Q. Your EP Verbal SWARdz comes out on 14/04/14, how has it been received so far?
My best review so far has come from Black Sheep Magazine, also in Germany I have quite a big fan base. All the positive responses have made me look forward to putting out more material in the future.
Q. Any negative responses, would you like to address them?
Some people have criticised me for putting Rambo on the EP twice, but it’s obvious that they are not listening to the whole song. After the third verse there are two more MC’s. In fact that’s actually the original version .As a producer and a fan before I became an artist myself, I can understand after 3 minutes hearing a loop it can somewhat be perceived as repetitive. However I really like Rambo, so anyone who is a fan make sure you listen to Rambo Relapse and check out the two added verses. Take your time, sit back and unwind.
Q. What direction do you see for the future of British Hip Hop?
I see British Hip hop scene getting bigger, taking the world by storm. It can potentially, but the segregation in the UK ain’t helping the hip hop scene. I hate to use the words fans because I think it is a very egotistical term, so I’ll say supporters because without supporters I wouldn’t be able to buy nice things or support my two kids. I think we need a lot more support from the supporters. Not necessarily financial, but listenership; a lot more promotion; talking about their favourite hip hop artists on social media. The more confidence and the more constructive criticism you give an artist will provoke something within the artist and allow them to speak to a higher power and project something to your taste and support.
Q. Why do you think hip-hop is not as popular as in the US?
Firstly there are less people in the UK. The size of the UK is the size of a state in America. The amount of people who do hip hop in this country is probably the size of a borough in New York. So population size is a key factor. Secondly I believe segregation is a key issue still to this day. Hip Hop still has its umbrella communities
Q. What do you think could help ease this segregation and tension in British hip hop?
Well, I’m involved in at least 3 crews- I’m involved in North West Confidential, Fufu Gang, Double Edge, Joe K STAR, K Nine. 2 crews in America- Rap Alliance and All Elements. The reason why I am is involved, not because I have an unlimited source of rhymes but rather to prove a point. All the crews I’m involved with have their own distinct style and I appreciate all styles and forms of hip hop so by being in such distinct crews I feel like I’m bridging the gap between all the different sub-genres of hip hop. Fufu Gang is definitely a lot more Black Power, All Element & Rap Alliance is straight hip drawing influences from the Golden Era of rap to the newer stuff of today. I feel honoured that all these great artists are willing to collaborate and be associated with me.
Q. So unity?
Yes, I guess that’s what need more of in the UK, I don’t want to say unity because I think it’s a very corny word. It’s not a word that is exercised very well, so I would say coöperation, we need a lot more of it. We can just be like oh we only roll with them guys over there. For example I roll with Apex Zero, next week you will see me with Melanin 9. Hip Hop is not about what side of the spectrum your complexion is. It’s about culture. I don’t think the UK has embraced that fully yet. This is why commercial American hip hop artists such as Migos can come out with one track and make millions. Equally so more conscious rappers such Talib Kweli can drop his album and make millions too.
Q. Do you think the hip hop or the whole music industry is still racist?
Some aspects of the music industry even in hip hop is racist. I don’t care what anyone says. I’m happy when an artist like Devlin speaks about issues that we as the people regardless of whether you are black or white go through, he’s taking it to a higher platform. However I feel as if he speaks of certain topic or says the same things I would say in a song or another black artist would say, Devlin or another white counterpart gets all the shine, attention, critical acclaim for it because of who is- as a white man, unfortunately. However it’s not his fault. It doesn’t take away from his talent.
I remember saying to my cousin Dizzee (Rascal) after he put out Boy in the Corner- you are an anomaly there is no one as dark as you are and as successful as you are. Dizzee and Wiley basically created a new genre of music and successfully transferred Grime from the underground and exposed it to the masses. Then you get artists like Pro Green and Example doing what Dizzee and Wiley do and they receive a lot more critical acclaim and shine. Yet they didn’t put out half as many mixtapes and albums as artists like Dizzee and Wiley in order to get that shine or play out big shows and festivals such as T4 on the Beach. Some people will argue my opinion, but I feel what I say and say what I feel.
Q. Hip-hop has always been perceived negatively by the mainstream media for glorifying materialism and promoting illegal activities. Do you think this is correct?
When I look at a magazine I don’t want to just see conscious rappers. I want to see rappers that talk about the streets- selling drugs. It sounds bad- but it’s all a part of life, some people’s life. It’s a story at the end of the day, albeit a sad one but that’s what hip hops all about, telling a story.
Arguably the best MC of our time- Rakim he was a righteous teacher but he was also a rich one. He was always embroidered in gold, you don’t have to be a conscious and broke. Shabazz the Disciple one time said that he ‘wears so much gold because it reflects the gold that’s inside me’. Some people argue that’s like wearing the shackles from slavery, good luck to you, but no! I just need to direct you to Africa where we covered head to toe in gold.
Q. How important do you think it is in the hip hop industry to have your own individual sense of style?
My cousin (fellow rapper) Tymatic from when we were kids he always looked fly. He’s like a fashion connoisseur, he can outdo A$AP Rocky any day. His swaggers always on been on point, so that’s influenced me greatly. It’s important to me to look good. It’s cool to be a pro righteous teacher but it’s even better to be a rich righteous teacher. I’ve been around people who criticise MC’s for wearing gold chains and teeth and watches. Why must you look like a tramp in order to be respected? Why not look respectable and like you care about your appearance? Someone more intellectual may come along and deconstruct my argument. I do understand there is excess of materialism in hip hop. However isn’t that what hip hops about- excess. That’s why it got the attention it did. You need to be captivating and controversial. There needs to be a drama, a rise and a fall.
Q. Would you like to venture into the fashion industry?
Yeah I had my own clothing line Iron Armour but unfortunately it got discontinued for various reasons- personal specifically. Yeah I would like to start it up again in the future.
Q. Do you think hip-hop has become a business, do you think this is a negative or positive?
Hip hop has become a tool for artists to get a better life. Many hip hop artists before they made it were hustling on the streets. I know Busta Rhymes after he dropped ‘The Coming, his mother invested majority of the proceeds into property. Now look at Busta (Rhymes) he don’t even need to drop an album no more, a single will suffice every once in a while because he’s got so many profit making side ventures. Hip hop has fed a lot of mouths, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. It has literally saved lives. I remember Tretch from Naughty by Nature was on this documentary and when asked what would you be doing if you weren’t doing hip hop. He said I would have you tied up in your home and I would be rummaging through your belongings and that’s the end of you.
Q. As a result of hip hop becoming a multi-billion dollar industry, do you think this is ruining the artistry of hip-hop? Do you think budding artists are anticipating what will sell, rather than what they feel passionate about?
Music is about yourself. It’s not like oh so and so would like this! Maybe, if I say this she would start crying. Thus she would listen more to music and buy more of my songs. No! It don’t work like that. For me it’s a voice from The Most High Power. I know I had to work hard to become a lyricist or a writer. I don’t think I’m anyone special in this music industry. I pray to God I remain humble through the rest of my career and write what I like to hear. If someone likes it it’s beautiful, It’s great to feel that you can relate to someone out there or captivate someone’s imagination and just have them say this guy is talented. I have people who are the age of fifty who have messaged me saying you are one talented individual. It’s amazing to have someone who is many generations apart from you, yet they can still relate to you. It comes from just letting go, not thinking about it, not being calculating of it.
Q. What is the meaning behind the EP’s name Verbal SWARdz?
Verbal Swardz. It’s warfare. My tongue is my sharpest sword- so it’s verbal warfare. It’s relentless lyricism, I don’t hold back. I didn’t water down the EP so I could be played on BBC Radio 1 extra. I’m intentionally being aggressive on this EP. I’ve got this song Crowbar Head Topper, it’s me directly addressing racism. At the end of the day if I catch you being outright racist whether black, white or Asian I will knock your block off. That’s how passionately I feel about it. We’ve all taken the backseat about it and are so casual about racism that it’s almost being normalised in society.
Stephen Lawrence, may his soul rest peace. His killers and the police force got away scot free. I feel they all deserved to be beaten up severely and I know a lot of people feel the same. So why are we too scared to say it? RIP Ricky Bishop, I remember going on a march for that brother. All the parents wanted to know why he died? How did he die in your custody? How can you deny someone the courtesy of that? I feel the police officers involved deserve to get beaten up the same way he did! 2012 a young gentleman was executed in broad daylight in front of onlookers, and the police still get away with it. The lady on the tram who was going off on blacks and Asians demanding they get out of ‘her country’. She deserved a slap, if I was there GBH. I feel we’re just allowing people to get away with this too much- this whole freedom of speech act is allowing people to preach hate
Q. Do you think that blacks and Asians in the UK have become passive about issues such as racism?
Yes, well not the Asian community. They aint standing for shit. You can go to Alperton or Southall and see that it belongs to the Asian community. I have so much respect for that. They came, they worked hard and they stuck to their plan. They managed to retain their culture and their teachings. Blacks on the other hand, we helped build back the country but we haven’t as whole managed to benefit from it entirely, and that’s shame on us. I do hope that the people who read this and are offended by it come and approach me about it. I want to create a conversation and have people talking about serious issues that affects us all, it’s lot better than just sitting in your shell meekly.
I was on the bus passing through Ealing the other day when an Asian man was in deep conversation on the phone speaking in either Gujarati or Hindi. Then this Jamaican man said ‘I’m fed up with these people coming over to my country’. I turned to him and said you forgot Windrush already, just remember what the white people were saying about you fifty, sixty years ago. If you want to lash out at anybody, lash out at your oppressors; not the people who came to this country to be oppressed as well.
Q. What did you aim to achieve through this EP? Rebellion?
I am rebellious by nature. I am trying to incite a rebellion. Again on my song Crowbar Head Topper, I don’t know of any other UK MC’s who would have gone about that subject matter in that way. I wanted to open the door to something, I don’t want all my hard work that I put into this EP to be forgotten.
Q. Could you see a repeat of the 2011 London Riots?
I potentially do, because they are going to keep killing us. One day we will riot for the right reasons and one day we will follow it through to the right places, right places. The 2011 riots were misguided. I was so surprised that Haringey Council was still intact, the amount of hurt and neglect its caused it’s residents, yet there was not even a window was smashed. We as a people are so misguided. There is speculation that undercover police officers sparked the riots. I’m not surprised, when there is black people involved there is no such thing as a peaceful protest.
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Have a read of our review of Iron Braydz ‘Verbal SWARdz’ by clicking here!
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