Maz Meets Benny Banks

Interviews, Work

I met Benny Banks last month with my Flavour Magazine colleague Shireen Fenner to interview him for SB.TV Online. Check it out…

679/Warner Records recent signee Benny Banks is hailed as one of the UK’s rap heavyweights. Shireen Fenner and Maz Halima headed down to The Social in Little Portland Street to see what the rapper had to say about being the subject of diss tracks, Bada Bing and what’s next on his agenda…

M: Who did you aspire to when you started rapping?

I grew up in an older era… like I think American rappers inspired all of us. But over here, Mike Skinner, Klashnekoff and Skinny Man. I listen to a lot of Hip Hop.

S: What track got you noticed by the masses?

I don’t actually know, I think that’s a matter of opinion. Personally I think it was my SB.TV warm up session; that let everyone know I could rap. I would like to think it was that because it was the most meaningful to me – but I don’t actually know.

S: Your roots and experiences in Islington have provided a lot of inspiration for your lyrics, do you think as your situation changes your content will too?

Yeah, that’s the main thing I want people to notice really, the way I’m growing up and maturing. Obviously Bada Bing isn’t the main reflection of Benny Banks; it was just a fun tune init. But I’ve got a lot more music to come. With my content, I’m just going to keep it Benny like, I’m going to be myself, I just want to appeal to a big variety of people rather than just the streets. In general I want to spread it out a bit more, and learn how to word it to make people listen.

M: When did you get signed to 679/Warner and how has life changed since?

November 25 last year. Obviously its changed, but I’m just trying to be the same person, I don’t want to let it get to me. I haven’t made it yet; I haven’t got anything in the charts, when I get their maybe I’ll show off a bit more! But right now I’m still working man.

M: Do people treat you differently now?

I think I get a bit more respect.  But I feel like I deserve it so I’m just accepting it.

S: Do you think you can get mainstream success without altering your style?

Ummm, in ways, but I don’t really go studio and make a tune specifically for the charts or to attract a certain amount of people. I just write the music and it does its own job. If I keep going with it then hopefully it will just mature. I just got to up my vocab a little a bit, but I’m confident though. I got a vision.

M: You are known for delivering quite dark lyrics in a laid back way. Do you still live the life that you rapped about?

Nah! Course not! Obviously I still mix with the same people I still live in the same area, I just don’t personally do the same things that I did before init. But then again if I wasn’t involved in music maybe I would init. But I’m here now and I’m grateful.

S: You’ve had some beef and been the subject of a few diss tracks… do you expect more of the same as you grow more successful?

Yeah! When a man looks in the mirror and realises he’s underachieving, they get bitter.  I’m inspiration for them man, all these diss tracks just make me feel good about myself! None of its true, I’ve never met none of these people in my life, so if they know so much stuff about me, good for them man. I’m getting paid for my music. I dunno man, they’re probably fans! I can’t really comment on people I haven’t met.

M: Which artists and producers would you want to work with this year?

Not in particular, I’m not desperate to work with anyone in general. If I got to work with someone and made a good song… I just want to make good music; I can make good music with someone unheard of.

S: You and K Koke have a strong underground following… do you feel that being a white rapper has helped to an extent?

Yeah maybe, the fact that I am white, possibly, I don’t really agree with that though – I don’t think colour matters. It’s not the 90’s or the 80’s no more but… maybe it helps, but its like ‘why?’ It’s a stereotypical opinion. I just think its talent man. I know there have been some white acts that have been signed like Vanilla Ice or whatever, but I mean come on, I’m not that guy! I am not Vanilla Ice – I can rap. [Laughs] Obviously they’re ‘marketable’ init, I understand the whole marketing thing. But I don’t think it applies to me.

M: Do you think that novelty will ever wear off?

Umm.. nah! Its like…  if a white girl goes in the club and starts doing the duttywine, she’s going to stand out, cause its more of a black girls thing to be good at dancing. Obviously rap started with Run DMC and them people there, not a white guy. It originates from a black background init so if you see someone whose not black doing it then they’ll probably always stand out.

M:  Bada Bing has a very different sound compared to what you normally bring to the table. Can we expect more of that sound?

Well I don’t plan to stop having fun so… I’m sure I’ll go back to the studio and make another fun tune. Like I said that tune was just for jokes, it’s not my kind of music, it’s not me. But it was fun init. And to me, it doesn’t sound too pop or commercial, but I know it’s very different for me. But I liked doing it. I would make something like that again; if I could make something better I’d follow it up.

S: You, Joe Black and Squeeks make a strong team. What can we expect from you lot in the future?

The takeover. Just expect good music, I can’t guarantee the charts but the music is always going to be good.

M: Can we expect an album from you this year?

Defo defo! I can’t tell you anything about what’s going to be on there though! But there’s definitely going to be an album. It’s going to be very exclusive, nothing like no one else’s. Ideally it will be out in the summertime.

S: Have you had any crazy twitter fans?

Yeeeeeeeah! I get weird messages man, some weird messages… But I think everyone does though man. I get loads of messages from people asking me how to rap. Obviously I can’t tell them how to do that, its just natural init. The funniest tweet I got was the other day… this girl… big up this girl man! You know you can search your name to see if people are writing about you yeah? She wrote ‘I still remember Benny Banks tryna chatting me up on the street last year’. I do not chat girls up on the street, I’m 24 man, my kid is 4, I haven’t done that since I was 17! I tweeted her saying ‘Big up you for making that up’. She replied and tried to be cheeky, but it was just funny.

M: Wrapping up, what can expect from Benny in the far away future?

A house in Dubai, a big Rolls Royce [laughs]. Nah, just progress. As long as I’m making progress it’s all good. I’d like to achieve my dreams that we all have… But as long as I’m still relevant in 5 years I’ll be happy. I think keeping relevant is what matters.

Advertisements

Maz Chats to Tyga

Interviews, Work

I got the chance to have a quick chat with Tyga a couple of weeks ago on behalf of MTV – The Wrap Up (THE urban destination, in case you didn’t know). Check it out…

This year, we’ve seen the tattoo-loving rhymer Tyga gain worldwide fame. His single ‘Rack City’, went certified platinum and he inspired almost every rapper to jump on YouTube and perform their own version of the party anthem…

Tyga’s new album, ‘Careless World: Rise Of the Last Kings’, is a well-orchestrated blend of party tracks, rugged hip-hop and emotive sounds – the Young Money camp are doing things big this year. I found out what he’s been up to and what he has planned for us next…

Hey Tyga! From being recalled to be being leaked, the release of your album, ‘Careless World: Rise Of The Last King’, has had its fair share of drama…

Hey! Yeah, the album was sent to stores but it couldn’t be sold because of a MLK sample that I used. For certain reasons, I wasn’t allowed to use it last minute. We had to remake a new album to go in stores by the next week, so for the whole first week I wasn’t actually able to have it in stores. Once you’ve made your album and it’s shipped in, it’s out there, you know? You’ve got people that copy them once they get to the stores. I know if I worked in a retail store and I saw a CD from my favourite artist that I’ve been waiting so long for, I’d probably grab a CD too!

What track on the album means the most to you and why?

The ‘Kings and Queens’ record with me, Wale and Nas. I just think the message behind it is a real strong one. It’s a strong record and I don’t think people were expecting that from me on this album.

‘Rack City’ is now certified platinum. Did you think it would make this kind of impact? And for those who don’t know, what is the meaning behind ‘Rack City’?

Tyga: ‘Rack’ is a term we use that means a thousand dollars, so ‘Rack City’ basically means a lot of money (laughs). I didn’t know that it was gonna be this big, like worldwide, but I knew it would be big with my fans and on the West Coast. But nah, I was shocked! I think it’s just a new sound, it’s different. Like, the flow of it and my tone on the record is just different. It just sounds like an anthem, you know?

Have you seen the YouTube video of a granny dancing to it? It has over 12 million views.

Yeah, I’ve seen it. It’s pretty wild and pretty crazy (laughs). I really appreciate it all, I’m just happy that people are enjoying my music.

Since your recent worldwide hit, how do you stay grounded?

For me, it isn’t hard to stay grounded. You just have to keep doing what you’ve been doing that got you to that point of success. I think as long as you stay consistent and you stay in touch with your old friends, you’ll always be good. 

In your last interview with us, you said that you didn’t think you had established your sound 100%. How do you feel now that you’ve had time to progress?

I think the challenge for me is to make sure I have a party sound and a more emotional sound, you know what I’m sayin’? I can make any type of music, so I wouldn’t want to describe myself as having one type of sound. I think music is about keeping it diverse.

How is your clothing line, ‘Last Kings’, going? Any chance of a UK store opening soon?

I’m just selling it on my tours and shows at the moment, and you can also get it online. The brand really represents being independent, making your own movements and controlling your own destiny. As well as the album, I really wanted to have something that my fans could have, so they could feel like a part of this whole movement.

You’ve collaborated with many amazing artists, but who has been your favourite person to work with?

I wouldn’t say I have a favourite, but I’ve worked with Chris Brown a lot. When we make music, it’s not hard at all. We’ve got a good vibe.

What’s coming up next for you?

I just shot the video for ‘Faded’ with Lil Wayne from my album, which is ready to drop soon. Those fun songs are just a thing I like to do for my partygoers. I’ve got a lot of other records, but I still wanna cater to the party people!

Where can we see you live and what can expect?

I’ll be in the UK in May. It’s gonna be crazy! Shows are gonna be sold-out so, once tickets going on sale, make sure you guys get your tickets. What can you expect from me? You can expect a party and a lot of energy.

Tyga’s new album, ‘Careless World: Rise Of The Last Kings’, is out now.

Stay up to date with Tyga on Twitter.

If you want to see this interview in all of its MTV glory or you fancy checking out my other work on the site, just click here.

Grime Special – Back to the Future

Interviews, Work

Over the summer, me and my Flavour Magazine colleague Shireen went to the filming of the UK BET Cypher and had the pleasure of speaking to some of the best artists in the UK urban scene. The interview was for Flavour’s Back to the Future issue, so we reminisced with Wretch 32, Mic Righteous, Ghetts, Lady Leshurr, Roxxxan, Mz Bratt and others on their favourite (and not so favourite) moments…

Mic Righteous

S: Favourite childhood memory?

Wow, probably leaving school! Yeah that was my favourite childhood memory, my last day of school.

M: Favourite childhood film?

The Terminator 2.

S: Fav food?

My mum used to make this dish called subsi but you won’t know what that is…

S: I do actually…

[looks very excited] You know what it is? That’s sick! Do you like it? Oh I love you!

M: If you could bring a memory back from the past what would it be?

Wow, that’s quite hard… I remember one time, my brother took me out and we emptied out coke bottles, cut them and put them on our arms so it was like we had guns on our arms…

[Shireen and I look confused]

Cause the bumps at the end look like a machine gun? We took them out and pretended there were aliens in the field – then we shot them.

M&S: LOL.

M: Favourite album?

Marshall Mathers LP.

S: Favourite old school tune?

[Ponders for some time] Tupac ‘Hit Em Up’ or ‘Holla at Me’ by Tupac. Or ‘Dead Mama’ by Tupac. Or just Tupac ‘Greatest Hits’!

M: First kiss?

That’s kiss and tell, I ain’t doing that! [after some gentle persuasion] I think I was in primary school, in like reception.

S: Most embarrassing childhood moment?

Probably when you’re out and about and a bird just squats on ya. In Margate there are a lot of seagulls and one will just decide to squat on ya and it will land on ya face or something. Thats pretty embarrassing.

M: Favourite lesson at school?

English.

S: Worst childhood telling off?

One time I had a fight, my first fight, and I got told off because I didn’t win it, so I wasn’t allowed home. I was so pissed off I went out, found the kid and slapped him. Then I went home and my dad was alright!

Lady Leshurr

S: What would you take from the past and bring to the future?

I’d like to have my Granddad back because he passed away a long time ago.

M: Favourite old school tune?

Sister Nancy ‘Bam Bam’. That’s what made me write. Then I found out about Eminem and started to take it seriously.

S: Favourite album?

Lil Wayne, but I can’t say one in particular because he’s just incredible. Or maybe Eminem ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’.

M: Most embarrassing childhood moment?

We were in school, lining up to go into R.E and this bird just flew and poo’ed all down me! Everyone was laughing at me and it was really embarrassing…

S: First kiss?

That IS embarrassing. Damn! I was about 17… I was a late developer and I was into football and basketball, I wasn’t interested in kissing then!

Ghetts

S: Favourite childhood memory?

The Lion King is one of them, definitely. Going on outings with my parents; sick memories. My dad teaching me to ride a bike; that’s an important memory that you have to pass down.

M: Favourite food as a kid?

Rusk biscuits. Dun Kno.

S: Favourite film?

I had a favourite book as a child. What was it called, you know my man… was it the mad hatter? Dr Seuss!

M: If you could take something from the past and bring it to the future, what would it be?

My friends that have gone.

S: Favourite album?

‘2000 and Life’ – made by some artist called Ghetto, he’s sick still. You should check him out…

M: Favourite old school tune?

[starts singing] ‘Never Gonna Let You Go’ by Tina Moore!

S: What item would you bring back from the past?

Do you remember that toy when we were kids and you would press it and it used to say swear words? It was like a voice box thing. Trust me it was a mad ting, but yeah, that toy there.

M: First kiss?

When I was 2! The first kiss I can remember… I swear I slobbered something down early, like in nursery times! How old were we in nursery? Cause I had a ting in nursery and I still know her now!

S: Most embarrassing childhood moment?

You want me to tell you the truth? Nah, it will come back to haunt me…  Nah I ain’t got none.

[we wait expectantly]

I ran into a goalpost once!

M: Favourite lesson at school?

Religious education.

S: Your worst childhood telling off?

We never got told off, we got beaten! The worst ones can’t go on record – my mum will get arrested! I had bad ones man, but I deserved them all.

Mz Bratt

S: Favourite childhood memory?

When I went to Italy with my dad, I was about 6. He went raving and left me and my sister on our own, but it was fun!

M: Favourite childhood film?

Ooh! The Goonies and The Lion King.

S: Favourite food?

That alphabet spaghetti!

M: Favourite old school album?

When I was little, I used to love The Spice Girls. But now, it wouldn’t be The Spice Girls! [laughs]

S: What memory would you take from the past and bring to the future?

None, really, I am happy with my present at the moment. I think it’s nice to look back…

M: What item would you bring back from the past?

I used to have a microphone that would echo and I used to sing into it with my little keyboard as well… that was fun.

S: First kiss?

Ooh, on the lips? All my friends were advanced, but I was late with this stuff. Probably secondary school, maybe year 9 or 10.

M: Most embarrassing childhood moment?

Probably when I got stuck in a box and my mum took a picture, so now when people come over they can see the picture of me stuck in this box…

S: Worst childhood telling off?

It was probably the first and only time I ever got smacked by my mum. I got into a strangers car, I was like 4 or 3. I didn’t know what I was doing but she went MAD!

M: Favourite lesson at school?

English; I used to love English.

S: Favourite old school tune?

Because it’s sunny today, I’ll say Roy Ayers ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine.’

Wretch 32

M: Most embarrassing childhood moment?

Probably getting caught stealing biscuits…

M: If you could bring an item back from the past, what would it be?

My childhood. That’s not an item though… so I’d take my Mega Drive.

M: Favourite all time album? 

Jay Z – The Black album.

RoxXxan

M: What is your all-time favourite old school tune?

Missy Elliot – Supa Dupa Fly.

S: Favourite old school album?

OMG! I gotta say ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’, Bob Marley ‘The Legend’ and Pink ‘Can’t Take Me Home’.

Bigz

S: Favourite childhood memory?

Getting my first pair of Nike Air Force when I was about 7, like the ones Michael J Fox was wearing in ‘Back to the Future’ but they had aluminous green lights.

M: What would you bring back from the past?

Music. I think music was better then. I liked 90’s RnB; I’m a soul brother.

S: Favourite album from back in the day?

It was the first album I got; Run DMC – ‘Raising Hell’.

M: What item would you bring back from the past?

Avia trainers, I’m tryna bring them back. They were hard.

S: First kiss?

I had a girlfriend in nursery called Kirsty and that’s the truth! I was exposed to things when I was young that I probably wasn’t supposed to be exposed to… I probably kissed a girl for the first time when I was 5 with tongues an all! It was crazy; I was a naughty young kid.

M: Favourite lesson at school?

History.

S: Most embarrassing childhood moment?

There was one time me and my brother bunked off school and my mum found out. We were in secondary school and she took us to school for a straight two weeks and brought us back, shouting at us on the bus and stuff, it was embarrassing. She done that on purpose after being advised by my aunty.

M: Worst childhood telling off?

I can’t even disclose that but mum knows what she done to us! Mum knows…

 

 

You can also check out my full interview with Lady Leshurr and RoxXxan for Flavour Magazine here 🙂

Maz Chats to Youngman

Interviews, Work

Simon Smith Jr, aka Youngman, has been tearing up the airwaves this year with his latest track, ‘Who Knows’ produced by his friend Skream. Not a new player in the game, Youngman has been dabbling with music since he was able to talk.

Raised with Jungle music and a lover of Soul, his inspirations are clear in his music and with the evolution of UK music now steering in his direction, 2012 is set to be the year Youngman gets his shine. I find out everything you need to know about the Derby bred artist.

What’s with the name, Youngman?

I started DJing when I was about 6… I got into music when I was so young; my family just started calling me Youngman from then.

What inspired you at such a young age?

Initially I got into jungle, which was basically like early drum and bass; that was a massive part of my upbringing. At the same time, my parents encouraged me to listen to R&B, pop, soul and jazz; I loved Stevie Wonder, Al Green and Michael Jackson.

You’re signed to Digital Soundboy. How did that come about?

I’ve been with Digital Soundboy for 18 months. I had 3 record deals before the situation I’m in now. Since joining Soundboy I’ve definitely evolved as an artist; I’ve got such a great team around me now, since hooking up with Benga and Skream. I had a record called ‘One and Only’ and at the time, I used to bump into Shy FX and would always tell him I wanted to work with him. Ironically enough, all the while he loved ‘One and Only’ – he just didn’t know it was me. I sent him a demo and when he heard that tune on it he called me up and was like ‘I didn’t know that was you!’ And he signed me on the phone there and then.

Why didn’t you take the other record deals?

Music is a funny thing; it’s all about chemistry and dynamics. From the managers to the producers to the label – it’s really important that everyone has the same vision. The other offers I had were great for my development but they weren’t going in the direction I was. Digital Soundboy really understand where I’m coming from. Not only do they let me do the music that I love, but they offer so much. It’s a great camp.

Your latest single ‘Who Knows’ has a very fresh vibe. What inspired the sound?

Benga and I just went to get a Nando’s which we were scoffing at the Rinse FM studios, when Skream played the instrumental of ‘Who Knows’. I loved it straight away, so I said live on radio that I wanted the beat and I would vocal it up and return with it next week for the listeners to hear. I literally wrote it the next day in about 15 minutes.

You are currently working on your debut album; tell us about it.

It is called ‘Me and My Music’ and it’s going really well. It’s being executively produced by Shy FX and Benga, which is amazing. It’s also got cuts from Breakage. I just did a tune with MJ Cole and Sam Frank which I’m really excited about. The sound of the album is very versatile; I’m singing and rapping on it. It very cutting edge UK bass music fused with soulful vocals and influences. At the same time there are hard club records on there as well.

You’ve been touring all over the world. How is it going?

Touring wise, I’m having a few weeks off; I just came back from New Zealand and Australia. I love touring, but on that last tour, we worked out that we were up in the air for 4 entire days. That’s a lot. But we can’t complain! We played at New Zealand’s Rhythm festival on New Year’s Eve; we came out after Example to an audience of 35,000. It was such a wicked way to see in the New Year.

What was your favourite destination?

I love Ibiza. It was so magical this summer. Benga and I did about 8 shows there. Ibiza has a magic about it as far as dance music is concerned. New Zealand was so beautiful; I’d never been there before. We did a North American tour as well… It’s hard to choose one destination!

How was the US?

It was great; we had A LOT of ribs and wings! Oh, the wings… the best wings I had were when we literally landed, at this wing house… [We discuss fried chicken for some time]

But back to the music, Dubstep is really massive in America right now, the crowds go mental.

I hear you’re really into fashion as well.

Yeah, I got my fingers in a few pies! I love fashion, I always have. I’ve dabbled with clothes designing in the past and now I’m working on a new line to coincide with my album. So you can expect to see some Youngman clothing towards the end of the year. I will start off with menswear first. I love varsity jackets, chinos, and I love a good shirt as well. I really do have a long-term goal of doing some in fashion. I mean real fashion, not just merchandise.

Tell us about the ‘Music and Life’ workshops you are doing?

I know so many kids want to get into music and it can be really hard to see how to get from A to Z. People can’t understand how you can make music for a living; just because you aren’t all over the TV or radio you can still make music. So I decided to set up a scheme to give people guidance and mentoring, not only relating to music, but relating to real life. I have a Business Management degree, so it’s all about encouraging kids to stay in school and realise that they don’t have to choose, they can have both.

I hear you. So how did YOU get from A to Z?

My journey has been really ironic in the sense that I initially started off doing R&B and soul. Even though Jungle was always around me, my dad encouraged me to do my own thing, so I started DJing old school garage. That was when the two worlds collided, for me.  The best advice I would give is to get yourself out there; do as many recording sessions, talent shows as you can and get networking; get your music heard. In time, you’ll find the right team.

You’re originally from Derby. Are you a mini celebrity there now?

[Laughs manically] There’s a lot of love in Derby. I spend a lot of time on the roads, and I have a place in London. I try and spend time in Derby with my family as much as possible. But I love London. It can be a lonely place, but so can everywhere. I love London because I’m a big believer of positive laws of attraction. The things that you see and the things that you’re surrounded by will motivate you to get to the next level, spiritually and psychologically. Living in a small town, you can’t really visualise being mega successful. I initially wanted to move to London so I could see people driving Ferrari’s and see music artists doing their thing… you need a successful culture around you to emulate that, I think.

What can expect from you in 2012?

I’ve just launched my website (www.iamyoungman.com) so jump on there to see where I’m going to be touring next. ‘Who Knows’ will be released on January 29, which I’m really excited about. I’m also about to embark on a club tour which will be kicking off in Fabric in London on January 20. I’ll be touring with Benga on the ‘Benga featuring Youngman Tour’ which will be crazy; it will be a massive UK tour. In April I will be supporting Example on his arena tour. You can also expect the debut album from me later this year, definitely before Christmas!

Maz Chats to Crisismusik

Interviews, Music, Work

Hailing from North London, Crisismusik is a rapper, song writer and university student. When talking to the 19-year-old, he said his inspirations ranged from Michael Jackson, Tupac and UK Grime on a whole, whilst saying his music holds many elements, from Indie to Hip Hop.

Oh, and he loves RnB. It seems his eclectic tastes are the way forward, because in turn Crisismusik has a fresh single out and an EP on the way, all whilst building up his independent record label, Soulitary Records. Flavour gets to know the rapper a little better.

So, who is Crisis Musik?

I’m a recording artist and I’m part of a company called Soulitary Records. I’ve released my debut single called ‘Criteria’ which features P Mensah, and my next single ‘Fit Me In The Picture’ is out now.

So what inspired the name?

When I was 14 it was just Crisis, because everyone was using random tags back in those days… so it was just random. As my music started to grow and I started to make music that meant something, I changed it to Crisismusik. It’s saying that I’m here to bring a Crisis in Musik; not in a bad way though! I wanna bring something new; something others can’t do.

What genre would you class your music as?

My foundation is Grime. But I started experimenting with Hip Hop in 2008 and now days my music has picked up a lot influences, from Dubstep, Hip Hop and Indie styles.

Most UK urban artists have jumped on the European dance beat trend. Will we see you hopping on board soon?

Ummm… it’s not the type of music I would make! But I do appreciate the music though.

What’s the deal with Soulitary Records?

Me and my friend started the independent label and we’ve been working hard. I was in a few Grime movements, but some people just weren’t as serious about it as I was. The people I’m working with now have the same goals and work ethic -we’re on the same page. So, things are looking up…

How did you go about starting the label?

We did a lot of research. You know, how to get distribution companies to put your single out for you – this and that. I also had my older family giving me a lot of advice; not just on music, but in life and business – how to manage yourself.

You’ve been rapping for over 5 years. What do you think about the progression in UK music?

Grime was really big back in the day, but when people started charting they weren’t really embracing who they were and other people’s success. But now there’s a whole new UK thing where people are putting their head down and making good music; I think the scene is almost where it needs to be…

Can we expect an EP from you soon?

I’ve got my mix tape ‘The Goody Bag’ out now and it’s available for a free download. I’m in the process of creating a new EP for 2012, with Cass Beats on the production. My first official single will be out in January hopefully.

What can we expect from you in 2012?

More visuals, more music and videos online, more interviews… I’m just gonna be trying to put my face to the music, a lot of people know my music but they haven’t seen me yet.

Follow CrisisMusik 

Maz Chats to Midlands MC, C4

Interviews, Work

The lead up to the release for his official single ‘Off Track’ has caused a buzz of anticipation and impatience and 1xtra’s been giving him pull-ups-aplenty; Birmingham bred C4 is one to watch out in 2012. The artist released his debut EP ‘OoRITE Time’ back in November, performed at 1xtra live and his colourful clothing line ‘OoRITE’ is already on its way. I have a quick chat with the Midlands man himself.

What does C4 stand for?

It stands for the first letter of my birth name [Chanda] and my birth date [September 4]. I also have an explosive flow at times and an explosive character, LMOTO (Laugh My OoRITE! TEE Off – in case you wondered). A lot of expectation was also out there for me to “blow”, so I guess it’s all making sense now…

Where are you from and what are you repping?

I reside in Birmingham and I represent truth. The barrier between London and Birmingham has officially been broken and I’m very happy to be a part of this process. I represent my hometown all day, every day, but I don’t limit myself to my city.

Your song ‘Off Track’ has that fresh urban UK sound. What inspired it?

I am not very sure… it was just a vocal idea I had. I found a beat my brother made, I put 2 + 2 together and now you have C4 J. Most people say it sounds like old school garage, but that wasn’t part of the thought process for this song at all. I remember being on 1txra as part of the Midlands Grime Squad, [which was Trilla’s show] and it was my first time on 1xtra. The bar I did that got the best reaction was “I’m not perfect though sometimes I’m Off Track / but then I get back on / cos I’m tryna blow like a 1xtra bomb” and I got a wheel up! That spurred me on to make a song with those lyrics.

You have some great instrumentals. Talk to us about the producer, Preditah.

Lmoto! [remember?] He is my older brother and we make music together. We both have our own ideas and we can bring them to the plate, which is an exciting prospect… I also sing and he plays the bass guitar. We both LOVE grime music and have been fans of the whole scene growing up. We both have had respect in our City for many years now, but not a lot of people to this day know we are actually blood brothers. Crazy!

Who are your musical inspirations?

My main inspiration is gospel music and the grime scene as a whole. The way I think about life and my sense of humour is my foundation though.

You have a quirky dress sense. Talk us through it.

Quirky, wow! Lmoto. I love colours… what more can I say? My clothing brand (OoRITE!), was inspired by my infamous saying, “Is Ya Back OoRITE!” I like to dress differently to the latest fashions and trends because I believe in originality and individual identities.

What do you think of the quick evolution of urban UK music?

I think it’s natural and healthy. In terms of the worldwide recognition; we have a lot of pioneering artists and DJs to thank for that. The scene moves fast though and everybody skips from one genre to the other to keep up with the latest trend. I don’t like that; I like stability.

You performed at 1xtra live. How did that opportunity come across and have things changed since?

DJ Target (1xtra/Roll Deep) put my name forward for the show but I found out later on! Trevor Nelson’s producer actually phoned me and told me various DJs and youth had selected me from my City. I was shocked and very excited! This whole period of my career has really kick-started my music life and I feel like I can achieve whatever I put my mind to doing. I now also have a lot of support from various industry giants, which is overwhelming to think about. I now know I have potential to take my sound to the masses so I’m just focusing on my music – not the hype.

Who would you like to collaborate with from the UK scene?

I’ve wanted to work with a lot of people before and it is more possible now. The way I work is always about what I can offer though, so I’m not seeking collaborations until my sound is classed as “my sound”. I like work to happen naturally. Labrinth would actually be my dream collaboration right now, as his sound is current and he understands music. He reviewed Off Track on Nihal’s Radio 1 show and he guessed straight away that Preditah and I go to church because of the chords used in the song. With his knowledge and shared ideas I believe we could make something special.

What can we expect from C4 in 2012?

More C4! That’s just it… Look out for my debut single ‘Off Track’, I hope you like it and buy it!

Chat to C4 on Twitter or visit him website to keep up to date with the all the latest ‘OoRITE’ occurrences…

It’s a Brummie Ting: Maz and Shireen meet Lady Leshurr and RoxXxan

Interviews, Music, Work

It was the filming day for the UK BET cypher and Lady Leshurr and RoxXxan were both outside on a break; it was a blazing hot afternoon. Whilst my Flavour buddy Shireen and I were reporting on location, we got the chance to interview the emcees; so we asked them for some snaps. The photographer asks them to stand back to back, to which they both burst into laughter.  ‘I’m too short compared to RoxXxan, no way am I doing that!’ Lady Leshurr says firmly but sweetly, before they laugh again and change pose.

The ladies both hail from Birmingham, but Lady Leshurr and RoxXxan could not be more different. RoxXxan is sporting yellow khakis and Adidas for the shoot; her hair fanned out for volume. In contrast, Lady Leshurr was quite literally pint sized and girlie. Not only different in physical form but with her smooth and husky voice, RoxXxan’s flows could definitely not be mistaken for the cute, hyper presence of Lady Leshurr.

However, the two MCs do share the knowledge of what life is like for a female MC out of London. We sat down with the West Midlands ladies to talk about the Birmingham music scene, being a female in Grime and why you shouldn’t air intimate issues on bars…

As we talk to both the MC’s separately on how they feel about the Birmingham grime scene their views are quite different, with RoxXxan exclaiming, ‘DEAD.’ The reason for her response is because, “what they tend to do is instead of just supporting Birmingham talent, they bring down all the grime or underground MC’s from London, like your P Money’s.” Leshurr seems to disagree with RoxXxan. “It’s progressive. It used to be small, now it’s like a lot of people are on it and people are doing their thing such as Trilla and Slick Don. There are a lot of people that are representing in Birmingham, and a lot of people that know them down in London too. It’s really good it’s healthy at the moment.” RoxXxan believes that Birmingham don’t support their own artists; that’s why she moved to London. “There’s no BRIT School, there’s no labels in Birmingham only Punch Records which is an artist development, kind of like the Urban Development in London. Apart from that there’s nobody.”

We move on to discuss how their Birmingham accents might be difficult to understand, especially with Leshurr, (who is known for spitting fast) and how it could deter them from getting further, especially in the States. Leshurr agrees that sometimes it’s hard for her to be understood by some. “I mean I know a lot of people can’t understand what I’m saying when I spit fast. I don’t worry when I’m in the booth, I just do what I do and hopefully people can understand me. It’s not just my high-pitched voice like a little kid, but my accent is completely different to London. I know it is hard to understand something’s that I say.” RoxXxan tells us her opinion on making it in the US, “I just believe in good music, look at Tinie’s ‘Written In The Stars’, although it never got No.1, he sold a million records over there so it’s platinum. Although it wasn’t straight away, it’s happened now and he’s very easy to understand. They didn’t really get Dizzee Rascal though, he’s really fast. People accept it or they don’t.” They both agree that good music is good music, they don’t think about people accepting it, they do what works for them.

RoxXxan tells us how she uses her roots in her music… “My family are Irish and Jamaican, there’s a lot of slang, ‘Go On The Horse’, that’s what the Irish say, and ‘Bumbclart!’ for the Jamaican’s. I just have fun with music, I don’t really take it too seriously, unless it needs to be.” Whilst she is often in London to become more integrated in the UK music scene, Leshurr thinks that a permanent move would not be the right decision for her right now. “I did want to, but I don’t think I’m going to now because I know that it’s possible to get back and forth between where I need to go. It’s a little bit of money, but it’s a lot of money to live and stay down here and get a house down here. I prefer to come back and forth, but I really do love London it’s my second home.”

The question of being a female in a male dominated game comes up. Leshurr tells us, “When I started listening to Shystie, No Lay and Ms Dynamite, I knew there was hope and it was possible to get your name out there. People respect you for being a female, as well as an all round great entertainer and artist. Right now though I don’t think it’s hard because a lot of other female MC’s are doing it. It’s a very good time I love it.” RoxXxan explains to us her feelings on the subject, “we are born how we’re born, and it is the way it is. It’s a male dominated scene, it’s hard, you just have to step up and prove yourself. Even today being at the BET Cypher, there were Ghetts, Bigz, Chipmunk and G Fresh, it was hard so as a girl you just have to go all out even just to get noticed. You have to hold your own and become comfortable with it.”

RoxXxan talks to us about another Birmingham female MC… “Can I just say about OG Niki, I just want to apologise to everyone who watched the YouTube video, I don’t even know her personally. I see what’s she’s tried to do, and I just hope it is because she is young. I know she’s trying to create a buzz, and do what hasn’t been done before, or to the extent it hasn’t been done before. I just think respect yourself though, not even respect women, but respect yourself, your 17. Not being rude, but she’s not going to find a decent guy now; you’re not helping yourself. She was on the news looting and stuff.” RoxXxan is a strong believer in keeping her private life private, and how she keeps her image and bars real, “I don’t do the whole sexy thing, obviously I’m 22 I have sex, but I take the Beyonce route in my bars. I think you don’t have to give it all, music is what I do it’s not me. If I couldn’t spit anymore, for instance if I lost my voice, I’d still be able to do me, it doesn’t make me who I am. I love it and it’s in my bones, but it doesn’t make me.”

The question now on everybody’s lips is what these two ladies of grime are going to be doing. With Leshurr’s co-sign on the Neva Soft track, we wonder if the 367 ladies who include herself, Lioness and A Dot, will be doing anything together. “Definitely. We want to do tracks together. Were going to do an EP soon, I told them a long time ago we need to do this, so were definitely going to do it now. Were going to have a launch party for it, I’ve even got a top done up with 367 on it. A lot of people are jumping on the wave. It was a mess about thing, but we’ve got to take it seriously now as a lot of people are saying 367 a lot.”

As for RoxXxan? “There’s a lot of females in the game right now. There’s a lot around now because there’s the space, not even a space there’s spaces. There was Dynamite she’s coming back and she’s still got her spot, because when she came she came so well. I think people are looking for new, fresh and exciting talent. The next step for me is to go total left field. Everybody’s on the dubstep, the drum n bass, the slowie, the popie, whatever. Good music is good music; I’m not knocking anyone’s hustle, but for me just expect the unexpectable. I’m experimenting in the studio, writing an album, trying to bring a completely different sound. Obviously you can’t really do what hasn’t been done before, but I’m just taking it somewhere left field.”

Maz Chats to TOWIE’s Jess Wright…

Interviews, Work

In the autumn of 2010, a ‘dramality’ (reality-drama for those unaware) began on ITV1, based in Essex. Most (or just I) would assume that if a reality drama like that was to happen it would be in London; after all, Essex is just a dreary county near Greater London. Or maybe not.

The show picked up a BAFTA and the Daily Mirror called it “Britain’s answer to The Hills and Jersey Shore.” I hate being wrong, so it was to my dismay that now, quite literally, The Only Way Is Essex. But what makes the characters so watchable, so addictive and so entertaining?

As I put this across to Jess, she says “it’s because we’re real people with real goals. We don’t live our lives just for the cameras.”

As a star on a reality show, I find this quite a funny statement; but I know what she means. The cast are true to who they are; they aren’t stuck up, pretentious or fake about their intentions and desires. And they certainly haven’t forgotten where they came from. Jess’s Essex charm is still very present in our conversation; she is effortlessly easy to talk to, bubbly – but with a business head.

The 26-year-old brunette isn’t just a lingerie lover, she actually a degree in business and marketing. The reality star left her office job to pursue her career in singing, when she was in a girl band called Lola. Although the band didn’t work out, Jess sounds content with the idea of now going it alone. “I’m enjoying being a solo artist. I’m writing my own music now, so yeah, I wanna be on my own for now… I think.”

Jess also recently led the vocals on the TOWIE Christmas track, a cover of Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’…

“I’m really flattered that I got to sing the Christmas TOWIE single. People thought I was miming but of course I wasn’t! It was great to have the chance to sing it. We’ve shot the video and it was really fun.”

Holding onto fame with both hands, Jess also saw her opportunity to build a business when she got her TOWIE pay cheque and purchased a lingerie store called ‘With Love, Jessica xx’.

“My lingerie shop is going so, so well. I’m so pleased. We have loads of amazing underwear, accessories and swimwear. It’s a really cute shop, very pink and girly.”

She also revealed that she will be back for the fourth series of TOWIE in 2012. The show has received almost as many negative reviews as it has positive, making it TV marmite. The brunette star admits the show wasn’t what she expected initially…

“When I watched TOWIE back for the first time, it wasn’t exactly what I expected. It was so candid and I found watching myself back quite mortifying. I did think ‘what have I got myself into?!’ But I got used to the exposure and seeing myself on screen. It really is an amazing show and I’ve loved every minute.”

We went on to talk about the pros and cons of fame. It must have been hard, the transition from a normal civilian to a nationwide talking point.

“Being under the spotlight… I’ve always enjoyed performing; I liked dancing, from ballet to tap; as well as singing of course. Because of that I experienced a lot behind the scenes before-hand, so I thought I’d have an idea of what it would be like. Of course when I was under the spotlight myself it was totally different…”

Many TV producers have tried to emulate the magic of TOWIE, bringing us shows focusing on places like Chelsea and Liverpool. However, they haven’t managed to emulate the ground breaking success that TOWIE has enjoyed. Jess doesn’t seem bothered by the ‘rival’ shows; she hasn’t even watched them.

“I haven’t watched them, just because I haven’t had time. I’m sure they are good in their own different ways, but I’ve heard they are quite different to TOWIE.”

So what is it about Essex?

“I think it is relatable to a bigger audience. We are real, but the girls are glamorous. The audience seem to find the way we dress, the way we look and the way we talk fascinating. Not only that, but it really does shows real life; real life situations are always the most entertaining to watch.”

Jess sounds excited when we discuss what she has planned for next year. “In 2012, you’ll see more TOWIE of course; it is always fun to film. I will continue to promote my lingerie store; I have considered opening more of them, one day. I will also be working on my singing career; that has always been my ultimate goal.”

Get the latest on Jess by following her on Twitter.

Maz Talks to Earth Wind and Fire

Interviews, Work

Established in Chicago during the 70’s, Earth Wind and Fire formed with the group founder Maurice White, his brother Verdine and a few buddies – as the years progressed, the band picked up 6 Grammy’s, 4 American Music Awards, and a place in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, with Rolling Stone stating that the band “changed the sound of black pop”. Indeed, they did – they were the first black act to top Billboard’s singles and albums charts simultaneously.

Speaking to the EWF bassist Verdine White, I wanted to know what struggles the band encountered earlier in their career, when black music was not dominating the mainstream as it is today. “In the beginning, we were just trying to find our way. The struggles we encountered on the way were radio play, concerts… I mean, when we came to London we had a number 1 album, but we were only an opening act! So that tells you how things were. Had that been today, we would have been the headliner.”

Soul music has evolved so immensely since the 80’s, but does it still have the same essence that it was born with? “I think soul music is making a nice resurgence. Because of people like Adele and even the late Amy Winehouse. Because of what she attempted to do with her music; it is making a nice resurgence.”

I was surprised to hear Verdine mention UK artists; I expected to the bassist to say Beyonce. I pry further into his knowledge of UK music. “The young lady that everyone is looking at and a lady I love is Adele. She could have a place with the greats; Aretha Franklin, Janice Joplin, Tina Turner, you know, the greats. I could be wrong, but that’s what I get from her.”

Hundreds of artists have sampled many EWF songs, from De La Soul to LL Cool J. “Well, they have to get clearances before they use it, so we like a lot of what we hear. We don’t allow a lot of foul language on our records, because we don’t want a young audience thinking we’ve made these records.”

Speaking of foul language, many RnB acts have a very different lyrical content to what it used to be, with artists speaking of sex, drugs and money frequently. I wonder, what happened to innocence? Verdine reasons: “There is more information out there now, the younger generation have experienced a lot, so that’s what they’re writing about; their lifestyle.”

With Verdine mentioning Adele and Amy Winehouse earlier, I ask about rising US acts we should look out for. It seems like there are too many to name… “There are a lot of great artists coming up on the US X Factor here, I couldn’t name just one. I do LOVE Adele, because she comes along in a tradition of Great Music, those are the kind of artists we are coming to see come up in the future; really great singers. That’s where the next wave of Soul music and the younger generation is headed. The young generation are much more aware of Soul music and respectful of it. The earlier problems we had getting on the radio or being an opening act; you won’t have that with this younger generation because they know exactly where they are.”

Along with the bands many accomplishments, the guys have received praise from the highest of influences, including Barack Obama. Verdine exclaims with pride: “It was fantastic meeting President Obama, I have pictures of him and us on my walls downstairs. He’s great; so culturally aware. He knew all our music; he came to our rehearsal and hung out with us.”

Adding to their many awards, the band has just picked up the 2011 Soul Train Legend Award. “Winning the Soul Train Legend award – that’s a special one. It’s really great.” He laughs and jokes,“sometimes we look too young to get those awards, you know…”

Many bands break up when they realise the dynamic is not working and EWF has seen band members come and go over the years, although the main members stuck firm. The bassist explains the recipe for a successful band. “Some people get on well in a band, some don’t – that’s just a human condition. But in our case, we were able to go on in spite of that, because the music is bigger than us, you know. You need a commitment to the music and the stamina to hang in there through the long haul; it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do.”

The band has been going for over 30 years strong, but they won’t be taking a break anytime soon; you’ll be hearing plenty about Earth Wind and Fire in 2012. “Our new compilation album is out on January 31st and our new single just came out here in the states called ‘Guiding Light’. We’re coming out with our own headphones created by Dr Dre, they are called ‘Gratitude’ and you can find them on our website. We’re also going to be touring in 2012, so we have a lot of great things coming.”

This interview was originally shown at Flavour Magazine.

 

Maz Meets DJ Whoo Kid

Interviews, Work

Meeting DJ Whoo Kid on a multi coloured barge in North London was a funny experience, to say the least. My Flavour Magazine friend Shireen and I went to meet the New York DJ, aka ‘the mixtape veteran’ and the creator of radioplanet.tv, DJ Whoo Kid and Wiley to talk about their new material. Wiley couldn’t make it and that may have been a good thing, as The Kid had a lot to say. Shireen and I settled aboard for a candid discussion on all things music… almost.   

S: What was it that first brought you to work with UK artists?

I was touring loads and I saw the reaction that UK music received; people go nuts in the club when UK songs come on! I thought I could combine these artists with artists in America. I have access to almost all of them. I wanted to create a new movement, and gain some form of respect for the UK artists.

M: How do you think UK music will progress in America and do you think it has longevity?

It definitely has longevity because its progressing slowly, so it’s not just going to be a fad where it just pops up then disappears. It’s cool that it’s organically growing. You can hear it at the classy clubs now, where all the rich kids hang out; the sons and daughters of movie stars. When you go in there and you hear Tinie Tempah it’s not only because the song is hot, but because they feel like the song is their own and it’s for them. You’re not going to see rich kids in the regular clubs listening to Soulja Boy; they don’t want to be mixed with the same wave as everyone else. So when Tinie Tempah comes on in the club, it feels exclusive to them and they have their own exclusive lifestyle. The ‘Pass Out’ beat is so universal.

S: As well as Tinie, you’ve worked with Giggs, Skepta, Wiley… what other UK artist would you want to release a mixtape with?

I wouldn’t mind messing with Chipmunk and Wretch 32. There are a couple of other artists out there that were just figuring out details with. I like Katy B too. I don’t really like a lot of female artists because in America all we have is Nicki Minaj [laughs]. I’ve been hearing Ms Dynamite for years. With Katy B I see the reaction when her music comes on – girls be wiggling. I just like being involved with things that drive people nuts. I would like to work with Katy B; I like her swag and her style. Girls like her because she dresses like a boy or something, very dyke like. That’s what I like – girls on girls. Right?

S: So yeah… we have a few great female artists in the UK. Have you heard of Lady Leshurr?

I haven’t. See, I’m not really crazy about female artists. Out here they may be open and have other things to rap about, but in America the earlier rappers like Lil Kim just spoke about f**king and sucking d**k. But at the end of the day it’s like, ‘is there anything else?’ So many of them have come out wriggling and dancing on stage – but talk about nothing. If you’re not down with a team in the US, there’s no way you can be effective. Out here obviously a woman can be on her own and create her own buzz. In America, females need to be in a group, like Nicki Minaj. If she didn’t have influences from Lil Wayne and YMCMB she would still be hustling. She’s been in the game for around 10 years; before she blew up she had to find her way.

M: What is the mainstream reaction like to the artists you work with?

Now you see him [Tinie Tempah] on big TV shows like The View and The Late Show, so it benefited me because he was like, ‘I did a mixtape with Whoo Kid’.. I hooked him up with Chris Brown and Wiz Khalifa; he’s got records with them now; that’s what I’m here for. It also helps that Jay Z bigs him up. It’s happening slowly but surely, all the big guys are shouting him out. Diddy shouted out Skepta; Giggs always gets compared to 50 Cent. It has to happen this way because you don’t want to just come and go. I don’t want to say Dizzee Rascal came and went, but every time I’m here [in the UK] everyone says how he’s commercialised UK music. I like Dizzee Rascal, there’s nobody at home that doesn’t like him. Every actor I’ve interviewed on my radio show, every British one brings up Dizzee Rascal or Tinie Tempah, they’re the only two names they bring up.

S: So you know who’s hot and who’s not…

Yeah, me being a mix tape guy, I always want to know who’s new and who’s fresh because I blew up all the guys you see now like Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller, Big Sean – he’s killing it now. These guys I knew when they were like little kids and now there out here, so it’s good that I have a view of what is in the future. I’d rather work with people that have done their homework. Giggs and Skepta; they did their homework already. I don’t want to find someone that’s totally new and be out here hustling a new guy. [For example] Skepta’s porn video got him talked about A LOT in America…

M: How is working with Wiley?

Wiley’s on his own spaceship level! Drake called Wiley without me even knowing. I wish he would have f**king told me that. He was just like ‘Drake called me’. I was like ‘He’s going out his way to call you all the way in the UK to thank you for covering ‘I’m On One’!’. Everybody did ‘I’m On One’, but Drake actually liked Wiley’s version. With Wiley, he’ll send me shit but I can never tell if it’s a freestyle or original. I keep thinking its original, like ‘Don’t Go’ but it was a Wretch 32 song done over, he does it so perfect that I can’t tell it’s a remix! I’m not out here so I don’t know all the songs…

S: You worked with Giggs on ‘Take Your Hats Off.’ How was working with him?

Giggs has a hardcore attitude, I’m probably the only one who can get him to laugh and act stupid on radio; he really doesn’t do that with anyone else. When he came to America I got him out of his gangster shell. I do it to everybody. He had my mix tapes when he was in jail, so he respected me from a while ago. It was kind of weird that I had to look for him, when he was already a fan of Whoo Kid way back when.

M: And you worked with Skepta on ‘Community Payback’?

Yeah, Skepta’s just out of control! Tank tops, women… throwing oil on girls – he’s out of his mind. He’s mad cool though. You’ve got to have a relationship first before you start working. We all clicked and everything was cool. These guys all come to my parties if they’re in town. Tinie Tempah is the best homeboy though. We did unlimited parties in New York and I introduced him to Chris Brown.

S: How did he react?

I called Chris Brown and was like ‘Tinie’s here’, so Chris came. Tinie said ‘Ahhh!’ I’m like,‘you’re Tinie Tempah, why are you worried about Chris Brown coming in the club? You’re Tinie f**king Tempah!’ He was so amped. I think in America he has this nervous attitude towards other people, but he needs to figure out that they are all aware of who he is. If you have a name that comes out in America, people call their label like ‘who is this guy, why is he big?’ Once you tell them this guy is No.1 in 27 countries and he’s won all these awards, they get that generic recognition and people respect him. It’s Chris Brown though, he be smacking Rihanna… So he was nervous, he’s a nervous guy.

M: Aside from your UK projects, what are you up to in the states and what can we see from Whoo Kid in 2012?

Right now I’m debuting a Dr Dre record. Dr Dre was on my case last week. I think I’m going to give it to Tim Westwood so he can air it out here at the same time. I know I’m not giving it to him today because he might act stupid and air it early; because he thinks I’m out here like I’m f**king dumb! It has an NWA feel. It’s not like ‘Kush’ or the other records he put out. This is like him spazzing out; that NWA sh*t is back.

My radio show is still going strong. I don’t interview a lot of rappers, just movie stars mostly. I’m just trying promote myself and sh*t, [laughs] touring the world and balancing that with the radio show and mixtapes. We’re also launching a clothing line; we just did a t-shirt collaboration with Bruce Willis.

Now I’m in the UK with Wiley for a ten day tour. I don’t know how I’m going to survive that with the UK women out here; because there all amazingly soft and smoothed out! It’s like a lot of the girls are all mixed or something? They’re all mixed up with white people; the white must smooth people out? [blank stares] Black girls in America don’t look like this. It’s like they are a thousand of Beyonce’s out here.

M&S: Where’s Wiley?

It’s my fault Wiley’s not here, he’s in the studio right now. He was talking some grime sh*t with me – I don’t know what he’s talking about. I don’t understand that language. He’s always says [pauses hesitantly for the first time] ‘Jheeez’. That’s what Giggs always says. Monster Man is my No.1 joint. You like that song?

M: Yeah, it’s crazy.

Does it turn you on when it comes on? He’s talking about an anaconda, he talking about the monster. That’s the reason you like that song, right? [laughs]

M: [flushes crimson] No. I just like the beat. I haven’t met the monster, so I wouldn’t know…

[laughs] I hope not, Jesus Christ!