ExP’s ‘Fully Fledged Fraud’ Album Release Tour, featuring DJ O.P.1
Friday August 9th
The Garibaldi Hotel, Northampton

Friday night and myself and Bernie Beirne are heading down to the Gari to catch one of the usual faces, DJ O.P.1. A Northamptonshire DJ with exquisite blends of hiphop, funk, jazz, rock, jungle, dnb, he’s always guaranteed to put on a dancefloor filling night of fantastic tunes. Although on this night, he has a rather special treat in store…
O.P.1 has teamed up with Yorkshire’s finest Rapper ExP, to be his Jazzy Jeff on the latest album Fully Fledged Fraud. And tonight, they bring their ‘tiny’ tour to Northampton. Starting in Leeds last night, the tour stops at The Garibaldi Hotel for one night only before they move down south to the Old Blue Last in Shoreditch.

Ben “ExP” Goodwin draws on influences for his current style of rap from classic old skool hiphop artists such as De La Soul, Jurassic 5, Tribe Called Quest. As he says, “people who know how to have fun on stage and make joyful music”. And having fun on stage is one thing that ExP is really good at, drawing in the crowd with his lyric boards and audience participation. So, whether you know his tracks or not, you find yourself joining in with the chorus of “we don’t do that” and “work is so shit”. Plus, you are bound to recognise some the of the classic songs which ExP has skilfully sampled; from the Ratpack to Bill Withers and Sly & the Family Stone.

ExP has a large following based in Corby from his group Flame Griller, so it was great to see the Corby crowd trek across county and turn up to support their tour.

New Boots had a chat with Ben and Robin before the show began..
The album is called Fully Fledged Fraud, so what’s the concept behind this album. Are you the Fully-Fledged Fraud?
Ben: Yeah exactly, as is everyone. That was kind of the point of it. The last album had tracks that I could name the album after in the end, but this is one is a bit more of a summary of everything. I think the summary of it was that everyone is a fraud, everyone is pretending to do what they do, even if they are doing it to a good level. So, you look at yourself and say I am doing this but if I told them how rubbish I really am…

Ok, I get it. A good example of this is Michelle Obama who talks about imposter syndrome?
Yeah, it’s like when people just feel they aren’t right, and apparently Penelope Cruz too. With every film she does she thinks “I shouldn’t be doing this. I’m a complete fraud, I’m not a real actress”, thoughts like this. This is a major thing for people.

Does this mean that you don’t feel like a real rapper?
Well that and many other things. It’s a very strange thing to think of yourself as a rapper in the first place, especially being white and from Yorkshire! You know and being very grumbly. The content is very grumbly and non-rap in its own way, but it is also about being a fraud in my work life, my married life, everything and anything really.

So, you are gigging tonight at The Garibaldi Hotel, where slowthai recently held his album launch as well. What are your thoughts on the current British hip-hop scene?
The British hip-hop scene is cool and busier the further south you get! So it’s great as you get into London but its also busy under London with Brighton and Bristol over the way. Its good, its bubbling, it has its own thing. But hip-hop in itself is such a big word that it incapsulates so much stuff. You can include trap and grime in that, and if you do it’s as buzzing as it’s ever been.

So, if you were to sub- genre yourself under hip-hop, what genre would you say you are?
Haaa! Well the cool thing now is Mumble Rap! So, I have coined ‘Grumble Rap’ because I’m just having a grumble man.. when you start sub-genre’ing…what I’m doing and its like boom bop and classic hip-hop.

What’s it like working with O.P.1?
This is my third gig ever working with O.P.1 and mate it is incredible. He is the best DJ I have ever worked with by a long shot. He knows his stuff man, he’s the best.

Some of your lyrics are just downright hilarious. Do you spend time trying to craft the joke or does that just happen naturally?
No! there is nothing worse then trying to be funny and I don’t think that I am funny. Its just observations, so if something pisses me off from time to time, I will write it down on my phone and I’ll put that into something. Somethings write themselves really quick and something things take ages to craft.

The new album got a promotional tweet from Frankie Boyle! How did that happen?
It was years ago when people realised that he was into hip-hop and he was sharing tweets about the music that he liked. So, a member of Flame Griller messaged him out of the blue and said we do this music and he really got into it. Since then he has followed us, he’s supportive of us and we can shoot him a message and he will promote our music. Its very, very cool. Romesh Ranganathan as well! Its great to have that boost.

So, London tomorrow, then what’s next for you?
Then I have a small gig on the 17th August – Autopot Summer Social then literally nothing. Another Flame Griller gig in October but nothing else. Ever since putting the album out in July I’ve been running around trying to get everything out, trying to talk to everyone so I think once it gets to mid to late August I can try to start promoting the album and get new people to listen and share. Word of mouth is the most important thing for me. Then hopefully there will be another album by 2022.

Over to you O.P.1 – how did this collab come about?
I was DJing at a festival in Corby last September and I was DJing for a local group and a few other MCs on the night. ExP came down, saw me smashing it [as usual!] and he said we need to work together. He asked me to do some scratches on a track, I threw some ideas together, did the cuts and he liked it and went with it. So that’s on the new album, a track called “High Horse”.
He then asked me to do the southern gigs, but it ended up me being his DJ full time now. The video should be out in a couple of months. I don’t know how much I can say, its an animated video. It looks pretty dope from what he sent me. Check out his videos on YouTube, as they are all proper.
I think we both have the same work ethic, the same ideas and the same background in hip-hop so it just kind of worked out really well. We will definitely be doing some more stuff together in the future, for sure.

Except for this project, what else are you up to?
I have regular nights at the Garibaldi Hotel, The Pomfret and the Charles Bradlaugh. I have a few festivals coming up and there are a few local artists I will be working with. You can keep up to date from my Facebook page “DJ O.P.1”

Lisa Eversden

Fully Fledged Fraud is available online here