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
Stop the press. The young Montreal native High Klassified has just dropped Flexury his debut solo beattape on the bubblin Alaiz label and as per usual his dexterity for dense drums meshed with mellow brass soundtracks galactic reverie. The theme slyly recalls Starkey’s Universe EP for me and this Corot 9b riddim too.
In other words, this beatsmith is a predicament in the sickest/baddest/illest colloquial sense. If you know about his previous credits, then you’re fully aware that High Klassified is another star on the rise from the Piu Piu movement.
Listen above and grab the download here.
If you wanna listen to his full audio arsenal,follow him on @HighKlassified
In this age, a combination of sounds have been released from Pandora’s box which merge the analogue and the digital. For most genres, the audio ascendency is organic but there always remains an artificial element to the manner in which our fast-food culture readily consumes and throws away music like a cheap piece of gum from your local Turkish supermarket.
Trap Music is the latest IT genre which is threatening to be consumed in it’s new hybrid form by hungry hipsters not mindful of the early roots. Born out of The Lone Star State – Texas, more succinctly Houston. It’s proximity in the Gulf State to other major drug importing nations makes it an enticing location to push dope and sell kilos. Such a lucrative trade was a primary source of income for one of the early purveyors of the scene, Robert Earl Davis Jr. better known as DJ Screw.
The late Screw was a central figure in the H-Town hip-hop community with his Screwed Up Click crew and his Chopped & Screwed DJ technique (where he would dramatically slow down the pitch was) reportedly led to a rise in the consumption of Purple Drank, Syrup, Sissurp, Tinky Winky Drinky and Barney The Dinosaur dissolved in a cup etc to enjoy the ‘Screwtapes’ he sold for $10 a pop.
Back in July 2005 once my GCSE’s were done and dusted (feels like a hella long time ago) I travelled to Las Vegas on my larry lonesome for a month and half to stay with some relatives in Sin City. As soon as I had my retina scanned, I got my Christopher Columbus on and walked around the airport taking full advantage of my new found independence abroad even buying a banana muffin from Starbucks (It was f***ing digusting). About two hours later passed and my attempt for an adventure came to an abrupt halt as
1) My shitscared parents across the Atlantic staying up into the early hours waiting confirmation that I had arrived.
2) The aunt who was late picking me was doing doughnuts with her motor at another terminal waiting for an epoch or two.
3) The local 5-0 had been on the lookout for me and I wasn’t even wearing my best tracksuit.
Alas,I wasn’t able to partake in any debauchery (bar sipping on a few 40’s and sneaking into a 24 hour bowling alley) due to my young age but I will never forget riding in my cousin’s whip listening to this sound which spread to Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi. The lyricism was raw yet real, but anyone that knows me is aware that I’m a big fan of instrumentals more than anything. The trap template of slurred rising brass chords, pounding 808 bass kicks and pitched down transsexual vocals all had an infectious quality which still hasn’t been cured to this day.
Here are some tasters that formed the soundtrack of my trip:
Paul Wall – Sittin’ Sideways (ft. Big Pokey)
Boyz N Da Hood – Dem Boyz (Clock Diddy trying to look like a roadman)
Youngbloodz – Presidential
T.I – U Don’t Know Me
Mike Jones – Still Tippin
Webbie – Gimme Dat (ft. Bun B)
Three 6 Mafia – Stay Fly
T.I – Rubberband Man (David Banner on the 1’s and 2’s)
UGK – One Day (Chopped and Screwed by the man himself)
In the last few years, this sub-genre of hip-hop has taken on a new form for mainstream hip-hop artists and dance music producers. Diplo is an early champion of the sound through his Mad Decent label and working with artists like Paper Route Gangstaz on this (probably the most bawse sample of Careless Whisper ever) and that evolution can be heard via the clicks and telling timbre on his production of Usher’s sonic slow jam Climax.
Paper Route Gangstaz – Bama Gettin’ Money (Diplo Remix)
His enthusiasm for lending his ear to the niche communities has enabled him to develop an understanding of each scene with those part of it (recording at the legendary Tuff Gong studios founded by Bob Marley as part of Major Lazer) and exposing them to a wider congregation rather than homogenizing a sound which lacks authenticity rubberstamped by past masters.
The trap virus has even spread to grime with producers such as Darq E Freaker, TRC, Faze Miyake and S-X evolving the sound away from his East London base to create instrumentals which are synonymous with Stateside rappers as well as have crews spit 16’s over from concrete jungles across the UK.
Darq E Freaker – Next Hype Instrumental
TRC – 155
Faze Miyake – Take Off
S-X- Motorway Music
Influential electronic labels such as Warp, 4AD also release output with southern sensibilities at the core through TNGHT (Hudson Mohawke and Lunice), Rustie, Girl Unit , Bok Bok and Purity Ring. Lex Luger is also a new relatively new beatsmith on the block responsible for this spotlight via his work on Waka Flocka Flame’s’ Hard In Da Paint’, Rick Ross’s (the seizure boss) ‘Blowing Money Fast’ and Kanye West and Jay Z’s “H.A.M”. Moreover, this Southern hospitality has spread north to Drake and The Weeknd in Canada and on the Eastside via A$AP Rocky.
Festival season is in full swing here in Europe and no doubt your eardrums will sample some tracks which will make you wile out or sway like a pendulum.
Listen to some further hybrid riddims below:
RL Grime – Trap On Acid
Clams Casino – Leaf
Baauer – Harlem Shake
XXYYXX – About You Ft. 2 Chainz (DJ Fergie Ferg Trap Edit)
Hudson Mohawke – Lambo Furnace avec Mercy
YC – Racks (Instrumental)
Major Lazer – Original Don (Flosstradamus Remix)
Kirko Bangz – Drank In My Cup (Instrumental)
Lunice – The Good Kids
Juicy J – Who Da Neighbors Remix (Ft. Snoop Dogg)
Sinjin Hawke & Morri$ – One Kiss
Chief Keef – I Don’t Like Remix (prod by Young Chop)
Clicks & Whistles – Cranberry Goose
Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River (Brodinski Edit)
Foreign Beggars ft Donae’o – Flying to Mars (12th Planet’s Martian Trapstep Remix)
Drake – Uptown (Ft. Bun B & Lil Wayne)
Enjoy and beware of the trap.
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
I recently had the p-p-pleasure of interviewing Plug 1 and Plug 2 from the legendary Hip-Hop trio De La Soul. The duo talk about their new project First Serve, “fuckin” with the glass jawed hood terminator 50 Cent and the pitfalls of lapping up fame quicker than a piece of silver being scrabbled in an inner-city school playground.
Peep the LIVE Magazine interview here: http://www.live-magazine.co.uk/2012/02/music-de-la-soul-first-come-first-serve/
and the video for ‘Must B The Music’, the first song off the First Serve LP below:
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!
(Sorry for the lack of blogging of late. I’m working on a few blossoming tings,nonetheless i’ll keep you posted *cymbal crash*)
TOKiMONSTA – Little Pleasures (feat. Gavin Turek)