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.

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!

 

Maz Meets Wretch 32

Interviews, Work

 

Wretch 32 has had a crazy year: He was nominated for MTVs ‘Brand New 2011’, and BBC’s Sound of 2011 before releasing his breakthrough single Traktor. The rest is history in the making. The NXG crew and I sat down with the Retro Boy to find out what he will be doing next…

With your new singles, you are in a good place right now. How do you feel about it?

I am feeling really good. I don’t want to plan for too much. I would rather put my stuff out, see how it goes and if it goes well, it means it was meant to go well, you know.Traktor set us up nice for a good year and I think Unorthodox is doing similar things. For me it’s just like fingers crossed, you know. What will be, will be. You are only going to do all you can do, nothing more than that, nothing less.

Urban music is in a great place right now in the UK. How do you feel about people such as Dizzee and Wiley who paved the way?

I think every generation of artist are as important as the last. You know, I think So Solid are as important as Wiley, who are as important as Chipmunk and Tinchy, who are important as Tinie and Plan B… you know what I mean? Without the ones before, there almost is no one after.

We are all learning as we go along, it is a learning curve for every generation of artist. When someone is up before you, you can watch their mistakes and see where they went wrong. I think that is what each new generation should do. Dizzee is a total legend, Wiley has opened a lot of doors… it is just time that people get their heads down and work. The other day, when I found out Tinie Tempah was doing the o2, I nearly fell off my chair! That is MASSIVE! I phoned his manager and said: “I just want to congratulate you on everything that was done previously, and whatever is about to happen.” It is phenomenal; the o2 is a big move. It is definitely a good time right now in UK music.

You came out several years ago and a lot has happened since then. What have been the stepping stones that paved your way to mainstream success?

I think everything has played a massive part. I think being in the crew I started in (The Movement) was a big part of it. We were like brothers, its not that we broke up, we just don’t do music together. They taught me so much. Being in The Movement helped to keep me on my toes so much, it sharpened my skills.

I think you got to learn something from everything, even your mistakes. It is hard to put a pin on specific thing, because it was everything in one, as a whole. Every time I messed up a lyric on radio, I learnt from it, times when I recorded material and heard it back and it was wrong… I learnt from everything.

How do you find performing live?

I try to come out on stage at the last possible moment. My song intro will be playing and I try to wait until the last possible second. I like that suspense. I try and take you through a whole load of emotions. If you catch me in a club, expect to hear a club set. If you catch me at a jazz café, expect to be touched.

Of course we would still do Traktor as well, but I have a completely different set to what I do at a festival, as I cater to wherever I am performing. But I am still giving them me as I will only do stuff that I like or wrote, you know? At a festival, expect it to be hyped! I might give you a little emotion so you know to expect when you come to one of my shows.

What did you hope to achieve with Unorthadox?

We were in a predicament after Traktor. It was like, what do you do now? Do you show your emotional side, or do you do Traktor again? We wanted to do something different that would capture a different audience…

 

Review: Wireless Festival 2011

Music, Work

On the tube down to Hyde Park Corner, the excitement mounted as I thought of the acts I was yet to see. This year was different. For once, there was a strong presence of British artists and not just ones who were ‘fillers’ for the ‘real acts’ i.e – the American artists. British music has had an amazing time over the past few years, which has led to our own sound being spread and eventually accepted across the globe. Although the festivals first headliner was The Black Eyed Peas, I was more pumped to see Example and Plan B.

Fellow NXG team member Emma Knock and I arrived fashionably late, only picking up pace after my sister called me screeching “The queues here are ABSURD, Maz! Hurry.”

Arriving in somewhat of a fluster, the queue had completely vanished, so we walked straight in. Phew. It was my first time at Wireless and I was surprised to see how relaxed it was. Its location told me to expect pure mayhem, constant barging and other typically London mannerisms.

I was massively disappointed to see that we although we had dodged the queues, we had arrived towards the end of Example’s set. I managed to glimpse a regrettably small portion of his performance of Changed the Way You Kissed Me, which was electric. We also managed to have a little groove to Far East Movement’s performance of Like a G6, which was undoubtedly one of the best high energy performances of the Friday. Although I previously doubted their longevity as artists, I could not doubt their stage presence. We then went to explore the park, which was filled with food stalls and bars of extortionate prices. I instantly regretted not smuggling a bottle in my bag as I reluctantly purchased a plastic glass half filled with rosé for £4.

Emma and I then tottered along to the main stage to check out Tinie Tempah’s highly anticipated performance. This was our second time seeing the Plumstead born rapper, after initially seeing him at the Hammersmith Apollo earlier this year. I had expected that the Pass Out star would have perfected his performances with the amount of practise he’s been having. I was disappointed to say this was not the case.  I was taken aback when Tinie freestyled over several current pop chart instrumentals and the DJ set was exactly the same as when he has performed at the Apollo, several months ago. Was he playing it safe or was he simply lazy?  Who knows, but it did not impress me. The rest of the set lacked charisma and confidence, but was overall acceptable. First time Tinie Tempah attenders would have been more than satisfied with the set; perhaps I expected too much.

Dressed all in black, I was boiling. Emma had a spare white t-shirt, so after a change of clothes right in the middle of the park (“Rock n Roll behaviour – thus totally acceptable at a festival” Emma promised) we went to find some munch before the next set, David Guetta. We grabbed a tiny portion of chips for £3 to share and sat down on the eroded grass for supper. David’s set began earlier than I realised, so we hastily finished our humble meal and tried to get a good spot in the ‘rave tent’ which was dazzling with lights, confetti, occasional fireworks and unbearable body heat. We were unlucky in this pursuit (which suited me, I was hot and my new pink shoes had been trampled on enough) so we watched from a distance. With his large audience, I was surprised that he was not on the main stage, but the rave tent was perfectly suited for him; it was almost made for his vibe of music. Mass amounts of bodies grinded, swayed and jumped about to When Love Takes Over, Sexy Chick, I Gotta Feeling and many of his other dance floor fillers.

Restless, we moved along to witness the remainder of Plan B’s set on the main stage. Dressed in his signature black suit and tie, he looked, sounded and acted the part. His song choices had a slight alternative music/rock edge, which prompted me to question which genre his future album will reflect. Although I prefer Plan B’s urban sounds, it was clear that he knows what he can get away with in terms of diverse music and he also knows what he is comfortable with and it works for him. Witnessing his set was to see a true artist perform, one with as many layers as an onion.

Next up was the headliners, what most people were here to see. The Black Eyed Peas.

For the rest of my review, please go to the NXG website where the original article can be found: http://bit.ly/obZ1Ux