re not doing us any favours; keep your $30. I grew up very poor but still found ways to get money to support my favourite artists and I still to this day. I support artists if I like their shit and I always will. It’s so important; it’s just what you do. These kids aren’t poor or broke like that. CT: It’s like $9 for something that you own forever. Drinks at the bar cost more than that. It’s not like we drop something every week. We drop an album once a year, maybe once every 2 years and all we’re asking is for $9-13 one time. I don’t know how that sounds crazy o r how we sound fucked up for asking for support like that? The thing I find refreshing about you two is that when someone hits you up online, you do your best to get back to them. Does that make the Internet situation almost a double-edged sword? A: Sure. I like to interact with my fans and I think it’s dope that I can. Sometimes I see artists that think they’re super cool and not obtainable which is cool but I do it at the risk of dealing with trolls and assholes. I appreciate my fans so much that I will deal with the trolls and assholes.
Sticking with trolls and assholes, were you surprised with some of the comments on your video for The Grand Leveller? A large percentage is down to pure ignorance but do you think that generic music videos have dumbed down audiences so that when someone comes with info, they don’t know how to respond? A: I don’t know whether it’s just music but in general, you don’t have to work as hard for information any more. Back in the day we had encyclopaedias, we had to read books. Now there’s Google. Also, everything’s been sensationalised; all this Illuminati shit and it’s been blow out of proportion. I could make a documentary about the O-Zone or some stupid shit, present it in a way that looks real and put it on YouTube. The funny thing is that a lot of these kids are saying “You’re a Freemason? I’m not supporting you!” yet they’ll go buy Coca-Cola products or Nikes. They’ll support these corporations on a daily basis that’ve done some fowl shit yet something they don’t know anything about, like Freemasonry, that’s too much. CT: I’m not speaking from the point of Freemasonry but to a lot of people, it’s a lot more entertaining or there’s a fantasy element to believe the crazy conspiracy theories rather than Freemasons being a bunch of upstanding gentlemen that help people, do charity drives; that’s too boring. They’d rather romanticise.
All this Illuminati shit and it’s been blow out of proportion.
APATHY & CELPH TITLED INTERVIEW BY MIKE PATTERMORE
APATHY & CELPH TITLED INTERVIEW BY MIKE PATTERMORE
Recently, your tweets and posts about Spotify and downloading music got a big reaction. Do you feel digitalisation has devalued music?
APATHY & CELPH TITLED INTERVIEW BY MIKE PATTERMORE
CT: It means everything. When you’re on a label you have to deal with other people’s schedules. We can drop albums whenever we want. There’s no creative control or people stopping us from saying what we want to say. It’s also very powerful financially because there aren’t any hands in the pot. There might be a cut to a distributor but the money goes directly to us. That goes back to the importance of supporting the artist; we’re putting our money into getting this out. There’s nothing better than being your own boss; especially when it comes to your own music. Do you think independence is the key to longevity? CT: Exactly. If you look at some artists tied into X-album deals and a lot of time they’ll put out sub-par material just to meet the contract. With us, everything we put out is what we 100% aspired to do.
to head up to Connecticut next month and we’re going to finish our duo album and then go back up at the end of the year to wrap up Hell’s Lair. Next year; I won’t let another year go by! We’ve mentioned The Grand Leveller. What does the rest of Connecticut Casual sound like? A: The Grand Leveller is the darkest, most hardcore joint on there. There’re moments on there that’re dark but it’s all about grimey, weird New England stuff. It’s some of my illest lyrics and concepts joints and definitely has a vibe running through it. I’m not saying it’s anything like 36 Chambers but that album brought you into who Wu Tang is and where they’re from and that’s what Connecticut Casual does for me. It shows you where I came up and the type of shit I’m into. I’ve got this underwater, aquatic, nautical joint in there and a lot of other heavy shit too. Plus more projects on the way. Any final words of wisdom?
What’s the latest on The Fresh Prince Of Hell’s Lair? Will it see the light of day? CT: Definitely and with the help of this guy! He’s pretty much going to lock me in the studio and make me do it. I have plenty of it written and the beats picked out; I’d say more than half. All I’ve got to do is record it and add a couple of things. It will get done. It’s also tough as we’re running a label. I deal with the administration side of things so it’s difficult to balance being a businessman and an artist. We’ve got a lot on our plate and it’s easy to get burned out. That’s why we’re a good team. I’m going
CT: Just Connecticut Casual – June 3rd. Vanderslice: Everything’s Awesome – May 6th. Army Of The Pharaohs: In Death Reborn – out now. Apathy & Celph Titled: Will Sing For Vengeance – coming soon. A: Motive: D.N.A – look out for that.
There’s nothing better than being your own boss; especially when it comes to your own music.
APATHY & CELPH TITLED INTERVIEW BY MIKE PATTERMORE
You’ve got your own label. How important is it to be in control of your own progress?
The Drop GETTING DOWN WITH THE DROP INTERVIEW BY ALEX BURNARD. PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICK CARO
Ed: Initially there was myself, Leon and Chaz our old bassist we had a little hip hop jam band based in Reading called Works In Progress and we were working with a vocalist called Johnny Virgo at the time and we were actually going quite strong for a time, for about 3 years, gigging a lot and stuff. And then it came to an end and we played out last show in Camden and Dan was actually at that show and he clocked on to the fact that it was our last show with that vocalist, approached us and said he was looking for a roots reggae band. So where did you go from there? You just started rehearsing together? Dan: Yeah well initially, as Dan De Lion I’d had a few songs out already, like my first release on Conscious Sounds, stuff on Dubateers as well a couple of releases with them. So I had all these songs there that I had written; originally I was just given a rhythm by a producer and I would sing my lyrics over that. But I still thought it wasn’t the definitive version of those songs, so I wanted to kind of rework them all with instrumentalists. Initially it was me and Leon the guitarist looking at the songs taking them apart, changing the arrangement adding different chords and developing them a little bit. That was the first set we played, mostly songs I’d already written but reworked. Sometimes we’d change the music completely, sometimes we wouldn’t. So the debut album is all brand new stuff? Dan: Well it’s a mixture. Since that first period when we first hooked up and we were using a lot of my old songs, it kind of worked out that as a band as a whole we had a flare for coming up with original material together, and it kind of seemed to
have a completely different feel to some of the songs I had brought to the band. It had it’s own thing. I think that’s what we’ve now for the last few years been focussing on, that process of all writing together with completely fresh ideas. A lot of the time now the music is the first thing and then I write my lyrics however over the years there are just no rules ; it can happen in so many different ways. Sometimes I have my lyrics first and we work on it or the other way round. You formed in 2009 and hit the festival circuit straight away, was that just UK based or did you spread to Europe? Ed: In the last couple of years Europe yeah. Initially we were doing a lot of festivals with a stage called Chai Waller who quite a lot people might be familiar with; they really helped us out and gave us a leg up, got us gigging and gave us a push in the right direction. If you think of the bands that have come through Chai Waller you’ve got Sub Motion, Gentlemans Dub Club, Sperrings...and loads of other bands...Baby head! Yeah they’re wicked man. It must be a great environment to be in, to be surrounded by musicians and bands of the same ilk? Dan: For sure. It made all the difference. We had just got together. I had seen the old band perform together in August of 2008 and then it took us a few months to get ready to play a gig and then we had our first one in January/February 2009. Soon after that we recorded our fist demo and sent it off to Chai Waller and it was that first year that they were like yeah come and play these festivals and that was obviously just a great start.
Dan: Yeah over the first couple of years it was so amazing how we were just thrown into that whole festival circuit, that was just our life basically for every summer for 3 years. It was fun, but it was also quite stressful at times, but we kept going. And did you have intentions to make an album at this early point? Ed: I don’t think we did, we weren’t really talking about it then. We did an EP first, that was like the first session. Dan: I think when we talked about it, after our first EP, we realised in that one session we nearly could have got all our songs recorded and the idea was that maybe we could just do an album with the set we’ve got but I remember talking about it and I think there was a feeling that we weren’t quite ready. We wanted to let it develop, which looking back I think we made the right choice now we’ve come all this way we’ve got the following we have, the experience we have, all the songs we have now as well and we’ve developed as a band. And I suppose as you’ve grown as a band the writing has become a lot more fluid. Ed: Yeah man. Like recently the last couple of months the writings just been popping off, it’s been awesome. There were like 3 or 4 songs that weren’t really written 2 months ago and having the deadline of the studio we just done it, and I’m well pleased with some of those songs as well.
THE DROP INTERVIEW BY ALEX BURNARD
THE DROP INTERVIEW BY ALEX BURNARD
The Drop is a 9 piece band from London consisting of members from all over the UK. They play a fusion of reggae soul funk and punk but ask them to describe their sound and they say “The Drop”. They have just finished recording their debut album, released date TBC and are about to release an EP this Christmas, Merry Christmas indeed! We got some time with the lead singer Dan Collier and drummer Ed West in the latters recording studio in South London. I started by asking them both how the current line up came to fruition….
Nick Manasseh? Dan Rolling Lion (producer)? What was your creative process? Dan: It’s interesting how it’s all unfolded because I knew Dan Boyle(Rolling Lion) from Norwich when I was growing up there. He’d moved to London before I’d moved to London he’d gone off and started working in the big smoke. Before that I knew from running sound systems and making drum & bass songs which he asked me to sing on. He was just involved in music up there a lot which meant our paths crossed a lot in Norwich. We then lost contact but then only a year ago he got back in touch and saying “I’ve got back into music, I’ve been making reggae, I’ve recently produced the new Lee Perry album and do you want to come down and check out what I’ve been working on”. So me and Ed went down and we looked at what he was doing and we talked about what we were doing and from then he showed a real interest in getting involved in that album. He’s been really helpful in terms of things with Konk and Manasseh because it was partly through him that it all came about... separately though Mannaseh had phoned me up saying that he had just expanded his studio…he said if you wanted to come down and check it out that would be great, he said he now had the facilities to record whole bands. So we went down with Dan. Before this point though Dan had compiled a list of studios of where we could record the album that might be suitable because he knew what we were after. So we all went to Manasseh’s studio, met him properly, and then it we all sat down and decided that we as a band had the budget to record somewhere bigger than Manasseh’s. However we all really liked what Manasseh was saying; his vibe, his knowledge and his experience really came across to everyone. Dan then came up with the idea of using himself AND Mannaseh in Konk studios... it seemed like it would be the best of everything and it just made so much sense. It was a no brainer from that point on. Konk had such amazing spec it was the sort of studio
where you couldn’t get much better. And Manasseh had such good experience and Dan has experience and is really motivated and understood the potential of our band. Ed: Dan has been a real driving force for us recently. He kicked our arses into gear to find the studio and make it happen. Did having a limited amount of time in the studio aid the creative process? How did it affect the laying down of tracks? Ed: Well yeah I guess that’s why we went and did the pre production session before; the idea was we have got to make our decisions then and commit. It wasn’t necessarily the easiest thing in the world but we just had to commit to it; that’s doing what it needs to do, it sounds wicked, let’s just roll with it. It’s a very truthful album. Thing is in a sense we’ve been writing the album for the last 3 years. We’ve been playing them live and I think later on in the journey of a band you don’t have 3 or 4 years to write an album so on later albums you perhaps are writing the album more in the studio and so having more time in the studio is necessary. Dan: The time limit was 17 songs tracked in 6 days and you know it was always going to be a bit tricky getting all those done but it definitely did affect the creative process. As Ed said you couldn’t mess around and you couldn’t question things too much and so on one side you might think it’s a restriction but on the other side it’s a bit of a liberation because you can just over think, trying things too many times and losing the initial feeling of it. So I think it was actually a blessing in disguise. Ed: It’s important to mention that when there are 9 of you performing together to get one take, everyone is thinking about their performance and not the whole sound. So someone would say I really fluffed that personally, which meant they are not necessarily into that take as everyone else. You have to think of the song as a whole.
The upcoming EP, as a precursor if you like to your debut album, is set for release via bandcamp early December. What are the reasons for released an EP so close to the debut album? Ed: Yeah we decided to release an E.P of some of the material that we recorded for the album. This was for two reasons, firstly we felt it had been a while since we had released any music, and secondly because we wanted to try to raise some more money help finish getting the album mixed. The release is free but there will be an option to donate as well. The recordings were all done at Konk and are a taster of what the album will sound like. Dan: Yeah.. hopefully some people might actually donate. If no one does the album might never get finished.. only joking, it’s definitely coming out next year. This free EP is kind of a, “sorry for taking so long.. hope you haven’t forgotten about us”, to anyone who might have been waiting for some new material. It’s 4 tracks which are all quite distinctive so people can get an idea of some of the range of sounds that will be on the full LP. And as we’ve been funding it all ourselves, right now we’re right on the edge of our finances hoping we can somehow keep going and make it work, so any money that is donated for the EP will naturally go into finishing the album. THE DROP INTERVIEW BY ALEX BURNARD
THE DROP INTERVIEW BY ALEX BURNARD
What tunes? Dan: ‘Far and Wide’ and Business Face are two new ones that are really good.. Ed:...yeah those two really are the sound of The Drop at the moment Dan: Yeah man, and it seems like we’ve progressed from the songs we started writing after the initial set of my old songs... they’ve just got a different kind of feel, messing around with the arrangements, different themes going on in the lyrics that I feel kind of more free to write because it’s music lead, I don’t necessarily have to have a full chanting set of lyrics, I’m a bit more liberated with that, there are more interesting ideas coming out. Ed: It’s been great as well because leading up to actually tracking the album in Konk we spent a week in another studio doing pre-production which was really just writing. Just having the whole band together, there is a real chemistry that happens when we are all there. When we’re all there everyone’s got such a wicked input and it’s great. Everyone just does their thing. So to the actual recording of the album. How did you make a decision on Konk? On
Your debut EP ‘THE DROP EP’ was released in 2010 with all proceeds from it going to the Anthony Nolan Fund, in honour of your original bass player Charlie... ED: Yeah he was our bass player, he died from leukemia. In a sense this is his way of receiving his share of sales from the first EP, which he would have always had. I mean he wrote some of the bass lines that are on the upcoming album. Dan: Most of them I think. He has left his mark and had a big influence on our music. I mean reggae is bass led we’ve got a strong identity from him. Ed: It’s hard on our bass player Steve actually because Charlie had quite an original style of playing the bass. Dan: But I mean Steve is great. Ed: And he has totally nailed it now. Dan: Yeah and Steve has been really humble in that way, showing respect and trying to get that style down because he didn’t really come from reggae but he has got to grips with the lazy feel. Chaz had a little ghost note that Steve has picked up really well. Ed: It’s hard to come in and fill someone’s shoes like that but he’s done a great job. So this album really is the ultimate artefact and continuation of that whole story. Dan: Yeah for sure his parents showed a lot of love and said they wanted us to keep it going and appreciate that we have done that. In a way it is a way it is a tribute to Chaz.
Do you feel like you’ve been helped a lot along the way, or have you struggled? Ed: No we’ve never had to struggle. Good things just happen. I guess that happens because we’re just working hard at it, pushing, make our own way through hard work. If you’ve got something good you will feel like it’s good and you will keep working, it just sort of snowballs. Dan: It’s about putting something above yourself. At times when you don’t have the recognition or it’s been a while since there’s been any breakthroughs, there’s personal issues and dramas going on it would be quite easy to turn round and say “I can’t be bothered with this anymore”...and I’m not saying this has happened! Just in my head! *laughs* Ed: Nah it’s happened in my head as well! *laughs* Dan: But in terms of the project being something in itself and needs life you just need to be consistently pushing at it to give it the best chance. It has been an attitude that you need to have and it has been a struggle sometimes but recently it’s felt like we’ve already learnt so much over the years of how to juggle 9 people and travelling for gigs, and getting too drunk or whatever, conflicting ideas and then talking things through and really listening to each other. Over the years this has all become a lot easier and now we have all these people behind us Dan and others for example believing in it and wanting to help. Is this album then a culmination of a lot of people, hard work, time, people that aren’t with you anymore. Is this album then a tipping point or is it the beginning of the rest. A new chapter?
Dan: It’s kind of both. For me it’s been about 10 years as well with the songs I wrote before not having a band and just being a singer on soundsystems. So yeah up until now it is a culmination of about 10 years of my life. In one respect getting the album down and recording it and putting it out; there is a sort of sigh of relief in a way. So yes it can be seen as an end as it’s done, recorded, it’s out there. You spend all this time getting it together and then it’s done. However in terms of what opportunities the album is going to bring, that’s a whole nother kettle of fish. Ed: I see it as our first big statement that we’re making musically. If it’s well received then we have every reason to be the beginning. That’s the way I see it. It’s really exciting and I guess in a sense even if it’s not well received I can’t imagine all of us be like see you later guys. There is always going to be music making occurring between all of us because that’s what we’ve always done. The band are: Dan Collier, Ed West drums, Ryan Stanford keys, Steve Ryan bass, Leon King guitar, Jason Ballard percussion, Joe Henwood sax bv’s, Johnny Murray jazz trumpet, Carl Blackburn engineer live production. More info here: http://www.thedropreggae. com/
BVA INTERVIEW BY CRAIG PALMER. PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANIS ALI
Stone’d Brother, one third Amigo and a quarter Owl – Mr BVA MC recently celebrated the 15 years of hard work by finally releasing his highly anticipated solo debut. Courtesy of the behemoth that is High Focus Records, Be Very Aware takes the listener on a lyrical journey into the mind of the Beever. Wordplay took some time out to gain another insight into the mind one of the countries most popular artists. Firstly, how about a little introduction? My name’s BVA/Josh, I’m a 27 year old semi aquatic rodent from Glastonbury.
You’ve been involved in several successful groups from The Three Amigos to the Brothers Of The Stone and The Four Owls. When did you decide to get on the solo mission? Well, I’ve always been making solo songs since our first Three Amigos project ‘Lost But Not Forgotten’. Me and Leaf have always done solos on our projects but after I dropped my ‘BVA MC’ EP in 2011, I started getting on the mission. With the Owls and B.O.T.S. being made and dropping I was never rushing because I had things going on, I was just slowly putting it together in the background. Tell us about the recent release?
WORDPLAY Lyrically it’s a journey with me through being aware, to not being very aware at all, back to being aware at the end. As far as the moods and topics go all the beats are by Leaf and Illinformed and I live real near them so I was probably getting first pick on the beats when I was picking these ones, it’s definitely a refined selection. The album features your brother from another, Leaf Dog. Theres obviously a lot of history between you two, were did you meet and what was the first track you did together?
Most of you appearances so far are as a guest or member of a group. You’ve got a very distinct vocal delivery, is that something you’ve worked on because of this? I mean maybe subconsciously or whatever, but I’ve always been more about what you’re saying, and how you’re saying it rather than trying to use loads of words that rhyme together like some of the more complex MC’s. Any news on the next Owls album or does Leaf have another 600+ beats for you to sift through yet? Funny you ask, I’ve had them all at my flat working on the album the last few days. We made some tracks a while back as well so, it’s coming… What’s your favourite beat of all time? Shiiiiiiiiiiit, how you meant to pick one, thats a right fucker of a question. Wu Tang - Bring Da Rukus ‘was’ my first favourite beat of all time (he laughs). What US album do you play the most regularly and why? It used to be Gangstarr - Moment of Truth now its probably MOP - Firing Squad. Recently I bought Rah Digga - Dirty Harriet on vinyl and played it for about a month non stop. There’s been a few, Supreme Clientelle and 36 Chambers are in there too for the regulars. There were so many great releases last year, to which lucky artist did your vote go? I didn’t vote (he laughs). Seems a bit stupid when I’m in the competition and I know so many of the others personally and that, it was a good year for everyone. Every sick album that comes out strengthens the one thing that we’re all a part of. The Brothers Of The Stone release was a particular highlight for us and featured
Yeah, it’s definitely one of the highlights of my life doing the tunes at all, crazy shit! I never got to meet any of them to make the tunes unfortunately, that was all hustled and done via the internet and handled by Leaf and Illinformed (Their beats and hustling made it all happen). I’ve met Paz since, he was a real safe dude, him and DJ Eclipse came down to the show early when we supported them in Bristol, they all back what we’re doing over here for sure. The album contained a varied spread of topics and themes including the tune Cartoon Days, do you watch cartoons? Yeah man, I used to love cartoons and still watch some now. I don’t really watch actual television programs anymore though, just the cartoons, comedy, films, documentaries and shit. Whats the most childish thing you do as an adult? Probably touching wood in a superstitious way, like if I don’t want something bad to happen or I see the police and I don’t wanna get stopped. I might casually touch my head, or some wood, or my dick (he laughs), whichever’s less suspicious, probably my head because if your thick they say your heads made of wood. Shit thats really an introduction into the insanity of the workings of my mind (he laughs again).
Your name suggests you like the outdoors, is this the case? Yeah man for sure, I grew up in the countryside, I definitely need to spend ‘more’ time outdoors. When I’m not running around festivals and shit though I’m a classic stoner. If you could have any producer (living or not so) produce your next album who would it be? Probably still have to be DJ Premier, he’s just made to many classics. But thats another fucking hard one for sure Any advice for budding MC’s? Work hard, don’t bite/be original, expect nothing for free, never give up, freestyle, enjoy it. And lastly anyone you want to shout out? All my High Focus gang, RLD crew and all the fans and listeners. Watch out for Jack Jetson and Smellington Piff albums coming real soon on RLD Records. Peace Thanks a bunch. BVA’s debut solo LP is available in from the High Focus store now Interview By Craig Palmer Photography By Anis Ali
BVA INTERVIEW BY CRAIG PALMER PHOTOS ANIS ALI
BVA INTERVIEW BY CRAIG PALMER PHOTOS ANIS ALI
(Chuckling) We met in Glastonbury in a weed related situation (standardly). Someone needed weed or backy or something like that (he laughs) we were about 13 or something. First track we ever wrote was called ‘Fuck The Pigs’ when we were about 16, we used to do it over that Taskforce instrumental for ‘Thugs R Us’. The first track we ever recorded was called ‘The Truth’ and it’s on our first Three Amigos album LBNF.
some of the biggest names from the US to appear on an independent UK release. You must be very proud of this, what was it like meeting Reef, Vinnie Paz and KRS?
Chuck Inglish A COOL KID!
The eclectic rapper and producer Chuck Inglish set the ground shaking with the release of his debut solo album Convertibles. Wordplay had a catch up with The Cool Kids artist to talk about the artist’s journey with his music, LA, BMX and how The Cool Kids came about... Let’s start from the beginning- how old were you when you started creating music? I fell in love with music and started making it when I was 6 years old. I played drums in the church and that turned into playing with the middle school band, to playing in garage bands during high school, to drum competitions in college. At college, I tried to fit my drum set in my dorm room and that didn’t work out too well... Then there was Acid Pro and Fruity Loops came out in 2003.Using Fruity Loops was frowned upon back then but I still mastered it. After that I just immersed myself in musical knowledge and created the music I like. At which point did yourself and Sir Michael Rocks cross paths to eventually form The Cool Kids? It was around 2005. We had a lot of mutual friends in Chicago and around that time Myspace was a brand new way to network with people in your area and all around the country. Everyone I knew had a Myspace music page and it opened doors to this online community and that was cool as shit. A friend of ours was like “ya know, I know this kid who makes beats and raps”, so we exchanged instant messenger and linked up. I was in college and he was just in high school, but he came through one day and played his beats and rapped to it and I was like ‘holy shit’! What inspired the groups name ‘The Cool Kids’? There were a lot of band names around that ended with ‘Kids’ and they would be like this new, post modern, nu-wave, garage kinda
emo, punk bands that were all on the rise at that time. So I was like ‘fuck it, we’re a rap group, so let’s call ourselves this’. It was good for concert line ups because it wouldn’t give away what we were doing, ya know what I mean? It kinda sounded like we could be any kind of band and that element of mystery was cool to us. It was kinda like tongue and cheek. You’re involved in the group Pulled Over By The Cops alongside Chip the Ripper and Freddie Gibbs, how much time have you devoted to this collective? Well, I see Chip and Gibbs a lot. We are always crossing paths but we’ve been working on each others solo projects so much recently. When I see Freddie we just hang out. Shit, we even watch the film Tangled or whatever. I mean, we live in the same area so if we get in the car we listen to the Pinata album, and being a fan of the friend you are working with at the same time whilst you’re trying to make something means you’re always caught up in their shit! But that’s what’s cool about me and Freddie, when we hang we just haaang ya know? We just talk about shit and I’ll play him some of my shit, and he’ll play some of his shit and then we will be like “DAMN! I gotta go!’ With Chip it’s usually the same thing. I mean, we’ve known each other so long that we will end up telling jokes all the time...Then he’ll play me his new shit, I’ll play him my new shit, and the next thing you know it’s like “Damn! We gotta go!” Sooner or later I think we’re just gonna sit down and make a plan. I mean we are all doing our own thing so when we cross paths it’s only for a limited amount of time, but at some point we are gonna get something done.
CHUCK INGLISH INTERVIEW BY ABI LEWIS
CHUCK INGLISH INTERVIEW BY ABI LEWIS
INTERVIEW BY ABI LEWIS
WORDPLAY You currently reside in Los Angeles, what was the reason behind the move to the sun and beach lifestyle? Well, there’s an illusion that you should relax here, but things move fast like it does in New York. When I wanted to branch out and do something that was totally different I knew I needed to come to a place where I wasn’t from. Coming to LA was the start of this new company/umbrella that I was working on so it’s more like a work trip
Toro Y Moi- So Many Details; I wish I wrote and made that beat and I would have rapped over it. I wish it was all mine! There’s a song I wish I produced that came out in the 80’s called No Ones Gonna Love You by S.O.S Band. I wish I made that beat and I wish I wrote that song. April will saw the release of your debut solo album Convertibles- What inspired the name of this album?
Chance the Rapper, Mac Miller, Ab Soul and Action Bronson all feature on the album, how did you link up with these guys? Through travels, like Chance the Rapper in Chicago and Action Bronson through mutual friends. Like with me being in The Cool Kids; a lot of these guys we’ve just met through that. I’ve just kept in contact with them, so when I’ve been working in the studio I would tell them I’m making beats and an album that they should be part of it. So, it’s like a very organic arrangement because I met them through living life. Where do you write the majority of your lyrics and how do you store them? Um, sometimes it will be in passing like when I brush my teeth or Ill say something to myself and say a line and be like ‘yeah that shit is fresh’. I say first lines, so once I write the first line or an introduction, I like to preface or something or make a bold statement to start with. Then I have those ready by my decks, so if I have a beat and that shit’s dope, I go through these first lines and whatever fits, I just start building the story from there. I never write to a beat per-say. My raps are based on certain small ideas and mission statements I have at that certain time. I enjoy the literary process when it comes to creative writing.
So going back to you enjoying the skate culture when you were growing up, you’re a man who likes to BMX, is that correct? Yeah man, not like trick BMX but I didn’t like mountain bikes so I got a fixie and did the old school bike shit, like Dido bikes and Mongooses- that’s what everybody rode. Do you still BMX at all? I mean, I’m not riding my BMX through LA... I take it that’s not the ‘done thing’ in LA? Well it’s not really the best way of transportation unless you’re really all about that shit. Ya know,I got shit to do! You have produced music for a wide range of artists, do you have any stories you wish to share with us from your experiences? Well, I wrote this song with Dan from The Black Keys. We did that for one of the Blakroc projects. We wrote a song called ‘Harmonise’. It was cool because we watched them go from like one of the dopest to one the biggest bands around for that time. Erm, I made beats in a computer lab with Mos Def. That’s all on camera. It was pretty cool, Mos Def had this little gear toy and I had a keyboard and it was just like for no reason at all we ended up recording it. There’s a lot of things...I have an instrumental drum album with Travis Parker... I mean there are all these things I’ve started, but then in the midst of making the album I kinda stepped to the side because I don’t like to half focus on things. I like to start ideas when I get them so I don’t forget them. I like to live differently in different musical worlds and environments, so The Cool Kids being one, me by myself and me making instrumentals.
synthesise this, let’s play that. Lets take the sounds from the keyboard and play it for real”. When you listen to the album, there are so many layers of sounds and space and shit that maybe I didn’t know about as much prior to us working together because I’m not as experienced musician as he is.
My favourite car is a Ford Bronco, it’s like a convertible truck and I was looking at it one day and I just thought ‘damn, that shits a convertible...and a truck!’ Several different types of things you see around you switch up and have multiple purposes, so I guess the sub-meaning for the name is that it can convert to something different for other enjoyments, ya know what I mean? But that’s if you wanna go deep about it, other than that I just like to drive them. Take the roof off that shit and let your hair blow in the wind! How did you come to work alongside Mike Einziger (Incubus) and what does he bring to the album? He kinda took the album apart. It sounded one way- the way I made it, but then we took it apart and put it back together live. Like certain songs were really synthesised so he came through and was like “lets not
Having supported some pretty hefty names so far, who would you love to support on stage? Oh shit. Red Hot Chilli Peppers...I dunno what I’d do for that. I’d probably just stand there and freeze on stage for like a good ten minutes before the show started! I mean, they were like the first rap, rock band. I mean, they had certain elements like spitting lyrics and the bass lines were were Parliament funk influenced and that’s the music I listened to growing up. There’s a lot of their music in my DNA. What are your plans for the future? I’m gonna release an instrumental album on cassette tape, I want to make a jazz record for Christmas and I want to complete this next Cool Kids album. I also have another full length record that I did with The Blended Babies called Ev-Zeppelin that I’m gonna put out in the fall. I kind of see albums as seasons, like fashion and different season collections 4 times a year. Music is so fast paced now that you want to keep everyone’s attention but I make enough music to do that. Making music is never too much work for me.
CHUCK INGLSIH INTERVIEW BY ABI LEWIS
CHUCK INGLISH INTERVIEW BY ABI LEWIS
So do you think you will stay there after your projects are complete? There will always be an attachment to Southern California. I’ve always envisioned myself here and living here on a beach. Growing up I was kinda into the lowrider and the skate culture. I also saw myself making beats whilst living at Long Beach too because I lisened to Sublime growing up. Basically the music I listened to growing up taught me that I want to experience life in California.
Name 3 songs you wish you wrote or were involved in? I wish I wrote The Internet- Dontcha. I wish I made it all by myself.
The teacher looked at me like I was crazy but I really really wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. When I was offered to interview The Doppegangaz I jumped at the chance. I don’t apologise for having lists and this crew were immediately added to my “This is why I Love Hip Hop List!” when I heard their music for the first time. Well, I never ever thought I’d be conducting an interview with artists from overseas in a pub in Peckham ‘sarf east’ London. Peckham is in full gentrification mode and has been for a few years now and is rapidly becoming the darling of middle class people and trendies. They are the ones declaring they live in Peckham accompanied with a knowing smirk to un-subtley let you know it’s a lovely 3 floor house. Just in case you have the temerity to think they are dwelling on a council estate. Wideboys, and the less well off be gone! Hipsters and the middleclass are in it to win it! Council estates? Sell them off! Get those poor people out!
So here I am waiting to interview Matter Ov Fact (MOF) and EP aka The Ghastly Duo in a trendy but thankfully un-pretentious pub in Peckham. The Dopplegangaz are not Hipsters but they are likely a couple of the dopest nerds I’ve ever met. Both produce their material and both rhyme. They are the contradiction of being down to earth but at the same time somewhere up in the stratosphere so I know I can ask them anything and they’ll have something funny or cool or nerdy or endearing to say in response. These dudes are from the school of emcees that rap about stuff people would generally only say behind closed doors. So on that note lets do this!
Doppelgangaz PEACE KEHD! INTERVIEW BY DELPHINA SCOTT. PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICK CARO Ok guys, I’ve noted that you hail from Orange County New York. However the OC on the west coast is the land of gated communities, apparently to keep out undesirables from rich peoples land. Could Hip Hop learn from this? What version of a gated community would benefit our culture and keep ‘pop hop’ out?
MOF: The only gate I’d probably have is to…you know I don’t like closed mindedness, everyone has their own preference nah mean? But sometimes people can be a little overbearing when it comes to certain things. I just have an open arms policy that’s how I met him (he points to EP) I don’t even like this kid but I’m very tolerant and very patient y’know? What was the rap song that you heard as a child that made you think “that’s what I want to do”? MOF: I’d say early Cameron…. EP: (interrupts) I’d say earlier than that ….I remember back in the day one of my friends showed me ‘Doggystyle’ I just remember being amazed by it and wanting to learn to make music like that…I remember my dad having a Tone loc album, funky cold medina… MOF: I know we liked the jokiness of it. I remember hearing ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’ I must have been six at the time and I remember distinctly my cousin in Toronto, he’s a DJ, and hearing ‘Eye For An Eye’ Mobb Deep. I’d be in his hatchback hearing it. But when I mentioned Cam before, up until a certain time we were always clowns, always down for a laugh. A lot of times I feel that ODB, Buster Rhymes people like that or when we hear confessions of Fire by Cameron that dude said some crazy stuff like having sex with an Aunt. EP: Stuff like we didn’t think rappers would say. It was stuff we would joke about amongst ourselves but we thought that doesn’t translate into rap so to hear someone say stuff like that it was a big buzz. MOF: I always feel like the earlier stuff made me want to make music but it took a little time for me to hear certain rappers that were similar to how I would think. A lot of people were a little more serious, bit more braggadocios. I was nerdy, awkward joking around all the time. Certain people made me relate a little better
MOF: When I was in Kindergarten they got you to write down what you want to be when you grow up and everyone was writing down Fireman etc I wrote down Ninja Turtle. The teacher looked at me like I was crazy but I really really wanted to be a Ninja Turtle. EP: I don’t have anything as quirky as that, I was obsessed with Basketball and wanted to be an NBA player. But as you can see by my height I’m too short! Here’s the scenario: You’ve woken up mysteriously with skills to perform alchemy… what would you like to create or transform as it were, with this philosophical tradition? MOF: I think I’d love to wear a cloak and be invisible like Harry Potter so I could hang out in women’s bathrooms, locker rooms stuff like that so it would be cool to have an invisibility cloak. I hope I don’t make you uncomfortable; I’m not a deviant or nothing like that! Some may beg to differ but I’m not uncomfortable. However I am certain that MOF has watched movies such as ‘Porky’s’ and ‘Revenge Of The Nerds’ many times. Deviant? No. Freak? Yes! Would you guys consider being twin brothers in a remake with a twist of the film ‘Brother From Another Planet? MOF: I think it would work definitely we consider ourselves ‘twinsies’ as it is. Every time something happens in one of our lives it has to happen to both of us. If a female is interested in me then she needs to be interested in him other wise it doesn’t work! EP: You familiar with the ATL Twins? Call it the ATL twins effect. They are actual twin skateboarders and they don’t engage in any activity without one another. So anything from waking up in the morning and having breakfast together to engaging in sexual activities with the same women… So is this like a variation on the ‘Corsican Brothers’ a movie starring Cheech & Chong. If one gets hit, the other one feels the pain? EP & MOF: Yeah we’re just like that! Oddly they say this at exactly the same time twin style! This causes much mirth and the Dopples appreciate my haven of useless yet interesting information.
Do either of you like reading graphic novels or sci-fi books? EP: I do but funnily enough, as odd as our rhyme style is, I prefer non-fiction. I like autobiographies, things like that. I like to learn about people, it’s funny I was into comics when I was young for some reason I’m not so much into the books. Maybe it’s because there’s enough weird crap going on in my mind I need to mellow it out, balance it a little. MOF: We need some actual factual information. There’s a lot of weird stuff going on out there! By Dopplegangaz are you speaking of it in the terms of “we all have a twin out there and in your case you both rhyme and produce or is it on a more spooky tip, like I got chatting to an African American guy in Mexico City who had essentially been wondering around the country for years, homeless but free and happy. He told me that he was walking around in the countryside after consuming peyote when he came face to face with his doppelganger, his twin from another mother or in his case another planet. EP: It’s funny you say that, my view to it there’s definitely somebody out there that looks like you cuz I feel there’s only so many combinations that can be made amongst people in this world. Let alone the fact that certain people may share similar bloodlines and not even know it. But there’s bound to be with all the connections being made and all these people having sex. Somebody’s mixture is gonna look like someone else’s mixture and you will find that person. I do think there are Doppelgangers. MOF: He’s ‘Matt Miller’ and I’m Wiz Khalifa. I literally had someone come up to me before when I was in Connecticut and this little kid says “Whiz Khalifa!” and asked me for an autograph. This dude (he points to EP) we’ll be walking down the street and people will hang out of their car window and yell “Matt Miller!” We get it all the time… EP: So those are our Dopplegangers!
DOPPELGANGAZ INTERVIEW BY DELPHINA SCOTT
DOPPELGANGAZ INTERVIEW BY DELPHINA SCOTT
EP: I’d keep the gates open I like all types of music man. I want everyone to come in and do what they want to do. My gates are open.
Lets take it even further back. When you were a real little kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
Can either of you remember the first rhyme you ever wrote? EP: Whatever it was it would have been sick. We were nasty kids! MOF: I don’t think I’d even smelt the scent of a woman but I was talking some reckless shit!
stuff. It’s more like catching a vibe, catching a buzz. There’s been days when I got up and someone’s said something to me and next thing I know I’m writing for hours. And then there are days when I’d like to get a song done and I think about it and then I can’t get nothing going and I just have to fall back. Ideas spark stuff for us. Do either of you play instruments?
EP: Sick young boys, sickos… Can you remember the first ever vinyl you bought? EP: The first things we would have bought would have been CDs but you know what the first thing that got me into it I was an intern at Jive records when it was still around when they were shutting down shop and forming into Sony, I got to raid their vault, I got tones of vinyl -Tribe Called Quest, KRS 1, Spice 1. When we sample stuff that isn’t the end of it we enjoy listening to vinyl. So have you guys got any secret nerdish hobbies? EP: If people saw us working in the studio they’d think we we’re crazy, we like “Can you move that switch? Nope?…just a hair?…” MOF: “I don’t like the way I said that syllable I’m doing the whole verse again!” EP: We’re super nerdy when it comes to that… Are there any Skit’s that you never skip when you’re listening to particular albums? EP: I have a sick confession, well it’s not sick I didn’t do anything disgusting but on the Buster Rhymes ‘The Coming’ album there’s a skit when he’s interacting with a lady and I never heard anything so pornographic on an album before and like as a young kid that was a crazy skit, I didn’t skip that. Maybe I shouldn’t have listened to that! MOF: There’s a skit on a Styles P thing where he throws a guy off the roof and I thought it was hilarious “You tryna body me?!” “You heard it wrong!” Then throws dude off roof! EP: Back then when you’re young you think Styles P probably did sumthin like that! Much laughter ensues as these dudes walk down skit memory lane. Do you guys consciously sit down to write lyrics? EP: It’s very much how you feel, down to the vibe. We’ve interacted with other artists and they’re like “today’s my writing day” I couldn’t imagine doing that, it would be so forced MOF: For being so meticulous, we’re definitely like the opposite of being mechanical. We don’t have any planned
MOF: I used to play alto saxophone back in the day, I haven’t picked it up in a long time. I could play ‘Hot Cross Buns’. I think it goes abc abc ddba abc… You guys have an album called ‘Lone Sharks, Would you ever go down into the ocean in a shark cage? MOF: Honestly? I’m kinda scared when it comes to water. I don’t know if I’d be comfortable even if I had scuba equipment on, just because I feel like I’m gonna drown in a puddle y’know what I’m saying? Let me tell you this I was in ‘Splash Down’ in Kipsey New York at a party or something. I was a little kid and I went down a waterslide and to this day I haven’t been to a waterpark. I was like 8 years old. I went down the kids slide not the grown man slide. The water is like chest high and I’m tryna move away from the slde when some growly woman must have weighed 300lb came down the slide and kinda landed on my back, knocked me down into the water! I’m damn near pinned under this woman, I then start floating towards the deep end and I can’t swim. I’ve got this tag thing on and I’m sticking my hand up in the air… my brother grabs me by my wrist and pulls me out…yo It was traumatic! This woman almost killed me y’know what I’m saying?! Not knocking big women, she could have looked good for all I know, but no question she had some meat on her! Maybe it’s inappropriate but I won’t lie I am cracking up laughing as MOF re-lives his near death experience. What can I say? His delivery was of stand up quality. EP: The way I look at it these days, I’ve been known for being a bit of a procrastinator. I just feel like y’know, we had a friend who went through a really traumatic experience and the way I look at things now I want to try as much as I can so I think I’d get in that cage. I’m gonna do it! Bizarrely since conducting this interview I saw this headline in the Independent Newspaper “Leonardo DiCaprio survives shark attack after getting trapped in diving cage.” But I think EP is crazy enough not to allow this to be a deterrent!
you’ve used that is as odd as that which generally has no place on a rap track? EP: I get a lot of weird stuff from my mom, she bought up something about a haberdasher. I was like what the hell I have to use that y’know what I mean? A girl mentioned something about ‘depilatory’ I’m like what is that? She’s like “it’s like a waxing thing” That’s an amazing word. So anytime we hear anything outlandish we have to use it. MOF: There are only so many words in the English language and surprisingly a lot of people use the same ones over and over again. You gotta be out there… EP: You have to meet people, like I used to do work in the mental health field and there’s words galore in there that nobody would use. The food world has so many words but you have to immerse yourself and meet people. If you are only gonna rap about cash there’s certain words guys always go back to “I get the dough”… And you can do that, it’s cool but there’s so many great words you gotta use em. Because nobody else has used the word ‘suppository’ before I don’t think! EP: Let alone call the track that! Not just put it in the rap! The song is called ‘Suppository’! Like we have a song that is popular that is named after a pill or something you put in your…. At that point EP leaves it to our imagination regarding just exactly how and where a suppository is placed as he’s laughing too much to finish the sentence and if you don’t know how it’s done google it! It’s obvious that you guys like language. Is there a word that you love to say? EP: We go on certain benders when we use certain stuff but it’s mostly phrases. A lot of those we get from our friend Josh, the latest is if he feels your doing it big he’ll look at you and say “I see you got no problems lemme get a corner piece”. What is this?? I get it but you say let me get a little suthin, you could say just that but I love his imagination. His Cornerpiece idea Is beautiful! That’s the kinda stuff we get off on. MOF: Another one of Josh’s “What’up baby? Shorty’s got Strong ankles!” EP: What the hell does that mean? He’s saying it complementary but I don’t know how a woman would take it!
Now when it comes to your lyrics you have all kind of crazy things going on and I’m doing a kind of informal list of words that I never thought I’d hear on a rap track
I suggest that “Strong ankles maybe the equivalent of calling a curvey woman’s nonsize zero body thick which ladies don’t seem to get up in arms over so “strong ankles” could probably past muster. As long as it isn’t connected to ‘cankles’!
MOF: that’s what we want…
WP: Is there any word you hate to say?
So far with you guys I’ve heard ‘haberdasher’ which just happens to be one of my favorite words. Is there another word that
EP: Personally, it’s funny we wouldn’t say we have anything that’s off limits, but I think we’ll win some women over with
WORDPLAY this about not offending our moms with the ‘P’ word…pussy. I dunno it’s too..too many rappers use it and we like to use other disgusting words. Well as it’s the first thing we encounter when we are being born perhaps ‘pussy’ can be used in a more honorable way than it’s generally used? EP: I called a kid that years ago when I was young in front of my mom and I’ll never forget not only her being angry but when my mom’s disappointed in me that hurts. She said “Don’t you ever use that again” and I never really use it anymore. MOF: Of course we’ve used this word before. But there are so many terms for sexual organs. It’s probably the one organ that has the most slang and scientific terms ever! Do you guys wear costumes at Halloween? MOF: We’re always working doing music so it’s become a regular day but our video ‘At Night’ was filmed on Halloween on Times Square so you see a few glimpses of people in costume… EP: and of course we were running around in our cloaks, MOF: Handing out apples with razor blades in em… not real though! Does gentrification mean anything to you? Is it social change that has affected the area where you grew up in or currently live? MOF: it’s happening but mainly in the city… EP: With Orange County it’s almost like the reverse. I’m sure it was originally probably white, farm land…
MOF: then people moved there from the city cuz property prices were cheaper. But as far as this area (Peckham) it reminds us of certain parts of Brooklyn. Lots of hipster cats moving in. It’s like everywhere. It’s a city thing. We noticed it when we were walking around. Oh yeah we was talking to a bunch of people, this one cat who said if he’d bought new sneakers he’d be scared to walk from the sneaker store to the station. Do you ever think Hipsters will ‘ironically’ start appropriating certain names like Leroy? MOF: I can never get with names being associated with ethnicity. My name is Matthew right and I’m going into this party one time. This dude who I don’t know from a can of paint says “what’up, what’s your name?”. I say Matt. He says “aint that a white mans name?” I say what’s your name? He said “Moses”. You’re named after one of the most famous white people in history! Get the fuck outta here. I went on to the party and had a good time! You would have thought someone with that stance would have had a real custom name. There are still voices out there saying Hip Hop is dead but it seems to be the complete opposite to that… MOF: I think people are pretty hyped about releases. I think certain people have fallen out of touch. They got attached to certain time periods and that happens with every genre of music. EP: I really think the next generation coming up, like saved it. A lot of dudes our age and older got involved with the business mind state, paying attention to the charts. I remember the 2006 time period was very much “How much did you sell? All these new kids coming up don’t give a shit about
any of that. They are just making music, just happy to be here and do that. It’s really back to basics stuff. What’s coming up next for you? EP: With the project we just finished, ‘Peace Kehd’ we have to tour more. We need to do more in the States but also Europe and Australia. We want to do London again, get up to Scotland. But we’re working on other projects. We’ve got the ‘Beats for Brothels’ instrumental series and the third installation will probably be up next. But right now we need to tour. We have to get out there, we gotta meet the people. Are you guys happy with being artists in this time? EP: I don’t wanna be around any other time! MOF: I think this time was made for us! That seems to be the perfect end to proceedings. However I have a brainstorm and at the risk of coming across as a stalker I wait for their next interview session to conclude and sneak back in and ask them to take selfies! If it’s good enough for world leaders to turn their camera phones on themselves then it’s good enough for The Dopplegangaz. They are destined for big t’ings! Check out The Dopplegangaz brand new album Peace Kehd https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/peacekehd-deluxe-version/id797280414
Bonzai INFAMOUS LAST WORDS INTERVIEW BY CLAIRE RYE. PHOTOGRAPHY ARTISTS OWN If we’re talking can skills, technique and how the fuck did he do that, then the collective of artists ‘Infamous Last Words’ are pretty much up there with the best in the UK right now. One of ILW well known for his take on Bodé characters and almost electric / glass looking pieces is Bonzai. It’s always good to see nods to the history of the culture and Bonzai does it perfectly. His letter style is with out a doubt modern, slick and pushing boundaries. But his characters take us back to the early days of graffiti, late 1970’s early 80’s New York influences shine through. We meet up with him to chat influences, travelling and UK hip hop, and even though he’s a man of few words we let the flicks do the talking over the next few pages. Enjoy.
Can you tell me a little about your history as a writer? I got into graffiti at a young age. Like most writers my age, I got into graffiti through SprayCan Art / Subway Art and early hip hop. I painted on and off for a few years, but the passion was always there. Around 98/99 I really got into it again. In 2008 I met and worked with Nash (LoveLetters) and slightly after the Ghetto Farceur guys. Both these experiences changed a lot for me. Since then I’ve really tried to push myself and my art and see where I can take it.
Who or what inspires you? Positive people and seeing burners inspires me.
me are really pushing it in there field and in turn push me. Is your artwork a hobby or a job? It’s my job.
Why do you paint so many Bode characters? I love painting bodé characters, it’s also nice to know that Mark Bodé is into them. What are you working on now? I have a few projects and travels lined up at the moment and of course I try and paint as much as possible every week.
What spray paints are you using a the moment? I use various brands but Montana Black has a great colour range and gives the best results for what I do.
Ive painted with some amazing writers over the years. The guys I paint regularly with and enjoy spending time with are the guys in the crew (ILW), Kak, Smug, Dead and Epok. Also people like Lovepusher, SoloOne, Neist and Karski. These guys for
I’m into a lot of early 90’s UK hip hop. So anything from around that time floats my boat. Anyone you’d like to shout out? Thanks to Wordplay for asking me to do this interview. For regular updates check.
What other passions do you have? Drawing and traveling.
Who else do you love to paint with most & why?
Tell us a killer UK hiphop tune you’re listening to..
Where is your favourite place in the world? why? I’ve been very fortunate and through graffiti I’ve managed to visit a lot of country’s. I couldn’t say which is my favourite. Each place has been amazing for different reasons.
Instagram : @davebonzai www.Facebook.com/thedavebonzai
187 MATT FINISH COLORS!
Original photo by Rosie Matheson. Illustration by Drip Drop Bang!
Bishop Nehru NO LIMITS Bishop Nehru, the 17 year old rapper, producer and director from NYC is taking the hip-hop scene by storm, with his refreshingly raw and pure 90s hip-hop sound. Bishops friendly and mellow nature goes hand in hand with his smooth effortless flow. The self-assured teen released his first mix-tape aged 15 and has since supported Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, Doom, Kendrick Lamar and the legendary Wu Tang Clan on their 20th Anniversary Tour. Bishop is highly focused, a persistent hard worker with clear goals for the future. He is different to others and wants to stand out. He has clear vision, knowing exactly what he is doing and his ability transcends his age. Bishop recently became an ambassador for Converse and has two tracks featuring on the NBA Live 2014 soundtrack. He is currently working on a collaborative EP with MF Doom that is said to be coming very soon... Where does the name Bishop Nehru come from? Bishop came from Tupac in the film Juice and the Nehru part comes from the first Prime Minister of India. It’s a very influential name. Who are you influenced by? Who makes your music your music or is it just you? I think I make my music my music but I’m influenced by Nas, Doom, Wu Tang, Kendrick, Kanye, those types of guys and jazz music. Would you say jazz plays a part in your own music/sound? Probably the newer stuff yes, not so much in the Doom project, the Doom project is still like a bunch of hip-hop crazy samples, it’s just raw hip-hop. I think as I get closer to creating more of my own projects and sounds, it will get more jazzy. It will take the world! What was the soundtrack to your childhood? That’s weird because I actually know the exact soundtrack to my childhood! It was the ‘Like Mike’ movie soundtrack with Lil’ Bow Wow. One of my cousins got me that for my eighth or ninth birthday and I used to listen to it all the time. It was my walking theme tune! Did you always want to be a rapper? Did you always have faith in yourself? I didn’t know I wanted to be a rapper, I still don’t know if I want to be a rapper because I’m only 17 and there’s a whole bunch of different things in the world. As I get more into rapping, more gates are opening, so right now I’m kind of in this stuck position where it’s like film here, painting
here, photography here and then music in the centre, of which I am really focused on. Yeah I always had faith in myself and my mum told me I could do whatever I wanted so I’ve never really doubted myself in any activity. I was always real competitive too, if anyone said “I’m better then you at this” I was like “No you’re not!” How important is it to have full creative control on all your projects? Ahh it’s big, big, big! I like creative control. I like to have as much control over my art as I can. Over my projects, visuals, mixes, everything. As much as I can have control over I like to. What inspires a song? Where does it come from? When I make music I try to clear my mind and just let my body and my soul make the music and then have my mind react to it afterwards. I know it sounds kind of insane but that’s my method. I like to take it straight from my heart, any emotion that I’m feeling bottled up, problems or whatever. Do you think you’re similar to any other musicians? I don’t think I’m similar to anyone to be quite honest ‘cause I don’t think anyone is rapping about the stuff I’m rapping about or even talking about the stuff I’m talking about. No. I’m just me. How does it feel to be getting recognition from and supporting people like Kendrick Lamar/Wu Tang Clan and Doom? Getting support from them is cool. Not a lot of artists are willing to show support to people that they don’t really know or are not really in their camp or around their team. They were really cool people and I’m happy that they like my music and are showing support ‘cause I’m fans of them. How does it feel to have two tracks featured on the NBA Live 2014 soundtrack? Yeah that’s dope! I’m a big video game guy so I’m probably gonna get the game regardless. I’m gonna take my song out though, I probably wouldn’t wanna hear my own song in the game. You don’t like listening to your own music? No I don’t to be honest. It reminds me of stuff, it reminds me of those times. I mean performing it is amazing ‘cause I get to vent and people feel what I’m saying and I get to feel the energy but for me to listen to my own music, like when people play my music around me they see me get mad like “Can you turn it off!?” To me it’s like bringing up all the old memories.
That’s why I make new music so those feelings become irrelevant. After a while I can listen to my own songs. I appreciate my music. What makes you happiest right now? As an artist, a teenage boy, an American in London... I’m not too sure. I’m not that happy of a guy. I think I’m gonna get happier but right now I’m kinda like “meh.” I think movies make me happiest. I love comedy movies. Funny people! I love funny people, if theres a person that can make me laugh...yeah! How has your world changed? I’ve started to view life as a whole differently, like this is real. Before this I knew it was real but I didn’t know it was this real. I’m starting to see that you can do anything you want in life, nobody can tell you that you can’t do something as long as you believe you can do that thing. All this stuff people tell you like when they say that you can do anything you want I thought it was a joke at first and people just said it. Now I’ve realised that people say stuff for a reason, because it’s true. What can we expect to hear from the Doom collab? The beats are really upbeat, not fast upbeat but happy. The lyrics are kinda sad. The combination sounds beautiful mixed together. I’m learning how to do stuff. It’s dope. I love it. What is your current philosophy on life? For now my philosophy on life is to do... just do.
BISHOP NEHRU PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROSIE MATHESON
BISHOP NEHRU INTERVIEW BY SANA SIGOLA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROSIE MATHESON / INTERVIEW BY SANA SIGOLA
PINATA PINATA!! INTERVIEW BY OSCAR BERKHOUT
GAVLYN INTERVIEW BY DELPHINA SCOTT
I was having a completely normal, boring day until l I was asked to interview Freddie Gibbs for the magazine. I was asked to speak to him prior to the release of Pi単ata; so I had heard the snippets, but the album definitely exceeded my expectations. The interview went along as I presumed, being pretty explicit but nonetheless, very informative. He was on his way to San Francisco when speaking to me and it was an experience to say the least.
Many people are already calling Piñata a classic. How do you feel about that? “Ah man, you know; I think it’s a classic, too. I think it can sit by itself, I don’t think anyone could really do what I did with it. I really don’t think it could be duplicated. I mean, I think it’s a classic, if someone say it is, cool. If they say it’s not, then they can go suck a dick - I don’t give a fuck. I’m just living life and having fun” How was it working with Madlib? “It was weird. It was a weird experience at first but once I got in the groove and figured out what I wanted to do with the beats, it was like second nature” Did you two record together?
I’m the best at telling stories in the rap game right now.Who does it better?
“Yeah, ‘Uno’ – either verses on that track” Did you have a favourite song to record? “Yeah, ‘Real’” Was ‘Real’ just a vent track? “Yeah, man. It was vent that day, that’s all it was. Niggas that be cool with me, they see me, they already know the demonstration, it ain’t nothing like that. Don’t nobody wanna fight nobody. I got the shit off my chest and you see the motherfucker doesn’t wanna talk about it, so obviously I was telling the fucking truth” You described the album as a ‘gangster Blaxploitation film on wax’, could you elaborate on that? “You know, I came up on those kinds of movies and like, the soul samples and stuff of that nature that we were using kinda added to that as a whole, you know what I mean? It blended in perfect” How was it to work with the likes of Danny Brown, Ab-Soul, Earl Sweatshirt and Domo?
“Yeah, a couple of times. But he usually just sent it over” How did you embrace Madlib’s unpredictable production? “I don’t really know how I figured it out, I just approached it, you know, like I was having fun. I didn’t approach it like a job or anything. I simplified it and made it easy for me, but made it hard enough that somebody else couldn’t do what the fuck I was doing – like writing the Da Vinci code or some shit” [laughs]
“Ah man, it was cool. I just work with people that I’m cool with. I got some niggas who I’m cool with that wouldn’t get on that album and shit, fuck them fuck ass niggas, I ain’t really come with them niggas anymore. If you cool with me, we’ll do a song. If I ain’t cool with your punk ass, then we probably won’t do shit”
Will you work with Madlib again? “Yeah, all the time. We’re gonna work a lot, a whole lot”
Earl and Domo have that indie rap connotation going for them since they’re a part of Odd Future, how was it working with them?
Because Piñata has been such a hit, do you think you’ll stick to his style of production? Do you prefer it?
“Ah shit, I told them little niggas to come to my house and get on the fucking album! I just said come by and smoke something. I don’t fuck with that industry shit, I’m a gangsta, nigga”
“I mean, I’m so versatile that I could do a lot of things. I’m not gonna say I’m just gonna stick to that, but I’m definitely gonna work with him on every project”
So, about the CTE situation… Are there any other producers that you’d like to do a collaborative album with?
“Fuck CTE, next question. You can put that in the interview, though – fuck them niggas”
“Right now, Alchemist” Do you plan on signing to a major label anytime soon?
What was your state of mind whilst making the album? “I was just trying to like, making a bunch of story raps you know, that’s how I looked at it” I’d say your storytelling ability makes you the artist that you are… “I’m the best at telling stories in the rap game right now. Who do it betterYou might say a nigga got a better jam in clubs, but storytelling raps, I got that down, man. I’ll tell you a fucking strong right now, nigga and make it rhyme, nigga. Who can fuck with me? Nas? Jay-Z? Who?”
“For 5-million, trillion dollars – yeah” [laughs] say him first since I said I’m on that level. He definitely inspired me. Him and Scarface, they set the tone for that sort of rap” So, how was it working with Scarface? “Ah, it was great, man. You know, it’s like, I told somebody else it’s like when Kobe Bryant with Michael Jordan”
“Yeah, I got some influences. Nas, I gotta
“I don’t know, man. I’m riding this album out right now but I’m really focusing on my acting career right now. Movies, short movies, sitcoms, everything but porn, baby!” Acting? Do you have anything lined up?
Scarface was obviously one of your favourite artists growing up then… “Hell yeah, first tape I ever had”
Do you have any inspiration towards your storytelling raps?
And lastly, when are you planning the next project?
Do you have a favourite verse on the album?
“Yeah, we got a couple of things in the works. I can’t really speak about it but you’re gonna see me real soon” I dont know what to say here but something about the album and where to buy it and make it sound cool. Yeeaa boyah!
The Bluntskins WORDPLAY AT THE BLUNTCAVE INTERVIEW BY MARK JORGENSON. PHOTOGRAPHY BY MARY JANE “It’s definitely developed faster than any other projects any of us has been involved with before” commented Sykes. Everyone in the room (except for me, Mum) skinning up at the time, we shared a hazy laugh about the irony over the work rate being one of the most valuable parts of a project themed around being stoners. He’s absolutely right, though. All three of the Bluntskins; Bill Sykes (TNC), Cheech (Mothership Connection) and Pro P (Producer for too many people to fit in brackets), have come a long way in a short space of time.
Their second album, Cali Cush, set to be released on 4:20 (20th April, like) and features a strong list of guest features, including J Man, Tommy Dockerz, Blizzard, Skittles, Dubbul O, is the next step to solidify their place as one of the most exciting acts about.
On the direction for the new album, Cheech commented “We’ve developed the subject matter to be more diverse too, we didn’t just want to rap about all the types of weed we smoke, we wanted to cover all sorts of topics, like pro-legalisation, reformation and be more varied with the central theme”. After having a sneaky to a few of the tracks, the new album is going to be an absolute banger - the bars, the production, the beats, the features, the noticeable progression as artists enjoying a sense of collective direction, the work rate, everything sounded on point. I lethargically left the Bluntcave still head bobbing to the last tune, thinking it will be a top year for the…
..the erm… The…. Sorry, what was I saying? Never mind.
THE BLUNTSKINS INTERVIEW BY MARK JORGENSON
THE BLUNTSKINS INTERVIEW BY MARK JORGENSON
The collaboration started as individual projects which quickly evolved into The Bluntskins we know and smoke to today. They all suggest that the huge response from the self-titled first album has helped to be the catalyst to spark the work rate and chemistry between the three of them.
One of the difficult aspects of stoner music is that for every Devin The Dude - who I love, there are probably 20 MC BONGSMASHAZ - who can pipe me off. The Bluntskins most certainly fall in the category with the former. Sykes “I think it’s because we’re not trying to show off. We just love weed and love hip hop”, Pro P rightfully adding that the direction of the production being bouncy, fun, then you don’t have to like weed to enjoy The Bluntskins.
LEAFDOG THE BALROG
INTERVIEW BY CRAIG PALMER PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANIS ALI
As a vital cog in the High Focus machine, Leaf Dog has produced beats on almost all the albums to come out of UK Hip Hop’s most successful record label. A constant contributor in all aspects of music, he possesses one of the countries most recognizable voices and a production style that is second to none. Following his latest release featuring the legendary wordsmith SonnyJim and in anticipation of the glittering selection of projects he has lined up this year, Wordplay went to Glastonbury to catch up with Deformed Wing in his natural surroundings.
Wassup Leafy, Where did the name Leaf Dog come from? Was that your first nom de plume? I’ve had the name Leaf for many years, ever since I was seven years old it’s just stuck with me. The dog part was added by a friend of mine as a joke but over time that stuck too! What came first, rapping or producing? And when? Rapping came first; I only started making beats in 2008 whereas I’ve been rapping since 2000. I never even thought about beats until I was watching Naive one day and I saw that it wasn’t that difficult. So that day we made a beat called ‘All Alone’ (from my solo album ‘A Scarecrows Perspective’) and the Balrog was born! Do you approach both with the same frame of mind? It depends, there both very different things. I express how I feel through my beats and with my rhymes it’s more about what I’m thinking. And how did you get your brother Ill-Informed into making beats? He got himself into it. One day he just sent me a beat tape called ‘Peel My Cat Vol 1’ I knew he was gonna be a problem for me after that (he laughs).
WORDPLAY Producing tracks for members of the WU, did you approach it as you would other projects or did you feel an extra element of pressure? Yea that was the first time I felt the pressure for real. (He laughs). I knew RZA was doing the executive production so it changed my mind state. I stopped sampling nice sounding shit and just went in on the moody flex. It was mad to hear what he did to my beat ‘The Keynote Speaker’ he changed a part of it slightly but it made it better. So, You’ve worked with some absolute legends, but what would be your dream collaboration? Me, BVA, Slick Rick and Preemo.
How did you meet BVA and eventually form the 3 amigos? I met BVA in Glastonbury town center. He was stood on the monument with our old DJ Filthy Finger Tips, he shouted over “yo, you got weed? I was like yea! And that was it....
What’s been your favourite Hip Hop moment to date? When Lord Finesse’s manager Rich said to me ‘I’ve got some unreleased Big L tracks on my phone, I’ll play you them now’ I was bugging out, while he was trying to find them, Big L “Put It On” came on in the back ground. What’s your favourite UK hip-hop album of all time?
Your latest project with SonnyJim, how did that materialise and what are we to expect from it? I met Sonny at a show one day, we spoke on doing something and it didn’t take long before the project was born. It’s a different style for us both, I made it more spaced out and there’s some real experimental shit on there, but it’s still boom bap! How did you’re US connections come about? It’s always the same way, trying to send people messages everyday until you get a link. All I do is send beats out everyday and when someone likes a beat you can then hustle a verse. It’s as easy and as hard as that! What was it like working with KRS ONE/ Rampage/Vinnie Paz? A blessing and very surreal at the same time. We got the Paz and KRS features for free so that changed it even more, its nice to know your heroes are down to work with you and not just for the money.
Who do you most look forward to hearing new material from? I don’t really listen to music like that anymore all my time is taken up with looking for samples; I play the classic that’s about it. You’re usually involved in several projects at a time, what do you have planned for 2014? My new solo album is coming out this year, I’ve got an EP with Sonny Jim coming out on Eat Good Records and an album with Rag’n’Bone Man that I wanna put out this year.
Any news on the next Owls album? Yea we made a lot of tracks for it. I’ve given one to DJ Finger Food for the next Wordplay mixtape and will be releasing a few more exclusives for the fans. I cant say when the full album will come, hopefully in the near future but it’s not something I want to rush. If it aint right, I aint down. Have you got more material with Rag n Bone Man to come? Yea, we have an album we made together that’s finished but I’m not sure how its gonna come out. Fingers crossed we can figure something out.
You bring through a lot of new artists and upcoming talent, can you tell us what your thoughts are on the importance of bringing through the next generation? Yea, I think it is very important for the scene to keep moving and growing. We aren’t against each other in this game, the industry is trying to make you think that because if we’re united we would be too strong. The independents should help each other, the same with MC’s and producers, plus its good for your soul to help people.
If you were stranded on a desert island with a notepad, your record collection, MPC, and one artist (that was lucky!), who would it to be? Well, if I was on I desert island I wouldn’t want an MC there. I would have my woman (he laughs), I can rap and make beats, I don’t need no MC’s. It’s gotta be DJ Skitz, Countryman. That album got me into UK Hip Hop. I saw you guys do a show as the 3 Amigos at an SMB night a few years before High Focus started. How did you initially linkup with Baxter, Dike and the rest of Contact Play? I met Baxter and Mr Key in Brighton through our old DJ Filthy Finger Tips (he was DJing for them at the time). When we first met we had a battle for 2 hours (me, BVA, Baxter and Key) I wish we recorded it man, jeeez. I met Dike shortly after that and we rolled with each other ever since. We all know High Focus bring crazy energy at live shows, what’s the maddest thing to happen to you during a show? For me it was when I was sick on stage. I just finished my verse on ‘Not Like Before’ and I felt the rainbow chunks coming so I jumped under the decks and let rip (he laughs). No one even noticed. And the maddest thing to happen offstage? I don’t know man, i’m never offstage (he laughs).
Can you share some words of wisdom for our readers? Love your life, happiness is inside us all not in the things we are told we need. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, so start loving this one. Peace Visit www.rldrecords.co.uk to keep posted on the latese release from Camp Leafy.
LEAFDOG INTERVIEW BY CRAIG PALMER
LEAFDOG INTERVIEW BY CRAIG PALMER
What are your favorite diggin’ spots? Any interesting digging stories? I would never tell anyone where I dig. Producers out there, keep your secrets close to you. I was digging with Lord Finesse once but was too broke to buy anything,that was a shame and kinda funny at the same time.
You do an annual fundraiser at Glastonbury skate park, do you come from a skating background? Is that where you first got into hip-hop? Yea, BVA and me were always into skating and that’s where I heard all my new Hip Hop from New York. I mean there was Westwood playing a bit, but for the real underground shit it was from the skate videos. I want to make one myself and do the music for it, try and bring the two scenes together again, so look out for that.
Boombap Festival FOUR ELEMENTS, THREE DAYS, TWO WORDS, ONE LOVE It may seem obvious that the UKs only dedicated Hip Hop magazine would support the single most important festival in the genres calendar, but Boom Bap is so much more than a once a year celebration of the four elements. Connecting and promoting a plethora of talent on a daily basis, the team are also responsible for organising some of the countries top nights and have contributed massively to the rising popularity and success of the underground scene. Following the success of the first installment (back in 2012), this summer promises another action packed weekend full of all things Hip Hop. The first year’s glorious sunny debut was closely followed by an intimate weekend last time out. Taking place this July the festival returns expanded to a new and improved venue, with the addition of an extended licence (now set at 4am) promising this years celebrations will be bigger and better than ever. Ivan Andrade ‘We really don’t want to give too much away, but the moment you step on site you will see massive improvements and hopefully, sun! The line up speaks for itself but we want to improve the whole experience, quality of production, stages, areas, exterior and foundations of the organisation. We are about it.’ If you consider yourself a fan of anything we cover here at Wordplay then its is highly unlikely you haven’t attended or at least heard about Boom Bap. It’s essentially the one chance for a country wide audience to experience a weekend fully committed to the Hip Hop ideology. We certainly have had the pleasure of attending the previous two years events and although the weather conditions last time out were ‘changeable’, the vibe has always been one of peace, unity and a shared appreciation of the extensive culture which we strive to maintain.
Jack McDonnell ‘In regards to the weekend itself, yeah you’re right. Peace and unity! Without sounding too hippyish, everyone is there for exactly the same thing! With a large hip-hop community consisting of artists, fans and representatives within the scene from record labels to clothing brands, everyone is there on a level playing field with no egos attached! Everybody seems to have a good time and acts love to play at this festival, it’s like a hip-hop culture showcase!’
MCing, DJing, Digging (be sure to get there before Donnie Proppa does) and Graffiti are again all heavily represented here, with the latter being expanded on in ever creative and inspiring ways. The Backyard, Lick and Overcrook areas are new additions to this years festivities, designed to give the festival greater depth and an increased sense of selection. So, with hopeful thoughts of a sunny weekend (much like the festivals debut) and with the addition of the aforementioned areas, this year promises to offer attendees a wide range of areas to explore across the weekend. If the previous two years are anything to go-by then expect to find a host of talent across the stages upholding the festivals dedication to its roots.
So if you like quality Hip Hop (and we assume as readers of our fine publication that you do), enjoy the odd tipple when pushed and want to be in with a chance of seeing Ed Scissortounge in a pair of shorts (it’s a site worth seeing) then we urge you to head to the website and book your tickets now, before they all go. http://www.boombapuk.com/tickets/ Boom Bap Hip Hop festival is set to take place July 13th 2014 Get your return coach booked now from either London, Brighton, Bristol or Cornwall by emailing email@example.com Check out the full interview with Ivan and Jack on our website.
DOPPELGANGAZ INTERVIEW BY DELPHINA SCOTT
DOPPELGANGAZ INTERVIEW BY DELPHINA SCOTT
Alongside the aforementioned improvements, this year will boast a truly worldwide line-up. New-comers and legends from the US to the UK and from Europe to Australia will share the three stages at various times across the weekend. Complimenting the two main stages will be a triumphant return for last years DJ celebrating debutant, Square One. An arena dedicated to the art of Djing that features headline sets, beat battles, sound clashes and more.
From the debut of the Four Owls to unearthing gems such as Rag N Bone Man and Makzwell Skot (Winner of last years Rhymepad Open Mic Competition), great experiences are guaranteed from the moment you pitch your tent. A alcohol enthused, sleep deprived speech from Dirty Dike is quickly becoming a staple on the sunday evening only just bettered last year by Chester P passionately addressing a rain soaked crowd.
Pro Era DAWN OF A NEW ERA INTERVIEW BY DANNY HILL PHOTOGRAPHY ROBERT ADAM MAYER
Joey Bada$$ How does such a young kid have such a traditional sound? Well I was always enthused by the old stuff and I just kept listening to it. Hail Mary, Sky’s the limit. My mom and dad listened to Hip-Hop.
contacts, the rest is history. What’s the creative difference between Pete Rock and Premo?
How do you think you got so big so fast?
Well yeah, Premier is REAL old school. He’s still using old equipment and it’s great. Pete’s still awesome but he likes to modernise and I think that’s the big difference.
I guess lyricism and NYC, but I don’t know - I just kept rapping. It’s all I wanted to do, I just had a vision and I kept putting my freestyles and stuff out there.
And creatively with the group, does being with the guys [pro era] - (particularly since you’re always on tour ) change the way you work?
When it comes to NYC what do you feel is the best album to come out of New York?
On tour, whoever you’re with
Oh shit, Ready to Die, Illmatic and Reasonable Doubt - in no order. Oh and Cuban Linx… But when it comes to the fame & hype how do you feel things have changed the last few years? I’ve definitely gotten older. Over the last year there’s been a lot of advancements I’m more aware now I think. I don’t see the change, I know people know who I am, but I still don’t feel like I’m in there like that. So like, comparisons to the old guys – I still don’t believe it. How has it been striking a balance between being in school and being the next thing in hip-hop? The only problem was telling my moms. School was never hard, I got a bit lazy but I kept a balance. You keep dropping these mix tapes for all of us, how has the work been coming along for the album? Well I’ve got the EP too, what it is - All projects are important. I don’t want to give people little bits, I want to give them official projects. Do you worry much about leaking? No not at all, the only way it gets leaked is through me. We keep it all pretty tight. I mean my latest stuff is just on my laptop though. Yeah, and whereabouts do you keep that exactly? Ahhhh, nice try. So how did working with producers like Pete Rock and DJ Premier come about? Pete Rock know’ Cha money. I used to record in Cha Money’s studio and he just put me on and he [Pete Rock] came over and we just got to work. Like Premo reached out to me and we exchange
you’re going to be with every day for the next 30 days. We were close before, but when you’re together you grow both artistically and as people. I think on my own I just write so random. Well thanks Joey and love from all the heads in the UK. Thanks man, keep it good!
Chuck Strangers How was it to meet Nardwar? Pretty weird, but he’s a sick dude. He has a crazy get-up. Plus, I got to keep the MF Doom vinyl. It’s right in my crib – I was showing it to a friend when he came over last week. As one of the chief beat-makers for Pro Era, where do your influences come from? Strictly 90’s hip-hop. But not just the genre, the culture - like those nineties gangster flicks. New Jack City etc. I just want to capture that. What else do you like besides hip-hop? Lately I’ve been listening to Daft Punk, Portishead and Goldie. You know, one day I think it would be really dope to make some sort of instrumental party album. What about the process you go through for the beat-making? When I’m alone I’ll just vibe to a sample, then I just start making the rough outline of it. I’ll sit on it a few days, then I’ll show it to someone who adds the lyrics and I’ll add stuff over the top of that. My neighbors complain all the time: ‘dude it sounds amazing but to us it’s noise and we’re sick of listening to it’. Yeah basically, you’ve got to figure out all the stuff you’re going to wear before you put it on. I’d say to anyone who’s producing - always start with the drums. Anything you’ve been experimenting with lately? I’ve been using the 808s but kind of layering it a lot more in a way that’s really different. Not like in trap and all that shit. Favorite sample? My favorite break would be ‘Melvin Bliss’. Even though it’s been done so many times. In terms of influences are there any producer idols? Well I didn’t play sports at school. I look up at people but I don’t have the time to idolize. Hell, even to give some guys the attention they deserve. Pete Rock, Premo are dope. But Ice Cube is probably my favorite rapper, Biggie obviously. I was always on the train going to school. My friends were always listening to shit like ‘C&N’. I couldn’t get jiggy to that shit. But you’re also a big MF Doom fan right? I only kind of discovered him in the last few years. He takes a while to really appreciate. He’s an underground god. It would be so weird if Doom was famous, like imagine if
he was on the Kardashians. It would be too much. He’s a hidden gem. He’s a treat when you start to understand him, at first I didn’t get it but when you really listen to it. It’s so good. I’d say he’s like the ugly girl with big titties who wears Nike’s and likes to hangout, smoke and listen to hip-hop. Have you ever thought about having a MF Doom Alias? Oh man, I think about it everyday.
Anything you want to say to the UK fans? Yo, I got told by some girl I got to go to Nando’s so I can’t wait. Oh really? It’s fucking amazing you should be excited. Every 5 times you go you get some sort of free parts of a chicken. What! (speaks to other members: ‘Yo! there’s a place in the UK where you can get free chicken!) I go to the Vietnamese place down the block from my house and every 5 times I go I get a free ‘fuck you’.
CJ Fly What do you want to achieve while you and the guys are in the game? We want to put Brooklyn back on top. Beastcoast is the new movement. Like a lot of the guys on the P.E roster, your style is reminiscent of NY in the 90’s, is that something that happened or have you perfected that sound? Nah, I never tried to do it, it’s just how I spit. I just want to do the best I can every time I lay the verse. How does it feel to be an independent artist? You guys are yet to price up any stuff, what’s with the reluctance to sign those deals? I enjoy making the music and the way people respond to it. I think the shit I make is what’s been missing and I don’t mind giving it out for free. How does it feel now you guys have made it big? I wouldn’t really say we’re ‘big’, I mean Joey got discovered and we came up with him. So how’s the creative process been for working on your own project? [Thee Way Eye See It Mixtape] I made 50-60 tracks and cut down the ones I want in the tape. I mean there’s a lot of the guys from the set on there so it’s not been too different but it’s good to do what I enjoy with my own approach. Everything is realistic, it’s real - the truth and it’s about experiences in my life. There’s been a few references in your lines and on the Pro-Era site it says you love ‘patty and bun’ what’s the story behind it? Patty and Bun is chicken in a spiced bun. It’s the best. So your taste for food, is it similar to your taste in music? Yeah, my My dad’s from Jamaica and my moms is from Barbados, so that’s where a lot of my influences are from. Marley and so on. Yeah, not so much hiphop but just being in Brooklyn got me onto that. So who’s your biggest influence from Brooklyn? Biggie, Nas, Jay - got the business side locked. Well thanks for your time CJ and good luck with your project and the future! Thanks man, Peace.
Dessy Hinds So you guys went on the beast coast tour, how was that? (alongside the Flatbush Zombies & the Underachievers) Man it was so dope, every show we performed so good and the energy was dope. I hear you guys managed to get some work done on the tour too! Yeah we put together some stuff for Joey’s project Summer Knights as well as some other stuff. How was the creativity process different? To me, as long as the goal is to get something down. It was our bus, so it was kinda like our zone. Not like a studio where you feel a little pressed for time. We just too chilled, laid some tracks and it was so fun. The vibe was just great. Everything has moved pretty fast for Pro Era, how are you finding taking it all in? Yeah man, it’s all just a lot to digest. It’s really difficult to balance everything at once. You guys are really the new wave of HipHop, what do you think to enterprises like ‘Rap Genius’? Yeah man, I mean we’re all about pushing the whole culture and it really helps. Lyrics getting decoded – everything you spit is under the spotlight. It challenges artists to work better and shape your craft to be that much better.
Have you got your own solo projects going on?
style, I really want to make sure I’ve given something to boost it.
Oh, I’m looking to make my own project. Definitely. It’s something in the background but with the crew I’m just giving it my all right now. I’m just going to wait to see how things go after Joey drops and we put some more stuff out there. Let’s see how time presents itself and what the fans are ready for.
So what does Dessy bring that stands out from other members?
And how does your style and process differ from the group? I realized this recently - I give myself time. I give myself real in-depth thought. It’s really important to me to master the verse I’ve constructed. I put myself in the track’s position, like how would this verse stand out? Like maybe if the track lacks a certain
Man, I like to say for sure I bring the soulful energy and the competitive wit. The ability to entertain people to me is important. At the end of the day it’s entertainment as well as knowledge. I’m definitely a story teller. You ask the guys they’ll always tell you ‘Dessy always got a story to tell’ Well speaking of – Where did ‘PRO-ERA’ come from? In fact it came from our late member Capital Steez [RIP] the guys at high-school together thought: What could cover all our characteristics and embody us as a group? Anything with a pro prefix. Progressive. Professional. Protagonists. …And yeah, we’re the sign of new era. Is there anyone you’re looking forward to working with in the future? Members of TDE man, we’re cool with all of them. They’re like family. Also, any of the beast coast guys. Individually, for me: J. Cole, R&B singers like Elle Varner and hopefully one day – Kanye. Yeah… If given an opportunity that would be an honour. And main influences? I’d definitely say Joey man – he’s such an influence to be around in everything we do. Being Brooklyn obviously Biggie, he’s one of those artists who make you want to put out nothing but classics. Don’t forget the Jigga-man. But another one is BIG K.R.I.T. since day one, the approach to his projects – every mix-tape feels like an album. It’s such a talent. Well thanks Dessy and good luck with everything! Peace man, thanks.
Nyck Caution How’s the experience been for you as a member of Pro Era? Everything has been great, a year before now I was literally doing some drama shows in school, the rapping was just a hobby and now it’s my everyday job. What was the hardest part of the change? It’s overwhelming but to be honest it’s just the regular teenage stuff. I guess I’m not hanging round the same people. It’s hard to manage yourself and your career. Some people find it hard to understand what I’m doing with my time when I say I’m busy. To be honest I’m still adjusting to all of it. So why did you get into Hip Hop? Ultimately, Eminem was the reason I got into hip-hop. He’s so versatile and captured so much emotion in his tracks. Like ‘Kim’ is crazy then you’ve got songs like ‘Sing for the moment’ his range is great and I just got inspired by him. So what does Nyck Caution bring to P.E? Everyone has their own personal character. Especially when it comes to what they bring to a track. I try and focus on being raw. Being white, people don’t always take you so serious in hip-hop and I really don’t want to focus on gimmicks. I just want to spit the best I can. So with all the artists are you guys a group or…? We’re a ‘group’ sure but we’re not like a boy band, more like a collective. Yeah we make dope music together but firstly we’re all solo artists and yeah, we’ll always be doing solo stuff in the meantime. We all love what we do and that’s why we’re the best. So as a group or solo, who would you like to work with? Producers, ah man guys like Premo and Pete Rock sure. But modern guys, Clams Casino and 9th Wonder! Man, any of those would be dope. How does your creative process work compared to the other guys? I depends on the topic, a lot of the time I write verses. Anything you want to say to the UK fans? Yeah man, keep up the culture you got going on and lookout for us!
Karen B EVERYTHING IS CHANGING! INTERVIEW & PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROSIE MATHESON
How would you describe your sound? My sound is a rainbow (laughs) and it is basically roots to crown. It’s kind of like time traveling, with the best of the past and the best of the future all wrapped up with the present, like a present for the people. It’s a little bit of everything. My sound is like me, it’s inspired by everybody that surrounds me. It’s just a mirror to all the best things in the world; love, nature and beauty, the only things I really care about and have to give.
Who/what are you influenced by? Everybody that I love! A lot of roots music, I definitely like to go to the past because I get it. I feel a lot of modern production can be cheesy, the production changes everything for me. I love all music that makes me feel something, it’s gotta have a little bit of rawness, a little bit of sparkle, a little bit of something that grips me in the hips or heart or makes me think about some deep shit. I started producing because of CocoRosie, Flying Lotus and Devendra Banhart. Boom! Those three changed my life. I had just moved back to the US from Beirut and did not know what I was doing. I was stuck in a predicament, in this bummed mode. I started to really get into painting and drinking with my ears with those three on repeat, I didn’t care about anything else.
I was a little bit drunk in a pub and my friends were like “Sing us some Erykah Badu” and I was like (sings) “You need to pick your afro daddy” wasted and really loud. Then this jazz band walked in and asked “Do you want to sing with us?” and I was like “Yeah!” At this point I was a jazz novice, I only really knew Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and a little bit of Coltrane. I grew up on beats, Arabic music, classical music and tropical sound and soul - that was everything that I knew at that point. It was very exciting and I didn’t really know I could sing until not so long ago. I got into blues when I started to play guitar. The blues gave me my voice I guess and then my voice opened up into jazz and from that everything happened.
You have Caribbean and Syrian roots and live in Hawaii. How have all these locations and cultures contributed to the artist you have become? I feel super duper blessed to have the opportunity to be so many places on the planet because it really opens up my heart and my mind to the fact that it’s all connected, we’re all connected. What happens in one country effects the next over and over. Everything is everything. It opens me to sound and beauty, picking all the parts that I love and adopting them. We build ourselves with every moment of every day with our experiences. and if our experiences are so deeply seeped in the dopest love and frequency with the best of everything, it’s really easy to make something that you love.
KAREN B INTERVIEW BY ROSIE MATHESON
KAREN B INTERVIEW BY ROSIE MATHESON
First inspiring musical experience? I grew up with a lot of music, such random music too. From my Dads side, everybody sang in Arabic and every morning we would listen to a Lebanese singer called Fairuz. She’s one of the greatest artists in the world because she can bring peace to countries in war. She’s one of my foundations for
When and what was your first taste of hip-hop? I grew up in San Francisco so hip-hop and RnB were just what we drank! I was always into the hip-hop beats. Mary J Blige was everything to me. I’m not sure what my first taste of hip-hop was because it really was everywhere and in everything. I grew up in hip-hop culture with the street art, the dancing, MTV and the bounce of it all. It was what was moving the modern culture and uniting everybody. People were stoked to hear and be bumping the beats in their cars and at school dances. Hip-hop isn’t just a sound, it’s a vibe. What made you pick up the mic? I have played piano since I was three and it has always been very classical. I started to play guitar in university and began writing songs to go with it. One day when I was in Beirut, where I was living,
sure, she brings out such emotion. So from being around my family, seeing and feeling how music and sound unites people, where everyone will come together in the morning, evening or the afternoon and just sing songs together, that was really inspiring to me because it was something everyone could unite on and harmonize on and whatever voice you had it would work. It brought so much happiness and tears too, tears of joy, with all the memories. As far as a live show it was Erykah Badu where I was like “holy-fucking-shit”, this is real, this is my shit. It was in San Diego and Erykah Badu was there so gorgeous and so queen with an a-zillion piece band and it was so rehearsed but at the same time so organic. She was in a vibe and everyone there was in that same vibe. Most other concerts I’ve been to have been really rehearsed and that magic was missing. I think the best of everything is where you can be prepared but still be able to flow.
What inspires a song? Where does a song begin for you? I think that songs always have to start in the heart. If it comes from words first or a melody, you have to feel something first. If I don’t feel something instead of being in front of the computer producing, I’m gonna go outside and go fall in love with some beautiful boy at a waterfall and dip in and touch his skin or something to ignite feeling. Without fire there is no light. If I feel something then the songs just come, I don’t even have to try so much. It’s always about love. I’m a writing major, that’s what I studied and I’m so into symbolism and nature. Show me the moon and I’ll be able to write a chapter on that for sure. Sometimes I just write and from that there are words that stick out to me. I’m selective about the sounds and words I incorporate, it has to be perfection to my heart at that very moment. Sometimes it’s on a guitar, sometimes it’s on a synthesizer, sometimes it’s on some spoons, a shaker or my thighs or on nothing and just a freestyle into the clouds. Thank god for iPhones though as it can be hard to keep up with inspirations, they are constant and it’s so great to be able to document them. Best place/country you’ve performed? There have been a few but I will say there was one time in London at The Queen of Hoxton. I had to get there at 10am for soundcheck even though I wasn’t playing ‘till the nighttime and I was like “Are you kidding me” ‘cause I don’t sleep ‘till real late. Anyway I get there hating my outfit and hating everything but the vibes were so sweet and we all just kicked it up on the rooftop, chilling hard. By the time the music started there were a lot of people there. It was so easy to catch a vibe because everybody was so present, it was a real exchange. I remember at the soundcheck I didn’t have any idea as to what the show was going to be like, I was so tired I didn’t even know what my name was (laughs) and then on stage it was like a dream. I can’t honestly say I’ve played like that before, I was still making my own beats and looping shit live. I did not have a pre-anything. It really really matters how the audience are because the more they give, the more I give. It’s just like that. They were the best audience ever, they killed it. It was magical.
Why did you choose to flip the sounds of Flying Lotus and MF DOOM? Well FlyLo happened because I loved him from the first second I heard him! I’m into a slower pace of life in general rather than a super fast, I don’t think it’s so hot or organic. I like the tempo of hip-hop, that’s my soul tempo and Flylo has got that but he’s got something else too, where he takes the whole world and collages it into some sidechain compression, sweet vocals and wonky mystery. I love his mystery. I didn’t ever really think about flipping anybody ever, I always made my shit organically, I thought that “People already made that beat so why I gotta make the same thing.” Doom was a trip though. My homie MimiFresh was like “Why don’t you flip some Doom” and I was like “Ok play me some shit” and so she was playing the special herbs instrumentals and I was stoked! I remember Orange Blossoms was the first one I heard and was like I can totally sing over this. People send me beats all the time and it’s not that I don’t feel it if I don’t use it, I’m just really a purist and believe that it’s my job to make sure that songs come into existence in the purest form to the vision. I’m working in some divine mystery here. Doom was cosmic and it just happened, nothing was forced, it just came to me. If it’s forced, it’s not right. Doom happened because it was easy, he lit
me up so fast and so suddenly. It was so fun to flip him, FlyLo and Dilla. Why those three? I don’t know but I think it’s because they got soul!
KAREN B INTERVIEW BY ROSIE MATHESON
KAREN B INTERVIEW BY ROSIE MATHESON
Have these varied locations/cultures enabled you to create your own sound? Definitely! I’ve found which rhythms make me get super hifey, like if you drop a dancehall beat I’m gonna do something, I wont be able to contain myself or if you drop some tripped out Arabic bedouin desert I’m gonna feel that too and so I’ve definitely learned what I love from being everywhere and dancing to the whole worlds sounds from old sound to modern sound. I don’t think we know until we know and sometimes we only know by knowing what we don’t want and so I’ve definitely been places where I’ve heard sounds and I’m like that’s not my thing but that’s also a learning experience. Everything is an opportunity for growth. I’ve also learned to be open to magic! Who we are constantly keeps developing and spectrums change.
Tell us about Anuenue...What does it mean? Whats the vibe? Anuenue...in English it’s like ‘A new way’ but in Hawaiian it means ‘Rainbow’. I did a year of art school and some colour theory has really pushed me into the music world, it’s a strange thing but I relate sound to mixing colours a lot. I think the vibe of the rainbow is dope. A new way basically means to be the best we can be and to be all together. Anuenue starts out with some Hawaiian calabash called ‘Epu drumming and chanting. Next there’s a dance track and then it gets a little gnarly into ‘Pele’ which is like “I’m gonna do what the fuck I like” and then into some FlyLo astral cosmic something. Anuenue is going to take you on a trip and if you like to trip, if you like to travel, if you like to feel the most beautiful colours of the spectrum come alive that’s what’s up with that.
People listening to your stuff... What do you want them to feel? I want them to feel inspired and empowered. I want them to feel the beauty of the world we’re in and how everything is possible. Everything can be what you want it to be. What do you bring with you everywhere you go? Alright well, I don’t leave home without my recording mic, my duet audio interface, my computer, my gigging mics, my vocal box and my Ableton push and the cables I need. Boom. Automatic. I also don’t leave without my alter, my precious stones, my Frankincense, Myr, Palo Santo and tarot cards. Of course I always take my RueBelle jewellery too, it’s made with love in the jungle. I stay drip dripping in gold! It’s just the things we collect that have meaning to us as they are given by people that we love. It’s all about the love really and I just like to keep love real real close to me so that I always feel it. I also bring an English and Hawaiian dictionary wherever I go because I just want to keep learning and I really love words.
If you were stranded on an island, which 3 tracks would you take with you? I would probably take: One J Dilla instrumental... I don’t know which one exactly but one so it super lights me up so there’s something I can always flow on. Alice Coltrane - Blue Nile - That song has so many magical moments that have flipped my life forever. But if I’m on a desert island I might want an island track so: Shuggie Otis - and to cheat this question I would put all of his tracks into one song and take that! (laughs) Whats coming next? Oh my god so much! It’s actually wild and blows my mind. I haven’t been able to focus my crazy buzz because so much is coming! Basically Sa-Ra’s Shafiq Husayn came to Hawaii and we recorded an album and it’s just so dope. I can’t believe how organically it was created and how beautifully it was executed. I know that the way that everything has been made and is being made is laying a foundation that’s super dope. It’s so big and so great that my own vision hasn’t expanded to meet the reality of it. It’s tropical and it’s soul and it bumps. If y’all like to twerk and shit I’m sure theres room for that too! (laughs) KAREN B INTERVIEW BY ROSIE MATHESON
KAREN B INTERVIEW BY ROSIE MATHESON
Are you a digital or analog person? I’m an everything person. Whatever enables me to make genuine beauty that’s what I am. I’m not going to be down on digital because it’s why I am able to do what I am doing, visually as well as sonically. It’s like the past and the future. Is the past better or is the future? I love all of it.
Everybody knows that life sucks but why do we have to make music about that; thatâ€™s emo shit!
Baileys Brown BAILEYS ON ICE PHOTOGRAPHY BY CLEM SAMUEL / INTERVIEW BY MIKE PATTEMORE Last year saw Baileys Brown, the man behind Datkid’s “Home By 8”, build on his success with two brilliant solo releases. Wordplay caught up with the Bristol beatsmith to talk the future, embarrassing aliases, the YMCA and piano lessons…
I wouldn’t say I’m old but people like the Fat Boys, Salt N Pepa, and all the cheesy shit from back in the day! I was like 6 or 7 so there was still something good about it! As I got older, more of the obvious stuff like Wu Tang and Biggie. I was a big East Coast fan and wasn’t really into West Coast music. There were the odd artists like Ras Kass and Kurupt but generally loads of East Coast. Who inspires you? In the sense of what made me think and want to write, it was Nas. Producer-wise, it was Premo. Then I discovered Slum Village and liked their sound but didn’t really realise J Dilla was behind it until I got further into it. When I did, I surrounded myself in Dilla beats because they were so dope. If we’re talking in the present, nowadays it tends to be my friends; Hozay in particular. There’s the dudes in London that are doing or have been doing their thing, like Jon Phonics but really, new music is a big inspiration to me. Like when I first got shown Onra’s “Long Distance”; that just changed my view on Hip Hop and music all together. Rapper wise these days, it’s Action Bronson and Joey Bada$$. There’s a lot of decent things out there but those two remind me of all the sickest shit from back when I was growing up. Which came first - rapping or producing? I started off rapping towards the end of school/ beginning of college. I used to spit
Any preferences? Producing, definitely; I wish I’d started producing when I first started rapping! I get a buzz from just creating. I’ll get a record, like the project I’m doing at the moment with the 80’s theme, that sounds like the cheesiest piece of shit you’ve ever heard and you’re stretching and racking your brain so hard just to make it into something good. That’s the basics of what Hip Hop is; making something out of nothing. Why the two different aliases? Just because I wanted to keep them separate. With Baileys Brown, he’s a producer so I wouldn’t want to be rapping under the same name. My rap name is my actual name so I’ve just kept it like that. I’ve had millions of names; I started off as Digga D, then it went to…you know what, there’s some I’m not actually going to name because they’re so wack! I was D.Scriptive for ages and then I just cut it down to D.Green. I got past a certain age and I thought I’m on my grown man shit now so it’s just D.Green. It’s always been Baileys Brown from day dot, production wise. So do you consider yourself a rapper that produces or producer that raps? A producer that can rap. If you’d have
asked me that question in 2008, I’d have been a rapper that makes beats. Not even a producer back then. Nowadays, I’m a producer and I’m doing all sorts of stuff because I’m still learning; I’ve always liked learning. Well, as long as it’s stuff that I want to learn about. If it’s algebra, then fuck off! Is there a set process when you’re in the studio? It depends what I’m doing. If I’m making sample based music, I’ll find a sample that I like and just start playing with it whereas if I’m making music from scratch, like something with synth, that’s literally all I’ll do; I’ll just get into it. There’s no real process to it. It’s the same with the writing; it just happens if I’m inspired. If I’m not, it’s not happening. Do you have a favourite spot for digging? There’s the obvious ones in Bristol like Plastic Wax and Prime Cuts but actually, I’ve probably found some of my cheapest and best gems in the YMCA in Bedminster. I’ve got loads of stuff from there; I got my mic stand for like £4. I don’t go over there as much now because I don’t live as close as I used to but it’s the spot man! There’s so much space in there; you go in and there’s like five tables full of crates of vinyl. I mean a lot of its proper shit but if you’ve got the patience and dig through, you’ll find a couple of things that are sick and they’ll be like £2 or £3. What was the thought process behind “Eyes Speak Louder Than Words” and “Fat Glitches Need Love”? With “Eyes Speak Louder Than Words”, it was a case of following up on the hype we’d got from “Home By 8” and strike whilst the iron was hot. With that summer and the way that “Home By 8” was received I was
BAILEYS BROWN INTERVIEW BY MIKE PATTEMORE
BAILEYS BROWN INTERVIEW BY MIKE PATTEMORE
What is your earliest memory of Hip Hop?
to Garage before that so the transition from Garage MC to rapper was hard. I was pretty shit to start with and saying some shit stuff whilst I was getting comfortable with the space you had to work with. I’d say I became a really serious rapper about 8 years ago. Nowadays, I just write verses. I don’t see myself as much of a rapper now. I can rap but there’s a lot of people out there that make me realise that the person I was back then was a serious rapper; someone that’s writing every day.
taken seriously by a lot of the main people in the UK scene which made working with people a lot easier. The thought process behind the title was that it doesn’t matter what people say, you can clock by their reaction whether you’re stuff’s hot or not. You can just tell whether they’re a hater or supporter just by their eyes! With “Fat Glitches Need Love”, it was more of an experiment. Percy Filth inspired me to go down the synth/ glitchy side of things. I was really blown away by a lot of the things he showed me so I should really throw him in the inspiration category from earlier. As for the name, it’s just a spin off from a line in Next Friday. Let’s talk Demorus. Who’s in the camp and are we likely to see a full LP? I need to give a little history in order to answer that properly. Originally, it was started by a guy called Macca Dan as an idea he put out, asking a few different people if they wanted to get involved. Primarily, it was myself and Noodles and a few other people that didn’t really get involved. Macca then wasn’t about as much so me and Noodles ran with it. We made a proper grimy, poorly produced and badly recorded mixtape back in 2008. I’ve got it on good authority that everyone in Split Prophets owns that tape! Generally, that’s what it was in the beginning; a couple of dudes making some ropey, grimy Hip Hop in a bedsit in St Pauls. After that, I met Confusion at an open mic night and he blew me away with a couple of double-time bars. We started hanging and he came into the fold. He then met Datkid and got him
involved and that was the basis of Demorus for a while. Over the past year or so, we’ve brought Hozay in and the latest addition is DJ Rogue, who’s a sick DJ and you need to watch out because he’s a badman producer as well. As for the LP, it’s coming this year. We’re about six or seven beats in and we just need to sit down and start writing. I say this year; I’ll put it down as towards the end of the year! Speaking of Hozay, there’s a joint project in the offing. When are we likely to hear that? I reckon that’ll be done by the summer. Me and him, we’re just on it. The first time we met, we connected and realised our styles are similar and it was just easy to crack on. I’ll send him a beat and he’ll write straight away, he’ll send me a beat and I’ll write a verse, a hook and fling it straight back. It’s got to the point where neither of us have actually spat on our own shit yet! It’s just a matter of filling in the gaps. It’s very, very close to getting finished. We’ll probably just do a load of tracks up until April and look back through and pick the right ones. You’ve been nominated locally for album of the year, alongside Wordplay’s reader’s vote. That’s got to feel good? Really and truly, it’s felt good since the response we got for “Home By 8”. Not the album, the actual single. When we shot the video and put it out, I don’t think we expected it to be that popular. Obviously, when Dike posted the SimzCity TV freestyle that Matt did, he blew up a bit but “Home By 8” further cemented it. To be able to follow it up with a quality product was para-
mount so when I came out with something as Baileys Brown, it had to be something solid. Being nominated for that was almost like confirmation so yeah, it feels really good. Last year was definitely a good year. The Bristol scene’s come into fruition over the past couple of years. Why so? I don’t really know. Everyone that’s now coming to the forefront has been doing it for years so it’s not like someone’s dropped some rap juice in the water. It’s crazy really. I’m going to say something that people might get angry about but the mainstay of UK Hip Hop for a long time was the London scene. In my opinion, it was all very samey. It might piss some people off but I’m just saying what I feel. With Bristol, as much as it’s grim down here, it’s a party city and everyone likes to enjoy themselves. It’s projected through the music; it’s very upbeat and there’s a lot of energy going through it. Everybody knows that life sucks but why do we have to make music about that; that’s emo shit! “Real G’s get piano lessons”. Care to elaborate? You can never know too much in life, especially in music. I’ve reached a stage now with my music where I want to take it to the next level so it was a case of going back to school and allowing yourself to be taught. There’s people above my level of music production that won’t allow themselves to get piano lessons because of their pride. It’s a no-brainer really – have you got that skill? No? Get it!
It’s a case of allowing yourself to be taught. Have you got that skill? No? Get it! What are you listening to at the moment? There’s a couple of things that have been blowing up my phone lately. There’s an instrumental album from a guy called Brenk Sinatra. He did a remix of a Jay Rock tune and it’s fucking amazing, it’s a million times better than the original! Flatbush Zombies got me interested for a minute with that “MRAZ” track but then the rest of it wasn’t that great. Hawk House; that tape was dope. Stwo – he’s a French producer, the Metabeats album and The Left album, “Gas Mask”, it’s a really old album but that’s on there. Aside from that, it’s Hozay’s album and, erm, mine! In all fairness, I need to put some new stuff on here but I just don’t get around to it. With this issue, we’ll have the results of the reader’s vote for album of the year. Given that “Home By 8” was nominated last time, as well as winning best single, who would be your tip? Me! (laughs) I don’t really know; it’s a bit subjective. The majority are fans of a certain type of thing. Personally, I think Metabeats’ album deserves it or maybe Trellion & Sniff; those are the two standouts for me because they’re really different. The likelihood though, I think either Dike’s or maybe “Drugs, Booze & Dental Issues”. What does 2014 hold in store for Baileys Brown? Quite a bit! I’ve got an instrumental album that’s probably going to come out in the summer; loads of different temp beats, all synth based and no samples; just music written by me. Obviously there’s the album with Hozay coming and the Demorus LP. There’s the 80s project where I’ve flipped a load of 80’s samples and turned them into bangers. I’m probably going to get three or four of them vocalled and leave the rest as instrumentals. Really and truly, I should probably do a solo thing but I just can’t be arsed! There’ll be features from me within the camp and then producing for people out of town like Sonnyjim, Lee Scott and More1. There have been whispers about doing something with Sirplus and Datkid but that probably won’t be this year. There’s a lot coming and I’m pretty excited. A lot of it is not stuff that you’d expect to hear from me but I guess I smashed a few preconceptions with “Fat Glitches…” and so the next couple of releases are going to blow it wide open. I’m not looking to pigeon-hole myself; I’m looking to be a music producer. Any shout-outs? Last year we started a label called Crudely Cuts which is still in its infancy so shouts to everyone involved in that, especially my partner in that Steven ‘Krazy’ Draper. Shout out to everybody in Bristol that knows me; Central Spillz, Split Prophets, Three Headed Beast and just everybody that’s safe; EatGood, Greasy Vinyl, Chris Lucas, Jay Wilcox, the mandem… and big up my mum. Just for being my mum!
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A TRIBUTE TO A UK GREAT WORDS FROM FRIENDS & FAMILY / PHOTOGRAPHY SUPPLIED BY ISMAY MUMMERY, NEMA, MORN & SKORE The UK Graffiti scene is a proud place, and rightly so, it didn’t take us long to pick up on the movement from New York and then take those styles and develop them into our own. Like every sub-culture the world over, graffiti has pioneers, people that lead the way and push boundaries further than anyone before them. Fire was one of these pioneers for the UK Graffiti scene, he developed letter style and left a firm stamp on the scene, not just in Brighton but in the UK. We (the WP team) have been truely honoured by being asked to put together this piece as a tribute to Jon ‘Fire’ Mummery who passed away this March. Family, crew members and friends left these words. SKORE “I started involving myself in the Brighton scene in the summer of 1992. I had seen photos coming out of there for a couple of years, so knew there was a healthy scene, and the scene in London was dying off at the time (the IRA bombing of train yards and police campaigns of 91 had killed the scene dead). My first contact was Euro (an old writer from Kent), and through him I quickly linked with Nema. Within months I was down there a couple of times a week, where we fed off each other creatively, a habit which lasted a good three or four years. The DFM years. DFM was an amalgamation of Sussex finest four talents (She Req Fire and Nema), with Kent’s (myself Skore, Spike, Euro and Petro), with the later addition of Carl123 & Tempt from Manchester. Together I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say we reinvigorated and took to new levels, the British graffiti scene, and
a massive part of that was down to the effortless styles of Jon ‘Fire’ Mummery. When I first went down to Brighton, Jon was away at college in Bournemouth and so it was a while before we got to meet, although we regularly wrote letters (a strange old way of communication where people wrote to each other with a pen and paper, often including printed photographs, and sketches - lol). We really hit it off as a partnership in the Summer of 93. When a new Skore Fire production would be unveiled weekly, 21 years later I was choked to hear Jon chose Souls of Mischief’s ‘93 til infinity’ to be played at his funeral. To me that was his way of saying, that , that summer was special to him, as it was to me. Our friendship transcended graffiti. we would spend days playing basketball at Tarner, hanging out at Morn, Euro or Nema’s flat, clubnights, mixtapes and the TRC pirate radio shows. Jon was a creative genius, it was clear to anyone who met him. He used to make little fanzines of his sketches that would blow me away. I looked forward to his letters like a crack fiend for my latest fix of ‘Fyre’. As a person Jon was a quiet storm. His determination and strength knew no bounds, especially in light of his health (an unspoken thing that we all ‘just kind of knew’ he didn’t want to acknowledge, as if to speak of it made it real, and would get in the way of what he wanted to achieve). Jon was so ahead of his time. I still see his influence in my work, such as my love of fading into white in a fill, the infamous Fyre flame and blade shapes (which became a DFM staple), the sharp ends to letter shapes, just the way he approached the simple colours and fades across his pieces, his influence lives on through all of us.”
Fire Pose ‘94
Crasie by Kerb & Fire ‘91
Freas by Kerb & Fire
FLUKE “I can’t remember the exact date I first met Jon, it was some time in the early 1990s. But what I can remember though is knowing of him before I actually met him. Of course, I didn’t know him as Jon at this point, I knew him as Fire, one of the leading lights in the Brighton graffiti scene. His name was peppered along the train tracks between Brighton and Shoreham, and his more colourful pieces graced the walls of halls of fame like Tarnerland, Blackrock and Davigdor Road. After several years of watching his style develop, when I eventually met him I was pleasantly surprised. In a scene dominated by huge egos, eccentric personalities and plenty of unscrupulous characters, Jon was none of these. He was as down to earth as you could get, he had no hidden agenda and, most of all, he was extremely modest considering his talent. And he sure had talent. In the past week I’ve been looking at photos of his pieces from 20 years ago and the one thing that sticks out is how they have stood the test of time. While many graffiti styles and techniques have dated badly, Jon’s haven’t, if one of his pieces from 1994 appeared on a wall today it would still burn the competition. So I guess in that respect it’s fair to say Jon was certainly ahead of his time.
His style defined the Brighton graffiti style, which in itself defined the UK style for much of the 1990s, and I know many graffiti writers will admit to being heavily influenced by Jon’s work. Jon obviously stopped painting graffiti towards the end of the 1990s which was a sad loss for the scene, but who could blame him? He was able to harness his great talent in his animation career he must be one of the few people that I know that had a job doing what they truly love, and then he met Issy and started a family. So while he’s sadly no longer with us, we can perhaps take some solace in the thought that the legacy of his immense talent lives on in the same unassuming manner that he demonstrated as a person. From the tapes we played on the many car journeys we shared to other cities to paint I remember Jon was particularly fond of a track by Souls of Mischief called “93 ‘til infinity”, and I’d like to think the song’s title sums up how Jon’s influence on the graffiti scene will be remembered. Rest in Peace Jon.”
WORDPLAY KILO For me, Fyre was one of the UK’s true ‘style masters’ he had a unique flow to his pieces which definitely had a lasting impact on the scene in general. He always pulled off the cleanest burners and his choice of colours reflected his personality perfectly - bright and colourful! I often wished that one day I would see a new FYRE burner and even tried to get him to paint when I last saw him in Bristol some 8 years ago or so. When I got the message that he had requested me to be among the writers chosen to paint his coffin it really hit home how much graffiti had meant to him - even tho he had chosen to focus his later years on his family and it was truly an honour to be able to help celebrate his life alongside his family and friends, one that I will never forget. Rest In Peace mate, gone but NEVER forgotten
ENRG by Kerb & Fire
Fyre, Nema - Tarner â€˜94
Space by Kerb & Fire
WORDPLAY Aside from graffiti Jon went on to study animation at what was then Bournemouth College and then worked in the Video Games industry for 20 years. He worked at various games companies including over 12 years at Rare Ltd. Working on titles such as Perfect Dark and Kinect Sports which both won BAFTA awards. He also had a momentous year living and working in Sweden for Starbreeze AB working on Syndicate and Brothers; a tale of two sons which also won a BAFTA award for Games Innovation. Jon was born with Cystic Fibrosis which had caused his health to decline rapidly in the last year. He was on the transplant list hoping for some new lungs when he died. He leaves behind a wife and four year old son and will be sorely missed by all. He was an inspiration to many people in all areas of his life, not just creatively but also in how determined he was not to let his condition hold him back. His family are currently fundraising in his memory for the hospital ward that he was cared for on when he died. The hospital plan to have this specialist ward refurbished to make the long stays more comfortable for patients and families alike. Please dig deep and donate at: http://www.justgiving.com/remember/114468/Jonathan-Mummery
ENRG by Fire and Kerb
Unauthorised Personel PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANIS ALI MODELS AMBER HEATH, JAMIE GIBBONS, THEBE O’CONNELL
Akomplice X J Dilla T-shirt, Seventy Seven Jacket, Bridewell Breakfast Balaclava
Antique Hoody, Seventy Seven Jacket, Akomplice tie dye T-shirt and Bridewell Breakfast Balaclavas
Eighty-Nine Beanie, Bridewell NO ‘Heart’ POLICE T-shirt
Akomplice Bucket hat, WeSC hoody
WeSC T-shirt, Akomplice Bucket hat, ESM zip hood and Dephect T-shirt
High Focus T-shirt, Bridewell Breakfast Balaclava
WeSC 5Panel cap, High Focus T-shirt
Think Zebra Sweatshirt, Akomplice Bucket hat
Think Zebra Sweatshirt, Bridewell Breakfast Balaclava
Akomplice Hoody, Bridewell Breakfast balaclava
Half Pint BACK TO BRIXTON INTERVIEW BY JACK DUFFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROBBIE GOLEC
HALF PINT INTERVIEW BY JACK DUFFIELD
HALF PINT INTERVIEW BY JACK DUFFIELD
Half Pint is one of Jamaica’s most loved performers, here at Wordplay we got the invite to have a chat with him after his show at Brixton’s favourite reggae venue the Hootenanny. The night was sure to be a spectacle, with support from up and coming artist Stikki, on his first foreign tour. Needless to say, the place was absolutely rammed, just about the busiest that I have seen it on one of Jah Revelation soundsystem’s Thursday specials. Before the show, we were introduced to Stikki, who was loving the UK vibes, we didn’t have much time to chat due to the arrival of food. We sat outside watching the place fill out, with numerous local and not so local soundmen filtering through the door as well as one of my favourite ever Jamaican voices – Cornell Campbell hanging by the door. Stikki took to the stage after sup-
port from the house sound and filled it like a seasoned veteran, with the highlight for me being his collaboration with my friend’s label True Sounds (one to look out for). The place was still filling up, and by the time we were ready for the main event, you could barely move and the heat was unbearable due to the volume of punters inside. Half Pint takes to the stage and opens, to the delight of the crowd, with ‘Greetings’ possibly his biggest tune. You can see the professionalism of the man from his stage presence flowing through his hits. The crowd reacted wildly to his classic era defining tunes, judging by the age of the majority of the spectators, from their raving days. As the name suggests, Half Pint isn’t the largest person, but his charisma and veteran status just screamed smoothness and quality. The show
was wicked, apart from the temperature, I couldn’t complain about a thing. Raucous applause and screams of ‘encore!’ ended the show, eventually the crowd filed out looking more than satisfied. We hung around after and were soon ushered into the basement of the venue where Half Pint was busy posing for photos with some female fans. We waited for this to all wrap up and entered the dressing room, two legendary London soundmen, Blacker Dread from Coxsone Outernational and Dennis Rowe from Saxon Sound were chilling there, both having worked extensively with Pint over the years. After having a chat and taking some obligatory photos we got down to business and started the interview with this legendary singer. Before the interview started and Dennis Rowe walked in, Half Pint introduced him to us:
WORDPLAY HP – That’s Dennis Saxon, he was the one responsible for my early years in England on Saxon Sound System. All them songs – ‘Money Man Skank’, ‘Puchie Lou’ and ‘Winsome’, Saxon Sound BLAST them out in London back in ’84 when I just come from Jamaica. They were playing them songs before them even released on vinyl! This man, I owe him high regards in London. He is a pioneer.
HP – I remember, back in Jamaica when I was attending school, the music teacher would come round the first year and listen every children in the classroom voice. After that she came for me in second grade, third grade and four grade. I was in the choir from grade two, then at church we would do Christmas carols. Then me and the other little children in the community, the neighbourhood of Kingston 11, Waterhouse Jamaica, we would have a little concert for our own self in the evening before we go to bed. Some of us would recite a poem, some of us would sing a song, some of us would do any little thing we could do for entertainment. I used to love to sing because I loved the Osmond Brothers, the Jackson 5, even sing along with the music playing on the radio. I was young and very talented, older people would say ‘wow! You can sing!’ I believe that you have SOUL for music, it’s like an in born thing. Look at Tchaikovsky, look at Beethoven, they were BORN musical genius. Locally in Jamaica, some children, as young as they are, you can hear it in them that they have that musical range. The way that they master themselves, its more than just a photocopy!
I’m a practical person who deals with positivity WP – When was the first ever time you appeared on a disk?
WP – What sort of sound systems in Jamaica were you singing on at this kind of time? HP – The soundsystem in Jamaica, it was very important for the underground, upcoming talent them. Cos at night when the dancehall would start, some of us young talent, we would go into the dance and get the mic and START to sing on the riddim. That would be our debut with an audience. If we were good, they would cheer us on, if we were no good they wouldn’t really cheer us.
to work with them! Out of all the great musicians in Jamaica that played, I could EMBRACE them, I could FEEL them. We would go for the best of the best. Lloyd Parks would play bass and a next bass player from Sagittarius band, Derrick Barnett. We would use various musicians in the studio and we would lay the track, record it all together. I came up with the lyrics and the melodies and they would play them. Back in the days, Studio One, them musicians didn’t need a singer! They would just start up and play on their own cos they were musical geniuses. Musicians that could write notes and all that. In Jamaica you have an alcohol we call White Rum, back in the days most of the Treasure Isle and Studio One musicians were DRUNK! And they play the shit out of the drums!
WP – What was your favourite sound? HP - Back in the days there was a sound called Mello Vibes in Kingston 11, Waterhouse. That was the soundsystem around the neighbourhood at the weekends so we would attend that on Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. Between me, Jr. Reid and Wayne Smith (amongst others) we would take the mic and sing the lover’s rock, redemption or songs of praise. From there songs like ‘Money Man Skank’, ‘Freedom Fighter’, ‘Puchie Lou’ and ‘Sally’ is what I used to perform live and direct in the dancehall. By 1978 two producers name Earl Marshall and Earl Lewis check me and took me to Channel One studio to record and then by 1982 had the first release. Many people knew these songs already from me performing them live on sound. WP – who are the favourite musicians that you worked with over the years? HP – some of the best riddims was from a group called High Times, Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Benbow as the drummer and a Ras named Badness who play the bass. They were the first set of musicians I play with. Lloyd Parks and that set of people is a next group of musicians I admired. I wanted them to play some songs and they did in about ’86 or ’87. I was eagerly wanting
WP – with regards to slackness etc., how important do you think it is to be conscious as an artist? HP – I do believe in originality, I’m a practical person who deals with positivity and if any improvisation has to run, I could sing with it as long as it is not perverted or distorted! WP – how important is Rasta to your music? HP – It is essential! From the late 60’s coming into the 70’s, Jamaican music evolved around Rastafari. Nyabinghi was at the heart with chanting and drums. It was a ceremonial means of showing who we are. The interview unfortunately ended at this point due to a whole queue of people waiting to speak with Pint, but as ever it is amazing to meet superstars who are level and down to earth. Half Pint is always working, whether in Jamaica or around the world so if you get a chance to see this legend of the dancehall era, then jump at it, you won’t be disappointed. Shout outs to all who made this interview possible – big up Dom True Sounds, Dennis Rowe, Lennart and Hootenanny Brixton for letting us hang out.
HALF PINT INTERVIEW BY JACK DUFFIELD
HALF PINT INTERVIEW BY JACK DUFFIELD
WP – Where did it all begin for you?
HP – 1982 was my first release, a song titled ‘Sally’. I recorded it in 1978 and by ’82 we got it out.
LARGEPRO PHOTOGRAPHY JAMES dE ARA TORRES INTERVIEW BY CRAIG PALMER
Large Professor is a certified legend. One of the most appropriately named figures within Hip Hop’s glittering history, his influence is immeasurably vast and his work is always calculated to cultural and musical perfection. From his work alongside originators Eric B. and Rakim to forming the golden age crew Main Source (in the process handing a debut to the then unheard talents of a certain Nasty Nas), his continued presence is thanks to a level of quality most are unable to match.
Midnight Marauders, and co-crafting the sound of Illmatic are just some of the bullet points to appear on the Large Pro CV. Following the release of Professor @ Large his worldwide popularity is no better highlighted than when you see a packed venue repeat every word of every bar he delivers. We caught up with him before a recent gig at Open Clubroom Norwich to discuss digging, DJing and of course, Nas.
Beats for Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, Busta Rhymes and Common, rapping and producing on Tribe’s seminal album
Ok so lets get straight into it then… You’re a legend behind the boards but with the influx of modern technology (such as Serato and Fruity Loops) we often see producers using the internet (YouTube - Party Supplies) and other sources for sampling/production. Coupled with the constant closing of record shops, do you think you need to use some of the old methods to be able to retain that classic Hip Hop sound? Yeah, but there are so many things that are named hip hop. Right now the parameters are very broad, in the mid 90’s I was kinda more, I wouldn’t
even say disgruntled, but I was just more ‘to the roots’ like it has to be that way. With the wave of all of this technology I’m a little bit more sitting back and just watching it and just seeing what I like about it. If that works for him that’s cool, if he works on Fruity Loops that’s cool, as long as it sounds good in the end. My angle on it in general is as long as it’s banging I don’t care how you made it. But me personally because it opens up more for you like ‘now we need you to DJ’ so you don’t have to go to a website to get the clip now you have the actual record man, it means you went out specifically to find that tune, it’s the materialistic element of it thats important.
You still digging? Yeah of course, my new thing is the 7 inches though. I’ve had 45’s in the past but lately they been requesting me to do 45 DJ sets, so I’ve just been going crazy getting those 45’s to build a good catalogue. Have you used the new MPC Renaissance? Definitely, I got a tonne of beats on that joint. It’s really easy to use and everything they makin’ now is software/hardware orientated so thats their version, but it still has that MPC layout. Its nice man.
How does your creative process change when you produce for other artists as opposed to yourself? I mean, it makes my job easier if they say ‘We want you to do this and do that’ I’m like thats all you want me to do, ok i’ll do that real quick (he gestures his fingers towards an imaginary drum machine, I watch closely and witness the movements that define a golden era of Hip Hop).
But for the most part when I make my beats people choose from my tracks, they’re kinda already finished to a certain point and then someone may say we need one more sound. You get that rare instance where people are specific like biz, he can be like ‘Yo, Paul, I want you to hook up Lets Do It Again and loop it like this’ . He knows exactly what he wants. I have the ones that are more passionate and that I’m more passionate about, I know because the dudes
that rhyme over my beats are looking towards the streets that if I’ve got something a little more musical, groovy or upbeat most of the time i’ll use it myself. The more gutter sounding ghetto joints they’ll take those cos thats where they want to be at, but i’ll use a happier beat like radioactive and all of these other songs I have that are more subtle but still retain that street message.
As long as it’s banging I don’t care how you made it’
Apparently MF Grimm was supposed to be on the Main Source album, what happened and have you heard from him recently? Have you read his comic novel? We were hanging out a lot in those days and he was supposed to come by but that guy (he pauses to reflect), thats a real street dude right there. Grimm was in them streets when he was supposed to be coming to the studio, thats why he missed out. He’s crazy clever with the illustrations man. You’ve worked on so many seminal albums, which was the most enjoyable to be involved in? Illmatic. No question. Following the release of Professor at Large which features a predominately local guest list, who would you like to feature on an album if money and time were no object? Nas, i’d make Illmatic 2. Simple. If you could go back and feature one guest on Illmatic, who would it be and at which point? If I would’ve had my way with Illmatic, Rakim would have been involved and Kool G Rap because thats where he (Nas) was coming from, he was coming from those sessions but everyone had their own itineraries. As far as new artist, I always felt that Nas could hold his own so it was exactly how it was supposed to be because has hung out with AZ and that was a natural thing. I mean now knowing Raekwon, Ghost and everybody I would’ve done those guys but how it came out was how it was supposed to be. How did you maintain a common sound with so many different producers of equal strength and quality?
We all came from the same area and we all wanted the same thing. What dictates the content of your tunes? I make conscious records like baseball because thats what I felt like expressing. As you grow, you get better in your song writing so you learn how to express your self better in different ways. A lot of my joints were very raw, this is how I feel about it and I’m gonna put it in a song. Whereas now I’m a little more refined, after finding out the effect you have on people (where people kinda live by these words) you have to be careful. You can get the message across but you say it in a way thats a little easier to digest. You’ve had a few songs mentioning how watching TV is a waste of time and I have to say I agree. Are you anti-TV and if so why? I watch television now, but back then it was all about going out into the world and seeing what’s out on there instead of sitting in. I still feel the same way about television, it takes your vision and your ears so you have to fully focus, you’re being controlled. When I’m listening to music I could be watching something else, it’s not very invasive, it’s a partnership. You can vibe with the music rather than having your whole being taken over by television, I still feel the same but I do watch television, I was young like 17/18 when I was saying that harmless stuff (He laughs). How did you hook up with Gensu Dean and who’s idea was it for the brilliant video to Forever? Its dope! We are the same age, we are like brothers man, I met up with him through the myspace days, we just stayed in contact from there and he sent me the
track which I kept for years before releasing (he explains about an ever increasing to do list of unfinished work, including something thats eight years in the making). When we put it together, for the video he (Gensu) chose Calvin Fowler, who shot it and came up with the concept. Have you ever been heavily involved in any of the other elements BBoying/Graffiti? Yes, I came through all the channels. Back when I was younger I used to write under the name GAZE, climbing through fences, hitting layups, all of that! Who is your biggest musical influence? That varies on a daily basis but today id say Sly Stone. Who is your favourite artist to listen to for pleasure? I always like to draw inspiration from the predecessors, I’m like a music historian. Again it varies so today I would say The Meters but tomorrow it could be someone totally different. So Whats next for you? Working on a my new project and finishing off Cormega’s Megaphilosophy. Sir, Its been a pleasure. Thank you man, peace.
RECORDS PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANIS ALI
Revorg Records have blessed every heads music collection over the past year with some of the finest hip hop to come out of the UK at the moment. Tps and Revorg founders Big Toast, Jack Diggs and Strange Neighbour join me with Efeks and Phoenix Da Icefire for a chat about what listeners should expect from Revorg Records in 2014, the misconceptions of hip hop and the infamous Vice documentary that pissed everyone off...
So first of all, for all those who might not know, how did the Revorg Records label come about? Toast: Well we sort of tried to do similar stuff before Revorg but it didn’t really set off. We went to New York for a week and when we were there we got chilling with all these people and they just did things differently. They were a lot more professional and they took their stuff a bit more seriously then we ever did.
Toast: A that point we hadn’t put out any professional looking music and the stuff we did have I didn’t really feel confident showing and saying “this is what we’ve done” because it looked crap. So basically we realised we needed to start stepping it up. We named the label after a friend of ours who past away, so we took his name and built it into the name of the label as a way of showing respect as he was a big fan of the music as well as a good friend. That gave us even more inspiration to take it more seriously. Revorg umbrellas a lot of our friends and people who want to put out music. We’ve worked with wicked people who may not get the recognition they deserve so we just umbrella everything like a big family. Phoenix- you are now part of the ‘family’ that Big Toast is talking about. How were you introduced to Revorg Records? Phoenix: For me it all started when I did a track called ‘Sword of the Scribe’ with one of Strange Neighbour’s good friends Hermit the Slob. Strange heard the track and reached out to me so we then went on to do a track together called ‘Cinematic’. Originally this was just going to be one track, but because of how well we gelled I proposed that we do a whole project. Efeks- what is the relationship with Boom Bap Professionals and Revorg Records? Efeks: Well, both camps have known each other for a long time from the local scene and bumping heads at gigs. Back in the day we were more or less always performing on the same night but we mainly got to know each other through Oliver Sudden so that’s how we got to meet everyone else. And what drove you to release your debut solo LP ‘Contemporary Classic’ with Revorg? Efeks: With ‘Contemporary Classic’ everything seemed to just snow ball really. The original batch of beats I had for the album were from Jack Diggs. We were recording together and I ended up recording the whole album with Strange and it
Diggs: When we say ‘Revorg’ that includes TPS, Efeks, Gee-Bag, Ollie Sudden, Phoenix da Icefire and Datkid. So you know, it’s like a big collective and it’s a good way of spreading the word of more than just one person or one crew. Speaking of collectives and bringing people together, Strange Neighbour- tell me about the Heisenberg EP that dropped during the final series of Breaking Bad last summer. Strange: Basically, Sirplus came to mine and Jacks flat for like a weekend and he laid verses down and was like “yeah we will get Datkid down”. So he came through and him and Oliver Sudden wrapped up the rest of the EP and we got Jman on it too. It was good because of the concept so everyone wanted to be part of it. But with Ollie, Sirplus and Datkid it was good because three people came together that you wouldn’t think would be reppin the same unit. We even got Sammy B Side on it. It was just a fun project to give away to people whilst they were waiting for another release to come out basically. It was good fun making it and it was the run up to the Breaking Bad finale as well so it paid good homage to it.
Tps- ‘Hot Water Music’ dropped in February and gave listeners a wicked soundtrack to the start of the new year. Any favourite tracks off the album? Toast: Well the thing is actually I really liked ‘Monday Blues’. But if I’m honest, when it came to making the video for it I heard it so many times I got a bit sick of it. But then I like performing it still because I think everyone gets a bit involved with shouting “fuck a job”. Strange: See my two favourites are two that I always forget about- ‘5 Nuggets’ and ‘Broken Smile’. I was always forgetting about 5 Nuggets for some reason, but now when it comes on I just rinse that one! Diggs: I think 5 Nuggets as well for me. I think it’s because it’s quite a simple beat. I dunno, I feel like it flows nicely. It just sounds quite raw and energetic. A lot of the lyrical content is pretty workheavy. Do you ever show anyone at work the music you create? All: C’mon! No! Toast: No, I keep that very separate. Partly because if I’ve got a show and I call in sick the next day it might look a bit dodgy and partly because they’re just weird old people and like, nobodies going to get it! Diggs: People still have a complete misconception about certain music like hip hop. Toast: I work with ‘geezers’ and that, and they just have the wrong attitude to rap. Diggs: Nah man, there’s not enough time in my life to start explaining. There’s no point educating a person on something they don’t even give a chance. I’ve got my work life which is just... Toast: ...horrible. Diggs: I wouldn’t even call it life! That’s the outlook on my days. As soon as it’s over it’s just forgotten about. Work is just something to get the money really; pay the rent. Toast: I just don’t speak to anyone about my music who I think won’t get it. I just get so bored of saying the same sorts of things, like justifying yourself. I’m just content knowing I’m superior to these people. Diggs: That’s a good point though! When you try to explain yourself to certain people they want you to justify it. Toast nailed it right there. And you almost feel like you have to, it’s something you love so you would feel you have to justify it. Toast: Ya know, De La Soul? Yeah a little bit like that but nothing the same!
People still have a complete misconception about certain music like hip hop.
REVORG RECORDS INTERVIEW BY ABI LEWIS
REVORG RECORDS INTERVIEW BY ABI LEWIS
Diggs: Everything they did in New York was like a business move. It’s like we’d be here now and I’m talking to Toast or Strange and I’ll say “lets do a tune” and they will turn around and say “yeah yeah cool, but come over during studio time” even though we are like brothers! I mean what the fuck?! That’s how they work though- they have a goal for everything.
developed naturally from there. I recorded the entire album at the Tps studio and they all featured on a couple of tracks. Jack and Strange invested so much time into the album that it became part theirs.
WORDPLAY Now just out of curiosity I was wondering what your opinions are on the recent Vice ‘documentary’ ‘Do Brits get hip hop?’
So finally but most importantly, what are listeners to expect to come out of Revorg Records in 2014?
Diggs: It’s not the first time something like this has happened and it just seemed like a joke for some reason. Plus it was done by people who don’t even know anything about it so they’ve just gone “oh look at these people rapping who are British- they shouldn’t be doing that”. But I mean, look at what is actually happening in the scene, look beneath the surface and actually educate and realise it’s good music before you cast judgement.
Efeks: Me and Jack Diggs are doing an EP together called E&J.
Toast: See, I judged that guy who did it because I thought he looked like a dickhead...
Efeks: I saw the uproar about it online but I never really checked it. To be honest though, it doesn’t really surprise me. Everyone is going to have an opinion on it but I think a lot of the time the people that are most vocal about it know the least about what is actually going on. I’m just doing my own thing to be honest. Strange: You know what though, that kicked up a lot of fuss and fed a lot of publicity, so maybe it was done for us to talk about it. Regardless though, I would kill that guy!
Strange: We’ve also got ‘Cinematic’ and that’s all been finished and mastered as of last week and that’s an album produced by myself for Phoenix Da Icefire. Phoenix: The concept of ‘Cinematic’ is that every track is like a genre of film. We got tracks called ‘Psychological Thriller’, ‘Blue Movie’ and ‘London Hollywood’. One’s called ‘Spaghetti Western’ and that’s about people on the street and saying how life’s not like a western; your not gonna ride into the sunset and not everything’s gonna be all good. I used all of these genres of film to tell a different story. It’s a conceptual project and it’s something new that hasn’t been done before, so we expect to kind of re-invigorate the game with it. Strange: It also features tracks called ‘Expendables’ which are two posse cuts that features everyone from Fliptrix, Verb T, Cappo, Tps. There’s so many people on this posse cut it’s unreal.
See, I judged that guy who did it because I thought he looked like a dickhead...
Phoenix: We’ve even got Si Philli and Life MC of Phi Life Cypher who both jumped in on the track. The way I pitched it to them was by saying it was my salute to all the veterans who have put in all the work- just like the concept of the film ‘The Expendables’. So yeah quite a few heads in the scene are gonna be on it. Strange: We’ve also got ‘Save the Pub’ which is going to be Toast’s LP which will be about ten tracks but hopefully that’s Revorgs 2014 for you right there. I mean there might be a few bits and bobs in between but they are our major releases. And is there anyone you would like to shout out? Tps: Gee-Bag and Granville sessions most definitely! Phoenix: Flow-Techs, Cyclonius and Don Rasputin. Efeks: Big up to the Wordplay Team, the whole of Revorg, everyone doing their thing, all the heads out there and everyone who has supported us.
REVORG RECORDS INTERVIEW BY ABI LEWIS
REVORG RECORDS INTERVIEW BY ABI LEWIS
Diggs: But it goes back to what we were talking about with work and how you don’t tell people about what you do because they will have the same misconceptions like that guy in the documentary.
Diggs: Yeah it’s an 8 track EP that we’re going to press on vinyl so I’m really looking forward to that one. It’s me on the beats with Efeks rapping and this will be the first release where I’ve solely produced so I’m quite excited for that.
Roc Marciano THANKYOU VERY MUCH
What can you tell the readers of Wordplay Magazine about your latest project “Marci Beaucoup”? Basically, the project is a compilation that I have produced. It’s me featuring most of the artists that I make music with in the business - a production compilation project. Both “Reloaded” and “Marcberg” seemed to follow the formula of ‘less is more’. How would you say your sound and process has evolved since? It’s constantly evolving every day. If you look at all of the music I’ve put out in my career, that’s a small portion of what I’ve put out. Just being that some of it sounds like minimalist production, I also have some bigger tracks, though. This album shows progression. Among its shining reviews and credit, “Marcberg” was met with the unusual and ‘typical criticism’ in Hip Hop from its production standpoint; specifically for its lack of drums. Has this frustrated you? I think some of the samples have more drums in them. I just do what I feel, I really don’t care what people think. What are some of the experiences in life that have translated into the creation and direction of this project? Just becoming more comfortable as a growing artist by recording more songs,I’m recording more than I’ve ever recorded in small periods of time. I’m just getting used to recording as a full time artist. How much of your grind and passion today would you attribute to the loyalty and support from UK?
I have a tremendous respect for the people in the UK and how they just support good art, you know. I really love how the people in the UK have embraced what I’ve been doing, it’s overwhelming. I love it.
career, that’s a small portion of the music that I’ve put out. Just being that some of it sounds like minimalist production, I also have some bigger tracks, though. This album shows progression.
How is your creative process different working with KA and Knowledge Pirate than from when you were working with The UN?
Among its shinning reviews and credit, “Marcberg” was met with the unusual and ‘typical criticism’ in Hip Hop from its production standpoint; specifically for its lack of drums. Has this frustrated you?
Just now, we’re grown men, so it’s all business. We’re having fun but it’s definitely all about leaving a legacy. We understand now as grown men what’s at stake. I would say its better. What can you reveal about your upcoming release alongside The Arch-Druids and the Metal Clergy project with KA? I’m done with the Arch-Druids project; we’ve been working on that for a long time. We have a bunch of songs, I recorded most of them in California. As far as Metal Clergy, we’re still recording right now. We’re at the halfway mark, we’re just knocking out the rest of the songs as we speak. What can you tell the readers of Wordplay Magazine about your latest project “Marci Beaucoup”? Basically, the project is a compilation that I have produced. It’s me featuring most of the artists that I make music with in the business - a production compilation project. Both “Reloaded” and “Marcberg” seemed to follow the formula of ‘less is more’. How would you say your sound and process has evolved since? It’s constantly evolving every day. If you look at all of the music I’ve put out in my
I think some of the samples have more drums in them. I just do what I feel, I really don’t care what people think. What are some of the experiences in life that have translated into the creation and direction of this project? Just becoming more comfortable as a growing artist by recording more songs because now I’m recording more than I’ve ever recorded in small periods of time. I’m just getting used to recording as a full time artist. How much of your grind and passion today would you attribute to the loyalty and support from UK? I have a tremendous respect for the people in the UK and how they just support good art, you know. I really love how the people in the UK have embraced what I’ve been doing, it’s overwhelming. I love it.
ROC MARCIANO INTERVIEW BY LUKE BAILEY
ROC MARCIANO INTERVIEW BY LUKE BAILEY
INTERVIEW BY LUKE ‘MESSENGER MENACE’ BAILEY. PHOTOGRAPHY S.C ATKINSON
DOPPELGANGAZ INTERVIEW BY DELPHINA SCOTT
You’ve been a practicing 5 percenter for a few years now. How do your religious beliefs influence your daily life and your work?
Just now, we’re grown men, so it’s all business. We’re having fun but it’s definitely all about leaving a legacy. We understand now as grown men what’s at stake. I would say its better.
They influence my daily work in a major way because I’ve learned a lot and I apply a lot of things that I’ve learned through 5 percent lessons to my lifestyle. It affects my everyday life still to this day.
What can you reveal about your upcoming release alongside The Arch-Druids and the Metal Clergy project with KA?
What can you tell us about the significance behind the line “Feeding at the Garden of Eden, I’m a Heathen” and its correlation to yourself and your beliefs as a 5 percenter?
I’m done with the Arch-Druids project; we’ve been working on that for a long time. We have a bunch of songs, I recorded most of them in California. As far as Metal Clergy, we’re still recording right now. We’re at the halfway mark, we’re just knocking out the rest of the songs as we speak.
Well, feeding at the Garden of Eden is saying that we’re all still sinners. It’s really that simple. I know better than to do a lot of things that I do but I do them. We still all do them. That’s basically what the line means.
Inspired by Ultramagnetic MC’s, you’re an artist that makes your music off the premises of unpredictability and an unconventional philosophy, how much are your forthcoming projects a testament to that?
At what point if ever, do the contradictions between a rappers possible spiritual philosophy and straight up glorification of sex, violence and drugs make it no longer possible to call themselves a 5 percenter?
I just feel like if it’s not broke don’t fix it, so it’s just going to continue. I just do what I feel, so hopefully the people love it for what it is but I’m not trying to make the music like things I’ve heard in the past. I’m just in there making music, having fun.
No man is without sin. So without being able to call yourself 5 percent; 5 percent is just math, that’s just what you know. It’s as simple as that. What have you got planned following the release of “Marci Beaucoup”?
Where does your style come from? Scorch Earth Policy. My style comes from my experiences and life and as far as my influences; it ranges from Rakim to Heavy D, Like, Biggie, Nas; I pull from all the greats and it’s a little bit of everything. Michael Jackson, Al Green; I just try and pull from everywhere.
You recently added label exec to your career repertoire, being named VP and Director of A&R for the independent power house that is Man Bites Dog Records. How did the opportunity present itself?
It came about through conversations about music and talking to Ryan, consulting on certain ideas and things of that nature and the business that we were doing in the past; it was just a natural progression. What exactly do these positions entail? The positions entail me coming along to the label to make it bigger than what it is. How do you plan to bring the ethos of your previous label W.O.R.L.D. Records, a selfoperated label you and The U.N. ran, to Man Bites Dog Records, or, has your vision completely evolved since then? Yes, my vision has completely evolved since then. Like I said earlier, there’s just a lot more at stake now. It’s evolved because failure is not an option. What have you learnt between being signed to SRC, Flipmode, Fat Beats and Decon Records? It doesn’t make a difference where you’re signed, it’s just all about the music! Do you have any plans of signing UK talent to Man Bites Dog this year? I’m definitely not opposed to it, it doesn’t matter where they’re from, I’ll fuck with it. What does the next 5 years for Man Bites Dog Records hold? The next five years there are more classics to come out on the label and a lot of content entertainment on the label to give the people what they want.
DOPPELGANGAZ INTERVIEW BY DELPHINA SCOTT
How is your creative process different working with KA and Knowledge Pirate than from when you were working with The UN?
SH OT BY AMBER & ASHL IE CH AV E Z
wes c. com
The Skints INTRODUCING INTERVIEW BY JAMIE SAUNDERS PHOTOGRAPHY BY DIBS McCULLUM
Earlier last summer, after what seems like forever trying to see the band live in a small venue, I finally managed to get the task done, and was invited to meet the band and get closer to what makes the band such a well loved and followed fixture on the underground festival and club circuit. For those that have not come across The Skints yet, let me give you some insight into the bands background, the bands members and the natural crossover appeal from the punk and ska scene into the Wordplay friendly territory of reggae and hip hop. Formed back in 2005, around the Leyton area of East London, the young band members who between them go way back as school friends, finally settled as this unit in 2007 and instantly made a massive impression on the live circuit with their tight as a nut reggae and ska rhythm section meets punk hop show. From very early on, industry types latched on, with Radio One executive producers catching a show in a pub in their stomping round with most of the band aged just 16. This led to the band receiving play on Radio One shows by the likes of Rob Da Bank and Radio one ska and punk shows. The band seemed to be slotted in amongst tours and shows with punk bands from day dot, something of a common occurrence due to the amount of ska fans in that scene, but what sets The Skints apart from all these bands, is the simply hypnotic and rich reggae sound which has been in constant development. A tip top rhythm section, a simple drums and bass combination so interlocked and lush in sound and sub bass you could easily mistake it for digital programming, a three-way vocal display including singing drummer Jamie K, Guitarist/singer Joshua Waters-Rudge, Multiinstrumentalist singer Marcia Richards and bass provided by Jonathan Doyle. In 2008 the starting point of their recording career kicked off with a 6-track EP which although ska and reggae at heart, featured a
punk edge clearly influenced by their peers and surroundings on tour. Released on independent ska label ‘Do the dog’ it only helped stoked the fire, and was the beginning of a relationship with dub legend Mad Professor, and thus a pivotal point in their development. With the band touring constantly, the livecircuit machine helping develop the players and allowing them to really hone their reggae feel to a fine art, they were taking in about 150 shows per year covering all of Europe and as far afield as Thailand, taking time out only to record debut album ‘Live.Breath.Build.Believe’. A collection of street ska with a modern rudeboy feel, very much their representation of their life in East London, capturing very well their live sound and full of authentic upbeat reggae and ska, with Marcia’s array of instruments giving the music a depth way beyond the 4-piece that put it down on tape. Each track delivers a new vibe with Guitarist Joshua possessing a razor sharp rap delivery that tops up the traditional sounds and offers up tales of life and times in the East of the capital city. Then you have the mellifluous tone of singing drummer Jamie offering up tales of love, defiance and well, smoking herb. What seems to round off the package here is the addition of Marcia’s sweet, dulcet reggae delivery with of tales of love for her reggae, each song a great introduction to what this band have to say, and all very much relevant and engaging. Whilst the touring family continued to, indeed, build and believe, the band found themselves on line-ups alongside live greats in Easy-Star Allstars, The Slackers and Bedouin Soundclash and 2010 saw the band finally work with Mad Professor on a dub workout of ‘Where the Raggaman go’ on a much sought after 7” picture disc. This was clearly the catalyst for a further journey into a deep and soulful sweet reggae sound, a sound that disobeys the bands still relatively tender age.
Growing up in East London, there was a good culture of Dancehall and 90’s Ragga
still play it a lot without getting anywhere near bored. Check out the link below to hear ‘Rub a dub –Done Know’ from Part and Parcel. Having been hooked on the band from day one, what stands out to me is that I can’t think of many a reggae band that can produce such beautiful music and offer up a live show that seems to bring it to life in a new way each time. I was luckily to get backstage access earlier this month to get up close to the band as they played to a sold out venue (The band sell out most shows as standard these days…). What is great is the diversity of the demographic of attendees of a Skints show, young fans, old reggae heads and even a few mums and dads by the looks of it, all shaking it out as the band mix up an energetic dancefloor style with some of their sweet mellow reggae. After the show, I caught up with Joshua to get a few Words for Wordplay…
THE SKINTS INTERVIEW BY JAMIE SAUDNERS
THE SKINTS INTERVIEW BY JAMIE SAUNDERS
The next step for the band, and a move that evidently paid dividends was the decision to pair up with production legend Mike ‘Prince Fatty’ Pelanconi, a man who’s CV not only includes his own great Dubwise roots production, but a wealth of studio experience working with the likes of Sugarhill Gang, Gregory Isaacs and Dub Syndicate. After much time working together the end product, their ‘Part and Parcel’ album from last year was my reggae album of the year. Part and Parcel is an album that really shows where this band are, and what they can do. The sound and styling of this album, to put it frankly, doesn’t sound like a bunch of mates out of the East end, it sounds as if it was made in Jamaica at various points in time, and the bands performance is as about as sweet as I’ve heard. The way with which the band switch up styles from roots rock reggae, to ska, to hip hop vocal and a good dose of earth shaking bass is testament to a band that clearly know what they want to do and that is play the reggae music they love and pay homage to the array of styles within. I have to be honest and say I think I was listening to the album a few times a day at every opportunity when I got my hands on it and
WP: ‘’You have a wide fanbase, reggae fans, ska and punk, hip-hop heads are into you and it could even be said you have pop appeal. The most potent element seems to be the reggae sound system feel, where do you feel you fit in with that in a country which such a big soundsystem culture?’’ Joshua: ‘’Soundsystem culture is the thinking behind the live show, we play a lot of different styles and try offer up a bit of an education for the younger fans maybe. We would love to take out other reggae bands, DJ’s playing sound system stuff, and although we don’t have our own system, if we managed to get the production, taking speakers out on tour would be something we would love to do’’ WP: ‘’You’ve been around a long time as a band, what did you do before The Skints, that lead to you being here right now?’’ Josh: ‘’(Laughs) Nothing really, we were just kids before all this. We were just kids and we were at all school, me and Marcia were 6 years old, we met the others at high school and we all linked up listening to similar sounds and bonded on that.. it’s as simple as that, we became The Skints, I was only 16 when we started this’’ WP: ‘’Well, all the way down the line, you’ve just done ‘Part and Parcel’ and you’ve been working with Prince Fatty. In the melting pot this country has, with Punks loving jungle, reggae heads loving hip-hop, where were you hoping to get to, working with Fatty?’’ Josh: ‘’Prince Fatty cuts straight to tape, in his studio, it’s all analogue gear and there isn’t anything in his studio younger than 30 years old… so as much as authentic reggae sound, we wanted to get some schooling, and he really took us to school. He’s
worked with so many influential people in this sound and since we started working with him we haven’t stopped. It’s made us a better band!’’ WP: ‘’ You’re a bunch of guys out of East London, how did you get to playing reggae?’’ Josh: ‘’ Alot of different ways! When we were younger, we used to listen to Jungle music and stuff and we really liked the dancefloor element to that, and we also played punk and ska and kind of got bored of the modern elements of that and wanted to get onto what made this sound, what was before all this, y’know? Before I was personally into the punky reggae side of things, I was really into old ska like Prince Buster and The Skattalites. Growing up in East London, there is a good culture of Dancehall and 90’s Ragga and even the 80’s digital reggae, so we did grow up around that.’’ WP: ‘’You’re a touring band, Always on tour! You tour all over the world, how do you think audiences differ overseas from the ones you play to on home turf? Do they get what you’re doing?’’ Josh: ‘’It’s weird, we just did our first tour of France, never even been there as support, and tons of people were coming out to the shows and seem to get it straight away. The strange thing with the UK is that not many of your ‘normal’ people listen to reggae, no mainstream coverage of it at all. Whereas in Europe, you can hear it on the radio which is obviously to our benefit, back in the UK, you might just get some X-Factor type doing a reggae feel. But here in Europe, the people that do love it, REALLY love it. That said, we don’t like to tie ourselves to one kind of show. We like to do the punk and ska shows and play to people who might
not really know what it is we do’’ WP: ‘’Do you think that’s why so many new people latch onto you each year, The energetic shows and everything?’’ Josh: ‘’We haven’t really stopped, in the day and age of labels offering out stupid deals just to try and give bands or artists a flash in the pan slice of fame, and record success, a day and age where there are TV shows just about making people instantly famous, we’ve just done a very much word of mouth thing, toured hard and made the music and let it do it’s own thing’’ WP: ’’You’re working away on things with Prince Fatty, making great music, you’re a very strong live force, where are going to, what’s next for The Skints?’’ Josh: ‘’ The future is to take The Skints to more countries every year, recording on the road as we go, and we will be releasing on our own label, making it more relaxed and maybe releasing a few tracks every month. The Album has a re-release as a Deluxe package, and just keep the fans as up to date as possible as where the band are at. Keep building what we do’’ The Skints are clearly a band on a mission, and seem to have their own destiny well and truly in their own hands. With a good niche carved out and more of the same to come with live shows and writing reggae music I recommend if you haven’t taken the time to listen to them you go check out a band that has great crossover appeal and style and substance in abundance for reggae fans.
THE SKINTS INTERVIEW BY JAMIE SAUDNERS
THE SKINTS INTERVIEW BY JAMIE SAUNDERS
Skinny Pete x Strange neighbour BREAKING BAD AS WRITTEN AND TOLD TO LUKE ‘MESSENGER MENACE’ BAILEY
Last month marked the first anniversary of Revorg Records, one of Hip Hop’s most respected and creative rising labels, which were founded when a South-London based passionate Rap fan and producer named John Strange, produced his first recording session in 2013 with Jack-Diggs in Crystal Palace. Since then Revorg has gone on to represent quality in Hip Hop, releasing several notable projects to critical acclaim, including arguably its most popular to date “The Heisenberg EP”; a free conceptual project released last Summer based on the TV show Breaking Bad. In an effort to reflect back and celebrate its creation, as well as TV’s greatest show of all time, we linked Strange Neighbour and Breaking Bad’s Charles Baker, commonly known as Skinny Pete, for an exclusive and unique artist on artist interview.
Strange Neighbour interviews Charles Baker Strange: Did you ever envision such massive success for Breaking Bad? Charles: I kind of did. When I first heard about it, I was intrigued but my first day on the set everyone in the cast and crew had this energy that was like nothing I’d seen on set before. It was as if everyone knew that this show was going to be something special. Strange: In Episode 3 of Season 5, you are portrayed to be quite musical with a scene that featured you kicking a piano solo. Are you a musical person outside of acting and what sort of music are you into? Charles: Music was my first passion and in a way is a driving force behind my acting. I played violin when I was 4, then tried the ukulele, the trumpet, percussion, piano and guitar. I was a vocal major;
classical baritone in college but gravitated towards theatre about halfway through. I still play guitar, piano and ukulele and sing but mostly only for myself. I have a very eclectic taste in music. Mostly I appreciate music that evokes an emotion, for whatever reason. Pink Floyd and the Beatles have always been favourites of mine though. Strange: What are some of your fondest moments working on Breaking Bad? Charles: As a performer, the line that announced my name to Tuco’s doorman and the world, “Yo, I’m Skinny Pete!” was an extreme honor since I was originally hired to be in only one episode with 3 lines and called “Skinny Stoner”.
Strange: Had you heard any UK Hip Hop prior to hearing “The Heisenberg EP” and would our EP entice you into hearing more in the future? Charles: I got to be honest, I haven’t listened to much Hip Hop at all in a few years (a sign of my age) but I have found myself listening to this EP a couple of times, so I wouldn’t be opposed to hearing more.
Charles: I won’t mention the project’s name but I worked on a movie that was based on truly horrible actual events, in which one of the real victims played a role. My Job was to play the murderer. In order to shoot the one scene I had the person who lived this nightmare as a child walked me through the set, describing in detail the horrible events that we were about to reenact, referring to me as the killer throughout the entire process. When we shot it, he continued to direct the scene, from his place in the scene, by saying things like, “...then you walk up to my mother and shoot her in the head”. I had to remain completely in character while this happened, while the entire cast and crew watched, bawling their eyes out. I’m a rather empathic person, so the moment I left the set the weight of what I had just experienced completely took over and I cried for the entire 3 hour drive back to my house. Strange: With the recent news of “Better Call Saul” airing, are there any possibilities of a Skinny Pete and Badger spin-off series? Charles: I can pretty much guarantee that won’t happen unless a huge amount of fans suddenly come out and demand it. I would love it but I don’t see it happening, unfortunately. I’m not even sure if I’ll be asked to be a part of the Saul spin off. Strange: What roles should readers look forward to Charles Baker playing in the future? Charles: One that I’m excited about but whose future is uncertain at the moment is the role of Grey in NBC’s “The Blacklist”. Grey is Red’s driver / confidant (Red is the lead character played by James Spader). It’s a completely different type of role for me. He’s educated, wears a 3 piece suit and drives a Bentley. I love stretching my repertoire, so I’ve got my hopes up for that one. In film, you have to see David Lowery’s “Ain’t Them Bodie’s Saints”. I play a ruthless killer named Bear. It’s such a beautiful film. Just go see it!
Charles Baker interviews Strange Neighbour Charles: Would you want your music to be thought of and remembered as a voice for change or as simply commentary on the zeitgeist? Or some of both? Strange: I mainly write tracks about what I see in front of me, how I feel and how my surroundings affect me. I aim to do this
Charles: I love that Breaking Bad has inspired artists of every medium to create. What do you think it is about the show that makes it such a muse? Strange: The show is flawless in every way possible. Such an intense watch it would be hard not to draw inspiration from it. I loved the writing, the twists and turns along with a concrete story! I found it so real and relatable it got my creativity levels booming after watching each episode.
With this release its all me on the instrumental side of things along with recording the tracks and mixing the tracks. With the artists contributing lyrics and creative input on how the final tracks should sound and what order they should fit on the EP. I gotta shout out everyone who featured and supported this project: Datkid, Oliver Sudden, Sir Plus, TPS (Jack Diggs + Big Toast), Efeks, Mackie Skillz, Phoenix Da Icefire, Al Mighty, DJ Sammy BSide, Dephect Clothing, Downstroke and Conspiracy Worldwide Radio. This release has been good fun to drop and had so much support. Thank you for this incredible opportunity. It was definitely a new experience for me and I deeply appreciate being involved. I want to thank all of the artists behind “The Heisenberg” EP for sharing their music with me and for making such a great tribute to a wonderful show! It’s an honor to be a part of it all.
Charles: The entire EP seemed to have a unified feel to it but each song was unique to itself. What was the process that led to this dynamic? Strange: I’m glad you thought it kept unified. It’s always hard to make a release sound tight together, yet all tracks have their own flair and differences! I find a lot of releases now days just sound like a heap of random tracks thrown together, so with this release I sat down with Sirplus, Jack Diggs, Big Toast, Oliver Sudden and Datkid, all of us picking the best instrumentals for the CD and what concepts to work with. As these tracks were all my production, I think it ties it together even more so as its all one style and sound in the beat. Charles: How did this concept come to be? Was it a collaborative idea? Strange: It was defiantly a collaborative idea between me and Sirplus after we had laid the first 3 tracks down. We had been talking about Breaking Bad all night in the studio and he referred to me as Rap’s Heisenberg, as I pulled together all the elements of hip hop adding some of the finest MC’s in the scene to create the purest audio drug to hit the streets. Charles: What other styles / genres of music inspire / influence you? Strange: If I’m brutally honest I’m rarely inspired by Hip Hop and rarely even listen to it. I sample all my tracks from vinyl, so over the years of collecting I’ve drawn most of my inspiration from Psychedelic Rock, Jazz Fusion, Latin Jazz, Latin Psyc, Soul and Funk. I listen to a lot of foreign folk music too. All of these genres combined create Strange Neighbours production sound. Charles: Being new to the UK Hip Hop scene, I wasn’t able to distinguish what each artist’s contribution was. My assumption is that each artist adds a necessary element: beat, lyrics, music, etc. Is that correct? If so, since it’s not specified on the cover, who does what?
DOPPELGANGAZ INTERVIEW BY DELPHINA SCOTT
DOPPELGANGAZ INTERVIEW BY DELPHINA SCOTT
Strange: What’s the worst acting job you’ve had to pursue? Any stories?
without sounding like I’m moaning or stuck in some sort of struggle, so I make songs that reflect me as a person in my day to day life, so if you don’t know me, you will get a full understanding through the music. Trying to alter people’s views or create a sense of revolution is never something I aim for but if you relate, you relate! I’m not the sort of person to push for change in other people; I can hardly change for the good myself!
Confucius MC THE HIGHEST ORDER INTERVIEW BY RUDI MINTO DE WILJS. PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICK CARO
South East London was notoriously synonymous with the 2011 London riots, a time when a majority in the UK, despite the outcome, started to question the aim of the men and women in charge of ruling over their previously subservient “lesser others”. I say there is no better place to meet Confucius MC for this reason- the scenes of the riots in the UK were terrible and in many instances maliciously brutal on the parts of both the governed and those that govern. However, I also feel that the riots were and are a catalyst for change, not change in the guise of grandiose faux-Revolution but a more powerful revolution of the mind. A revolution centred on fairness and a shift of power from the top 1%. Confucius MC is a man along with many others associated with change that genuinely place art amongst the tools for such movements. This isn’t your average MC. This is a collective, a movement focused on a creative zeitgeist. This isn’t your average MC either; this is Confucius MC. Listen up, Listen up! The Highest Order is sublimely produced with sections of sample heavy tracks sounding like a finely tuned record from the late great producers of our past. Slicker than the production however is the lyricism, with each bar almost standing on its own
as a finely tweaked and polished slice of ice embedded in your cranium, slowly melting and infusing your brain with a freedom and flow equal parts unique and artistic. “There’s certain concepts, ideas and feelings you can’t put a name on them, you know what I mean, but they are there and they’re powerful” and that’s true to this project, it’s unique even in its conceptual backbone. The Noir based beats and samples, supplied by French producer Keor, lend the album it’s mystical and heavy hitting feel allowing the listener to sit back listen but most importantly engage in an art form. Art is here to be engaging and compelling, not to be glared at through a glass box or listened to through £200 headphones and that’s what Con’s about, there’s a sincerity about his work that you can’t express. An unaffected passion and drive. He’s a genuine dude making an art that is fully immersive and about quality not the quantity sold. And that’s what it’s about, art isn’t a luxury “lets rely on the artist again and allow them to ask the question”. “Once I get a bit of exposure and a bit of attention it’s about utilising that” explains Con when talking about his passion for writing and his side project The Panopticon, a play centred around our constant surveillance. Its obvious he wants to harness this attention in a positive way. At the moment he channels the exposure already garnered from battles and his work with Kwake (Confucius +Kwake= ConKwake) into community projects such as creative writing workshops for young people. Something I don’t think you would see a lot
of up and comings doing. Respect “It places the project in a context of quality and lyricism that doesn’t rely on stigma” Con explains, when I ask him about his connections with the long standing legend of UK Hip Hop, Jehst. A comment that speaks a lot about the intention of this quality over quantity minded rapper. Con speaks about The Highest Order standing within a project that is YNR (Young N Restless) within another social based project, he wants, like a lot of us ‘idle youths’ to be part of this revolutionary energy. A lot of people including Con want to give this “revolutionary movement a voice” before it loses potency, a strong mantra that I feel we should all adhere to. Without meaning to sound too negative, the truth is, we are living under an ominous grey cloud and the people who refuse to acknowledge its existence haven’t looked up yet or are the top 1% flying high above it. However, there are a collection of young and old, men and women who are breaking through this monotony and repetitive depression, sick of living under Cam Cam’s reign of subtly oppressive slogan based dictatorship, and it’s refreshing. It’s, by definition, liberating. Confucius MC with his debut The Highest Order is one to watch without question, however the questions he raises and the revolutionary ideas his music emits transcend art and draw attention to human issues paradoxically bringing our gaze firmly back on art. RMD
CONFUCIUS MC PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICK CARO
CONFUCIUS MC INTERVIEW BY RUDI MINTO DE WILJS
Sat in a small pub in South East London there seems no better place to interview Confucius MC, a man who lends his name from a philosopher famous for addressing the issues of governmental and social morality. A pioneering thinker within the ideals of shared consciousness.
Solemn Pastures Photography by Kevfoster.com Styling by Rikki James Models Catherine Monk, Jasmine Bradbury, Jack Moore, Elise Monk, Paul James Special Thanks to Studio 20
Jack wears HUF beanie, Known sweater and Penfield jacket
Jasmine wears - Antique Beanie, WeSC jacket and Dephect Tee
Paul wears WeSC Snap, Supremebeing sweater and High Focus jacket
Elise wears 47 Brand snapback, WeSC jacket and Known tee ‘Daily Operation’
Kasmine wears Adidas tee and jacket
Paul wears Penfield jackets, Known hoody and holds an Antique back pack
Catherine wears Supremebeing jacket and top
Jasmine wears Adidas jacket, tshirt and trainers, Jack wears full Adidas tracksuit, Akomplice beanie and New Balance 1500
Elise wears HUF sweater and Vans
Jack wears Known 5 Panel, esm zip hoody, WeSC cargo pants
Catherine wears esm beanie, Akomplice tee and Supremebeing jacket
Confucius MC ALBUM OF THE ISSUE REVIEW BY PHIL TANG
The Chinese philosopher Confucius was infamous for championing family values and advocating exemplary behaviour from those in power as significant in bringing about a united and harmonious society. Going by the renowned name of this formidable and inspiring scholar, the half Irish/British, half Grenadian South London born William Carabine-Glean aka CONFUCIUS MC, is ready to drop his debut album entitled “Highest Order”, courtesy of YNR Records. The 14 track LP has been produced entirely by Keor Meteor, a masterful Parisian beat impresario satisfyingly quoted as being ‘monstrously committed to golden era production‘. ‘Get a little something/you might find that you seek more/ I sppech raw beats that you could reach far for each shore/ and represent the heart of hip hop that they keep sore’ (original) For me the highlights of the album start with the intro track ‘CoNvey The Thought’, a firmly rousing start to the record, with the delicious production on tracks such as ‘CoNsciousness’, ‘Sign Of Quality’ and ‘Is It Real?’ displaying the French hip hop pedigree of Keor most vividly, beats fashioned in such a way that they would have fitted in most comfortably on a pre-21st Century IAM album. The roughest beat on the album, ‘Original’, which CON smoothly demolishes, is the short track to which the first official video of the album was created, a video that classily pays homage to the visual style and structure of Film Noir. ‘Still Image (Talking Pictures)’ is one of the many tracks that are through and through examples of Keor Meteor’s affection for soul, funk and jazz samples and rhythms that influence the overall feel to the record, well suited to CON’s chilled steez. While ‘Ponder on This’, another album prerelease single, has the feel of a YNR banger than could be straight out of the lab of Mr. Brimstone himself, there are no prizes for guessing what the subject matter of the unerringly melodic mellowout that is ‘Lovely Chronic’.
‘Saw together flos like a saville row talior/ writing odes to better roads/duckin’ the savage wholesaler’ (still image) Famed for his high volume of collaborative projects and for tailoring beats to be as complimentary to the featuring emcee as possible, Keor’s beats really make the perfect accompaniment to Con’s straight-talkin’ and laidback flows, flows that disguise the incorporation of intricate rhyme patterns and his understated intensity. Penning rhymes catered both to entertain and to leave the listeners with a broader perspective than they started with, CON intermingles matters of the heart and soul with his everyday thoughts and social observations, all of which fuse together with Keor’s music to turn this album into a healthy serving of listener-friendly food for thought. In contrast to these High Focus Records dominated times of general rowdiness and in your face raps, which we all love nonetheless, it is refreshing to hear a UK emcee on a more relaxed tip, and an UK hip hop album which feels more like a good conversation than raucous party banter. Once you’ve listened to the entirety of this stylish and carefully crafted album, which rather pleasantly sails on till the end like a fabled gondolier cruising along Venetian canals, it is easy to understand why this album has been so highly anticipated and why Confucius has been earmarked as an exciting new talent. Definitely one to keep an eye on for the future, I look forward to hearing more from CON as his journey of progression and elevation continues under the watchful eye of Jehst and YNR Records.
UK REVIEWS Baileys Brown has been on his grind. Following the success of Datkid’s Home By 8, he’s decided to smooth shit out and throw together a souldrenched new EP and treat us all to a round of Baileys On Ice. Sandwiched between the tracks and amidst a few excerpts from films, we’re treated to three brief instrumentals to make sure that despite the vocalists shining throughout, he handles his business behind the boards and lets the music do the talking. Standout tracks include “Hold That Thought” (ft Eva Lazarus), “Conclusion” blessed by the hauntingly beautiful voice of Marie Lister, and “Could U Be Mine”, with Jay Wilcox’s husky yet soft tones (reminding me of Jaheim) and despite getting caught up in the ills of infatuation, “All In My Head” allows Allegra to powerfully bring the EP to its conclusion. Whilst boombap beats will always be at the heart of the Baileys Brown output, he’s moved to prove that he’s not a one-trick pony and fully capable of crafting material from a variety of backdrops. The wealth of vocal talent on offer undoubtedly boosts the authenticity of the EP and solidifies Baileys Brown’s standing as a producer to keep your eye on. Baileys Brown - Bailets on Ice Review by Mike Pattemore
As you would expect from Edward Scissortongue, the Theremin EP is no party; this is intense, thought provoking poetry, oozing with the gloomy, dystopian paranoia that is modern day Great Britain. Un like Better.Luck. Next.Life, where production was solely handled by Lamplight, production comes from Dirty Dike, Sumgii, Miles Courtney, Eon Ra & Konchis, who collectively maintain the dark, unique, electronic feel of his debut. Gloomy? Yes. Dull? No. Scissortongue has an extraordinary talent of packing each line of each verse full of imagery and information. Not a word is wasted, even lines that may seem throw-away only strengthen what is being said, helping the listener relate. Although the meanings may be obscure, Scissor is happy not to give all to you on a plate, with repeat listens definitely needed. But the more you work, the better the rewards.. Tales of the human condition, fragile minds and visions of the future, you could say it all seems a little bleak, but Edward Scissortongue is simply speaking his truth on the mic. Coming across like a Victorian sci-fi story, these are age old issues conflicting with the modern way of life and heading into the uncertain future. Sharing his inner thoughts and predictions, you may not like what you hear, but you cannot deny what is being said. Edward Scissortounge - The Theremin EP Review by Dan Larkin
There’s sometimes a stigma attached to battle-rappers that venture into the world of making music. However, Dotz more than holds his own throughout this release and perhaps on occasions even outshines his veteran partner in rhyme. That being said, the duo’s chemistry rarely falters. A new verbal sparring partner seems to have rejuvenated Phili and he sounds fresher than his years in the game might suggest, with the two bouncing off one and other’s energy to great effect. Enlisting production talent from the likes of Leaf, Badhabitz, Pete Cannon, Passion Hifi, Cystic and Richy Spitz means that PnD are guaranteed an eclectic soundscape on which to cast their wares. Whether it’s vivid narration, social and political observations or undiluted lyrical warfare, Phili’N’Dotz have all bases covered. “Phil N’ The Dotz” has been touted around for a while and with the wait finally over, it doesn’t disappoint. The combination of experience and youthful exuberance is a potent cocktail and will serve as the perfect starter to what I’m sure will be a fruitful partnership. Amidst the rowdiness, showmanship and graphic imagery, the duo sound strongest when they strip back the braggadocio and deliver something a little more poignant. Dotz takes the spotlight on the powerful “Rise Of The Skeptic” to reflect on society, corrupt moral compasses and global conflict. Similarly, on the albums’ closer “Strength Becomes Struggle”, the duo discuss overcoming their obstacles. Probably my favourite beat on the album, Leaf Dog somehow manages to outdo his extensive soul-drenched back catalogue with this pearl and coupled with a silky smooth hook from Whammy, it offers the ideal backdrop for Phili to chronicle his journey. Phili N Dotz - Phil N’ The Dotz Review by Mike Pattemore
Out The Box was initially a deal-sweetener for the vinyl repress of Theory Of Rhyme, but has since been granted a full standalone release. Being made up of 6 remixes from Third Eye Of The Storm and 6 original tracks, it’s not really an full album itself. Instead, it serves more as an appetite whetter for a full length Fliptrix LP coming later in the year. Production is entirely in the able hands of Rebs, who steps to the forefront on the six remixes, especially on his remix of ‘Wylin Out’, where he maintains the energy while bringing in some floaty Oriental mandolins to give it a fresh twist. Meanwhile, dubstep tune ‘The Essence’ get a reggae re-rub, while ‘Walk This Way’ is transformed from a reggae into a dubstep tune, completing the deft genre swap-around. While the remixes are definitely worth a listen, the 6 original tracks are bound to get fans drooling in anticipation for the album promised later in the year. ‘Duppying The Style’ sounds like an anthem in the making, with the sing-a-long chorus making it perfect for the upcoming festival season. There’s not a weak track to be seen, and at this point it’s pretty much a certainty that anything from Fliptrix is gonna get some heavy rotation. Although Out The Box was originally an add-on, the album stands strong on its own merits regardless.
Jack Jetson first stormed onto the hip hop scene in 2012 with Skip Class Records to deliver his killer debut EP High Five. Shortly after, Jetson was taken under the owl’s wings by Leaf Dog and BVA on their co founded label; RLD Records, to create the game changing album-The Adventures of Johnny Strange. This album contains everything you would hope to get from a Leaf Dog produced album; including his distinct slices of soul and dusty beats. Every track on this album is a banger in its own right. Wonderberry and Blue Moon showcase Jetson’s mellow bars inspired by his conceptual ways of thinking and accompanied by a shit load of hallucinogenics. Artists from sister camp High Focus feature on the album to exhibit their constant flawless delivery, with the likes of BVA in the neck snappin’ Vitamins and the bare-faced Dirty Dike in Mushroom Clouds. Get your ears around this poetically charged album and agree that Jetson has definitely raised the bar in crafting rhymes Jack Jetson - Adventures Of Johnny Strange Review By Abi Lewis
Lee Scott; the man, the rapper, the producer, artist, video director and ‘cult leader’ has only gone and warped our minds again with the release of new album ‘Tin Foil Fronts’. The ‘musical experiment’ that was birthed from the reclined position of Lee’s la-Z-boy whilst on “mild dosages of diazepam” has really proven how Scott has raised the bar in the quality of his projects. The album is predominantly produced by Reklews and Lee himself, with contributions from Blah’s 19.thou$and, Drae, 2late, Sniff, Cruicky and Sumgii. You can tell from the marriage of the gloom-driven beats and the coarse sense of humour that this is definitely a Lee Scott creation. The album features vocals from artist’s including Don Silk of Piff Gang, alongside Bad Taste Record’s Trellion & Sniff; bringing rhymes to the table that would make your ma weep. The content of the album offers up a variation of sound and bars filled with substance, but it’s only after a couple of listens do you begin to discover the deep, hidden corners that lie between the penned rhymes on the back of council summons and the smell of burnt mince in the frying pan- the world of Lee Scott. Lee Scott - Tin Foil Fronts Review by Abi Lewis
Fliptrix - Out The Box Review by Adam Chester
As unexpected as a collab between Sonnyjim & Leaf Dog might be (if you discount Sonnyjim’s feature on last year’s ‘Dog ‘N’ Bone EP’), there’s no denying that they work well together. Combined, the two have an undeniable pedigree, and it shows throughout the EP. For those familiar with Leafy’s production style, How To Tame Lions is a bit of a departure. Lead track ‘Royal Flush’ is full of twinkly background noise and cinematic strings, and likewise, ‘Diablo’ is significantly more laid back than Leaf Dog’s usual fare, showcasing Leaf Dog’s versatility across the EP’s 8 tracks, bringing out a different side. Meanwhile, Sonnyjim’s no slouch either. He’s got one of the UK’s most distinctive voices, and now it seems he wants to capitalise on his unique aspects: “I wanna sign a deal with the Roc Live Nation, but while I’m waiting I might be busy at a wine tasting”. Sonnyjim definitely walks the line between sounding raw and rugged, whilst making it all sounds effortless: “Signed contracts, with my compadres and contacts/ we parlay and pop fine cognacs”. The wordplay is on point, and it seems Sonnyjim’s got two things on his mind – signing a deal and sipping on classy-as-fuck alcoholic beverages. Two of the finest underground hip-hop heads in UK combine for an EP that’s full of class and points toward artistic progression from both, what’s not to love. Sonnyjim & Leaf Dog - How To Tame Lions Review by Adam Chester
Concerned largely in the consumption of the finest cheddar, quality broccoli and litres of Buckfast, all whilst upholding an obsessive desire to travel to and from the town of Kettering, Tommy Dockerz, the talented grime and hip hop artist hailing from Birmingham, has enlisted the production skills of Dan and O’Malley Oddysee for this cheeky and fun record by the name of ‘OddLiT’. With his rhymes, Dockerz offers up a steady flow of intoxicated adventures and details his attitudes towards topics such as life, women and sex over a thoroughly well-delivered and classy production theme founded upon a relaxing stroll-paced tempo that runs throughout this ten track bundle of wacky drug-fuelled capers and assorted tomfoolery. OddLiT has a more grime-orientated feel to it as compared to his previous offering, the “2Lit” EP, with his Dirty Dockerz partner in crime, The Reverand, instead providing the mix down for OddLiT. Having appeared on tracks with UK artists like the highly rated Lee Scott also on BLAH!, and members of the High Focus roster such as Dirty Dike, Leafdog and BVA, I feel that this album could easily, but not certainly, have benefited from a few guest appearances. That being said, if you’re a fan of rappers such as those mentioned in the last sentence and also a fan of that laid back, hazy, smoked-out future grime beat style attributable to tracks like ‘Bionic’ and ‘Tanqueray & Piff’ by Piff Gang, then you should by all means find this album a worthy and thoroughly enjoyable listen. Tommy Dockerz x Dan Oddysee - Oddlit Review by Phil Tang
It has roughly been ten years since Yungun emerged on the scene with his impressive debut “The Essance”. Next, fast forward to 2006 and one of my favourite UK albums, the brilliant collaborative effort with Mr Thing, “Grown Man Business”. Since then, there hasn’t been a full-length release from an emcee I’d consider to be one of the best in the UK... Yet, when you note that Essa is actually a practicing media lawyer, it’s more than understandable that he might have been a tad pre-occupied. Thus comes the premise for his new album “The Misadventures Of A Middle Man”. Straddling the worlds of the legal system and the music industry as a mixed-race former Etonian certainly catalyses Essa’s undoubtedly unique perspective and his role as an elder statesman of the once again flourishing UK scene, both influential elements on this album carrying a distinct level of maturity throughout. Eight years have passed since we last heard a full album from Essa and clearly he’s drawn on his experiences over this period to lay down the foundations for his latest offering. Sonically, the album is an eclectic, vibrant mix of sounds and styles; slices of Latin America, twinges of electronica and salutations to his African heritage seamlessly blended in amongst his trademark soulful sound, all courtesy of the likes of Ta-Ku, Tall Black Guy, Eric Lau, Budgie and Flako. Lyrically, Essa is as sharp and thought-provoking as he has ever been; all the while plainly honest and humorous whilst delivering thoughts that linger on once the music stops. All of these facets combined make the consummately produced and well-named “The Misadventures Of A Middle Man” that extra bit enjoyable; the more you listen to it, the more you take away from it. Essa - The Misadventures Of A Middle man Review By Mike Pattemore
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib INTERNATIONAL ALBUM OF THE ISSUE REVIEW BY CRAIG PALMER
It was inevitable that a Madlib album would eventually cross paths with the piñata reference. His projects are usually brimming with enviable treats, require some considered effort to fully unlock the enclosed goodies and are notoriously creative when it comes to the style of their packaging and decoration. With previous releases such as ‘Sujinho’ (a Latin jazz based collaboration between himself and Brazilian funk drummer Ivan Conti) and ‘Beat Konductor Vol 1-2 Movie Scenes’ (an instrumental album that describes a soundtrack to an imagined movie in his head) Madlib has followed the path of true musician. Uncompromising to the end, he uses inspiration, creativity and collaboration to drive him to develop and perfect a wider understanding of his craft. The results of such experimental workings become clear when his work is focused into a project such as this. Gloriously colourful and with all the trimmings of the typical Madlib maddening’s, Piñata is filled with highly detailed and scarily appropriate samples that only someone with an immense library of musical knowledge would be able to achieve. Adding to this, the typical sprinkling of vocal clips (again akin to the previous point) are combined with small organic touches within the production (such as the closing moments of ‘Bomb’), to reveal cracks within the outer shell of ‘Piñata’. Madlib’s unrelenting affection for music produced by our non autonomous ‘hard-drives’ is something he is well aware of. Describing his style and the reasons why he’s limited when choosing his co-collaborators. This latest offering from The Beat Konductor sees him join forces with underground veteran Freddie Gibbs. Admitting it was a challenge to rap over beats with chops and changes as unpredictable as the man who created them, Gibbs also stated (with the upmost confidence) ‘I think I did it to perfection’. In keeping with the unquantized, rough edged style of production, Freddie (the product of
the violent, drug laden streets of Gary, Indiana) is also not afraid to stay true to himself and highlight his mistakes equally alongside his successes. An early stumbling block for the MC being the disagreements with Interscope that forced him to leave the label back in 2007. Recording, but not releasing any material that year he followed the disappointment up with a plethora of mixtape releases highlighting his influences (‘The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs’ and ‘Midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik’ referencing Lauren Hill and Outkast respectively). Now, after a trilogy of EP releases (stemming back almost three years) the duo are finally able to present Gibbs’ first album handled entirely by one producer (albeit one who has a clear affinity for multiple personalities and alter egos). Delivering a spree of intricate stories and lyrical goodness throughout, his varying repertoire matches that of Madlib, who’s arbitrary use of audio snippets and seemingly erratic samples are a well documented highlight of his work. The hidden qualities within this album truly encapsulate the title. With both artists possessing a relentless drive to express their artistic perceptions (as you can see from the vast catalogue they posses individually), the shared determination to continually progress on the previous ten years work is hugely evident in so many instances within ‘Piñata’. In comparison to other albums of the genre, they seem to be more pin-cushion than piñ-ata so, ready yourself, choose your weapon and prepare to be flooded with an irresistible array of audio candy the duo has enclosed within.
US REVIEWS In a week that’s revealed that some people must have lost their goddamn minds (Donald Sterling) here comes Apollo Brown with new album ‘Thirty Eight’ to let us know that, ye,s everything is gonna be all right but you might have to talk to some people ‘up close’ and let em know the coup! By any means necessary! Apollo is Michigan born and raised on sounds such as the Carpenters, Journey, not the typical name checks you hear from Hip Hop Producers. But don’t misunderstand, the man, he is as Hip Hop as you can get. As a producer he employs the sounds and vibes he’s gathered from the eclectic sounds he grew up and whatever appeals to him as any true producer does. He always comes fresh with each album release with dope artwork to boot. ‘Thirty Eight’ is 20 tracks, oozing analogue vibes, strings, flutes, vocal gems and 70s flyness. Truthfully there’s nothing not to love. Apollo Brown needs salutes and props from true heads. Put your money where your mouth is and make that purchase! Apollo Brown - Thirty Eight Review By Delphina Scott
Michigan-born MC Chuck Inglish is perhaps better known for either his production work with Danny Brown, 10ille and Chilli Ali, his membership to heavyweight Midwest group ‘Pulled Over By The Cops’ (with Chip The Ripper and Freddie Gibbs) or as co-founder of ‘The Cool Kids’. After several years spent perfecting what is a natural talent and following a recent relocation to the city of angels, Convertibles is the long awaited debut, co-produced by Incubus’ Mike Einziger and Inglish himself. At just 12 tracks in length there’s no room for intro’s and interlude, Inglish enlists fellow Cool Kids member Sir Micheal Rocks alongside Chance The Rapper, Mac Miller, Action Bronson, Ab-Soul and a host of other guests. Original sounding and upbeat throughout, there are an innumerable amount of head nodding moments making it almost impossible to determine which of the tunes should eventually form a set of singles to promote the album. The variation in lyrical content is matched by the ever-changing soundscape hard hitting, drum dominated tunes like ‘Money Clip’, electronic samples and guitar riffs accompany some beautifully soulful samples. It feels as though the patience and hard work usually associated with debut albums has been well worth it. Chuck Inglish - Convertinbles Review By Craig Palmer
Open Mike Eagle coined his style of emceeing Art Rap. Hailing from Chicago, he relocated to Los Angeles and joined the Project Blowed movement. After releasing a few albums and joining forces with other emcees, he has made a name for himself. With that said, Dark Comedy is something one would expect: music that is endearing, headscratching, and even catchy without being forced. Open Mike Eagle is a lyricist: period. With some attention paid to what he says, he comes with multiple layers of meaning and references. For example, on the track “Thirsty Eagle Rap Lyrics” he says this “Call me young hungry hippo/with thumb grease ruined the reflection of my Zippo/Music and appearance don’t match like dips low”. It can be said that meaningful lyrics, double entendres, and plain old use of a diverse vocabulary is what my baking a hot commodity. Not all perfect with this album.“A History of Modern Dance” can become grating due to its production (unless you like that type of thing). The same can be said for “Idaho” and “Informations”. Still, Dark Comedy is an album that is for those that dare to be different.
P.T.S.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Is Pharoahe Monch’s new offering to those who have a clue about what fans should be, indeed will be clamoring for. This word maverick has hit his 4th solo album and his consistency of quality, creativity and concern for all that causes society to ache is still firmly in place. He first warned us of the ills of stress way back in ’94 on the Organized Konfusion album ‘Stress: The Extinction Agenda’. Blatantly he is so correct to keep hitting us with this theme because many people are facing all kinds of madness and stress. The bringer of death, rears it’s ugly head. You may well start not just hearing this album but seeing it in Technicolor. Live through every line and it becomes your soundtrack for the 47.46 minutes and duration. When you hit the end you’ll be wheeling back to re-live it. This is pay-attention-or-lose type of music. P.T.S.D. is unquestionably dope from start to finish. Artwork is insane too with a gas marked distorted head with a gun to the temple and perfectly portrays this intelligent, heartfelt music maze.
Open Mike Eagle - Dark Comedy Review by Mark Harris
Pharoah Monch - P.T.S.D Review By Delphina Scott
Ominous beauty emotes; one foot in a blues soaked yesteryear the other firmly planted in the technical present. L’Orange’s new album ‘The Orchid Days’ is like stepping unwittingly into a shadowy film noir. You can actually feel like this a running soundtrack to a real sleepy town nestled down south. The emcee Blu brings things to the present and ups the tempo on one of the standout tracks ‘Need You’. He’s in a hurry and has a story to tell which he does with verve and relish. After all he’s “deeper than Atlantis”! He name checks Bruce Leroy! If you have to ask who that is you best check yer Hip Hop credentials! The majority of the instrumental tracks are a mash of jazz and Hip Hop beats and blues vibes with plenty of film dialogue snippets. Some of the time it’s almost like nipping in and out of different cinema screens seeing snippets of a myriad of films. Which is precisely what L’Orange achieves with his cinematic music, vision and prolific sampling. So many technical styles Hip Hop has brought to music but to often is criticized. L’Orange waves the flag for sampling and that, my friend, is a good thing! L’Orange - Orchid Days Review By Delphina Scott
Hailing from Brooklyn, Ratking are, to put it simply the fusion of punk and Hip-hop. So It Goes Out offers the listener a light at the end of the tunnel with politically aware tracks such as So Sick Stories giving you direction with a more mature flow. The track in mention also features vocals from South East London’s very own King Krule and the two acts merge their young minds perfectly to create a sound that you can look back to in 50 years. Ratking like many are very proud of the fact they are from Brooklyn. This pride carries with it a sense of entitlement that you rarely get with artists from other locations. They’ve kept their New York authenticity and its characteristic swagger but covered it in a canopy of loops and drumbeats that collectively create a sound equally as gorgeous as each of these elements separated. Overall this potentially raucous and chaotic album is spared from being so by its gentle intellect. Ratking and So It Goes has you lost in a doomed world feeling like William Wordsworth on the streets of Philip Larkin’s Sunny Prestatyn. Ratking - So It Goes Review By RMD
After slaying all’a y’all with my review of The Brit Awards, Wordplay asked me to come through with more obnoxious chat on deck. Got me on that new Oxymoron joint by Schoolboy Q, which is fine by me… COZ I’M ALL ABOUT THAT STREET SHIT SON! 2014 NEEDED THIS. More importantly, I needed this. Like, FOR REAL. So far this year feels as if motherfuckers been steady waitin’ on someone else to make the first move. Thankfully Quincy had this prime-piece on hold. Lord knows why it took so damn long to drop, maybe TDE were too busy with the media blizzard the wonderboy was causing in 2013, though it must be a double edge sword being in the same crew as Kendrick. “Yo Kendrick, you wanna jump on this track and completely slay me? Yeah, thought so” All that aside, Q does it for me coz I want to listen to dat mad hood shit. I DON’T GIVE A DAMN for your message or your “Lyrical, spiritual” bullshit. I wanna listen to Q spit hard-ass knowledge in a tone that makes me frown hard at the cashier in Whole Foods like they said something racist to me. Oxy got me feeling like I been cruisin’ through South Central at dusk wit ma thugs in a drop-top n now I’ma listen to this album sittin’ on my porch with a 40oz, shouting Q’s adlibs at passers-by. Basically, Q DELIVERED, YO. All in all, SHIT’S ROUGH SON. Still, it’s got that party element to it. Dunno if I’d play this joint to my girl, but I’d sure play this one when the hommz be rollin’ thru. REPPIN’ THIS HARD for the streets right now. But yo, what happened to Bangers? Did that not make it on to the album? *SMH
Mac brings us another tape, ‘Faces’. With his sophomore album bringing us a neverheard-before sound to him, the style of this mixtape was pretty unpredictable. Sonically, the tape is definitely unorthodox for Mac Miller. When he first came out, everyone praised him for his uplifting beats and bouncy flows; now it seems as if he’s trying to converge into your modern day rapper rather than staying in his own lane. “Insomniak”, which strangely features Rick Ross (yes, Rick Ross – on a Mac Miller track) seems as if Mac is trying to push the boat out too far. His flows are mediocre, lyrically not all there and the vocals just don’t match the beat. Mostly all the tracks fit into that sort of lane, but Mac does pull through on a few tracks, like “Rain” with Vince Staples, who also falls into the same lane as Mac is seen. Both artists compliment each other on the track; it’s much more pleasing to the ears. “Here We Go” is another track that really hits the spot. With a mixture of his old sound and how he sounded on his sophomore album, his flows stick and altogether, it’s a great track. Chanting “I did it all without a Drake feature” is a nice touch, too. Check the mixtape out, it’s definitely a sound that a lot of people will want to hear from Mac; but many old Mac fans may be disappointed with the convergence to the mainstream flows and beats. But, hey, it’s a well-worked project.
Ever since I heard Mos Def, now Yasiin Bey, was creating a mash up album with the late and very great Prince of Soul I have been eagerly anticipating it with a mixture of excitement and nerves. A collaboration with the weight of this piece of mastery normally has a lot of publicity surrounding it from the moment it changes from idea to possibility. Therefore, it’s somewhat of a surprise that Bey managed to keep this hush hush until he wanted to tease us with a sample of Inner City Travelling man. Many tracks on this release had me really excited but one in particular is ‘I Want You Till the Summertime’ a fresh fusion of beats I used to listen to in my bedroom and Marvin Gaye’s ‘I Want You’ something my mum used to have on repeat as she imprinted a soul God on my heart. This record, apart from being undeniably amazing, is a conceptual masterpiece fusing not only black music history but also modern mastering and production techniques. Other installments of this beautifully crafted homage are expected in the coming months and first expected is Side Two: The Return. For now though take your feet out the ocean and start swimming brothers and sisters. Cop a copy of this album and share this wonderfully perfect collection of pioneering production and soulful wonder that boasts some of the hardest bars since Alcatraz. Yasiin Gaye - The Depature Review by RMD
Schoolboy Q - Oxymoron Review By Avalanche Palm
Mac Miller - Faces Review by Oscar Berkhout
Where else will you find a girl into Gunshot, fresh Nikes, Huf socks, Vinyl and chillinâ€™ in her knickers? Meet Jade. The first of a new section for us. We asked our readers what they wanted to see in Wordplay. You answered we listened. Enjoy! Interested in modelling for Wordplay magazine? Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org