In his first show of 2018, the grime veteran shows he truly is in a league of his own.
With Chip shutting down KOKO last September, the North London MC once again brings the fire to The Roundhouse. Clad in a Moschino sweater and tracksuit set, sunglasses and signature gold chain, the 27-year-old rapper born Jahmaal Noel Fyffe, shows he means business as he enters the stage and announces, ‘I don’t wanna see anyone sitting down’. With his effortless swagger and unabashed self-assurance, Chip sends a volt through the crowd, and within seconds, everyone is on their feet.
The atmosphere is exhilarating, and the already charged crowd grows electrified with his eclectic track list from his 10-year catalogue, from 2006 classics Who Are You and Fire Alie to 2017 banger Honestly, particularly when Chip presents an array of features from Lotto Boyzz and Not3s on No Don (Remix), Ghetts on Gets Like That and Yu Zimme (Remix) with Stylo G.
Showing his ‘versatile style’, moments of intense concentration when Chip goes hard on his bars are interspersed with carefree instances, in which his flows seem to fall off the tip of his tongue. He surprises first with an impromptu outfit change into a Dolce and Gabbana black tee and tracksuit, then with his emotion on tracks Hit Me Up and About Time with Kojo Funds making a cameo. He brings back the vibes with Every Gyal, inspired by his Jamaican heritage, as well as old-school anthems, Chip Diddy Chip and Champion, sporadically offering the mic to fans who impressively deliver full verses much to his delight. Dancing around the stage with an ever-excited expression on his face, Chip undoubtedly loves his craft. Despite his cheeky attitude, Chip declares ‘man’s humble’; his gratitude and modesty reverberating with the thanks he gives to each member of his band (who impressively pull off the set with only four days of rehearsals), and most of all to his fans, as he praises all in attendance with ‘I thank all of you lot for coming out, I swear to God.’
The set reaches its climax when Chip brings out Giggs, for their Amazing Minds collab, before persuading the Landlord to perform grime anthem, Whippin’ Excursion, sending the room into a frenzy of gun fingers, phone lights and makeshift mosh pits. Chip shows his playful side when he orders, ‘Security, don’t hold the supporters back’, much to the excitement of his fans. Before rounding up, Chip performs his notorious Westwood 2007 freestyle, displaying a razor-sharp lyricism that seems impossible to have emanated from his 16-year-old self.
From underground sensation to international pop star to grime veteran at under 30 years of age, Chip rightfully proclaims, ‘We made The Roundhouse our kinda settings’. As he walks off stage with the same confidence and energy he entered with to ringing applause, Chip shows that ten years later, he’s still well and truly at the top of his game.
Detax is one of the UK”s most promising upcoming MCs. As the front man for The Outerclass (alongside producer Loop Faction), who Wordplay have been supporting and constantly listening to at Wordplay Towers since their debut album Post Real dropped in 2017. Having garnered support and respect from a wide array of the UK’s hip-hop luminaries, Detax is preparing his debut solo release, and it’s set to make some serious waves.
The first track to be released from the album is called Disegno. Detax explains more about the track:
“The word Disegno is a 16th/17th century (Italian) word that translates in to English as ‘Design’ or ‘Drawing’. The meaning of the word goes further in the context of art to the intellectual capacity to invent a design. The word was invented with an intention to lift painting from a craft to art and helped to bring the conceptual understanding towards art as we see it today.
I use the term ‘All roads lead to my pen’ (taken from the Italian saying ‘all roads lead to Rome’) as a way to say that all things and experiences in my life go towards what I write in my bars. It’s a deep one! So you’ll hear bits and bobs about the state of uk hiphop (imo) and personal things that effected my music recently. The song is about inspiration, both the positive and negative.”
This is a seriously nice, and as ever lyirically complex and well produced track. With Remulak of Village Live Records on production duties, and Chemo on mixing and mastering, we’re seriously excited to see what 2018 brings for Detax.
So without furtherado, here is the exclusive, Wordplay Magazine premiere of Detax – Disegno (produced by Remulak), filmed by Zain Ishmael and Leon Calder… Let’s do this!
Summers Sons & Charlie Tappin, an emerging hip-hop and soul act from South-East England, are becoming recognised; although these aren’t fresh faces on the scene. Summers Sons, aka beatmaker Slim and lyricist Turt, released their self-titled debut early 2015, mixed and mastered by Chemo.
A couple of weeks back, accompanied by long-term collaborator Charlie Tappin, they released their second project Undertones, which dropped on Cologne-based music label Melting Pot Music. In the build up to the release, the collective performed a Beatgeeks gig in Berlin, as well as playing at the Radio Love Love boat trip in Cologne. Needless to say, if Europe’s taking notice, the UK should as well.
The opener, Undertones, sets the tranquil tone for what’s to come. A crunchy vinyl crackles and pops as a lonely guitar, softly strummed, is joined by a cymbal and snare to offer some mellow percussion . It’s apparent the instruments were recorded by hand, the melody sounds natural and induces a calming vibe which continues into the Tappin-assisted 079.
A phone rings distantly, as another soothing instrumental kicks in. Turt declines the call, proceeding to lyrically contemplate his reality instead. Speaking with a motivated state of mind, he ultimately states that he’s going to live life on his own terms. With rhymes underpinned by positivity and optimism; Turt brings Charlie Tappin into the mix at the midway stage, who contributes a funky piano riff before Turt returns to drop another verse.
The EP then flows into the Mr Slipz produced Colours. Uplifting keys enhance the emotion in Turt’s words, who explains his pursuit for escapism. Reminiscing on days gone, from purple rainbows to summer sands; the rapper demonstrates a visually stimulative lyrical finesse which is very immersive. The beat is incredibly smooth, a must hear.
This is followed by The Feeling – to be more precise, the feeling for moving on. Depicting how music helps Turt beat the blues, he reveals slight chinks in his armour as he looks back on experiences and the lessons learnt, finding it easy to speak over another therapeutic instrumental.
It leads into Thirty Three, which see’s Turt delve even deeper with his rhymes, full of perspectives insinuating his persistent desire for success. The finale, Non Semper Erit Aestas, is a send-off made all the more poignant by a profound saxophone, paired with the piano, cymbal and snares combination that has been consistent throughout the EP. Turt says goodbye with another emotional testament to his dedication for making a career from rhyming. Certainly if he keeps making music as captivating as this, he’s bound for bigger things.
Throughout the EP, Turts’ rhymes are thought-provoking and positive; narrating from experiences which unravel into clear cut conclusions. Beatmaker Slim deserves props, for his instrumentals truly evoke an atmosphere of escapism throughout. Charlie Tappin’s vocals and keys also offer an extra a breath of fresh air on the beats. Providing their momentum doesn’t slow up and they keep creating; Summers Sons & Charlie Tappin have potential to make huge waves over the coming year.
Summers Sons are supporting Frankie Stew and Harvey Gunn in Bristol tomorrow (7th February) and Benaddict in Brighton on Friday (February 9th).
Hailing from Burnham-On-Sea, a sleepy South West town that is frequented by coach loads of OAPs visiting from the midlands, BigSmokin’Joe is not necessarily in the place that you would expect for an enigmatic and seriously driven MC and producer, but somehow he has built a local following, and through connections and self bullt interest, he has crafted a successful musical career.
As the founder of Eye Manfiest records and developing The Glastonbury Grow Rooms, the former DNB MC has crafted a defined, lo-fi sound and style that has led to him embarking on a tour in Australia! Last time we spoke about BSG he was our Amplify artist of the month (read the interview here) so check that for more info about the artist himself, but right now we want to let you know about a rather dope album that he dropped recently called Single Minded.
WIth 10 of the 12 tracks being self-produced, BigSmokin’Joe has a defined sound, with seriously strong Sean Price inspired Boom Bap vibes that’ll get you head nodding and laughing at the sam time. With each track he has a visual to tell the story of the project in a different, and more creative way. Here’s The Wingman:
WIth an honest and at points light hearted approach to his content, Joe talks about life in a relatable and entertaining way. When it comes to live shows he’s one of the finest performers on the UK scene, controlling crowd in incredible ways, and using clever techniques and skits to blend his tracks together. If you’ve seen artists like De La Soul performing in their hay day, or Slum Village when Dilla was around, you’ll get an idea of the seamless transitions between tracks. The common theme is his clear admiration and passion for classic artists, with Sean P being a common theme, and also an artist who he’s created a tribute to as the opening to Single Minded.
His defined visual style is the first step in developing the self run EyeManifest label, which, as you may expect from BigSmokin’Joe’s sound, is working with a wide variety of talented lyricists to develop dope hip-hop for future generations. Joe is currently developing EyeManifest events, including a regular event at the Glastonbury Grow Rooms, a new venue in which he’s helping to shine light on talented artists around the South West and beyond. He’s touring around Oz until March and then he’ll be back in Glastonbury smashing the hosting and live vibes.
There’s a wide variety of videos for Singe Minded, but our favourites are Nothing To My Names and Crazy Cheddar. Also, be sure to check Vexed, produced by Wordplay’s very own Vice beats.
Also, Joe will be involved in a VERY exciting Wordplay shindig that we’ll be revealing VERY soon!
So, that’s BigSmokin’Joe for now, be sure to check this fella, and as ever support your scene and get involved in sharing, caring and copping that wax!
The heaviest Hip Hop collaboration we’ve witnessed so far comes fresh from New York collective Organik Poisons. A sister company of UK based record label Heavy Crates, the strictly vinyl connoisseurs; Organik Poisons is an long-running partnership between New York heads Johnny Cement, Xray Da Mindbenda, Bazooka Joe, EZ Dave and maestro turntablist and Heavy Crates founder, 2 Kool Tony. The thesis behind the collaboration is in the title; organically produced poison. No back and forth emailing – just hitting a studio, bonding and recording material the old-fashioned way. As a tribute to this – the chemistry of Organik Poisons remains true even after a decade since first collaborating.
Over the last few years, Organik Poisons have become renowned worldwide for releasing exceptional Hip Hop projects as individuals but A Chemical Monkeywrench is their debut album as a collective. A 20 track project which has been three years in the making; it boasts some impressive features from the likes of Conway, Finsta Bundy, King Cesar alongside cameos from homegrown talent in Burgundy Blood & Mankub. Naturally, 2 Kool Tony handles scratches throughout, with a brief break courtesy of EZ Dave. Prepare for real rap genius, underpinned by pure boom-bap and classical instrumentation.
Let’s get into it. Beginning with Organik Intro the music engages with the listener by easing them in with a chilled, relaxing beat laced with samples describing definitions of both ‘organic’ and ‘poison’. This leads into the unnerving opener called Bring Forth Spirits, whereby listeners get a true taste of the what they’re in for. The hard-hitting spitting commences when Spit Gemz touches mic with intimidating intelligence, before Eff Yo comes through with engrossing flows until GS Advance follows to finish with flair. Then Conway stands alone in 50 Shots, backed by a stone cold X-Ray Da Mindbenda production. Touching on first-hand subjects such as hedonism and street politics, this track was released on Heavy Crates and was the last independent release by Conway before he signed to Shady Records last year. As such, the single has gained nearly legendary status and for good reason – it’s a classic. Next up is Hindsight, featuring SmooVth on another solo tip, spitting straight-up gangster shit with an educational, motivational purpose over an instrumental that is smooth as hell.
Knickerbockers is mad rugged, an instant reload. Participating rappers Madman, Mitchell Aimss & M3 narrate their mind states as they contribute perspectives lifted from their unique streetwise experiences. The next standout track is Supa Fly featuring Finsta Bundy, who are back with a bang after a quiet hiatus, proving they are still capable of captivating old and new audiences, spitting pure positivity with plenty of optimism to match. It’s followed by another headbanger called Kung Fu, a deadly lyrical onslaught between Kamackeris, Kwest, Kev Rock & King Cesar back-to-back over another jaw-dropping instrumental that needs hearing just to comprehend its craziness.
No-one’s playing with Junclassic when he goes in as hard as he does on Orbit; cooly demonstrating his untouchable lyrical finesse. He is followed by an always welcome Smoke Break, whereby Hosannah & Sedrick Avenue spit rhymes relatable for anyone reading this high right now – go check it. Next is a deeper track, No New News which sees S haBib speak on living an illicit lifestyle and his contemplations of the realities existing around him. It spins off into another turntabling spectacle, called Organik Interlude at the midway stage.
Kicking off with a haiku, Respect Fire is not to be underestimated as Queens & Brooklyn bad guys Spit Gemz & Mitchell Aimss go full savage mode on unsuspecting listeners, complete with more crazy cuts from 2 Kool Tony. A definite highlight. Afterwards the beat becomes soulful on Fly By Nature featuring Undeniable & Preacher Man, lyrically depicting their determinism for self-development and success without a second thought for haters, who only watch them get greater. An anthem for the aspirational. Then Kev Rock starts off Welcome Home, getting religious with his rhymes as he relieves haunting experiences from the streets. Spiega relates as he speaks on similar topics, dropping knowledge from what he learned from it. Kong finishes the track spiritually, with intellectual wordplay that takes at least two listens to comprehend fully.
Too many flows demand a reload on Kwest’s solo spectacular Outta Sight, with a funky bass bumping in the beat underlapping. It’s followed by another solo track by Jaiquan on Cinemax, dropping an impressive two minute escapade of self-biographical rhymes, letting listeners know the life he’s living and how it drives the untouchable mindstate propelling him forward. Next comes yet another highlight called Smooth On Wax, the instrumental is as mind-bendingly addictive as the rhymes from Evolve & Junclassic – a must listen.
Hosannah returns to touch mic alone on Zonin’, a track which depicts the troubles and conflicts he’s encountered, reflecting on what he’s learnt having survived the processes. Track 19 is a remix of Burgundy Blood’s Elephant Breath single, featuring Sadat X who is recognisable to many for being a member of the Brand Nubian alternative hip-hop collective. The melodic instrumental is certainly more captivating, elevating both the vibe and tempo of the track effectively. The finale is refreshingly Ferocious, a fantastic send off featuring Agallah, SmooVth & Spit Gemz on a straight up party popping, G checking tip to finish. The vinyl for this single was released on Heavy Crates in 2017.
Fire from start to finish, A Chemical Monkeywrench relives the golden era of gangster rap, untainted by synths and autotune. This is far from a commercial release; a product created for passion not profit live from the urban underbelly of the New York underground. However, the global success this record has seen since the release shows that there is still a market for fans of authentic hip-hop music. Whilst there is little about this album to cite as innovative; it’s a testament to those who stayed true to the matured sounds many grew up with. If you’re sick of trap and mumble rappers, kick back to this album and remember what truly made hip-hop great.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a premiere, so figured we’d kick things off with a hard-hitting track from Dublin’s finest The Black Fish Collective! Keeping up with their previous high energy this one bangs! Make sure you keep an eye fully locked on these guys, we’re looking forward to more…
While you’re here check out their previous video for ZOBO! And make sure you catch them at The Junction House on the 12th (details below).
There’s not a particularly large group of artists whose letter style is globally recognised. Commissioned and admired by the rich and famous, rejuvenator of the the concrete jungle; Nev caught up with Ben Eine following the unveiling of his recent collaboration of epic proportions with Zippo in London.
First off – 17,500 square metres! That’s huge! For writers that plan a piece with approximately 5-10 cans, how many did this take? I’m guessing much of it was completed with emulsion?
We used recycled paint to create the artwork, 2,850 litres in total! I’m pretty proud of this project with Zippo because I’ve never had the opportunity to create art on such a huge scale before. Each letter was around 20 meters big and the floor rollers were 18 inches wide, so everything was really supersized. We had fifteen 200-litre barrels of paint delivered to the site and it had to be mixed in bathtubs. Normally when I work, it’s just me turning up to the location in a car with a few cans.
Is this the largest piece you’ve completed?
Yes, this is the biggest piece I’ve ever done. It’s potentially one of the largest paintings in the world! The size and scale of the art made it a huge challenge, but it’s such an exciting project to be a part of. Because the piece was on the floor, I couldn’t stand back and see how it was developing as we were drawing the outlines.
Every letter is equidistant, exactly the same heights and looks like it has been completed with pinpoint accuracy. How do you lay out something this big?
To be totally honest, sketching up at the start was a bit of a nightmare. Normally I can sketch something up, get off the scissor lift, step back and have a look at it, then work out where it’s wrong. That just wasn’t the case this time! At the end of each day, we would fly a drone up in the air and capture footage of how the overall piece was looking. If something wasn’t right we re-sketched and touched things up the next day. We used all kinds of things to measure up, mainly string, then I sprayed the outline before the painting itself took place.
What’s next? How are you going to top this?
I’ve kicked off the year with a pretty big achievement with Zippo. Honestly I never thought about having my art on a lighter, but I like that I can carry it around in my pocket! I can’t reveal too much about what’s coming next, all I’ll say is keep an eye on my Instagram over the next few months.
Q. Are the lighters for sale? Where can we get one?
Yeah, you can order them now through the Zippo website.
What was the idea behind the piece ‘Every Time I look Up I Feel Happy, when I Look Down I’m Sad’? And what inspired you?
That painting was in Gothenburg and we had a huge area to paint; it was about 11 stories high! It was in quite a rundown neighborhood and I really wanted to create something positive. The first thing I did was try to work out how many letters I could fit on the wall, and then started to brainstorm ideas. I thought ‘Every time I look up I feel happy’ was a really positive message to be putting out there.
Tell us about TPG, how did this happen? Do you still keep in touch with the crew?
TPG was a crew that started in Helsinki, and the original meaning of TPG was the ‘The Transit Poltergeists’, and I’m still in touch with a lot of people in that crew!
Would you ever consider doing a Wordplay outline? – I had to ask!
Possibly, it’s something we can discuss!
Many artists have a go to colour, some even have a Molotow colour named after them. Do you have a colour you always return to?
What I’ve started doing recently is asking the people who commission me to paint the wall to choose the colours they want to work with. I definitely do have go-to colours but I like the challenge that comes with being asked to use colours that I maybe wouldn’t have usually chosen myself and then trying to make them work.
It’s refreshing to see a graffiti writer turn street artist but still manage to keep it very much about the letter style. Tell us about the good old days of British Graffiti – what made you pick up a can?
It was a slow process going from graffiti to street art. If I can be totally honest, I started doing graffiti when hip-hop culture got transported to England and I really wanted to be a part of that culture. I had a vague interest in art so graffiti was basically my way in! I enjoy street art because it’s not exclusive; anyone can walk by my paintings on the wall. Because they’re out in the public eye, people are always snapping them and putting pictures on Instagram, which is great to see because it’s a way of preserving art, similar to what Zippo have done for me with the limited edition lighter.
It was originally going to be called ‘The Zircon Thing’ but me and Lee were talking about an old film called ‘Godzilla Vs Destroyer, Godzilla Wins’ and it somehow ended up as what it is…
No, that isn’t a quote describing an upcoming blockbuster movie. Sam Zircon was just explaining how the title for his latest project, Attack Of The 50,000ft SWEG LAWDS From Outer Space with Lee Scott & Black Josh came to be. On January 16th, Blah Records released the full length album consisting of 10 tracks, cooked entirely from scratch within the infamous Blah mansion kitchen sometime in 2014. As such, it’s nothing short of incredible how the record sounds ahead of its time today in 2018. Some credit is owed to Sam Zircon, who produced the project in its entirety. Earlier this year, Zircon accepted our invitation for an exclusive interview revealing insights into the album’s creation process. But first, introductions are due…
Sam Zircon should be recognisable for most with an ear to the underground of UK hip-hop, he’s produced plenty of classic projects for over half a decade. For starters his first physical release was ‘Unprogrammable: Raw’ with notorious Nottingham lyricist Cappo in April 2013. Since then Zircon has been involved with 12 projects released to date, 7 of them alongside Blah signee Bisk. The acclaim Zircon has attained over the years as a producer stems from his early work with the Swamp Harbour collective, consisting of himself, Bisk & Stinkin Slumrok. As Zircon explains:
Swamp Harbour came about when I was living in Leytonstone. Slummy would come over most weekends and we would make music or just end up getting to fucked up and eat. Slummy was talking about making a group with a load of other rappers and I would make the beats. A little bit later on Bisk started coming round as well and us three started making tunes together.
Through his affiliation with Swamp Harbour, Zircon soon became introduced to Blah Records, which recruited a number of new wave, independent hip-hop artists in 2014 including Bisk & Slumrok. Almost all of those artists were involved in Blah’s now-infamous Cult Of The Damned posse that released a self-titled EP the same year. Zircon himself became affiliated with Blah founder Lee Scott whilst working with Slumrok on his debut album, ‘Don Pong’ which Blah released in 2015.
I’ve been working with Blah since Slummy on Don Pong and Blah ended up releasing it. With Lee, I sent him a beat time ago that he didn’t end up using and me and Slummy used it for ‘Microphone Junkie.’ Me and Slummy started doing more music and he was working with Morriarchi as well. I ended up meeting Lee through them.
Zircon got to know about Black Josh – a rising Mancunian MC signed to Blah and closely connected with the notorious LEVELZ collective- through a friend who showed him one of Josh’s earlier tracks, which also features Thruthos Mufasa.
My friend showed me ‘Triple 6’s’and I thought it was sick, so I sent him some beats and he ended up using a beat called ‘Honey’ for ‘Escape Music.
Sam, let’s take it back to the beginning. At what stage did you become involved in ‘Attack Of The 50,000ft SWEGLAWDS From Outer Space’?
It was finished a while back apart from mixing and it only got it mastered mid 2017. I was involved from the beginning, we did it all via email. I was working as a bin man at the time, so had to be at work for 6:30am. When I would finish at 2:30pm, I would make a beat before I went to bed, then send it to Lee and Josh. Usually by the time I was back from work, they would have sent the vocals.
What came first; the beats or the bars?
If my memory serves me right, Lee hit me up asking me for some beats for him and Josh to use for another B-Movie Millionaires project so I started making a few things and sending them over. All the beats and bars were done for this project.
What is the most experimental technique you used to produce a track on this album?
It was all fairly simple really, I’d starting messing with Logic to make beats with and decided I’d use it for this project solely because I was having to get up for work real early and wanted to save some time as my sampler was playing up and not saving properly.
Were you involved in any of the visuals lifted from the project?
No I wasn’t but all 3 are looking mad! Lee sent me the rough for ‘SW£G LEVEL 9000’ a good few years back though but I haven’t really been involved in many of the videos with my beats. Not that that’s a bad thing though; the end results always come out super and I trust Lee with the visuals – he’s got a good vision.
When you listen back over the album, which tracks do you enjoy the most and why?
‘Chicken Pill’ because I had never made anything at that tempo and style before before and I think it turned out pretty hard, also ‘Whatchusayin’ because this was the first track that started the project.”
If you could go back to the days producing this album, would you have done anything differently?
“I don’t think so you know, I like how the overall project sounds.”
Why has it taken almost 4 years for this project to release?
I’m not too sure really it’s just been sat there for a while. I think Josh started touring a lot at the time it was being completed and we needed a few extra bars here and there. I don’t really stress over time-frames anymore. I used to a lot but stuff will come out when it’s ready, you know.
Are there any showcases lined up for heads to catch these tracks performed live?
I hope so; I want to hear it live as well!
Have you got any more projects in the pipeline with Lee Scott or Black Josh we should keep an eye out for in 2018?
Nothing lined up at the minute but I’m sure we will get a few projects out in the near future. Individually though we are all working on a lot of things so there’s going to be lots coming out.
What has Sam Zircon got in store for the rest of 2018?
A lot more releases with Bisk and Slummy and hopefully some more instrumental tapes coming out.
Sam, thank you for your time. Any final shout outs?
“No Worries, shout out Slummy, Bisk, Lee, Josh and everyone at Blah and anyone who’s listening, it means a lot!”
What’s good people! We’re back again with another edition of 10 questions but this time around, we’ve linked up with Deezer to shine the light on some of the stars of their current Urban Programme. Kicking things off is Mr Fizzy Flow himself, Scrufizzer.
For anyone that’s been living under a rock, please introduce yourself!
Yes man, I go by the name of Scrufizzer and I’m a MC and producer from West London. I have had some amazing support over the years, most recently from Deezer but also Zane Lowe, Annie Mac and Dizzee Rascal and been lucky enough to perform with artists including Wiley and DJ Cameo, as well as opening for Kendrick Lamar in the UK.
You’re quite a genre hopper. How important is it to be able to adapt/ switch things up?
I just love music. When you’ve been doing something for so long your voice becomes a sound, so whatever the tempo, the vibe or energy; it’ll always be Scrufizzer.
Where do you feel your strengths lie?
I think my strengths lie within the energy and the vibe I bring – whenever I deliver the ‘Fizzy Flow’ favour. People have compared me to some of the greats such as Dizzee Rascal and Kendrick Lamar. It’s great to hear that people are thinking of Dizzee and thinking of me at the same time!
How has working with Deezer supported you?
As a massive global music streaming service, Deezer has closely supported me by allowing me to reach an even larger demographic of people that may not have been familiar to my sound. They have hosted my music on genre playlists and featured me on the cover image, which is great exposure as an artist as they have 12 million users.
How do the various streaming platforms benefit your progression?
We are living in the new generation, where the internet runs things. If you can get your music on different streaming platforms, it’s easier for people to listen to your sounds. It’s sick because I can be put on playlist alongside some of the biggest artists in the world.
Given there are so many different outlets, is there the need for major label backing any more?
It depends on what your situation is. It’s possible to do things independently and make a massive impact; it’s just what suits you. I still think major labels can take you that extra step further in your career.
Why do you feel underground UK music has been gaining more mainstream success over the past couple of years?
I think the world is taking to the UK sound at the moment. We’ve had massive stars like Drake show love and help our scene to grow into what it’s become today.
Off the back of this, the scene seems much more together and supportive than it historically has been. Is that down to the culture striving for the same goal?
Definitely, everybody is working together to make great sounds and the music from the UK just keeps getting better and better.
Has this rejuvenation given inspiration to you in any way?
Yes it’s definitely made my work rate go up! I now write about six songs daily. I’m in a proper zone!
The Tropical EP is an absolute banger! How did you find the response to it?
It’s been an amazing response, I had a very dope producer get in touch with me after it dropped. Chill Out has also done me some serious wonders and I will be back at it next year with some new material.
You’ve collaborated with a whole heap of people so far. Ignoring the lazy question, who would you love to work with and why?
Probably somebody like Vybz Kartel or Chornixx, I love their music – it’s proper vibey! It will happen soon, god willing.
What do you prefer – blessing the booth or the live stage show?
I love booth but to be honest I couldn’t choose. I love recording but it’s amazing to perform your song that you made in a the studio and have everybody skanking to it as well!
What’s next? Any new projects in the pipeline?
Yes, loads of projects and loads of tunes on the way… I’ve got a little mixtape that I’m gonna put out which will be a mix of all of my tracks I have done over the last year.
Deezer, the world’s most diverse, dynamic and personal music streaming service, is currently working with a selection of ‘grassroots’ artists within the genres of rap, grime and reggaeton providing a platform for them to share their content with music fans. As part of its official ‘Urban Programme’, artists such as Scrufizzer, Avelino and Che Lingo, are all receiving continued support in raising their profile and showcasing their music and, as part of this, have access to Deezer’s 12 million users worldwide and one of the biggest global music libraries. The programme includes support from Deezer in helping those artists to create unique content including playlists, photography and music video creation, and placing each artist as the official ‘face’ of the main playlist in their genre for one month.
The UK is in a crisis. There are an ever increasing number of young people who are harassing, cat calling and verbally abusing the public. With Young women experiencing verbal harassment from 11 years old and lower, and little being done about it, the Police, government and various organisations are starting to deal with this ever growing issue. With outdated statistics, lack of support and people in fear as to the result of reporting situations, it’s hard to know what the next step is. Well, Hack A Heckle are here to help.
A group of musicians, creatives and activists based in Bristol have joined forces, developing a national campaign using music as a tool to target gender harassment. Having developed the project alongside The XLR Collective, a project at Knowle West Media Centre, the HAH team have been working hard to understand the current cultural climate and found ways to practically target the issue.
The Hack A Heckle team – L to R – Liv, Beth, Millie, Milo, Courtney, Molly, Will (image by Dean Ayotte)
Milo Clack of Hack A Heckle (photo by Dean Ayotte)
THE MUSIC Alongside being activists, the group also happen to be ridiculously talented and diverse musicians! Having all already been involved in the local music scene, the group have a real way with words, tackling the delicate issue of harassment in a creative and inspiring way. Whilst developing their campaign the group visited Barcelona to discover alternative approaches to the issue, and whilst there they composed and recorded two original tracks, one of those being Hide, a beautifully subtle and somewhat haunting acoustic track featuring Beth Hamilton, Millie Grant and Courtney-Anne Bicker on vocals, with Milo Clack on guitar and Will Sissons on Bass. This is only the demo version, and after this point the group went on to record their HAH EP, but as a taster, here’s the beautifully subtle Hide:
Having busked and performed throughout the Summer across Bristol, the group developed a wide range of original songs based around the topic of harassment, however this doesn’t come across in an “in your face” way, instead the group deliver the songs with lyrical integrity and maturity that far outweighs many musicians who try to get their point across through aggression or dictatorial statements. Music has evolved (well, in some regards!) and this is clear to see through the diverse and powerful music they’ve created. Drafting in guitarist Mikey Martalette, and Milo Clack taking on vocal duties, the HAH EP is by far one of the most interesting social action projects in recent years, with an emotional call to action similar to that of the War Child campaign, by attempting to access people’s better judgement as opposed to raw emotional responses.
Stand out tracks for us include Lady and Didn’t Even, but every track has been on loop at Wordplay HQ!
Hack A Heckle brand (photo by Dean Ayotte)
It’s easy to start a campaign right?! WRONG! These guys have been grafting, going above and beyond to ensure that Hack A Heckle has the impact they aimed for. Developing their own website, branding, promo plan and events, the group have been establishing themselves as a social force to be reckoned with. Working alongside KWMC to develop a relevant and well crafted survey that ensures the group get the answers to key questions and discover what is being said, by who and where. The survey caught the attention of Bristol Zero Tolerance, who have since collaborated with Hack A Heckle and the Police to create a joint report on harassment in Bristol, the biggest study of it’s kind to date.
To get the results, the group hit the ground running, armed with HAH cupcakes and surveys, pairing their music with the questions to get people interested and excited. Although there are now (thankfully) a number of organisations starting to try and hack (scuse the punn!) away at the issue of harassment, chiefly Goodnightout, Hollaback!, Bristol Zero Tolerance, Safe Gigs For Women and more, the group are the first to date who have used music as their tool for social change.
Hack A Heckle final performance (photo by Dean Ayotte)
Having visited Barcelona to meet local politicians and activists, performed live including being the first live performers at We The Curious (formerly @Bristol), created shared research with BZT and The Police, and creating an amazing EP, the Hack A Heckle team are continuing to make waves, and will be performing live over the coming months, including a performance for International Women’s Day in 2018. Projects like this are few and far between, so be sure check out their links, support the cause, and check out their music, it’s well worth a listen!
(In my opinion) Venom is the best. I’ve been saying this for ages, and while the many other Venom productions were enough proof already, with Ruff N Tuff – his first solo production album – we have the golden goose, and it’s a monster! The cover art is amazing and sets the scene for the album’s theme which is Hardcore hip-hop (and nostalgia for classic 80’s video games/movies)…
Venom is a Parisian producer who makes that ‘hairs standing up’ banging kind of hip-hop that causes you to meanmug, turn it up louder and realise how heavy this music can actually be. Sharp Premoesque scratches and there’s features from US underground mainstays The Legion, MED, Camp Lo, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Bankai fam members, Conway, Shadez of Brooklyn and more. The album title track with Rah Digga is bananas and Marquee’s track Cut The Line also comes hard. 2017 has been a great year for international hip-hop and Ruff N Tuff is going straight to the top of a lot of greatest album lists for sure.
China Bowls is special. Seriously special. Really, that’s all we should have to say and she would instantly receive millions of plays and worldwide tours BUT sadly that’s not the way it works, but really, she is! Think Hiatus Kaiyote merged with Little Dragon, Erykah Badu and a touch of Braxton Cook on a soulful day! Last year we had the pleasure of catching up with China and finding out more about this incredibly talented songstress who has been making a massive impact on the Southwest music scene, alongside festival season with the People’s Living Room.
Here’s the original interview to get an idea of what she does…oh, and whilst you’re reading you’ll come to realise that we also made China Bowls our Amplify Artist of the month for October 2016! Anyway, HERE IT IS!
So, after a year of live gigs and developing new music, it’s finally time for China to unleash her new chunk of soulful goodness and make our Winter Blues drift away! We are LOVING this new track at Wordplay Towers, and are seriously excited to see what’s next for the Bristol based singer / songwriter, so we caught up to find out a little more about her brand new single The Way and find out what’s been happening since we last spoke…
China, last time we spoke you were performing at Saffron Record’s 1st Birthday bash! What have you been up to? I know that feels like so long ago ! We had the EP release last year and since then I have been gigging a lot, summer was a blur of festivals and then straight into getting ready to record these singles. Now that they’re recorded I’ve been writing a lot which is sooo nice to get back to.
Please tell us about the new single… So it’s a song I wrote a while ago now , playing along to a drum loop I found on youtube. Since then it has grown a lot and the band on the recording really bring it to life, on this one the backing vocals and harmonies are really important because when I wrote it I already had the band in my head with the harmonies too, rather than starting with a solo song and then building those things on top – so it was quite different in that respect to anything I had written before.
In terms of the subject it’s basically about loosing people (in any of the many ways that that is possible) and with the inevitability of that, how we get to a place where absence is ok and learn to live with the gaps people leave in our lives.
What else is coming up for you? Is the single from a new album?! No album yet but there will be another single coming sometime next year and then it will be thinking about all the new stuff that I’m writing at the moment and getting that recorded.
Who have you been listening to recently? I can’t get enough of the new Jordan Rakei album, it’s definitely my favourite of his yet. Also I’ve just discovered Charlotte Dos Santos and also Native Dancer who are incredible.
When we last spoke you mentioned you’re keen to be collaborating with other artists, have you managed to do that yet ? This year has been full of collaborations which has been amazing.
I’ve just started writing with a Bristol band called Snazzback and am going to be recording with them next year. I’ve been writing with Solomon O.B – and we’ve also all performed together – we all met through playing at The People’s Front Room (a stage that travels around the festivals) which is a really great place to meet new artists as you usually end up jamming in front of an audience straight away.
I also sang with Too Many T’s at Bestival and then joined them on afew of their tour dates which was super fun and very different to what I normally do. Ooh and I’ve been doing backing vocals for my friends Nepo x Temko – which is another totally different role, so lots and lots of different things which is great as it’s definitely pushing me as both a performer and a writer.
What’s your plans for Christmas?! I have no idea! It’s usually a very chilled Christmas at home in Devon but it still feels too far away to comprehend.
It’s great when genuine, passionate and seriously talented musicians return to the fold, and with China Bowls it’s going to be great to see her evolve, alongside her Saffron Records family.
Without further a do, let’s let the music do the talking. Wordplay Magazine are proud to announce the release of China Bowl’s brand new single The Way. Enjoy!!
Song written by China Bowls
Vocals and Guitar: China Bowls
Drums: James Vine Bass: Dan Plimmer
Keys: Hal Sutherland
Guitar: Eli Jitsuto
Sax: Nick Robinson
Recorded by Gareth Bailey, Mixed by Johnzy, Mastered by Max Gilkes
Artwork by Lizzie Stone
The Way is available Now (from 24th November 2017) on all streaming and download platforms
I first heard Sounds Of Harlowe at the XLR Festival in Bristol in 2014. A friend of friend had recommended them, so without hearing them live I booked them, and they were AMAZING! At the time they only had one track on their Soundcloud, and they had a certain air of mystery about them. Fronted by formed Wordplay Magazine Amplify artist of the month – Solomon OB, the band have an infectious energy when they perform. Think Mouse Outfit, Nubiyan Twist, Smoove & Turrell etc.
In late 2015 they released “Games We Play”, a lovely soulful joint featuring the group’s former vocalist Melise Djemal.
Since their humble beginnings, they’ve been steadily smashing stages, and evolving from support to headline act. In 2016 they released their Change Of Disposition EP which was celebrated with a mini-tour that had electric, almost tangible energy on every date.
SO, onto the here and now, and with great pleasure Wordplay are hyped to present the exclusive video premiere of Sounds Of Harlowe’s brand new video – Flow So! Here’s Chris, SOH’s Saxophonist and backing vocalist, to tell us more about the concept of the video:
“The title of our EP (Change Of Disposition) is referencing how moving to Bristol affected our sound and songwriting in general. The video concept for Flow So was to represent this by cruising around Bristol, filming in interesting locations, as well as filming at gigs and festivals we booked as a result of us adopting Bristol as our new hometown, and literally going with the flow.”
As ever, we don’t like to talk toooo much about these kinda things, as we prefer the visuals and music to do the talking, so without further-ado here is the premiere of Sounds Of Harlowe – Flow So….
All music written and recorded by Sounds Of Harlowe with special thanks to: Nino D’Angelo, Stefan Goodwin and Liam Cooper for extra sounds.Mixed, produced and mastered by Jamie Aubrey and Nathan Evans
This Friday saw the release of the long-awaited first collaborative album from Verb T and Pitch 92, and here at Wordplay, we are pretty darn excited about it.
Good Evening perfectly captures both artists musical personas, with former Mouse Outfit producer Pitch 92 on production and MC Verb T spitting verses. We already had a taste of the highly-anticipated High Focus Records release, with singles like the organ heavy I Arrived Late and disco-popping Sugar, but listening to the album in its entirety is a whole other story.
Pitch 92’s pioneering production technique has laid out a perfect broad backdrop of beats for Verb T’s direct verses, whilst a heavy line-up of guest features including Jehst, Ocean Wisdom and Kashmere add extra depth and flavour to the mix. All in all, this project might’ve been a long time coming, but Verb T and Pitch 92 have masterfully proven that great things come to those who wait.
To celebrate the release of the album, Wordplay Magazine had a chat with Verb T to learn how the idea behind Good Evening first came about, his favourite track off the album and the veteran MC’s writing techniques.
Good Evening might be a new edition to fans listening collection, but the concept behind the collaborative project first came about over three years ago when both artists met on tour. Verb T began the interview by telling us how the idea behind the new release first came about.
“I first met Pitch when he was touring with The Mouse Outfit and I was touring with Four Owls. We often played at the same venues and when The Mouse Outfit were working on their second album Step Steadier, they asked me to feature on three tracks.I went up to Manchester and recorded the tracks, but after that Pitch just started sending me beats and it went from there. Originally, we were only going to do a few tracks, but we ended up working really well together, so we decided to make a full project.”
“I’d say maybe a year and a half ago we had enough for a full album and we could’ve put it out then, but it just didn’t feel finished. We had a lot of songs but I knew I needed to write some more material. We actually ended up cutting stuff we didn’t feel was as strong. I’d say we finally finished the album only earlier this year.”
With Verb T based in London and Pitch 92 up in Manchester, it meant both artists didn’t have much time to sit in the studio together during the creation of the project, but Verb T explained how working alone works to his advantage when it comes to writing.
“Most of the album was created by Pitch sending me over batches of beats and I’d write from there. For me, when I write my solo stuff, it’s something I like to do by myself. I’ve never really had that thing where I wanted to sit in the studio with other people and write. Obviously if I’m doing a collaborative project then I will, but when I write my solo stuff, I enjoy being in my own zone and my own space.”
“Our music making process for this project really worked for me in that respect, because I would receive these ridiculously good beats through email and then just sit there and write. We talked all the time online and on the phone about the project, but apart from that it was quite a separate experience.”
As we started to dissect the new album Good Evening, Verb T talked us through what his favourite stand- out track is from the release.
“We’ve just put a new video out for the track Mechanical and that’s definitely one of my favourites. It might not be one you can listen to all the time though, unlike some of the other tracks that you can just listen to at any given time. It’s not necessarily fast, but I think the beat is banging and the drums hit hard.”
“It’s tough to choose though, because we really have taken a lot of time to make a full project and fit it together as one piece, so it’s kind of hard to pick it apart. We haven’t got a list of tracks that all sound the same, it really switches up. There might even be styles in there that we like but others don’t, but with all the variation in there, I think it all flows together real nice.”
Along with Verb T’s seasoned style and Pitch 92’s exhilarating beats, Good Evening is jam packed with a whole host of guest MC’s, including members of High Focus crew, Fliptrix, Ocean Wisdom and Kashmere, plus fellow hip hop veteran Jehst and Manchester’s very own drum n bass MC, DRS.
“There’s a nice mix of MC’s from London and from Manchester featuring on this project as we thought it would be good to represent where we are both from.”
“The decision of who was going to feature was done on a track by track basis. The first guest we got was King Kashmere and most people know him now as the MC from Strange U, but people who have been following my career since Low Life Records will know that me and Kashmere did one of our first projects together on Low Life. It was good for him to be the first one on there because it was like a full circle. We’ve done a bit together over the years but it was important for me to get him on this project. He just fitted the beat perfectly.”
“Sometimes when it comes to deciding, I listen to a beat and I can just hear a certain person on it. For example, for the track we’ve got with Sparkz, I just knew that would be right for him as soon as I heard the beat. I was so impressed with everyone that featured though and they clearly contributed some of their best verses.”
Verb T’s lyrics have always stood out for their quick wit and genuine content, from his early days over 15 years ago with Low Life Records, right through to his more recent projects like Morning Process and Medicated Dreams. As the MC’s honest style continues to shine through in the new collaborative project, we wanted to know why Verb T wears his heart on his sleeve in his verses.
“It’s not something I consciously decide to do. I’ve always said to myself that if I write something and it’s good, then it’s going to go out and I’m not going to second guess it. When I write, it’s quite rare I will think of an idea and go and write a song about one specific thing. It usually takes me a few hours of just sitting there listening to music to then find something I really want to say. Sometimes it won’t start with something I want to say, it’ll start with a phrase or something that gets stuck in my head. But when I do think of something to say, I don’t hold back, because I feel like what I’m saying has come from somewhere. It’s something I obviously want to get out and put on paper.”
“I think in general, it is important for people to speak from the heart and be honest. I get that music is about having fun though and some artists like to play a character which I think is ok. It really depends on what type of music you are making and what your aim is. But it’s a form of entertainment, so I don’t really mind what people want to do with it. Everything has its place after all.”
As the interview draws to an end, Wordplay couldn’t resist finding out what other projects Verb T has in the pipeline for the near future.
“Right now, I’m just focusing on this release with the tour and getting the album out there. There’s a few things in the pipeline, but it’s all early stages so you never know. I tend to work on more than one project at a time, but it’s then deciding what gets pushed and what doesn’t.”
“I recently produced an entire album for Moreone and a couple of tracks with Rye Shabby, so listen out for that. Both of these artists feature on Good Evening as well, so it was really good working with them on all projects.”
“Me and Pitch are aiming to work on another project in the near future, and I still have my follow up album with Illinformed. There’s also been talks of another Four Owls album too, so watch this space.”
Verb T and Pitch 92 are currently on the road with their album launch tour, so be sure to grab your ticket and cop a listen to what we believe is one of the best hip hop releases to come out of 2017.