Belated Happy New Year to anyone who stumbles upon this and wonders a) Why are there no regular posts? and b) Why does it ages to load this homepage a la This Is Football on the original Playstation? I would divulge and bore you but it’s plain and simple…Good things come to those who wait (A pint of the black stuff isn’t forthcoming maybe in two months time) That being said I’m starting a new in-depth insight into producers or creatives who have caught my attention called Fresh Produce.
Credit: Sonic Router
First up is West Midlands producer Jason Lee aka TRC who is arguably well-known for providing the Skipping Rope instrumental to Trim’s breezy I Am (off the Monkey Features Vol.2 mixtape) and Oo Aa Ee for P Money and Blacks garage hark Boo You. The versatile 23 year old has been producing grime and hip-hop beats since the age of 16 but of late has been on remix duty for Josh Osho and Aiden Grimshaw as well as releasing his popular Leak EP series of instrumentals and unreleased dubs.
In the first of a three part series, I caught up with the man himself just before Christmas to chat about his early dip into the proverbial music mire, the Bassline scene and quality control in the age of the Internet.
How you doing man?
I’m cool man. Just been chilling and that. Working on a couple tunes. What you sayin?
Not bad at all. When I was doing some research and googled your name. The first thing which came up was a random rock band.
Yeah there is a rock band called TRC but it stands for The Revolution Continues. They’ve been around since I started producing (probably even before to be honest) and they’ve been blowing up for a few years now.
Have you had any issues of name rights or anything?
Nah. I even spoke to one of them and he was cool. They used to be known under that name but they just abbreviated that and ran with it in the end.
So you started producing at the age of 16, what sort of tunes were you making in the beginning?
Just straight grime and hip-hop beats all around the 140 tempo. I was just doing that but I was never any good at it at the time [laughs]
How long did it take for you to be in a position where you were comfortable to send people your stuff?
Sometimes you just send some of the tunes out for constructive criticism. When I was that age, I probably didn’t realise how rubbish some of the tunes were and I was just sending them out to local people anyway. I never sent anything to anyone big or anything but obviously when people come back with their criticism, you start to progress. I don’t really think there should be a time when people should wait and decide whether they should send out their tunes if they are just starting, as you need to get that criticism to improve.
Is it harder now in this age with people putting up tunes so readily on Soundcloud as they just want people to hear the music? Do you think quality control is imperative?
I dunno to be honest. I think it depends on how confident you are in yourself. There’s a thin line between cocky and confident and there’s much more easy access to upload songs, so anyone can just listen for themselves. You also know how people are like on the Internet now…they’ll just say anything and don’t care. It’s a bit of a reality check for some people but I think it also tarnishes the exclusiveness of your music [if you’re] banging everything up on Soundcloud or YouTube. For example, you know when you hear a track for the first time and MistaJam plays it, “you’re like I’ve never heard this before, who’s made this?” and then there’s a big demand for the song.
How do you react to that pressure when there’s an immediate demand after such airplay?
I don’t really get swayed by things like that if I’ve already got a plan for the song which is already being promoted by a number of DJ’s.
I mentioned before how you started off making Grime and then you switched over to making a lot of Bassline where you were quite successful. What sort of impact did making that genre have in terms of honing your production style and gauging reaction to your riddims in raves?
It was good, as doing Bassline helped me find my sound and what people recognised my songs for. It was a good learning curve not just in terms of making music but meeting and working with different people in the industry. In 2007 and 2008, Bassline was massive, so being involved with that was great.
What was the reaction to Bassline from people across the globe?
When I put out the EP’s and checked the sales, I was shocked to see people from the US, Australia, Japan and China. It was just a shock to me as you don’t think your songs reach out that far.
The Breakup V.I.P. How would you rate that as a personal landmark?
That was my first Bassline tune that really put me on the map and made people turn their heads toward me and say who’s this guy? That was actually the second Bassline tune I ever made, so it was really fresh and then I followed on straight after with Lately.
What impact did DJ Apostle have on you?
He had a massive impact and being my best friend before Bassline too, as we worked together on a lot of things. He was the one who told me about it in the first place, gave me different vinyls asking my opinion and to be honest if he had never told me about it, I’d probably never had made it. He also recorded a lot of the vocals as well, so all these songs that people are hearing were courtesy of him in the studio and not me. He would send me an acapella and say see what you can do with this. If it took off…..it took off.
Have you got a nickname for him in your close circles?
Not really. [laughs] Just bossy! As whatever he says, most people have to deal with but he means well.
Would you say he’s a father figure in the scene?
Yeah he knocks sense into people and makes you realise what position you’re in. He also reminds you to pick up the pace and when Bassline was at it’s most intense, he was keeping the circle together and ensuring things were active. He was also expanding it for other people too and reaching out to people like Caliber and Burgaboy who were blowing up in the UK for Bassline. He’s really important to the scene.
Part 2 of the new Fresh Produce series will be available next week. Danke for getting down this far.
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
If there was ever a starting point for a Nollywood meets London
comedy movie, alongside the never-ending West African debate about the origins of Jollof Rice, this cult cold beverage is up for grabs too.
This is for anyone whose had a better chance of seeing a dragon or dodo in the flesh rather than an auntie passing some malt.
Big up to TKB Visuals
There are moments (like the time you opened a car door and
accidentally scraped the paintwork of some geezers car and he started going haywire like this regardless of the fact you were 6 years young) and in equal measure there are times when you wish the clock would speed up (another instance where I led a mob procession akin to the Pied Piper of Hamlet around a primary school playground ironically singing and subsequently was forced to admit I was an idiot by a teacher who was American and built like a “blick” shithouse in good measure)
Regardless of these two mere snippets from early childhood, I was still weary of a show that still causes me to bear a grimace and puff of the cheeks in recollection. Initially aimed for children with hearing impairments, ZZZAP! (for the unassimilated) was a comic book which came to life as a slapstick sketch show. Following the initial title sequence, the camera would pan around the various characters in their panels and eventually zoom to signify selection for a particular episode.
The chief characters which stood out for me were Cuthbert Lilly ,The Handymen and Daisy Dares You. I think the stillness made it more engaging for wee ones of an era where cable television didn’t screen the latest hit US import months in advance as compared to ubiquitous internet torrents now. Whether it was a male trendsetter wrapped up in a Fruit Salad colourway, the incessant cheek of a pig-tailed girl or fluorescent velvet gloves fulfilling some rancid fetish, I was Hook, Line and Sinker.
Take some clips to reminisce over
Ever so crafty lass.
I’m having kittens.
Chaz Chaplin is sending a hundred hadoukens down from Heaven.
Take It Easy.
As per usual. Another selection of future,current and past riddims* that may have been slept on.
Lady Luck (Hudson Mohawke’s Schmink Wolf Re-fix) – Jamie Woon
Promiscuous Gyal – Dark Sky
Insurrection (feat. Linton Kwesi Johnson) – Hiatus
Oh! (feat. Foreign Beggars) – Beardyman
You & Me – Ruth and TRC
The Deep – Ed Case & Carl H
Get Along With You (Bump and Flex Club Mix) – Kelis
Bright Lights – Wiley (feat. Giggs and Juelz Santana)
Lastly, a fresh “post-Purple” mix Ginz compiled for the Pitchfork heads.
Download MPfree (Right Click and Save As): http://downloads.pitchforkmedia.com.s3.amazonaws.com/Ginz%20-%20Spring%202011%20Post%20Purple%20Mix.mp3
*I personally hold Sage and Onion responsible for a misguided youth.
The man like Wayne Goodlitt a.k.a Roska has thrown his signature funky tip over the recent rework of Lethal B’s FWD Riddim for hip swaying,mad skanking and bluku bluku effect.
STOP PRESS: The Soundcloud has already reached the 100 d/l limit in a matter of hours.
In the next installment of the “One To Watch” omnibus looking at the current state of underground music at home and abroad, I speak to Shawalin, a young MC & singer (also a Cambridge student) from London who talks about his inspiration for songwriting and having a preference for Antibacterial Gel.
Can you give us some background info for those who aren’t familiar with what you do?
I’m a 20-year-old rapper/singer from North-West London. I make a lot of light-hearted urban music but also do spoken word poetry.
Where did you get the name SHAWALIN from?
It’s a combination of “Shower” (slang meaning impressive/flash) and “Shaolin monk” (the ninja). When I was 15 made up the word Shawalin and people started calling me that.
What’s your earliest individual memory of music in a performing or listening capacity?
Music’s been in my life for as long as I can remember. My mum always used to sing to me and play records all day. Every day was a performance for me because I was always singing for girls in school and on the estate.
How did you get into Mcing?
I started songwriting when I was 13 and I tended to stand out, so writing rap lyrics was a natural transition for me. I was alternative in that I wanted to say something different to everyone else but two problems were that I was crap and had nothing substantial to say. When grime took off in 2005 I couldn’t stop writing so it didn’t take long for me to stop being crap.
What inspires you to write and sing songs in such a humorous manner?
Life is just hilarious, I’m sure everyone else goes through the same stuff as me but it’s all about perception and interpretation. My brain just makes everything funny to me so what I experience gets communicated in that way.
Were you surprised by the warm response ‘Dedicated’ and your mixtape ‘Memory Bank Vol.1’ received?
I was more reassured; I thought some of the stuff was a little left field and it was nice to see that grime fans could get involved with the joke songs like ‘Dedicated’. Especially people who had never heard me before, I was happy to see the YouTube comments where a lot of people who don’t know each other could just agree that the music was good. I worked hard on the mixtape and gave an honest representation of myself so the positive response felt like a pat on the back.
Red Hot Entertainment made the humorous ‘Junior Spesh’ a few years back. Do you think local chicken shops such as Sams and similar chains etc. play a key part of urban London life?
Yeah everyone knows about them. Chicken and bargains is a great way to bring poor people together. “Junior Junior Junior Spesh!!!”
A lot of the themes you talk about in your discography reflect an upbringing which many youths and older generations in London and other major urban centres have experienced. How important is it for you to use music as an outlet to tell your state of mind to people who haven’t been subjected to such a livelihood before?
To be honest it used to matter more to me in the past. I felt like no one was adequately representing the inner-city experience in a way that could be understood by someone from the outside looking in, so I wanted to be the spokesman in that respect. But now I’m questioning how useful that is; I’m sick of people in the hood crying out for attention and sympathy, I’d rather inspire change.
Bit of a generic question I’m gonna ask but do you think the Internet has provided you with a great platform to gain greater exposure toward your music?
If I could kiss the internet I would. Overall I’ve got over 90,000 views in the space of ten months. To an extent the internet is a level playing field for artists like me who don’t have friends in high places and any budding performer would be a fool not to utilise it.
Recently a number of high profile hip hop and rap artists have been giving away free music on a weekly basis i.e Kanye – G.O.O.D Fridays and Wu Tang – Wu Wednesdays . What’s your opinion on this means of marketing and would you consider releasing personal material so readily to the public?
I think it’s a necessary evil. More and more people have access to free music now and if artists aren’t prepared to accommodate for that budget-wise then a lot of avoidable losses will be made. I’ve been giving away free music for a while now; as an up-and-coming, the hardest bit is getting you to even listen to me. But it’s all good.
Any plans to release new mixtapes and material anytime soon?
Travelling to Uganda and starting university slowed me down a bit but I will be back with a bang next year (cliché, I know).
Are there any artists or producers out there you would like to collaborate with in the not too distant future?
I won’t name names but just know I am the most open-minded MC you will ever meet, if I contact you then I’m willing to work in a free capacity.
What are you listening to at the moment and Is there anyone readers should look out for?
I’ve been listening to a lot of old school Ghetts just to fall back in love with grime (pause). Readers should watch out for this guy called Crisis, he’s talented, another one is D-Bo (best in the scene?) and of course my guys D.I and Manidi. Support UK music not for the sake of it but because it’s actually good.
Spurs or Arsenal?
LOL Spurs who? I don’t even watch football I just said that to piss my bredrin off.
Chicken Shop or the Colonel?
Colonel when I got money, Sam’s when I’m in the ends.
Breast or Wings?
Ask your girl.
Hand Wipes or Antibacterial Gel?
That gel is a lot you know I just used it 10 minutes ago.