Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Instance Interview #2

Certified Banger: Yo Instance. What’s going on? What’s been happening since the last time we interviewed you?

Instance: Hello sirrrrr, good to be back, it’s been a while (early 2008 I think). Things have been sweet man. Since we last spoke I dropped my last LP ‘Demographic’, and got on the grind promoting that out of Leeds. We had the usual problem of getting a decent distribution deal for the physical product. We thought f**k it so and me and Mike D from Subterrania rinsed the North with street promotion, think we sold/blagged/traded to the tune of 2000 copies. Since then there’s been another 2 free mixtapes; ‘Collision Course’ and ‘Heavy Rotation’ which were pretty unconstrained and lots of fun. Apart from the studio stuff, I put on a few hip hop nights in Leeds. Despite having a few run-ins with the council and environmental health our nights were always packed and live-o! Big up to everyone who came, even if you did graff up the toilets! NOTHING compares to the nerves you feel before you hold an event that you’ve put £1000 of your own money into - your balls are on the chopping block as a promoter! It’s a different sort of rush though! Erm, what else? I’ve been expanding my design portfolio, including a handful of album art work covers namely for Defenders of Style and Northern Hostility. I’ve made some more links, burnt a few bridges, but that’s life.

CB: So, what’ve you got coming to us?

Instance: I got two musical projects dropping, a free EP called ‘Fly EP’ which is a slick little 5 track ish to remind everyone I’m alive and kicking! It’s basically 5 tracks which I’ve had hanging around for a while, they didn’t quite fit into my album but they are still seriously dope and need to be on your ipod! Once that’s hit your ears, I reckon the heads will be primed and ready for my second album, ‘The Superegular ‘.

CB: Do you think your style has changed over the last couple of years? Will the new release have a different vibe?

Instance: I think I had to evolve. Demographic was heavily influenced by my time hosting DnB raves. Back in 2007 Dubstep had only just blown and grime dominated the UK, that first record reflected what was going on at the time, things are different now. Like ‘Demographic’ ‘The Superegular’ is also eclectic, but it doesn’t have those electronic or dub elements that I put on the last LP. I’ve also designed this record for ipod and portable players, so I guess we’re more aware of how music is listened to as well. Style wise it’s more of a celebration ofHhip Hop and sticks more within the genre. I’ve spent a lot of time choosing the right beats that work, there’s boom bap, Triphop, RnB, 3/4 and glitchy Flying Lotus type steez. Despite the variety I made sure it all fits. Lyrically its content-rich and not too self indulgent. At times it’s spooky, at times it’s smooth but I guarantee its nothing less than my best bars.

CB: If someone only had time to listen to one track from it, which one should it be?

Instance: Errrrm that’s like choosing a favourite child man, I’ll randomly say ‘Lucid Dreams’ as it’s a track you won’t get to hear unless you buy the album; a deep New Yorkshire Hip Hop joint with Mike D on the beat! It’s about how negative aspects of my life used to come out at night in the form of dark dreams… lyrically dope! If you don’t fork out for the album you’re likely to hear ‘Keys Open Doors’ with Jack Flash, again, sick!

CB: There’s a couple of cool hook ups on the album – tell us about them and how they all came about?

Instance: Ok, I have three well known heavyweight UK producers Wizard, Mike D and Kelakovski who have contributed to ‘The Superegular’ as well as Organised Mess who you should also check out. These boys more or less have it all covered. I go way back with Mike D and record at Subterrania so he has the most slots! The Defenders of Style introduced me to the production of Wizard from Hastings and Kela from Brum, we used to cipher over their beats anyway. In terms of MC features I got Jack Flash who is one of the best MCs and my friends the Defenders of Style who standardly hold Leeds down as well as SonnyJim who I first met along with Kelakovski after I booked them to play my night in Leeds (big up Sonny that afterparty was jokes).

CB: Last time we talked a lot, it seems, about Lil Wayne! Who’s on your rap radar right now? Who’re you listening to?

Instance: Ha! free Weezy! I was on that before everyone jumped on it! I wanna give the biggest props to the UK underground and people who keep it true! UK wise I’m definitely feeling Trellion, check out the ‘Judas Clock’ and ‘Dive By Night’ EPs and Bradford artist Lunar C who I think is one to watch up in Yorkshire! Others who I rate are Jack Danz, Chief Wigz, No-Change, Lowkey, Stylah and Devlin to pick a few.

CB: Which chart MC (ie Tinie Tempah, Devlin, Dizzee etc) do you rate the most and why? If you could do what they’re doing would you?

Instance: I call it ‘swagger pop’! Would I make it? I don’t think so, but who knows? It’s hard to say until you get an opportunity. I dislike the UK scene for constantly saying artists are selling out. I think properly blowing in the UK would present any underground artist with a dilemma. Do you want to make serious money out of music or not? Do you wanna keep a certain sound or do you wanna play the big festivals? I think some swagger pop artists have earned their stripes and probably deserve to blow. You could diss Tinie all day, but this guy was dropping tunes like ‘Wifey’ which were getting rinsed out in every rave without ANY help from the majors. I guess you could hate but I wouldn’t simply write off these guys as puppets of manufactured music. They hustled the music game 100% harder than most to get on the radio and I have to rate that. Plus Devlin is gonna be ill even if he’s commercial, you’ll see!

CB: How does the music around you, not just Hip Hop, inspire you? How easy do you think you’d find it to make music if you never listened to other music?

Instance: I don’t watch much TV or even films, its literally all just listening to music and making music for me. I’m a music fan firstly, but a fan who makes Hip Hop. Everything inspires me even the wackness inspires me to keep the style ill. You could listen to solely mid-nineties east coast all day and yeah probably perfect a certain style related to that. Personally I think you’ll become a better artist by listening to as much as possible. It’s the best way to innovate. I’m into boom bap, but how are you gonna take these classic formulas and add to it, bring a fresh twist to it, and set your music apart from everything before. For me keeping people guessing about the next steez and being multi-dimensional is key to staying relevant, my new record will prove that. Be brave, explore and do your thing.

CB: Is it true you’ve moved to London? What’s all that about then?

Instance: Yep its true! I felt like I needed a change and a fresh perspective on things. On the surface things looked OK but it was time to apply the brakes and remove myself from a negative situation. Leeds will always be home and I’m there a lot, but I reached a stage in my life where I had to make certain changes to get to where I wanna be. Apart from some amazing friends and strong links with the Leeds scene, I felt like I wasn’t investing time effectively enough in myself. Right now I’m keeping out of mischief, meeting new heads and doing random stuff like learning Spanish and going to museums, which is cool! My dad once said I should live in a place where I’m constantly learning things. I was providing too many answers and not asking enough questions. London gets a bad rep but it’s an inspiring city and things are going well.

CB: The end – anything else to add?

Instance: Big up yourself cos this site remains tough! Click the Fly EP download link – IT’S FREE: My second LP ‘The Superegular’ will be out soon - buy it and help support all the underground artists who keep the scene dope. Shouts to Mike D, DS, Crackhouse, Speak to the Streets, Fresh Jive and the Leeds Fam! Visit and subscribe to my youtube channel ‘instancevx’ for exclusives. Peace!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

emceeKilla Interview

Certified Banger: For those who haven’t heard your music; introduce yourself and describe your music:

emceeKilla: I’m emceeKilla; a rapper originally from North London but have lived in the sticks and Nottingham too over the years. My music is conscious, deep and heartfelt and focuses on the reality of social pressures and political issues and many other types of high rank buggery. I am versatile though and do like to move away from that when I can and want to.

CB: What inspires you to write and record?

eK: Everyday situations are the main thing that inspire me; anything that I feel is interesting to rap about I tend to rap about. I’m not really a materialistic person so fashion and jewellery aren’t things that inspire me to write - I write a lot more about the ups and downs of the life we lead whether it be through my eyes or another person’s. My surroundings also play a big part, I live in the city and gain a lot of inspiration from just witnessing things walking down the road but also have people in the countryside I see which again inspires me to write as things are seen from a totally different perspective there. Beats are also a great inspiration.

CB: Why do you think many people are not interested in politics and the events going on around the world?

eK: People have enough on their own plates to sort out so the last thing you want to try and concentrate on is another person’s struggle across the world, we like to spare that sympathetic thought but will then subconsciously drift back into the world of you and what you are going to do to eat and live. Sometimes I feel fear also plays a big part, people see it as daunting, maybe because they don’t fully understand it or aren’t able to look at the bigger picture to see what the effects are when certain events happen or decisions are made. I don’t want to be patronising to anyone because you are your own person but maybe when things are presented to you it could be blocked out because it’s seen as preaching.

If this is my opportunity to silence that thought then here goes: I never want to preach that what I think is best - my main purpose is to at least bring something to your table which may not have been there before and allow you to make your own decision on it. These are only things I have concluded myself or through my own research, that’s not to say its gospel, it’s just an idea. You may then take my idea and turn it into something else, if that’s the case then my job is done.

I didn’t start rapping about political issues to fill a gap in the market or try and revive a market that may have been dormant since Public Enemy. I’m solely writing about what I want to write about which is what Hip Hop has always been about. Not G-Rap, Political rap, Ganster rap, G-Funk…just Hip Hop as a whole; that’s where I am.

CB: Your dad must be an influence? Tell us about him:

eK: He’s an influence on so many levels. He’s lived a mad life. He left home when he was 17 to get an education. My Grandad thought learning was for pussy’s so told him to either join the armed forces or leave so he left with no support from his family and managed to get a uni degree in London. He was also part of the communist party in the UK and fought with them in the Brixton riots against the fascists, he lived on Electric Avenue. He then began a career as an investigative journalist which led him to uncover huge scandals within Mi5 amongst other things. That’s just a very brief description of the things he’s done.

The effect this has on me is that I’m able to look up to someone who has constantly fought for rights of people in this country and for himself. He’s also taught me a lot of things in life and supported me in whatever I chose to do. I was never a school person, my grades showed as someone who wasn’t intelligent, who was a failure I suppose I constantly battled to get into colleges and uni was just a waste of time so I dropped out. I still didn’t lose support from my old man because he just wanted to see me be happy and if that meant following my own dreams then he was there to help me with that by showing support, this also goes for my mum too. Intelligence isn’t about remembering facts to write in an exam its about grasping things and understanding them and using them to aid you in being successful in life, schools aren’t the be all and end all of that, so due to my parents I’ve seen that you can be clever in other ways apart from an academic way.

CB: What are your ‘top 5’ occurrences (for want of a better phrase) that have shocked you and provoked you to write?


1. White phosphorous being dropped in Faluja and other places in Iraq by American soldiers, leaving scores of women and children dead and blackened by the chemicals. White phosphorous is a chemical which burns your skin and pretty much melts your entire body whilst leaving clothes in tact, a substance banned at the Geneva Convention.
2. British colonialism – the most recent of empires with a dirty hidden agenda. What is taught in schools about this is far from the truth so please read into exactly what happened in Ireland, The Americas and Africa to name a few.
3. Britain and America’s Middle Eastern adventures – We are using the most amount of oil that can be consumed by all humans at one time (peak oil) meaning the only way to go is down, unless the west secures new sources of oil for a cheap price. You do the maths.
4. 9/11 & 7/7 – Isn’t great having abbreviated terms for such atrocities? We can now pass these events off as a bunch of numbers. As much as its been spoken about and is still being spoken about, anyone of my generation will always remember those days and so will your ancestors so to say they didn’t shock me would be a complete lie.
5. Israel and Palestine – The trouble that’s persistently happened over there has shocked me and provoked me to write a lot of time. Again this all started from western military tactics of divide and rule. Give a nation a reason to fight each other which will then allow you rule that land unprovoked. It happens everywhere even in Britain. Politics was only ever meant to divide us.

CB: Do you think we will ever know exactly what goes on behind the government’s closed doors? There’s a fine line between truth and conspiracy theories…

eK: The only possible way we would know what exactly happens is if we were to break into Downing street ourselves, or root through the years of cover ups in the Vatican vaults. Things are protected for a reason, the Catholic Church has hidden a lot of things to protect its identity and I’m sure other religions have too. I don’t think we’d ever get to the bottom of what really has happened over the years and even if we started to we’d open up so many cans of worms.

I’d love to see people using the words conspiracy and theory in a more positive light, we all conspire on a daily basis. If your girlfriends acting strangely, you’ll start to conspire she’s cheating on you, even though she may not be. If you’re not getting served at a bar you start to conspire that the barman/lady doesn’t like you, we all do it, in a way its called using your brain and thinking a bit deeper into something, whether you’re right or not is besides the point, the fact is you’re exploring options which aren’t laid out in front of you but are behind closed doors. Conspiring doesn’t have to be a bad thing, we should all embrace it more than anything and appreciate someone going down that route. Shall we all just blame life or co-incidence every time these people fuck something up? Do you not think we should credit ourselves as human beings a little and think the unthinkable…? Many people do but then they’ll find themselves falling back into their daily routine. Strength is found when you explore the un-explorable.

I’ve got people who strongly believe that the Haiti earthquake was a government thing, I won’t go into detail or say if I agree or not but I’m not going to tell them to grow up or be real because if they have reason to believe that or have figured it out in their heads then I want them to enlighten me and I’ll listen to them. Things like that interest me.

CB: What needs to happen in your opinion on May 6th?

eK: Nowadays things are all too much the same when it comes to our own politics, you’re pretty much voting for minor differences in referendums/manifesto’s but the main aim of each party is all in a very similar stance. 30 years ago, Labour was a party for the socially aware, the people who wanted an equal society and believed that the rich should be taxed more than the poor, they stood up for so many people with a similar view but ever since New Labour formed those ideologies have gone, I was brought up a Labour supporter so I don’t ever really see things another way. I think with whoever gets in power, we will still be in a war, the economy will still be down and slowly picking up, our taxes will be raised and the poor will still be hit the hardest. All views aside I would like to see Liberal Democrats get the vote just to give them a chance, what have we got to lose?

CB: Who have been musical influences to you? Which Hip Hop artists are you currently listening to?

eK: My main influences have been The Clash, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, The Pogues, Public enemy, Wu Tang Clan, 2 Pac and Biggie, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Eminem, Nas, Task Force, Jehst, Karizma, Scorzayzee, Roots Manuva, Blak Twang…these are all those I can think of straight away but there is more….I just feel I heard these artists at certain times in my life when they did inspire me, a lot of UK rappers don’t want to bow down and accept inspiration came from people in their own country but I’ll hold my hands up and say thanks to all those named for making music and influencing me in one way or another.

People I’m listening to at the moment is Cee Banger – ‘On the Radar’, Krate Krusaders (‘Psience’ is an amazing track), Cappo, Foreign Beggars, YT, Mad Skillz, Large Professor, the Inkrument, The Elementz….I’m a bit behind with new stuff mainly because nothing is really grabbing me at the moment but I’m always open to hear new music.

CB: Give us a top 5 of socio-political tracks from any genre to get us thinking:


YT – ‘Wicked Act’
Damien Dempsey – ‘Colony’
Peter Tosh – ‘Here Comes the Judge’
The Clash – ‘London’s Burning’
Pink Floyd – ‘Another Brick in the Wall’

CB: Finally what will the future hold for you as an artist?

eK: For me, I’m currently working on an EP to be released through the same label hopefully. At the same time have started recorded some mix tape type tracks with well known beats to try and add some variation. My next project is set to be completely away from the world politics of my last album and I’m aiming to bring it back a little and keep it raw, maybe get some features on there as well.

I’m also working with Damien Dempsey (mentioned earlier) who is an Irish Folk singer from North Dublin. Have started on a remix of one his tracks called Patience which should hopefully pave the way for some new tracks as well. I’m also looking to work with as many people as I can so get in touch if you think things can work.

I’ve got a blog site which I try and update as much as possible so please check there for new projects etc.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Mystro Interview

Certified Banger: Ok, we don’t need the basics; everyone on the site should know who you are already.

Mystro: Hopefully!

CB: You’ve just come back from Australia and New Zealand. What’ve you been doing there?

Mystro: Just causing more trouble really man. I had to do a festival called Splore in NZ and around that we managed to hook up a few more gigs in Auckland, Wellington. We flew to Australia to do Sydney, Brisbourne and Melbourne just to make it more of a trip. You go all that way, man, it’s gotta be done. I did a bit of writing too but I was just thinking of you lot in the snow really! I went there and did a tour, promoted the ‘F.D.T.’ EP and it went well man. I got some interest for future releases later on in the year to get out in NZ and Oz in terms of distribution and licensing so I’m definitely happy about that.

CB: So you said you did a bit of writing out there. Does it inspire you in differently when you’re out there?

Mystro: Yeah, I got some features, some paid work to do so obviously the inspiration for that was there. But it’s a good time to get away form the hustle and bustle and sometimes you need that – to not do any writing, maybe to do a bit of reading but to be away from the constant phone calls – do this, do that, blah blah – the sort of London life. I always end up writing on the way back; the journey back is when I do a lot of writing.

CB: It’s a long journey…

Mystro: Yeah it’s a long journey man. A lot of sleeping, a lot of eating, a lot of writing, a lot of movies on the plane. Yeah, it’s a mixture man but I do get inspired to write. There might be a month of not really writing and the next two months I’ll be writing pretty hard so…it’s just time to breath in and out. If you do constantly write you end up saying the same thing and that’s what you hear from people who claim they write all the time.

CB: So what’s the scene like over there? To someone who doesn’t know it seems like they look up to our scene?

Mystro: Yeah. When we had our golden age, 99-04/05, that was definitely a period when we were getting out there quite a lot in terms of releases. Obviously, we had the Lowlife thing going on, Skitz and Rodney P going on, Roots Manuva… Ty. A lot of artists have been over there, touring and whatnot. I was lucky enough that I got out there before our scene got a little flaky. When I first got out there I felt like how we were in ‘98 or something where the homegrown stuff started to slowly outsell the imported stuff. Whilst I was there UK stuff was doing real well, underground US stuff was doing really well, and then now it’s like the Aussie stuff has taken over. The scene in healthy but the difference is they have a festival circuit as well. In the summer a lot of the artists get big on the festival front and get that crowd. There is a little different but it’s pretty similar – the integrity’s there too.

CB: Do they get all the crap as well?

Mystro: Yeah, they get all the overground stuff but they don’t get our crap because they don’t really get it, they don’t understand it. I don’t need even need to go into names but certain people have been over there and flopped. That’s because its not really their lifestyle. Their lifestyle is a lot calmer. The hip hop they’re into in Australia which we’re not that into is like the west coast underground stuff. Jurassic 5 are bigger than The Roots out there and that’s because of the laid back, sunny, good time kinda thing although the East Coast thing does come out over there too. We’re into the faster stuff because we’re in the cold. They’re into stuff that’s a bit slower because it’s like “Bro, it’s hot man, we just go for a beer bro” [insert Mystro’s wack Australian accent there].

CB: Moving onto forthcoming releases…

Mystro: Yeah, OK, I got the ‘Digmund Freud’ EP coming soon with production from DJ Flip, DJ Swerve and Jehst. That’s the mellow side of what I do. I wrote it as a self help thing. I came back once, I’d been a way for three months, I was like raa, the scene has changed – a lot of people giving up, lot of people in a depressed state – people didn’t seem that happy. The idea came up, my friend DJ Debris was calling my Digmund – the idea came up to do a self help book. I already had the track ‘Round My Way’ – you know how everyone’s like “yeah, yeah, raa, raa round my way this and that happens” – I was saying like that but in a less offensive way so that even though people are crooked or whatever you still might wanna come round and see me. ‘The Blue Planet’ thing is about how we’re living, how the scene was in a way whilst mixing it up with talking about fish. I’ve got a track with Maverick Sabre called ‘Don’t Worry’ – that’s probably the track that got it going with the style of what I wanted to do. The chorus is like “If it ain’t life or death, don’t worry about it”. – that;s the message of the whole ‘Digmund Freud’ thing.

Then, I think I’ve got enough tracks to a ‘Tip of the Mysberg 3’ and then drop ‘Mystrogen’ the album. There’s material on there that’s pretty accessible, not like me watering what I do down but I think I’ve kinda got that formula on lock where I can still be proud of what I’m doing but people in the club can take it, people on the radio can take it – it’s easy to listen to and not too hardcore. There’s a mixture of everything, you’ve got the ‘Music Mystro’ EP which is more the party kinda stuff, you’ve got ‘F.D.T.’ which is more hardcore, underground and this ‘Digmund Freud’ EP is the thoughtful, mellow side and ‘Mystrogen’ will embody all of that.

CB: The TV thing, ‘Mystro Investigates’, how did that come about?

Mystro: A couple of the Spine TV crew are ex-King Fu management and it came about where this guy said “I want you to do a show called ‘Mystro Investigates” and I was like “How d’ya mean?” and he was like “Y’know, where you just investigate stuff!”. So yeah, we’ve just been coming up with mad ideas, different concepts – it’s a thing where you get an idea of what you can do around the UK. There’s a bunch you can do. I get to do a bunch of stuff that I might not never have known nothing about and people get to see it and maybe they wanna do it, maybe not. It’s a bit of fun ‘cause I like doing comedy too. We get to bring out the comedy side of things but we’ve gotta be careful – we’ve gotta be respectful – we can’t disrespect their establishment.

CB: I think you got a good balance. Which was your favourite one?

Mystro: So far? Still the horse riding man. That was a bit surreal. I’ve ridden a horse before but it was bareback. I wasn’t bareback, the horse was bareback! I watch it now and again and I’m like “Raa, that was surreal” – riding around London on a horse! There are many more to come man – we’ve been shooting ahead of ourselves.

CB: Are you allowed to say what?

Mystro: That’s classified information, if I tell you I’d have to tie you to the back of my horse and…

CB: OK, I’ll do one more: what’s an average day in your life?

Mystro: Wake and bake, breakfast, brush my teeth, jot down a few rhymes. I sleep and think of a lot of stuff so I wake up and write down some rhymes that I might of thought of…(A guy rides past on a neon blue BMX, playing some 50 Cent or something through a tinny phone speaker and making siren noises.) F**kin’ hell, what was that? I want one of them bruv! Police ain’t got nothing on that! Er…then I get on email and twitter, you know me I’m a natural born twitter. But most of the day if I’m not writing a whole song I’m jotting bits of ideas. Maybe some recording but I like to record a lot of stuff all at once. Unless it’s demoing, I do a lot of demoing so I can learn it.

CB: Yeah, I don’t know how you remember it.

Mystro: It’s practice; you have to practice it. Some people have photographic memories. How did you learn songs you know the words to? You just keep listening to them and keep rapping them. Yeah the average day is creating man – I’m addicted to it.

CB: So…any last shouts?

Mystro: Shout out to Jargon, the Natural Born Spitters’ stuff is coming soon. We got an EP and a mixtape in the pipeline. You know where to follow me on Twitter! Spread the word man - there are a lot of people showing support which I really love but I prefer you tell other people how good I am than me. I don’t wanna be getting a big head about it – I’d rather you tell a bunch of other people who might not never know nothing about it. Peace man - thanks to everyone for supporting.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Gen Interview

Certified Banger: Whatup Gen – this has been a long time coming – apologies for that!

GEN: I know man everyone’s making moves though, ennit?!

CB: You’re as yet, relatively unknown on the scene – introduce us to yourself and give us all that us Hip Hop heads need to know:

GEN: My names Gen, or Gen Uchiha. Born in Huddersfield, Raised in Wolverhampton, I’m a Hip Hop Poet, and Artist/Animator. I’m into anything everyone isn’t.

CB: Why the name Gen?

GEN: Got the name when I’d taken a break from recording music and thought it was time to reconstruct myself. As I was doing it I was reading about meanings for Japanese different words and different symbols and came across “Gen” which is “Foundation” like a beginning for many different words and meanings.

CB: You’re rolling with Asaviour, a well respected artist in the UK, how did that come about?

GEN: He stumbled across a track I made for my friend who died 2 years ago, he really liked it then we linked up at Apa-Tight’s and then got working together.

CB: How would you describe your music? What is your lyrical style? What kind of beats do you prefer to spit on?

GEN: I really like Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Tribe Called Quest style beats, Dilla, Doom, anything with soul I can get with it.

CB: Have you had any releases yet? Are there any in the pipeline and when can we expect them?

GEN: I have a mixtape ‘Forbidden Jutsu’ - Vol.1 is VERY late, so I’m releasing Vol.1 and 2 within a month of each other sometime soon, they will be free internet releases. Also I’m working on some projects with Apatight, Soul Unique and Savvy.

CB: Have you done any collaboration recently? I heard a rumour that you’ve recorded a bit of a West Yorks posse cut over a famous beat.

GEN: Yeah for ‘Forbidden Jutsu’ Vol.1 I have Joker Starr, Jack Flash, J Simple, Spider Lee, Lunar C and me dropping bars on ‘Criminology’; it’s pretty dope.

CB: You obviously rate those artists – which other rappers or producers are you really feeling right now?

GEN: UK wise I like Hey!Zeus, big fan of Joker Starr, Pride. Producers - there are tons, obviously Apatight, DJ IQ, Soul Unique. Mike Forte I’m hoping to do some work with soon. I could go on but I just want to get something out people can listen to.

CB: Would you ever consider spitting a verse on a track by an X Factor winner? Or any other pop star – who would it be? Which pop star would you most like to have feature on a track of yours?

GEN: I’d do a track with Alexandra Burke, she’s soulful enough to get a good track out of me. Oddly enough Rhianna is starting to grow on me, her style’s becoming more and more unique every album she does. I’m interested to see what kind of artist she’s going to be in 3-4 years.

CB: If the pop star feature doesn’t come through what’s your game plan for getting your voice heard?

GEN: Well I’m planning for just mixtapes and underground stuff for the next 2 years maybe a few EPs and street albums along the way. I’ve got loads of projects lined up so I’m just dropping whatever I feel like and if people feel it they feel it.

CB: How important is local/national/international exposure to you? Do you want to be widely heard? Do you think your output is relevant to the masses – would they get it?

GEN: Purely because music isn’t my main hustle, and I don’t have anyone who depends on me, I have the luxury to make music however I want, and cater it to whomever I see fit. Plus now I’ve grown up and witnessed what the pressures of being in that kind of spotlight does to the most honest of people, can’t say I want to be on a mega star level. I’d like for UK Hip Hop to get the exposure as a whole not just me as an individual.

CB: Thanks for dealing with the grilling – anything you want to say finish off? Anything you want to ask?!

GEN: I only became aware a few weeks ago there are actually a few people waiting to hear my music, so sorry for keeping you waiting. If you haven’t heard anything check Myspace or download the sampler from the Saving Grace Website. Peace.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Diversion Tactics Interview

Certified Banger: Whasup? Let’s begin with introductions: Who are you all and what part do you play in the Diversion Tactics machine?

Chubby: Frontman. Emcee. Recovering alcoholic.

Jazz T: Deejay. Producer. Promoter

Zygote: Producer, Engineer, Deejay

CB: Tell us about your new album. How would you compare it to your first album? What did you want to achieve with this release?

Jazz T: We toured hard off the first album so it was time to drop the new ish. Some of the tracks were performed live over the years anyway. As me and Zy had done our solo projects we all wanted to create another D.T. classic.

Chubby: It's a testament to keep doing your thing, making music your way and staying true to the culture. A little nudge to those that were full of it and ahead of themselves when we came up and ain't about no more. We got to remind people we still here in spite of all the Boot releases from the last eight years. We grown up. The music grown up. And still we proceed.

Zygote: The first album was sort of 15 years in the making; it was a lot of stuff we had to get off our chests. The new album has hints of the style of the first but also hints of maybe where we are going as well as where we are from.

CB: What are your personal favourite tracks of yours and why?

Jazz T: ‘Can't Swim’ and ‘Three Card Brag’ are my joints they're just bangers to me. Blade and Gritty smash it too.

Chubby: Yeah. ‘Can't Swim’. Felt lyrically up a level and better each listen.

Zygote: ‘Can’t Swim’, ‘12 Steps’, ‘Three Card Brag’. Our production style on those beats has matured, and so have Chubby’s lyrics.

CB: Your debut album was in HHC’s Top 50 UK albums back in 2007 – was that a surprise for you? Do you think it was deserved?

Jazz T: I think it was deserved. Personally I’m doing this to get as far as we can in the game so I believe in everything we put out. It was an honour to be recognised by others.

Chubby: It stands up as original and raw. Honest and authentic. In the Top 50 but how many more than that are there?

Zygote: Well yes there aren’t that many UK hip hop albums for starters. But it was nice to get that recognition.

CB: How did the hook up (on both albums) with J-Zone come about?

Jazz T: My colleague Junkbwoy and I brought him over to tour the UK in 2000. I spun the shows for him and we became fam from then.

Chubby: J-Zone, Shid and Hug like lived in my front room for the tour and became crew. They on the firm. To be produced by Jay for the new abum on ‘Back To School’ was progression. Some say it sounds like Grange Hill but Jay don't know about that so it's pure coincidence but gave me no choice about subject matter.

CB: What about the other features on the new album, the ones with Tim Dog, Percee P, Blade, D.Gritty and the rest, how did they happen?

Chubby: Blade is straight up family. The most honest bruvver from day one we met. He is the game.

Zygote: Tim and Percee happened because Jazz was Deejaying for them on UK tours. We hit the others up and they kindly obliged. Blade and Gritty: true Gents. As are Tommy Koi and The Last Skeptik.

CB: Tell us about Boot – are you running that or is it someone else? What can we expect from the label in the near future? Who else will be putting out on it?

Jazz T: Boot is our label - started by Zy. Me and Chubby help run it.

Chubby: Well. I been more involved last year since becoming sober. You can expect Kashmere, Badbonez, Jehst, Parky and my new solo album 'Recovery' with only the best emcees guesting on it out this year including Dubbledge, Skandal, Manage and Stig of the Dump plus all those mentioned.

Zygote: We are running it, but ultimately we just want to make music so it can be a struggle taking care of that side of things sometimes. But were on it, and we’ve got some quality product to come.

CB: How would you define Hip Hop?

Jazz T: People creating something out of nothing and settling differences through the artforms resulting from that.

Chubby: A state of mind. A mindset. An attitude. It's how you view everything from a Hip Hop perspective. KRS 1 says it better but it's like whoever you meet you wanna know how to Hip Hop they relate. Do you emcee, deejay, b-boy? How good at that are you? Show me. It's competitive. Rebellious. Freedom.

Zygote: Skills, Styles. Taking an idea and seeing how you can flip it a certain way. Showing your own style, appreciating someone else’s style; how they flipped something their way.

CB: Sticking with definitions: What are the defining Hip Hop moments of your lives?

Jazz T: Hearing the cuts on Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rockit’ in '81 and Hearing BDP’s ‘South Bronx’.

Chubby: The Hip Hop room at Dance Wicked later Westwood Live to London. Pulling off my first windmills. Battling. Jeru at Notting Hill Carnival. London Posse at the Fridge. Kool G Rap & Polo at Hammersmith Palais. Our debut live show Scratch at Scala in front of 1500 people. Buying my first Starter jacket from Four Star General when it was on Carnaby Street. I'm not sure all those that hear our music are aware of our history and years in the game.

Zygote: My older brother playing me ‘Fear of a Black Planet', and video tapes of Yo! MTV Raps. Watching my brothers mate scratch (albeit over old Hardcore), and practising myself. Those experiences sowed the seeds for me.

CB: What makes you do what you do? What drives you to continue the creativity, the live shows, the recorded output? Does it ever feel like it’s all too much? How do you get back into a positive mindset?

Jazz T: After 25 years you become a part of hip hop and have no choice but to keep on. It’s a hard genre to make a living out of over here but if it was easy we'd be talking about money, jewellery and gay s**t like that on our tracks!

Chubby: Too much? It's never enough. How do we get that bigger show? Perform more. Drop that absolute killer anthem track. Flip that incredible verse. How can we sell more units? Travel more. Work with other heroes. Hip Hop is limitless opportunity to create music to be proud of and inspire others. If you gonna say what you can and can't write about don't say it to me. You absolutely know in your soul when you made a piece of music that bangs. In time more folk will too.

Zygote: A desire to express myself in some way. A desire to express our styles to as many people as possible. F**k it, a desire to one day have a record listed in the Record Collector Rare Record Price Guide! I need to be creative for my own personal wellbeing, whether anyone ever hears it or gives me props, or not.

CB: How, if at all, do you balance your Hip Hop lives with all the real life stuff?

Jazz T: There is no separation its all one life.

Chubby: This is real life.

Zygote: I try to stay focussed on being creative.

CB: OK, different kinda question here: What is your favourite conspiracy theory and how much do you believe in it?

Jazz T: That Bob Lazar saw UFOs in Area 51. I don’t believe anything unless I see evidence.

Chubby: Don't get me started. Climate change got nothing to do with the sun? Polar bears can't swim? Neither can penguins? Earth's been cooling for the last decade hence global warming branded as 'climate change'. There is no scientific historical basis for the alarmism. It's all based on projection. Al Gore the main protagonist sits on the board of his own carbon trading company making billions from the new cap and trade investment vehicles propagandised by government. The oil companies are all 'going green' and welcoming the carbon emission taxes because it dramatically effects fossil fuel companies helping oil monopoly. Where's the debate? Sceptisism is met with cries of heresy and 'denier' so the average man in the street makes links with those that deny the holocaust. It's a religion. Phrases like 'new world order' and 'global governance' are now mainstream. Of course we must care for Mother Earth but CO2 is poisonous? Gimme a break. It's air. Plants breathe CO2. Now there's too many humans? You want to reduce population then allow Africa to industrialise and lower birth rates are a given. F**k me. Leave me alone.

Zygote: The ‘London 2010 logo is a Zionist Conspiracy’ conspiracy.

CB: Finally, what would you say to people who haven’t heard your music? What should they know about it?

Jazz T: We make hip hop ,it’s not local and the drums smack.

Chubby: You got to get on the firm. All these dope artists ain't down for nothing. They into it. If you don't like it, get to like it.

Zygote: Well put, Jazz: the drums…..smack.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Chief Wigz Interview

Certified Banger: Alright? How’s it going?

CW: I’m good; the glass is always half full! I got the 12” out, album on the way, all produced by ‘Brutal Artistry’ may I add, and I’m rolling with an ill label, ‘Don’t Talk To Strangers’ - things have never been better.

CB: Let’s talk about your 12” then. What’s it called? What’s the thinking behind the orange vinyl – why is it orange and why is it vinyl and not just download or CD?

CW: ‘Sunday Service’ is the name of the first release. The thinking behind the vinyl (let alone the vinyl being limited edition orange vinyl) was that a classic product. Since I was a teenager my dream was to have my own vinyl, I want more already, it’s like having you’re own comic book printed and the story board is about you. It’s just a classic, traditional method of releasing material. Me and Brutal Artistry and DTTS as a label all want to practise the art form traditionally; anyone can release a download, some people put one out each week and that’s fine but we want our product to be permanent, we want you to be able to pick it up and be fascinated with it, not just put it on your ipod and it fall into years of endless un-listened music. We want you to use it as it was designed to be used classically! Anyways, vinyl’s still the new cool - all the kids are getting back into it. Trust.

CB: Are you cooking up any other ways to bring more desirable and exclusive ways of releasing music to this digitally obsessed age?

CW: Yes, But I’m not permitted to say at this point. That’s confidential, too many biters about. I’ve learnt to keep things locked ‘til it’s time for them to take cause. You’ll be the first to know though when ‘the desirables’ are ready.

CB: Tell us about the tracks on there. Why is the title track called ‘Sunday Service’?

CW: Ahh, the ‘Sunday Service’ thing is, me and Brutal Artistry used to link at Def Row studios on a Sunday morning cause I work long ass hours and it was the only time we could both link - once a week guarantied. I’d write all week and BA would be making beats then we would meet at the end of the week and record some vocals or just have a jam. After a year or so of this we started to merge with DTTS as a label and all the artists on the label started coming through on a Sunday morning. It then became known as Sunday Service; just as a joke at first, but then it became relevant and we embraced it. ‘Sunday Service’ is important to me, because nearly every track on my album was recorded at Sunday Service - all three tracks on the single were recorded or mixed at Sunday Service. All business, all the social networking I do is built up of Sunday Service once a week. It’s what I look forward to every other day of the week, it embodies the ideology of living a life of hip hop, for me, once a week coming together with your crew or clique to either chill, make music, kick a cipher, chat some business, or just catch up on what’s going on - treating it like a religion.

As for the track itself, ‘Sunday Service’ is a summarisation of all that, “timing is of every importance”, the time’s gotta be right for everything, recording, writing, practising, ciphering, timing of life, it ain’t luck, just good timing, believe, the track is a chilled out and has a old school vibe, slower lyrics to what I’m known for, yet still complex in the patterns of flow. BA’s beat reminds me of a relaxed Sunday morning.
The rest of the tracks on the single are taken from my self titled album, coming at the beginning of 2010. ‘Don Style’ and ‘DSB’ - both of them are working titles. ‘Don Style’ speaks for itself; a double-time tempo, again an old school vibe, featuring Shamain Pierre, an ill vocalist outta Bradford. Her style works well with my sound. It’s a message track, the lyrics are deep. ‘DSB’ stands for ‘Dirty Stinkin’ Beat’, this is a dark track with a question/answer style flow, complex lyrics with a twist of fantasy, and frustration – it’s very, very bassy. Personally, I think BA has killed it, the production on all three tracks is amazing, but ‘D.S.B’ is ill.

CB: The tracks on this 12” have a heavy but laid back old school feel to them – are we to expect more music like that or do you have more styles up your sleeve?

CW: Definitely more styles, I think the laid back old school feel is my influence and maybe even just the way I am. Don’t forget, all the production’s by BA. His style is always heavy. I like the sound of the music me and BA are making at the moment - standard! But we are always trying new ideas, different genres of music and Hip Hop; wait till you hear the album - a track named ‘Many Man’ featuring Bane of ‘No Pretense’. It’s not what you’d expect from me, Bane maybe? But not me.

I feel at home on most BA productions; he understands the style and sound I embody, so I think my music will always have a distinct sound to it even if we do step out of the comfort zone. You’ll always know if it’s a Chief Wigz track. We try and capture a classic sound.

CB: Yeah it’s true, you do have a distinctive sound. So that’s what you’re up to now. How did you get to this point now as an artist? Give us a bit of history.

CW: There’s too much so I’ll start mid-point with 9-Lives Clik, which like a phoenix, was born out of the ashes of Dr Wu’s. 9-Lives was my first crew that I used to roll with and still do but it’s taken a back seat for a minute while other members concentrate on other ventures. I had to focus, and other people were on some next tings so I got on with my own music. It doesn’t stop just because you’re not making music with the same people you always have done - gotta accept change an embrace it, not run in fear. I looked for other outlets; nothing was about, ‘til one night I met BA in Dewsbury, when 9-lives was playing ‘Break North’. We exchanged numbers andhe later brought me some beats up to a fish and chip shop I was working at. Next thing we recorded and began thinking bout putting an album together. I was tired of gigging in the same venues, lost enthusiasm for performing an just wanted to record music, that’s still where my passion lies. Back then I had just put out ‘Never Speak Ill of The Dead Vol 1’ and I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t feel I had a solid backlog of music - just a few half arsed tracks. Even though I’d worked hard to get them few half arsed tracks they weren’t what I expected they would be, not for the amount of work I put in so I just wanted to stay in the studio and record when ever I could, perfect my style and enjoy what I was doing instead of stressing about it. I’m still in that mind frame now but that’s why I’ve got backlogs of material ready to release. I feel happier knowing that I’ve put the work in and earned what I’ve created instead of just settling for second best. Iain’tgot time to waste anymore, I’m getting on.

Anyways, Me and BA used the same studio as No Pretense and they started using BA productions too so they were hearing my material and let the label listen, we all got on well an through mutual love and appreciation we decided it would be good to put my music out through DTTS which brings us to the present day with my first single release ‘Sunday Service’ which I believe is the most solid work I’ve done to date. I’ve put the work in to get to where I feel proud of it; it took time and it couldn’t have been achieved with out a strong team around me… props to BA.

CB: I remember that the first time I saw you was at Dr. Wu’s in Leeds – that was years ago and that little place has shut down now. What’s good on the Leeds scene now?

CW: You’re asking the wrong guy really. I don’t keep up with what’s going on, I don’t really go out in Leeds, or consider my self part of the scene. I think if you asked the crews on the Leeds scene now they would say the same: I ain’t been about much for the past year or two. I do know what the old Leeds scene was like and the present Leeds scene seems far more productive than its predecessors. I seems that Leeds, in its present state is the catalyst for some of the freshest Hip Hop coming out of the UK at the moment (though I don’t like labelling it as UK Hip Hop, it’s Hip Hop whatever genre of Hip Hop). I look online at Certified Banger, Suspect Packages, etc and I see Leeds artists; Leeds crews making solid products for Hip Hop heads to go get. It’s not just in Leeds - it’s Bradford, Huddersfield - Yorkshire as a whole. We are all getting our acts together and doing it properly. The old Leeds scene never accomplished this and if it ever did, it was only a few who took it to that platform, and even if they did, they didn’t bring the scene with them. It’s clear to me whenever I am in Leeds that the scene is unified, that there are some cliques that are holding it down consistently. Although I ain’t in Leeds much, I’m proud to say I’m from Leeds. I’m glad to say my passion for music and Hip Hop started there and it continues to do that for the many man that come before and after me - Leeds Hip Hop scene is ill!

CB: You mentioned 9Lives and that it’s still going on in the background. What’s happening with your partners in rhyme right now?

CW: 9-Lives is still very much alive and kicking it. Proptic’s ‘Dark Cloud Project’ is coming soon via DTTS and 9-Lives is working, as we speak, on a 4 track EP again released by Don’t Talk To Strangers - there maybe a guest appearance of the strayed Eliphino (producer) on there but you’ll just have to wait and see - no promises. Optic runs Leeds mate! He knows everything going on, and knows everyone, never sleeps that guy, always up to something. 9-Lives never dies.

CB: We’ve talked present and past – what does the future hold for Chief Wigz?

CW: Hopefully more releases through DTTS. I’ve got ‘Never Speak Ill Vol 2’ done, so after the album release, we should be able to drop that too but DTTS have so many releases dropping this year or next it might be a while for that - 2010 definitely though. Expect the self titled album ‘Chief Wigz’ early 2010. Also I’m featured on numerous albums and projects - we have been working hard the last two years. The future is Don’t Talk to Strangers.

CB: Wrap it up with anything you feel like:

CW: Please support all the DTTS artists. We’ve all got releases dropping at the beginning of 2010 - classic Hip Hop on a global scale from the Yorkshire district and beyond. Don’t Talk To Strangers, Chief Wigz ‘Sunday Service’ 12” vinyl available at, self titled album coming soon 2010 produced entirely by Brutal Artistry. For all other DTTS past and future releases visit Myspace/dtts or check out all good hip hop sites i.e. Certified Banger! Props CB, thanks for the time.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Skandal Interview

Certified Banger: What’s up Skandal? How are things with you?

Skandal: Things are s**t bruv - my macbook just died on me! Imma jump off a building in a minute, I may have lost near 3 years of work and rough songs.

CB: Man that's bad - hope you revive it, then you can get a PC and transfer all the files! You’ve just dropped your mixtape ‘Hunger Pains’ with the mighty DJ MK. How well is that being received?

S: It's doing really well, to be honest. I knew it was a solid release due to the work we put in but it's done well; it got album of the week in The Independent newspaper!

CB: High praise indeed! Tell us a bit about it – is it a collection of stuff you’ve been working on over a short or long period of time? Are there original beats or dubs? How would you describe its overall sound?

S: I'd say I had my mind set on doing a mix CD with an idea of spitting that UK way over some of them down south beats (which I really happen to like). We threw some good old hardcore Dilla/Black Milk-esqe boom bap ish in to mix it up a lil. Overall the release has a very electronic sound to it with the exception of a couple soul samples on the down south beats.

Most of the tracks are dubs, not that many people will know the ones I've used and two joints are produced by Beat Butcha ('Bold As F**k' and 'Home Ec').

CB: Do you consider ‘Hunger Pains’ as your platform to higher things? What will you be doing next?

S: Yeh of course, I mean all this graft is gearing up to an album. I'mma put out a few good more mixtapes before I drop that as I'm still relatively unknown. But yeh onwards and upwards!

CB: What is your focus as a rapper – do you prefer story telling, lyricism, rhyme for rhymes sake – how would you describe your style as an MC?

S: A jack of all trades and a master of none! To be honest I'll try and do it all, story telling, straight bars, emotionally charged s**t, songs, hook based s**t, commercial ish. What ever I feel at the time. I mean I love Hip Hop so you know it's in me to "keep it real" no matter what I do.

CB: Your first official release (was it ‘Project A’?) was pretty different to the mixtape – the beats were more grimy. Where do you think you sit when it comes to genre? Are you embraced by both the Hip Hop and the Grime scene?

S: Mmmmm by the artists yeh. Like I've said before no one can say I'm wack, so I get love from both sides of that coin. I mean it's obvious I'm influenced by both genres. But I'd still say it's Hip Hop. Grime has a lot of elements of Hip Hop too so even if I work with a grime artist or do a Grime or Dubstep track I'mma still bring that essence we all know and love to the table.

CB: You featured on the first volume of my ‘On The Radar’ series and it’s good to see how you’ve grown and progressed in the year since that dropped – what advice would you give to an underground artist about surviving in this game? Is there a particular formula?

S: Yeh safe for putting me on there bro, it gave me a leg up at the time. Umm as for advice, all I can say is if you like my progression and you wanna follow that formula all I'd say is curb your ego, listen to criticism and take it on board, especially if its one of your peers or someone you rate. Pay attention to producers and listen to any direction they or your engineer maybe give you. Oh and dedication. Work hard and be dedicated.

CB: I’m always on the look out for new artists to support – who is worth my support in 2010?

S: Me!

CB: What would you rather have – 50 Cent’s money, Jay-Z’s rhymes or Eminem’s pop star status?

S: Ooo you making me think here, mmm if I had 50 Cent's money that would mean I'd have his business acumen right? That's a string I've yet to add to my bow and that money would help push my music to another level commercially and internationally so I'll go wit Fiddy!

CB: OK, so if you could choose one thing (skill, style, image etc) from one rapper to have as your own what would you choose? If someone had to pick one of your attributes to be theirs, which do you think they’d take?!

S: You know what, I haven't got an image, it's not something I set out to have or I'd have one right? But I've noticed you need one to stand out from the crowd. Everyone has an image from Immortal Technique to Lil' Wayne and that's one thing I'm lacking. I'd have to take, Bubba Sparks! Naaa I'm playing... I'd try and create my own image dawg, I can't be on that plagiarism shiiiiiiet!

As for mine I know it wouldn't be the nose picking, I'd have to say it would be my work ethic, not many are matching mine these days. We could all do with some hunger pains!

CB: Thanks for answering my (sometimes strange) questions. Anything you’d like to add before we finish?

S: Naa fam I'm good. Bless it up yeh. Shout out to all my real heads! Oh yeh check