Maz Chats to Charlie Sloth

Interviews, Work

Charlie Sloth is The Man when it comes to UK rap. With his new radio show and his fresh involvement with The Hub Entertainment, I speak to the “sexiest fat guy in the universe” about his plans for the future…

Hey Charlie! What you been up to?

Hey Maz! I’ve just been working hard, doing shows, in the studio, stuff for the BBC…

Let’s talk ‘Fire in the Booth’. Did you think it would ever be this popular?

Um… would it sound like I have a big head if I said I did?! I was very confident that by using the platform I had been given at 1xtra and the presence I already had on YouTube, that I could make a great success of it.

For sure! So that being said, can you tell us about the upcoming ‘Fire in the Booth’ tour?

I’m gonna be doing an 8-leg tour here in the UK. I will be inviting along previous guests who have been to the show. I haven’t actually nailed the name of the tour; obviously it will ‘Fire in the Booth…’ something! There will be artists like K Koke, English Frank, Black the Ripper, Political Peak, Lowkey… all the guys that have been successful on the show. They will get 20 minutes to do their thing, and at the end there will be a cypher with everyone who performed on the night, doing real freestyles.

You are giving underrated artists their chance to shine; but do you think they will ever get the success that they deserve?

I think we’re in that transition period now where it’s a lot more accessible; it’s more in demand than it has ever been. People are really paying attention to what is going on in the rap world over here. Even people in The States… like when Drake came over, he reached out to Sneakbo… People ARE paying attention.

You were independent before you joined The Hub entertainment. How have things changed since?

I’ve always had a team, but I like to do things myself – I’m very hands on. I like to make myself accessible where business is involved. It was a big step, me getting involved with The Hub, but I think it was a great move as they are a very young, fresh company.

They’re very hungry and it represents what I’m about. I feel like I’m in the same position as them; young hungry and with a point to prove. I’m a bit of a control freak, so it’s hard to let go of the reins, but I know I’m never gonna get to the point that I wanna get to on my own, I need a team and people I can trust.

Your new rap show debuted this month. Tell us what we can expect from the show.

It is on BBC Radio 1 and will be similar to my show on BBC 1xtra, but I’m just taking it to a bigger audience. We will be travelling to a new city at least once a month and doing the show from there. My plan for the show is to make the scene a UK scene, rather than a London-centric one. I think in the UK we are so behind in terms of development…

10 years ago in the US, if you weren’t from New York, it weren’t happening for you. It is very much the same here, if you aren’t from London, you ain’t getting that airplay. But now in the states, everyone is united and that is how it became a global business – it was a big massive cake that everyone could eat from. I feel that over here we are very close to reaching that stage; I wanna help through that transition period and be the guy that takes it there.

As the music expert, which up and coming artists are you rating this year?

Black the Ripper is one of the most credible MC’s, Political Peak, Youngen, DVS, English Frank, Mic Righteous… I think they are names that will become a lot more popular this year.

Tinie Tempah broke a lot of boundaries. Who do you think will be the next artist to do that?

In my opinion personally it would be K Koke. He has the ability to be appreciated and respected by the American street audience. Tinie Tempah is accepted by the mainstream world and celebrated as an artist. But we are yet to have an artist who has really captivated the streets.

Giggs came very close; he has a lot of heat out there in certain parts of the states. But I think K Koke has that appeal where he can tap into the street market over there. They are calling out for something new and fresh, they’ve heard it all before. He has the depth, substance and edge – for me, that is what is missing right now.

There is no real rebellion on the charts, someone who says “f*ck you and f*ck society” and I think it has got a bit boring because of that. I think people want that though and I think that is what is next, to be honest.

Fingers crossed! But what is next for Charlie Sloth?

I hope to be the guy that was known and is known for taking UK rap over the line. I’ve got a lot of things happening this year that I wish I could talk about, but I can’t yet. A lot of things are happening Stateside; I recently got my US work visa! I got a situation with one of the biggest film companies out there and we’ve been working on a project for the last year. The next few years are definitely going to be very exciting… And there is gonna be a lot more Charlie Sloth in everyone’s faces!

Catch Charlie Sloth on Radio 1 every Tuesday from 2 – 4am.

Don’t forget to follow the man himself on twitter for the latest.

Review – Drake at the o2

Music, Work

YMCMB’s Drizzy Drake touched down in London for his second show in a row at the o2 arena in Greenwich last night, where he performed to around 18,000 people…

Supporting the emo-rapper was Labrinth. The Hackney-born artist delivered a smooth, futuristic set to compliment his debut album, ‘Electronic Earth’.

Looking suave and supported by great visuals, the singer was received well as he performed his hits ‘Let The Sunshine’ and ‘Last Time’, the latter certainly being the best song of his set, with the Quincy inspired sounds sounding indulgently rich. However, it was when the super producer performed his smash hit ‘Earthquake’ that the crowd went really nuts for the 22-year-old, thus kicking in our adrenaline for the headliner himself.

As Drake hit the stage dressed simply in black, kicking off the show with ‘Lord Knows’, which may seem as a surprising choice of introduction given that he seldom records heavy hip hop sounds.

Drake has kick-started a transition in rap, introducing a more emotive, humble approach to rhyming that has actually been embraced by hip hop. What was evident from the show is that the Toronto artist is midway through a transition of his own.

Taking a Jekyll and Hyde approach on stage, the 25-year-old frequently switched up the contrast from the emotional, love obsessed, brooding character to the arrogant persona that we have been seeing more frequently since his status rose so phenomenally.

Whilst performing ‘Take Care’, he danced around the stage as if he couldn’t believe he was actually living his dream. However, soon after, he stood emotionless in the middle of the stage, hands open and taking in the applause like an alcoholic does wine.

Being the emotionally open character he is, he makes no apologies for the way fame has affected him, in fact it only went in his favour, giving him an edge of realness that sometimes lacks in popular music today.

This allowed him to effortlessly blend tracks from ‘Best I Ever Had’, ‘Practise’, ‘Shot 4 Me’ to more rugged sounds like ‘Stay Schemin’ and ‘I’m Goin’ In’.

Highlights were ‘The Motto’, ‘Take Care’ and ‘Crew Love’, notably being some of the fans favourites.

Drizzy took (perhaps a bit too much) time shouting out audience members, including the ones “in the glasses who can’t see a mother f***ing thang!” The set in itself seemed rather rushed, pushed by Drake’s own adrenaline perhaps. The Young Money artist has not had years of experience connecting to such as large audience, which showed as he didn’t keep the audience captivated consistently throughout the show.

The show seemed to end quicker than I would have liked, but I assumed that this was because time flies when you’re having fun. But was I in Club Paradise? Very nearly.

After his final London show, Drizzy went down to West London’s club ‘The Low’, where he relaxed and partied with his buddies, including Rihanna.

Maz Meets Chipmunk

Interviews, Work

 

My colleague Cat and I went to London’s South Bank on behalf of Flavour Magazine to see Chipmunk perform a secret gig. The 20-year-old platinum selling rapper and songwriter hailing from Tottenham took time out to chat to us about his taste in ladies, future plans and getting mobbed…

Cat: So what’s going down in South Bank today?

We have some competition winners here; they’ve come to see me perform. The gig is in conjunction with Adidas and Footlocker. They picked me to be the face of their new campaign to help appeal to the ‘kids like me.’ [laughs]

Maz: A lot has happened in your career over the last four years. What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Honestly? Working with Chris Brown. Yeah, man. When I started music, he was already THAT guy. There are other moments, but I would say working with Chris because that was when I thought ‘Rah, this was what I dreamed of and its reality now.’

Cat: Were you star struck when you met him?

Na! I never get star struck. I think with artists you don’t get star struck because you’re all under the umbrella of music. Everyone has many different talents. He [Chris Brown] looked at me like ‘woah this guy is a sick writer’ and I looked at him like ’you’re some alien, the way you’re singing and dancing!’ It’s a lot, still.

Maz: How are received in America? Do they ‘get’ your music?

I haven’t put out any music in America you know. Everything I have done with American artists has been for my fans here who are also fans of Chris Brown and Trey Songz. I think a lot of people forget, but amongst the artists there is a high respect for me as an English rapper that they can actually understand me and I sound English! But swag wise, I’m just like them… We’re into the same things.

Cat: Have you got any plans to release any material out there?

I got plans to get a name in the US, you know. But everyone forgets that you can’t skip stages; I came from the BOTTOM. Unless you don’t mind having a song that is bigger than you, you have to start from the bottom. I don’t wanna go over there and have a big song and people know my song but I can still go to the mall, you know. I wanna do it properly.

Cat: So you wanna be mobbed, do you?!

[Laughs] Na, it’s not that I wanna be mobbed, but I never wanna have a song where people are like ‘who are you…? Oh, you’re him!’ Na. It’s gotta happen at the same time, I wanna do it from the ground up, just bars and gain the respect.  The respect is coming from the artists, you know. Tinie is doing well, but I don’t know another UK MC that has had the love simultaneously from so many different artists at once.

Maz: That being said, who are YOU feeling in the UK scene this year?

Umm… If I took myself out, as a fan, I think the best rapper word for word; forget about making a hit… I would have to say Wretch32.  He’s a sick rapper. I think the best all-rounder in terms of singing, delivery, character… it would be Dappy. I think N-Dubz splitting up has allowed him to gain the credibility that he has been dying for.  It’s amazing man. I like Dappy.

Maz: I didn’t know they had officially split up, I thought they were just on a break. But I guess you know them so you would know…

Yeah I know them… [Silence]

Cat: We’re gonna do some quick fire questions. Ready?

Always.

Cat: Kelly or Beyonce?

[laughs] BE-YON-CE; you mad!

Maz: Blondes or Brunettes? [the rooms is full of brunettes]

I just like pretty girl’s man, you could be bald!

Cat: In 3 words, what is your ideal girl?

Beautiful inside out. But if you’re talking looks, I do have a type.

Maz: Which is…

Pretty! No discrimination here…

Cat: Chips or Munks?

I’d have to say Chips.

Maz: Only Way is Essex or Made in Chelsea?

I don’t watch either of them! But if I had to watch one I would say The Only Way is Essex because a few of them have got their names out there. That’s when you know you are doing well, when you subconsciously be hearing their name. I respect that, that’s what I call hustling.

Maz: You’ve had many international collaborations. Are there any more we can expect?

There’s some coming. There are some certified ones that are gonna happen, but ones that I wanna make happen are with Wayne and Drake. That’s the two collabos that I want.

Cat: So what else is next for Chipmunk?

I’ve got my new free mix tape coming out, Spazz.com. It is gonna drop in the next three weeks. It’s just me MCing with my peers. Wretch 32 is on there, so is Tinie Tempah and Sneakbo, he’s doing well for himself. So yeah… Spazz.com. Then I wanna live some more and then start working on my third album.

Cat: You’ve dominated the music scene. What about TV, any plans for you being on a reality show?

Nah, my music is for the public, I try and keep my personal life personal. I think that’s when people start falling off when they do them sort of things. I’m not really on that.

Maz: What direction are you planning to take on your next album? Are you gonna be hopping on the bassline thing like many other artists are doing at the moment?

I’m not even about to jump on the bassline! I like Ms Dynamite ‘Neva Soft’, but to me that sounds more like bashment anyway. It’s got a Caribbean flavour to it. If something like that comes up, I’m in. Otherwise, I’m not really that head banger kind of guy, it’s not really me man. I’m gonna stick to what I know but I am gonna try and branch out and do different stuff as well. But that Dynamite tune is my favourite song right now… it’s crazy!

 

* This article was originally published at Flavour Magazine *

Maz Meets Trey Songz

Interviews, Work

A ladies man, worldwide singing sensation and part time actor, ‘Trigga’ Trey has the world in his palm. His current fourth album Passion, Pain and Pleasure hasn’t stopped selling since its September release and I can’t wait to hear what his next LP will bring. I got the chance to speak to the US born heart-throb about his love for music and other inspirations…

Hey Trey, how are you? I’m good, girl. How are you?

Good! So, from the beginning, when did you realise singing was your destiny? I enjoyed singing from a very young age and I soon realised it was one of the only things that I was really good at. I started going to talent shows and then I hooked up with American producer, Troy Taylor, who was a friend of my mother’s. From there, music was all I ever wanted to do.

When I met Troy Taylor, I sang for him and he thought I had the talent it took to make it in the industry, he was impressed. From then, we worked consistently on getting my tracks perfect. I was fortunate enough to work with an amazing producer so early on in my career.

You are quite the ladies man. Are you single? I love women and I have been in serious relationships before, but for now I am single. I do put a lot of real emotions into my songs, as I gather emotion from the things that I’ve learnt from in my life and from things that I hear when I talk to my friends. I am really observant of other people’s situations and relationships that they have been in and this helps me put raw emotions into my lyrics.

What can we expect from your 5th LP? You can expect it to be all real and very musical. With every album I plan to grow, I grow as a person as well as musically. I also try to expand my audience. You know, I want to open them up to new sounds from myself. Every album I have released has been bigger than the last, so it’s been great to accomplish that.

You are touring the UK with Ne-Yo this year. Excited? I am very excited; he has such a raw talent.

You and Ne-Yo would sound amazing together. Any possibility of the two of you collaborating? Ne-Yo and I have always spoken about putting a record together; I can’t believe it hasn’t happened yet! It probably will be happening soon, so watch this space.

How do you like the UK? I’ve been to the UK a few times. I love it, it’s a beautiful place, and my fans show so much love. Their appreciation for the music and the live performances is great. I love the vibe!

We saw you in the 2010 film Preachers Kid. Will you be doing any more acting in the future? I love acting and it is something that I would definitely look forward to getting into. I am very excited about the opportunities that have come forth where acting is concerned. The thing is though, is I have a lot of things on my plate, right now touring is my focus and I want to ensure that I cover everywhere musically first. Music is my first love and always will be, so I wanna make sure I’m in the place that I wanna be before I get into any new ventures. Acting takes a lot out of you, you have to be focused so I want to make sure that when I go into that field that I am very focused.

Musically, what is coming up next for you? I have a few collaborations coming up, actually. I have done a duet with J Cole, who has been touring with Drake. So definitely look out for that, it’s hot. I am very excited about him as an artist; I think he is really dope. Outside of that, my single Love Faces is doing well in America. Another song that is starting to pick up is Unusual with Drake. We’ve worked together several times; he is an awesome artist. As far as collaborations are concerned I am willing to work with anybody that is talented and takes this thing seriously. I want to do a big duet, maybe for my next album, like a really big, strong R&B ballad duet, preferably with a powerful female singer.

Have you got anyone in mind? I reckon you and Alicia Keys would sound sick together. (Laughs) That would be GREAT! You never know…

You’ve worked with Drake, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. The whole Young Money camp is really taking over the scene right now. How was that experience? It was great; they are all very talented. Drake and I have been working together for a long time, so that was nothing new. Every time we get together musically, it is magical.

For anyone who dreams of being in your shoes – What is your advice? Believe in yourself. There will be hardships and times when you want to give up, but if this is truly what you love, then you must never give up and work really hard at it.

This interview was conducted in March 2011 and was first published on NXG Magazine online.