Interview: Glasgow MC Loki (@lokiscottishrapper)

Loki, One of the most well known Emcees from Scot­land, a Glaswe­gi­an act­iv­ist who raps in his real accent. I inter­viewed him when I went to Glas­gow last week, the real souven­irs I took with me from Scot­land were all the inter­views that I did there. Listen and read this inter­view… you hip hop heads are in for a real treat!

You can listen to it here :


Q. How did you get into hip hop?

I listened to it pass­ively all through my child­hood because it was there and it was an emer­ging thing com­mer­cially. I got into it more act­ively when my friends star­ted bring­ing around CDs of everything from Gang­ster styles, to Tupac Shak­ur at first I grav­it­ated to main­stream hip hop artists like Big­gie Smalls, Wu Tang Clan. Then I first saw Eminem on TV in 1999 and I remem­ber being sort of trans­fixed – “what is this? It’s really dif­fer­ent from all the oth­er hip hop I’ve heard up to that point”. Also I’ve always been a writer and always enjoyed writ­ing as a kid as so it was a nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion.

Q. What is influ­en­tial to you and your peers in hip hop? So you were say­ing some emcees such as Eminem…

Well Eminem was more of a form­at­ive influ­ence, I would­n’t say so much now, I know it’s a very polar­iz­ing thing to say in under­ground hip hop – but for me, oth­er form­at­ive emcees that have influ­enced me, Kool Keith cause its quite sur­real and non con­form­ist , Mos Def – in terms of the con­scious ele­ment of the hip hop and also music influ­ences behind them wheth­er it’s a lot of funk and jazz, I’m not an afi­cion­ado of music by any means I can go on with what I hear and how it makes me feel. So I’d say that and MF Doom, in terms of his con­sist­ently and his atten­tion to detail lyr­ic­ally, and the non lin­ear approach he has to lyr­i­cism. If you incor­por­ate those influ­ences into your own style you’re giv­ing your­self a lot of free­dom and room.

Q. In an inter­view you said rap­ping in Glas­gow style is hon­est, it’s true it reflects my per­son­al­ity gives mean­ing, real mean­ing to exper­i­ence as lived right now… Could you talk a bit about that?

One of the found­ing prin­ciples of hip hop is this idea about being your­self and a lot of emcees in par­tic­u­lar talk about being your­self. But in soci­ety it is the biggest issue they face – people find on a per­son­al basis is being your­self, going quieter deep­er, find­ing out who they are. In my music for any­one who pays atten­tion to it over the year they’ll find that struggle of a per­son get­ting the wrong idea of who they are, a bit of truth about that, reflect­ing on that truth and com­ing up against more exper­i­ences that con­tin­ue to shape who they are. My music is per­son­al for cath­artic exper­i­ences –but as times went on but I came aware how my exper­i­ences are a uni­ver­sal one, so when I’m writ­ing I try to draw on more com­mon exper­i­ences. The listen­er doesn’t just feel on my behalf but feels for them­selves – It’s all about devel­op­ing an aware­ness as an artist and a per­son.
The back­ground was under­pinned by a strong com­munity eth­ic and in the face of lots of chal­lenges in work­ing class areas, which is pre­dom­in­antly where hip hop grows we always felt com­fort in the com­munity spir­it – wheth­er I like it or not, I am bring­ing that to the table – because it’s part of who I am, so when I am express­ing myself, that’s a big part of it

Q. ah, So are you Hip Hop?

I am Hip Hop!

Q. Hip Hop at its best, what do you think it does and is doing?

Hip Hop at its best raises con­scious­ness and it gives indi­vidu­als with­in a com­munity con­text, gives their lives focus and mean­ing and cur­rency – once I real­ized how my story and how I tell it gave me a value, in terms of express­ing your­self once I became aware of that it made me feel a lot more self worth because I knew I could con­trib­ute some­thing I did not have to acquire any­thing mater­i­al in order to do it. In this day and age it’s a very import­ant thing to uncov­er that truth in life – the mater­i­al world is vacu­ous with the relent­less pur­suit of requir­ing things is mean­ing­less if you have noth­ing to chan­nel through the mater­i­al things. Hip hop has giv­en me a map for liv­ing.

Q. You are act­ively involved in the Yes cam­paign — do you see hip hop hav­ing a role in motiv­at­ing young people to vote yes in the ref­er­en­dum?

Yes def­in­itely – it’s been some­thing I’ve been banging on about for about 2 years – any way I could get involved –wheth­er it’s in a con­sultancy role for oth­er people who have resources to make things hap­pen– or me dir­ectly cam­paign­ing in my own way, work­ing with oth­er cam­paign­ers. Then It’s really try­ing to alert young people to the idea that yes, I under­stand why your apathet­ic towards polit­ics but everything your allowed to and not allowed to is the res­ult of a polit­ic­al decision–to not be aware of the syn­tax of your own soci­ety is leaves you a tre­mend­ous dis­ad­vant­age, and that’s the way the powers that be would prefer it to be.
So this is about crit­ic­al con­scious­ness this is about hav­ing an aware­ness about how your soci­ety is joined up… chal­lenge your­self to think in a new way.

Q. That’s cre­at­ive, you said ‘syn­tax of our soci­ety’ what do you mean?

I may be mis­us­ing the word but I ima­gine syn­tax as being the code, the lan­guage what everything is made up of.
Con­cepts such as eco­nom­ics and law are fun­da­ment­al to soci­ety – most people don’t know about any of these – most people need a law­yer in court to rep­res­ent them in civil court which is silly, most people don’t under­stand the eco­nom­ic mod­el we live under nev­er mind altern­at­ive eco­nom­ic mod­el that’s not based on debt. That’s why soci­ety stag­nates. Every­one accepts the way the world is presen­ted to them.

Q. : Some non-Amer­ic­an rap­pers speak with an Amer­ica accent? Why do you think it’s import­ant to speak with your own accent?

A lot of people intel­lec­tu­al­ize the reas­ons for doing that and say that it’s because that is what they listened to – because of com­mer­cial­iz­a­tion – I need to appeal to a broad­er audi­ence…. You guys who are doing that, just Fuck Off – I’ll say that again, just fuck off.

Really it’s a form of self delu­sion, self hatred with­in an imper­i­al­ist soci­ety, one that’s in decline and per­haps at its most aggress­ive– with a ‘cul­ture’ that’s about redu­cing everything down to a homo­gen­ized mono-cul­ture into very nar­row terms because it’s then easi­er to sell your stuff. If people doing it to then the [hip hop] mes­sage will get diluted and it will be all about mater­i­al­ism and image and all these vacu­ous things… I’ve no time for that

It’s nat­ur­al for young people at first, but to people on the nation­al hip hop scene if you rap with an Amer­ic­an accent – you are seen as sus­pect now. As aspir­ing rap­pers they are com­ing out in their own accent now – that’s cul­tur­ally sig­ni­fic­ant because how we act we talk is now seen as cool.

Q. Have you got any favour­ite UK/London MCs?

I’ll be really hon­est – there’s a lot of Hip Hop I am a wee bit too old for it. But I really love Leaf Dog (High focus records). I love everything they are doing. They are really chan­ging the sound and vibe of hip hop cul­ture. We are so used to being pulled by the grav­ity of Lon­don-cent­ric everything. People are so cyn­ic­al. It’s hard to dis­cern what is a ‘Lon­don’ sound? Because so much sounds like that and it’s so influ­enced by Amer­ica. If you haven’t heard him, check it.. Leaf Dog

Q. What are you up to at the mo?

Just now I am work­ing on 2 pro­jects, I’m work­ing on my new album Gov­ern­ment is and a col­lect­ive album ‘Toy Con­trol’. We’re a col­lect­ive of the most high pro­file hip hop artists in Scot­land right now (oth­ers might think not – that we’re doing com­pet­it­ive A‑Game hip hop, But you cant just say you’re the best – you’ve got to prove it. We are battle MCs, we are hav­ing fun, chal­len­ging the very idea of the scene and ques­tion­ing if there even is a scene.

Lana Bell

Inter­view by Lana Bell

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Lana Bell

Lana Bell

Author / Poetry Edit­or at I Am Hip-Hop
Lana Bell, is an eight­een year old Lon­don­er who is based in Bris­tol. She is an emer­ging Spoken Word Artist, and the Poetry Edit­or for I Am Hip-Hop Magazine. She has been writ­ing for a dec­ade; though she has only been per­form­ing on from the age of fif­teen. She got into Hip-Hop music at four­teen, and she found a massive interest in Old Skl Sounds and the out­let that Hip-Hop music offered her.

About Lana Bell

Lana Bell
Lana Bell, is an eighteen year old Londoner who is based in Bristol. She is an emerging Spoken Word Artist, and the Poetry Editor for I Am Hip-Hop Magazine. She has been writing for a decade; though she has only been performing on from the age of fifteen. She got into Hip-Hop music at fourteen, and she found a massive interest in Old Skl Sounds and the outlet that Hip-Hop music offered her.

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