When I think of West London, Notting Hill, The Westway and the iconic Hammersmith Apollo encapsulate my headspace quicker than a posse of boozed up footballers spotting a kebab shop post-Mayfair nightclub. All three landmarks are synonymous with the rich musical history of Blighty. From reggae and dub soundsystem culture at the forthcoming carnival; punk rock legends The Clash name-dropping the “new-age” yellow brick road in their song “London’s Burning” and hosting sell-out tour dates to some of the world’s biggest names. For SamueL, the journey to reach such an audio ascendency is still in it’s infancy but the homegrown hip-hop infused MC remains resolute and ready to step up to the M.I.C.
Wat U Sayin recently spoke to the young blood on the battle of being a white rapper,his debut mixtape Pleasant Surprise and resisting the temptation of rhyming with an American twang.
Introduce yourself to the people and feed them with a starter on how you started out.
Sup, my artist and birth name is SamueL and I’m a spitter from West London just trying to put my heart into my art. I started as just being a fan of Hip-Hop, and not just one style, like conscious backpacker stuff or ignant thugged outish, I like a dose of pretty much any sub-genre of Hip-Hop that you can think of, as long as the music is authentic and done well I’m good with it. I still feel like a fan just trying to make the music I love. I’m very fond of a good conceptual solid album and that’s what I set out to do with my first project ‘Pleasant Surprise’, I just wanted to get my debut ‘baby’ out the way and take it from there. Unfortunately there’s no sexy story why I started out, just the pure love I have for the expression.
Which record or musical moment inspired you to take your craft more seriously?
Hmmmmm, I’ve always had a passion for lyrics and words and had the dream of becoming an artist like the ones I admire, but I didn’t have a whole lot of self-belief. I don’t really like to admit and bring race into it but being a British white boy whose favourite rappers, bar the man Marshall Mathers, were predominantly black Americans, I didn’t initially feel like I had it in me to make music with such soul and style as they did. It really took a certain person to come into my life and change my way of thinking for me to get my art off it’s arse and believe in myself, and I will always appreciate them for that.
I’ve been listening to your first mixtape, Pleasant Surprise for the last few weeks now and it’s promising to have another homegrown artist making his way. The title striked me from the off mind. Is it linked to the old saying ‘Never judge a book by its cover’, as some wouldn’t see you as a rapper in the ‘Conventional’ sense?
First off, thanks for giving the project a proper thorough listen, it’s tough to get people to give your album a chance when most folk these days are just looking for a single they can bump for a week until the next hot track drops. I guess the title does refer to that saying, and that probably relates to my last answer, but mainly, by the point I renamed the project to that title, I had gotten over the fact that I’m not the traditional ‘rapper’ looks-wise and had become quietly confident that what we were working on was going to be of a certain level. A level that I don’t think even my friends and family thought I was capable of, which is why I felt ‘Pleasant Surprise’ was such a suitable title. The project wasn’t meant to be mind-blowing, overly innovative stuff, but just good music that would be an enjoyable pleasant listen. Not many people around me even knew that I rapped so that was where the ‘surprise’ came in, I’m just glad that I made damn sure it was a ‘pleasant’ one!
SamueL – BANGER! (Prod. by JZA)
There seems to be a heavy Boom-Bap, 90’s Rap element on the mixtape with the samples and your laidback but potent punchline flow. Was there a conscious element to retain a British feel with the lyrical content or did you want the tape to be accessible as possible?
All I did was try to make music that was to my personal taste, and I’d safely assume the fact that I’m really into so-called ‘old school’ Hip-Hop is why the project has that feel to it, but I wanted to keep it real and that meant repping my home when it came to the substance of the spitting, which is why I don’t shy away from using our slang and sayings, or allow my accent to stray and sound like I’m from the States. There was no conscious effort to be accessible to anyone in particular, more like be accessible to everyone by just trying to produce ‘good’ timeless music that really shows mine and the producers’ love for it. It’s a shame that there haven’t been more Hip-Hop artists from the UK that I could say have influenced me so far because I am actually very proud of where I’m from and I do want that to shine through.
SamueL – Sweet Rapport (Prod. by JZA)
Support the rising MC via the links below and till later…stay F.L.Y
For the last six months, I’ve been revisiting and reintroducing some definitive Southern inspired riddims into my mixes in the homestead and when I get the chance to play out.
This one producer High Klassified is one of a new wave of producers who aren’t taking part in rehashing two-step with transexual vocals for posh lost ones to mosh inna di dance. The young Montreal native has a gluttonous back catalogue which parallels his musical maturity along with fellow talented ‘Treal native Kaytradamus (BEAT BEAST) and Halifax brother Ryan Hemsworth.
Listen to his recent fitting London Flexin Trap refix of Kashii’s Make This below.
Kashii – Make This (High Klassified ‘London Flexin’ Remix) Free DL
In the meantime, big up all the Montreal Mandem and watch out for more insight into this talented bunch of beatsmiths within the Piu Piu scene shortly.
Coast Coast Records!
Following the conclusion of the innovative and visually inspiring #TBCP which received support from BBC Radio 1 and 1XTRA DJ Charlie Sloth, the man like Rax didn’t find some decommissioned underground bunker to hibernate in until September. He got back on his grind to complete a new mixtape in the space of three weeks,no Blue Peter “here’s one I made earlier nonsense” this shit is frrrrrresh.
Far from spitting on popular instrumentals throughout like most compilations, this is his first official mixtape with original production (Lights Out,Yeah Man!) to name a few,bubblin’ freestyles (Oatmeal) and interludes inspired by the famous Oliver musical.
I’m yet to catch this brother perform but from what I heard he was buggin’ on stage with his band at ILUVLIVE on Monday and people forgot Tinchy was even there too (well the wee boy is a borrower)
Support hardworking homegrown talent and download the mixtape with original artwork here
Follow Rax on Twitter @RaxOfficial #THEPICKPOCKET
Another day. Another example of young folk pursuing their dreams.
Andre. Sid Lee. Adidas.
Large up Mr Anderson and delve into his creative chasm via @ZOOM4YOU
South London native Rax honed his microphone skills from the tender age of 15, before signing with fast rising musical enterprise Clear Cut Entertainment / Audio Surveillance Records in 2009. The charismatic emcee then released his first solo long player titled ‘The Auditions’ at just 19 years of age. The mixtape went on to receive over 1000 downloads within the first few days of its release, with hard copies of the project proving equally as popular on the streets of London. Rax then began the process of releasing several viral videos before putting plans in motion for his most ambitious project to date – #TBCP a.k.a The Black Crook Project.
Wat U Sayin recently conversed with the versatile homegrown Rapper come MC on spitting trashy 16’s in the playground, The innovative Black Crook Project and simultaneously murdering Jollof and Jerk on a bed of Hard dough bread!
Can you give us some background info for those who aren’t familiar with what you do?
My name is Rax, I’m a musician (Rapper & Songwriter) and I video direct and edit. Nothing more nothing less.
You’ve been spitting since you were 15, what was the younger Rax doing at that time?
I starting spitting from 10/11, but I actually starting taking it serious at 15. I guess I was having fun, studying for my GCSE’s and playing Semi-pro football.
Were you something a child prodigy?
I wouldn’t say that, I had a few avenues I could have taken, Sports, Music or Education.
However,I did make it my goal to be good at the things I enjoyed.
Did you always write bars and battle against others in the playground or was it a hobbie that was primarily born in the studio?
It started in the playground…who could talk the most trash in 16 bars! It was just hype but growing up I listened to a lot of technically gifted musicians like Big L, Eminem, and Kano. I made it one of my aims to make sure I wasn’t just rhyming carelessly.
What was the turning point that made you think ‘If I put the graft in, you never know?’
Life just geared me in that direction
One day my manager said to me how do you want to be perceived in the scene and I didn’t have an answer… I felt lost.
Then over a period of time I learnt loads of life lessons and as a result, I became more in touch with myself…Then I had the answer.
You’re currently in the midst of The Black Crook Project where your releasing a new video every two weeks until March. Is the Black Crook an alter ego and what was the story behind such an ambitious concept?
The Black Crook is definitely not an alter ego. The project is based on a play written by Charles M Barras called “The Black Crook“. It has a really deep & powerful meaning that I will put into context by the end of the project but let’s save that for another interview.
If you are into musical theatre, I would definitely recommend the read.
A likkle birdie told me you’re steadily building an online following on the other side of the pond too. Why do you think the Americans are showing the T.B.C.P so much love?
I made a few cyber-friends after releasing “I Wanna Rock” they were ushering me to hurry up and release something.
Now #TBCP has begun, they promote it then word of mouth just led it around I think. lol. It might have something to do with the sound too. 😎
Have you pencilled in any releases post-T.B.C.P?
Yeah! “The Dress Rehearsals” – on May the 7th next year. Ssshhh! Don’t tell anyone yet haha.
Are there any artists or producers out there you’d like to link up with soon?
Yeah course, collabs are fun.
Labrinth is a must. ID Labs make amazing beats. Justice League.
In terms of artists, Dappy would be sick as he understands what a track needs and he’s a cool guy too.
J.Cole. Jhene. Frank Ocean…the list could continue.
What three words of advice would you give to aspiring youts in the UK?
Work, Persevere & Believe.
Wiley or Dizzee?
It’s a draw buddy.
Wholemeal or White?
Gingerbread Man or Bananaman?
Catch me if you can I’m the….
Jollof or Jerk?
I’ll eat both on hard dough bread in one bite like a caveman. Standard.
Finally, where can the peopledem get more info on your upcoming gigs and releases?
That’s Easy…See Below
Official Site: RaxOfficial.com
Inspired by the likes of Dilla, Alchemist and 9th Wonder, Kay Tenko blesses his tracks with the easiness and quality of soul and jazz music from the 1970s and 80s.
Hailing from East London,the UK Hip-Hop beatsmith has recently launched a competition calling for all rappers and singers alike to download his latest instrumental ‘Of You’.
Shot on Primrose H. Big up TKB Visuals.
Add your own twist to the riddim,send it to his dropbox where the man himself will pick his favourite and the prize is a feature on his forthcoming EP.
The closing date for all entries is 12th November.
For further info, check Kay Tenk’s Soundcloud
Get involved people!
Channel 4 has a long history of producing striking visual content which tackles social reality,whereas other broadcasters merely give topics a once over with a candy floss like duster claiming to comprehend issues prevalent in the concrete jungle.
Described as “A thrilling and raw four-part drama about young lives lived on the edge in east London – an honest and gripping rendition of inner-city drug and gang culture” Top Boy may appear to be a tad cliche but it’s important to recall a side of the Big Smoke which has always been put to one side.
Lovin the ‘ardest instrumental of last year in the promo and all
Featuring former So Solid member turned thespian Asher D, Kano (in his first acting role) and Scorcher, the first episode is due to be broadcast on the eve of Jack O’ Lanterns next week Monday the 31st of October.
SB.TV Interview with the Top Boy cast
Lastly, to coincide with the series launch, a mixtape featuring a whole host of homegrown artists including Benny Banks, Giggs, Mic Righteous and Ghetts has been made available. Hosted by 1xtra DJ Charlie Sloth and compiled by Chantelle Fiddy, the selection is on point ‘naturally’ with two regular purveyors of the underground in collaboration.
Top Boy – The Mixtape Free D/L