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Interviews Work

Grime Special – Back to the Future

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 🙂

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Interviews Music Work

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

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.”

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Interviews Work

BET Hip Hop Awards 2011 – Behind the Scenes of the UK Cypher

The BET Hip Hop Awards 2011 are coming to our screens this Saturday, October 15 at 8pm.

British music has made a big impact in America and across the globe over the past two years, with artists such as Tinie Tempah breaking records and pushing our music forward with a powerful force.

We’ve heard American artists being heavily influenced by dubstep and bass beats that sound like they have come straight from the UK; from Jay Z and Kanye’s ‘Who Gon Stop Me’ to J Cole’s ‘Nice Watch’. Since the UK music scene is doing it so big, it was only right that the BET Hip Hop Awards included some of the biggest names in the game to star in their own UK cypher.

I was one of the lucky ones invited to attend the filming and speak to artists about being involved in the epic cypher.

As I arrived at St Catherine’s Dock a security guard seemingly emerged out of nowhere, asking “Are you looking for those rapper guys?” Apprehensively I said yes and he led me into a car park and I followed him to a dinghy door.

As I opened the door and said goodbye to the blazing sunshine, I entered a grand room which was delightfully cool and full of superstars that I had admired since I was a teen. I was a little star struck, to put it modestly.

So, I know ya’ll want to know the line up. In the building was Chipmunk, Wretch 32, Akala, Ghetts, Mz Bratt, Lady Leshurr, Bigz, Gfrsh, Smiler, Roxxxan and Mic Righteous. It was kinda epic.

It was a long day, so artists took time out of filming to get some food and a dose of sunshine.

I had a chat with Mz Bratt as she went for a break, asking her how she felt to be a part of the cypher (something women are rarely included in – Nicki Minaj was the first lady in the US). She was graceful, humble and ever so polite, which was a pleasant surprise after listening to her fiery bars. She said of the cypher: “It’s amazing; I’m so glad to be a part of it. The UK movement is pushing through and the world knows it.”

The line up was awesome, but I couldn’t help but wonder were Grime greats such as Dizzee Rascal, Giggs, Tinie Tempah, Tinchy Stryder and Skepta were; I felt they were missing from what would have been a perfect team otherwise. I had definitely expected to see Giggs there, considering he won the Best UK Hip Hop award back in 2008. Maybe they had other commitments, maybe they were not invited; I am yet to know why some important names were lacking from the line up.

Ghetts and I went outside for a spot of sunshine and as soon as the sun rays hit us, he began stripping his shirt off. Apparently I glanced over for too long, as he said with a smile: “I never got this when I was skinny!” Once my blushes were held under control, we spoke about the relevance of the artists who had been invited to spit their bars. “I get myself gassed bruv; I KNOW I should be here. And I got massive respect for my peers who are here, and should be here, today.”

Akala came over to say hello and I got the chance to ask him how his day was. He sighed then smiled, saying: “It has been a long day. But I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’m used to the long days. Anyway, it’s all good when you’re working amongst friends.”

Although many artists forgot some lyrics and scenes were filmed over and over (and over), the bars were big and the flows were on point, making me confident that the UK cypher will impress people world over.