Posts tagged ‘reggae’
It’s not just Christmas that’s being celebrated in a few days…
Krispy are a hip hop group from the north west of England: producer Mr Wiz and his brother Mikey D.O.N. have made a big impact on UK hip hop, especially in the early days when most of the new sounds still came from the US. They were brought up on a diet of roots reggae and dub, mainly through their father’s sound system MellowTone. Together with their homie Sonic G they formed Krispy3, got down to business and released “Coming Through Clear” in 1989. They’ve been on the scene ever since and Mikey now hosts a show on Manchester’s Unity FM (Tuesday, 8-10pm Brit time).
In the 1990s, the Finlayson brothers traveled Europe with MC D on the ‘Kold Sweat’ tour. Mr Wiz remembers: “Katch 22 was also on tour with us and I remember being in Dortmund in Germany, roundabout 1995. The atmosphere was amazing: Mode 2 was painting graff pieces and the crowd were going crazy. It’s something I won’t ever forget.”
In the first post on here, Beat Bungalow comes at you with an interview fresh out the box, chatting to London MC Seanie T about his current moves. The location for our talk was the legendary Alaska Studio- the studio is built into a railway arch South of the Thames. So during the interview we heard trains going overhead. Seanie has kicked his bashment flows for nearly two decades and here he talks about his love for reggae and hip hop, his views on the industry and his passion for footie…
You can read the article in German, right here.
Q: How did you get into making music, you’ve been making music for more than 15 years haven’t you?
A: I’ve been making music forever and I decided to take it really serious back in the day when I joined a Black History play called ‘Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame’ and I toured America. I rapped in the play and I played Pele as well, so it was all about black culture and we toured the States for about three months. Before that I used to be on the sound systems, following sounds like Saxon, Coxon and Unity. I used to chat on Unity. It was with the Ragga Twins that I started doing things on the sound systems on Unity Hi Power out of North London. I was the dancehall jumper and used to warm up the dance before the big artists would come on. That was more of a hobby, even though I took it very seriously. That’s how I started learning my trade on the dancehall circuit, also with sounds like Style and Media from my manor in Ilford. Growing up listening to enough sound tapes, like Killa Man Jahro, Jah Love Sound or GT. Things were a little bit different with the artists then and everybody used to work on sounds. That’s the background I come from, chatting on sounds all night up to nine hours if you have to, with just two other people.
Q: When did you start recording your own material?
A: I was recording back then, but they were only little recordings. I went to America and I recorded for a guy called Peter McKenzie, who put out a tune called ‘Jamaicaniser’. He was the same producer who produced Red Fox in his early days. That’s one of the times when I thought that something could really happen with this music. When I came back to England, nothing happened and a few years passed but then it got hectic again.
Q: Obviously, you’ve got your own record label Dark Horizon …what’s that all about?
A: It’s Dark Horizon Records/ Cashtree Records. Dark Horizon is also a project and I’m coming with a little subsidiary record label called Cash Trees. Right about now, I’m just working on getting my album out there. I’ve recorded 23 tracks and I’m picking the best songs to make an album out of all those. Phantom Black out of Hamburg is on there, I recorded a track with him when I was out in Hamburg a couple of weeks ago. I’ve got Roots Manuva on there and I’ve recorded a new artist called Iceman – he’s like my nephew and I’ve known him for a very long time. He’s just a youth that’s coming up who’s mad talented and we’ve got a track called ‘The Mens Them’ on the album. There’s another artist called Cerosy who is very similar to myself with the bashment flows and the hip hop mix, a very good artists.
Q: You’ve been to Germany recently and do you go over quite a lot?
A: Yeah, I’ve got the Sam Ragga Band that I work with out there and we’re in the midst of recording an album as well. It’s been going on for a little while now and everybody’s kind of independent. We’ve all come off the big label hype and the capitalism kind of vibe. We’re more independent and the band feels more free to work. There have also been some changes – we’ve got a new guitarist in the band and the girls are not there anymore. Jessica McIntyre and Esther McGowan, Esther now works as a backing singer for Jan Delay, so she’s doing well. Jessica just had a baby about a year ago; she’s doing her own thing. So, at the moment it’s just me really and another artist called Simone Watson. She’s doing all the harmonies on the tracks and we’ve recorded nine songs already.
Q: You’ve also worked with DJ Dynamite and featured on the Joni Rewind album he did a couple of years ago, how was that, do you keep in touch?
A: When I was just out in Germany I did a remix for him and when Dynamite was in London I took him record shopping at Dub Vendor. This time he was doing a remix for an artist, a bashment remix and that’s about to come out. It was good to work with him again because we go way back, from the early tours with Dynamite Deluxe. I’ve got enough love for Joni Remind, Samy Deluxe, my brother D-Flame and them men there. That’s my experience of Germany and when I first came I hooked up with them. We went on tour for a month and we shared a tour bus and were living a different life. We had to live like brothers, you know also with Tropf: we call him Kasper because he looks like a ghost hahaha…
They showed enough love, I’ve always got ‘nuff love for Germany, especially Hamburg because that’s my city. I’ve been to Berlin, Munich, Nurnberg, all over even to Baden-Baden. Eight times I’ve been out there.
Q: There’s a big Jamaican influence that you can hear in your music – do you go back to Jamaica a lot?
A: My family is from St Lucia but I’ve also got family in Jamaica. The last time I was in Jamaica was about a year-and-a-half ago for one of my uncle’s funeral. When I was out there I did a track with an artist named Junglist who’s doing a hook on one of the tracks.
Jamaica is where it all started. Jamaica is reggae music, reggae music is Jamaica. That’s where you get the strongest artists, no matter where you go in the world. Any artist will tell you if you’re a lyricist, go to Jamaica and you’ll write lyrics because everything is music. When Jamaicans talk it’s how they’ll sound on record, and it’s how they sound in the streets. You can only be inspired if you’re in Jamaica, if not you’re not an artist.
Q: Is that where you draw lots of your inspiration from?
A: WHaaoo for sure, I draw the power, I draw the energy from ‘The Rock’. One of my key family is Double G, my cousin and a next brother called Brownie Man on a sound called Brown Love in St Anns, the birthplace of Bob Marley. I just shot a video out there, which is a video diary of me going to different places in Jamaica and the track’s called ‘Rap Revolution War’. We filmed outside the Bob Marley museum and on the sea front – good vibes, you can only get vibes when you’re in Jamaica.
Reggae music is the strength of me; it’s the beat of my heart. I love hip hop, but to me there’s no greater music than Reggae.
Q: A lot of people would say that a lot of Hip Hop artists from the early days have a Jamaican background, for example Kool Herc who came to NY and was very influential. Do you think that Hip Hop has got more credit to pay to Reggae music than most people think?
A: Yeah, it was created by what we would call ‘aliens’. Because if you immigrate into the US you’d become an alien. It was made from the street language of the corner and it was a Jamaican brother that kind of put the concept of rapping together. Before there was Hip Hop, people used to rap and then people just put a beat behind it. That’s the birth of it and it came from Jamaica. The twang and the lingo is a street thing and therefore Jamaica has got such a big part to play in Hip Hop. If you look at it now, Reggae artists sit on Hip Hop tremendously great. When Bounty Killer is on a track with Cocoa Brovas for example, it’s hectic! It’s bad and it’s like they are made together. I was on youtube and watching Bounty Kiler in NY on some Hip Hop riddims about two or three years ago. It’s like the music just fit him like a glove. You would think that he was doing this all the time and it just comes naturally over the beat.
Q: What about London? The city itself has got a lot of music coming out of it. Music culture, record shops festivals etc. – was that your playground coming up as an artist and how has living here been for you?
A: London for me is the biggest multi-cultural city in the world. You don’t get black, white, yellow, pink and blue living next to each other like you do in England. Therefore I call my style the W.I.L.D. style – the West Indian London Dialect. That’s drawn from enough influences. I grew up with people from Barbados, Trinidad, Ghana, St Lucia, Jamaica…you name it, Africa. That’s who I grew up with, that’s my neighbours and also Europeans, white people. I am who I am because of what’s around me.
The thing is that I get to share it a little through the music and I can talk about what I see. What I say is real, it might not be real to you but it’s real to me. I will never turn around and talk about something that I don’t really know about, unless it’s a story.
Q: So, do you see yourself as a storyteller?
A: This takes me back to the name of the album – I’m toying with the name of the album and I’m planning to call it ‘Scribes of the Versatilian’. On this one, I’m going back to lyrics, reality and story-telling. That’s what the music used to be – the music used to have a message and the music right now has nothing to it, there’s no substance. It’s like little nursery rhymes but there’s no culture in the music. Back in the day the music was a movement, Public Enemy, Hijack or Blade and certain other artists. It had a different kind of energy.
You could absolutely listen to the music and get something positive out of listening to it. What do you get by ‘Throw your Hands Up’ every minute? Every other tune is jingbang, they’re talking about nothing. I wouldn’t even say jingbang, that’s a good thing. It’s more about really simple rhymes and it’s got no substance.
Q: Why do you think that is, is it just because stuff is getting too commercialised?
A: It’s money-driven. There’s nothing wrong with club tunes: I want to go to a club and I want to hear a tune that can make me just move and enjoy myself. But I also want to hear a message and hear something a bit intelligent – I’m not a fool and rave all night to foolish music. I don’t want to hear rubbish all night. On my album, I’ve got a track called ‘What would you do?’
The concept of the track is all about, if God was to come down right now and you had to sit before him and explain all the things you’ve done in your life. Would you really think that you’d get the ratings? With that I mean respect. Will you go to hell or will you go to heaven with your ways? I’m not talking about whether I made a million pounds, am I flossin’ large or anything like that.
I’m talking about you, how did you carry yourself? Did you feed your own need, did you feed your greed/ Did you give a man a plate of food or tools and seeds/Or is it all a showcase or a case to show/ Was it in your heart already or a memo on your wall?/
That’s what I wrote, so if it’s in your heart, you’ll do it naturally, if you have to remind yourself all the time that’s nothing natural, that’s not you. That’s what the album is about when it comes to the concept of being a lyricist; it will make you think a little bit. Sometimes, you might have to play a song six times before you get it.
Q: What about the industry then?
A: You take some tunes to a record label or a record company and if they don’t hear something within the first two lines, they will be very dismissive of you and your art form, you as an artist. They’ll say ‘It’s not going to make it because there’s not enough tits and arse. Why aren’t you talking about that person being shot or stabbed?’ Do I need to, isn’t it happening all the time? Do we all have to do it; do we all have to talk about being hustlers, gangster and shooters? Most men who talk about all that badness are not bad because they’re confessing.
If I do something to you and we had and argument and then I’d creep up on you and take you out, do you really think I would make a record? You wouldn’t know it was me until I made a record, how stupid is that? They don’t tell decent stories. Half of the people on that gangster vibe can’t live up to Mobb Deep. They’ve done it well, on that gangsterism tip and they told the stories well. When you hear some people talking you don’t hear the same energy.
When it comes back to my album, I’ve got a track called ‘Requiem of a Knight’. That’s set in a time just before Lord of The Rings, and it goes down the fairytale line. In the track I’m a medieval bad man and I’m sent to clean up the earth. There’s ways of telling a story and I feel the art of lyricism is alive within myself. Where another person would talk about being a bad man in modern day times, I know that they’re making it up. But if you’re making it up, why not tell it the form that’s never been told before.
‘What about the half that’s never been told?’ is a great Jamaican saying. That’s what I want to do, tell people the half that hasn’t been told. I’ve also got girl tunes on the album, little kick-up-your-foot tunes, me and Roots Manuva have got a track called ‘Move Your Shoulder.
Q: So what does Hip Hop mean to you?
A: It’s all about the vibes, like back in the day when you had tracks like Digital Underground doing the Humpty Hump, people would just be fucking about, and just enjoy themselves. You also had the flipside which was Public Enemy talking some real shit, then you had N.W.A. who kind of put it on a slanted level, when I look back at it now. They did it very good at the time, so then you had the great Tim Dogg and they brought the hardcore element that people could get with. So Hip Hop used to cover the spectrum, the whole pie with whole lot of different ingredients – now, there’s one ingredient and the cake is flat, I don’t care what no one says. You cannot just take flour and make a cake – you need flour, eggs, you need milk, maybe sometimes you grind a little bit of orange peel in there to give it some flavour, a little essence. But right now, Hip Hop has gone sour, there’s nothing to it and it can’t rise. People think it’s rising and people make a little change of of it, but really the money that you’re making is killing people.
Q: Getting to the Blacknificent Seven project you did a while ago: did you feel it was a ‘historic moment’ for UK Hip Hop?
A: Good choice of words, it was historic because it had not been done before. The concept was to bring different artists together, put you in a room and now let’s write lyrics together. See what we do and see what we come up with. That’s the concept, get seven black artists together. In the Caribbean we all grew up on Western films, appearance, cowboy show. One of my favourite films is the Magnificent Seven and that’s where the name came from and that’s why we had a little cowboy theme going on. It was nice and sometimes I sit back and wish that I was filming it when I was able because we had Rodney P, Roots Manuva, Estelle, Skeme, Karl Hinds, Jeff 3 and myself up in the studio writing. Everybody had their pen and pad out and I was just able to stand back and watch everyone and think ‘This is exactly what I thought it would look like.’
Q: Did everyone feed of each other’s energy?
A: Yeah man, some of the tracks weren’t voiced at the same time but for the ones we did together, it was incredible and it was just such a lovely vibe. That was Hip Hop as I think it’s supposed to be – every artist is alone nowadays, everyone is a lonely soldier in the worst way. Everyone is on their own. But I’m going to go back to Reggae music now. When you see a state show, a dancehall showcase in Jamaica, you’ll find 20 or 30 Jamaican artists on a stage together. When you get the kind of ‘underground’ flavour and certain people are in the place like Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Capleton, Sizzla, Little Hero, Elephant Man as well – they would all be on stage together and the vibes are incredible.
That’s what it was meant to create because there’ no music that creates more vibe and energy than reggae music. That’s what I tried to do: I’m from a bashment background so I tried to bring that element into the album, to the game I should say. It was nice and I got really strong, positive feedback.
Q: Would you consider doing a similar project again?
A: Definitely, I would keep it in the realms of a Western because you had the ‘Magnificent 7’ and the ‘Magnificent 7 Ride Again’. The second film had different people in it because some of them died in the first one – maybe we should do the ‘Blacknificent Seven Vibes Again’ as a part two and feature a few different artists on there.
Q: What else is happening with you that you’re working on?
A: After the album drops, I’ve got the Sam Ragga project to do and down there in the studio right now I’m working on a thing called the Dutty Funk Project, that’s a guy named Kwadjo and the band’s called Beyond The Stars – I’m doing some features on that album as well. We’ll be doing something for the BBC in a couple of weeks time.
I lost my train of thought…there’s a lot on the horizon, you know what I mean?
Q: When’s the new album due and about to drop?
A: I’ve got a couple of deals on the table, nothing great or fantastic but it gets me out there on the scene. I’ve got my fingers in a few little different pies, but over the next three months I’m starting to promote stuff and I’ve done this track with Bubblez, the producer out of Hamburg which is called Bullit. I think he worked with Bo back in the day. I can’t hang with the Deutschland slang, so I’ve forgot the names…
Q: You’ve done a lot of travelling and you’ve met people like Jimmy Cliff, Lee Perry, Burning Spear, The Wailers, Bounty Killer, Sean Paul?
A: I did all the same shows with those artists and we were on the same bill – I got to hang with all of them for a little bit. Meeting Lee Scratch Perry was crazy: he’s one cool brother. He’s foundation so you have to respect what he brought up and what he gave to the game. Without them men there would be no reggae music – they woke up and breathed it and they were ahead of their time. The stuff they were doing was just incredible. Really, you wonder sometimes where they got the vibes from and the inspiration. It’s incredible if you look back on what they were creating and what they were working with. At the time, they were working with an organ and a few other instruments and everything was live – it had to be one in one take. The magic that was created was amazing. Nowadays you can cut and paste, you’ll make a mistake and just go back and punch that in. Back then it was ‘Do it, do it good!’ ‘Nah man you messed up, all right start again…’. You get to the end of the tune and someone would fuck up and if you listen keenly then you’ll hear certain mistakes, but it all adds to the flavour.
Q: You’ve worked with a lot of different people and this album, what would you say it’s like – is it the essence of what you were doing before?
A: Yea, it’s the essence of what I’ve always been doing. I’m like a fifty pence piece. There’s many sides and I’m not round like some of the other artists out there. My voice is an instrument. You can find a reggae man who can play in a hip hop session; he can play in a jazz session. So why shouldn’t I do the same with my voice? It’s my instrument, but nowadays artists you have to be a certain way. You have to be tough and you can’t be seen doing this or that. Then I think to myself ‘But I thought you’re an artist? Good luck to you.’ I see it differently and I vibe on different vibes.
Q: In terms of the work you’ve done with Roots Manuva: you were on his first album and have got some great tunes on there, what’s it like working with Roots? You’ve known him for a long time haven’t you?
A: I can say this with my hand on my heart: that’s one of the greatest artists I’ve ever worked with. Enough people see Roots Manuva as a star, but I know him as a friend. Before the fame and the perception came that everyone has of him. We’ve built music together up in his flat in Kennington and he would always be producing and building a beat. We got some mad songs together, but not all of them have been brought out and released. When we got together it always worked. It’s crazy working with him in the studio, like pre-production in the yard kind of thing.
He’s got a way of working and he’s a man that will build three tunes in one. Because he starts and he hears something and then he’ll branch off and won’t lose the original idea and then he’ll move onto something else and another new tune is born. He’s got a great musical ear, he’s a genius and I want to use that word with him. Sometimes we’d be in his yard and we won’t talk for like two hours, even though we’re sitting next to each other – I’m writing and he’s constructing. We’d just vibe and then at some point start talking again. We used to build enough energy and feed off each other in a really big way. I’ve always got ‘nuff love for Roots Manuva and he’s always looked out for me, the same way I’ll always look out for him. He’s like my brother, he’s got my back, and I’ve got his back in this industry.
Q: Speaking of the industry: what do you think should change in an ideal world in the music industry that you would like to see?
A: How can the industry change? Give it to me and I’d run it properly! People would still make money but it would be a better place because there would be a bit more knowledge and a bit more understanding and you’d enjoy yourself a lot more. People think they’re enjoying themselves but they’re not. You’re having x-amount of fun but your fun is based on negativity. I don’t mind certain songs like that but the other side of the coin is, it makes some youths want to live that life so they can talk what they hear and they want to say to themselves ‘Everything I want, I can get’. How do they get that? Some youths aren’t working so they have to do little street runnings and that’s where it all falls down. It’s hard to explain because there’s a lot to cover and just a little aspect of what’s going on.
Q: Do you think it’s difficult for young artists to come up nowadays?
A: It’s a great time and it’s never been better because of the internet. You have got access to the world and the world has access to you. Before pirate stations, we had to wait to hear reggae music late at night, or listen to Westwood at specialist times…but now pirate stations are on the web and you can send your tune to them. Everybody is looking at everything that’s fresh. It’s great times; you just need to get your business ethics in order. I say to enough youths that you can’t just have ten of you and all of you are rapping, who’s going to do the business side of things?
Get your strongest artist or the strongest song and put them out there to lead. Some of you are doing jobs and selling things, so that makes you a salesman. You should be able to deal with people. Call the shots and hustle your CDs instead. You can burn CDs at home and do so much in your house to make things look really presentable. If you do that and use all the new technology, you can build up a nice little fan base.
You don’t need to ask anyone’s permission. You could ask with record companies ‘Can you listen to my demo?’ Then they might say ‘You don’t sound like Busta Rhymes or Jay-Z so I’m not interested.’ Fuck that shit, ban it!
You don’t need it no more. At the end of the day, business breathes new business. If you’re selling units the Sony and EMI will get to know about you and they’ll work with you. So just do your business in the right way and you’ve got it locked. The world is your playground with all that. For example, get good at using Photoshop, take a picture of what inspires you with your phone – it doesn’t take much, it just takes a creative mind.
Now’s the time, if you’ve got talent you can get out there – you can even build beats on a Playstation. There’s a place called Cash Converters over here and you can go to the pawn shop and grab yourself some equipment and build a beat. Why not? The future is bright. But if you use the technology wrong then only wrong can come from it.
Q: You listen to a lot of music and probably have a huge record collection, how many rooms have you filled with music?
A: You know what, I’m a sound tape man and so much a vinyl man. I’ve got some classic tapes like King Jammy’s, Saxon, Coxon, Unity, GT, Killaman Jahro, Jah Love and the list goes on. I’ve got nearly every artist live going back, my oldest sound tape is from 1979 which is Virgo Sound with Nickademus, Hugh Brown and even an artist called Echo Minor is on there. I’m stocked up on some old school, I’ve got a few CDs and I’ve got plenty of British Hip Hop vinyl, like Blak Twang’s ‘Queen’s Head’ which he did with Roots Manuva. That was bad!
(The video was great for that song as well.)
Yeah, I’m in that video and that was shot at Moon Shot club, which is a dancehall behind New Cross Station next to Lewisham. That’s where they used to hold so many reggae dances back in the day and Blak Twang shot the video there. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Hill Street Soul, she’s also in that video before she was famous. We’re friends from a long time ago and I just love seeing the artists I know from back then really get out there. It’s nice when you know them from nothing to where they are. I’ve got Hill Street Soul’s albums and I’d always support her. Every time I see her we talk and hang out and she’s an artist I constantly listen to. I also listen to TY, Skeme who’s a reality artist because he talks what’s going on. That frightens some people in England. The things that he says are just true and in a world where people are shying away from the truth musically, it’s hard for them artists to shine. Artists like Peski from over North West London, up in Harlesden. That’s who I listen to.
Q: In terms of working in this studio here near Waterloo, have you recorded all your albums in Alaska Studios?
A: No, my new album is produced all over the place really – I’ve produced tracks here, in Hamburg – DJ Spark who gave me a banger, no mash, no beans, just a pure banger! Me and Blacklist are sitting on that one. I’ve got a guy named Eric from Circus Recordings, out of Amsterdam who produced the track I did with Roots Manuva. I produced a track on there called ‘The War’; Drew who produced for TY is on there and that track was done at the Lab Studios in London, which is in North Clapham. It was done in various places: I got a track from a guy called Chemo out of Brixton and another with Little Hero from Jamaica. I just worked with whatever I liked and what I was feeling.
Q: What are your plans for the next couple of months are you taking some time out, a holiday maybe?
A: No man, I’m just working, playing football, driving…just working my normal grind really and getting on with life. I’ve got my kids and doing everything I can do for them.
When you have kids, it’ll be the greatest thing that can happen to you. It had an influence on my music. I’ve got a track that’s dedicated to my kids called ‘Loving You’. It’s not for anybody apart from my kids. When they listen to, they laugh. It’s just about things the get up to.
Q: What’s your favourite football team?
A: I am gooner! I’m an Arsenal man. (Singing:) “Where’s Ronaldo gone, where’s Ronaldo gone…” I won’t say no more. We are all gunners in my house and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My second team is Real Madrid and I also teach a team of young kids football every Saturday morning. My son is 13 and a Barcelona fan, so we have a little rivalry there.
In this interview you’ve got to shout this man here, Demus. When it came to Hip Hop, he showed me Hip Hop back in the day. I can’t talk about HH the way he can: I can’t come close. He went to all the early jams when LL Cool J came over here, PE, and he’s still got the tickets. Without that knowledge I can’t be who I am. I have three kids
Q: Finally, is there anything you want to say to people out in Germany?
A: I spent a good portion of my career in Germany, touring and it really opened my eyes. I’ve seen bits of Germany that I’d never think I would see and that I hope my kids will get to see. I lived more of a street life growing up, so I used to run the streets of London, New York, Miami, Connecticut. When we were near the Swiss border, we went to Alps, went swimming in rivers, going to festivals, even going camping. We did lots of different things…
It opened my eyes to a different side of life. It chilled me in a way and I did a lot of writing in Germany. I wouldn’t write until I got to Germany. I would just be travelling and it was an amazing experience waking up in new cities every day. I’ve got enough love for Germany. I don’t care what went on before in history, but since I went there it’s one of the greatest places for me. It fed my family and I earned some dough out there, so why should I diss the country. The people have always been good to me, no matter where I’ve been.
Thanks a lot for the interview;