Interview: Iron Braydz’s (@braydz) Waging War With Words

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.

To holla at Bray­dz:
Fol­low Bray­dz on twit­ter @braydz,
like his Face­book page

Have a read of our review of Iron Bray­dz ‘Verbal SWARdz’ by click­ing here!

  Maya Elese

Maya Rat­trey

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Maya Elese

Maya Elese

Edit­or / Author at No Bounds
Mul­ti­lin­gual Lon­don born, bred & based print & broad­cast journ­al­ist, presenter, DJ & cul­tur­al pro­du­cer with a par­tic­u­lar love for glob­al afro-dia­spor­ic cul­tures. @mayaelese on everyth­ang.

About Maya Elese

Maya Elese
Multilingual London born, bred & based print & broadcast journalist, presenter, DJ & cultural producer with a particular love for global afro-diasporic cultures. @mayaelese on everythang.

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