Tag: hip-hop

New slowthai single ‘ENEMY’ out now

“We all make mistakes”. The Prince of Northampton slowthai is back with a bang, releasing his new single ‘ENEMY’ at exactly the time Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the nation…well…

“We all make mistakes”. The Prince of Northampton slowthai is back with a bang, releasing his new single ‘ENEMY’ at exactly the time Prime Minister Boris Johnson addresses the nation…well they have history.

slowthai
photo credit: David Jackson

“slowthai, you have officially been cancelled”. His first song since that infamous altercation at the NME Awards show in London on February 12th is a bass-heavy grime attack, and comes with a made-at-home-in-isolation video.

The man also known as Tyrone Frampton could have disappeared for some lengthy downtime after the flack he received, but he’s come straight back with what he does best. The first new ‘solo’ track since the formidable Nothing Great About Britain album of May 2019 displays exactly the sort of foreboding menace that shows he really is the lone wolf that walks his own path.


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New Music Friday: Napps

Napps is a Northampton rapper who has recently put out his debut EP, entitled ’22’. Its a smorgasbord of sounds and collaborations, and New Boots thinks it is probably time…

Napps is a Northampton rapper who has recently put out his debut EP, entitled ’22’. Its a smorgasbord of sounds and collaborations, and New Boots thinks it is probably time you tuned into his frequency. We wanted some more lowdown, so here’s a few minutes with the man himself.

How did you start on this musical journey?
I feel like I’ve always been on this musical journey, I just never knew how the opportunity would present itself. From a young age music has been a huge part of my life. Dancing came like second nature as a kid, taking me to perform in front of hundreds of people. I used to have the odd playground rap battle, but music-wise I used to be more of a singer. It wasn’t until after college I realised that I had some talent rapping. It started off as poem that I wrote for my grandfather after he died, then about three years ago I came across the Drake ‘Pound Cake’ instrumental. That was it; my mind instantly took off. I ended up making a sort of tribute rap for him, I recorded it on my phone and uploaded it to my Facebook. The reaction I got from friends and family was great, from that day I just wanted to keep writing and getting better.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences in music?
If I had to describe my music that’s out there already, I’d call it hip-hop/trap/rap with a dash of grime but I’m still very much in the experimental process with my music. What people have seen from me so far is just the tip of the iceberg. Some of the ideas may work and some may not, but at the end of the day music is my passion and I’d rather make my own lane than follow the curve; less traffic.
As far as musical influences go, I come from a family with a lot of different backgrounds. My dad was American, a staff sergeant in the US air force when he met my mum. I cherish the long car journeys we used to have because he opened my eyes to everything from jazz like Boney James, Motown like James Brown, old school hip-hop like Kurtis Blow and Slick Rick, all the way up to the likes of Lil’ Wayne and Jay Z – and everything in between. One of my grandfathers was a Guyanese Rasta: family parties at his house introduced me to reggae like Bob Marley and Beres Hammond to Nyabinghi drumming. Whereas my other grandfather used to be in a swing band; he showed me music like Tom Jones and Frank Sinatra. I’ve always been around a diversity of music and it made me appreciate all sounds. I may not play them everyday but the love is there.

What was the reaction like to those early releases like ‘Whipping In The Kitchen’ and your first performances?
People loved ‘Whipping In The Kitchen’. It was crazy because it made the dream of becoming a rapper real, you know? That feeling of your first official release. I had a few songs on soundcloud, one of them called ‘Get Up Out My Way’ was my first music video on Mike’s channel but they didn’t get as much attention. I remember walking through the Sixfields tenpin car park and hearing it playing from one of the cars, I immediately ran over like “YO THAT’S ME!”, all mad like I’d just won the lottery or something. Was nice to see that It wasn’t just my people listening.
Someone told me at the last Lay It Down event that it was the first time they had seen me perform since the first show we did, and the improvement was amazing. So proud to be part of Lay It Down because it’s given me so many opportunities to hone my performances skills.Nowadays you have to drag me off stage – I love performing and interacting with the crowd, there just nothing like it.

Tell us everything about this new EP, ’22’.
If I told you I had some elaborate plan whilst creating this I’d be lying. It started off as a selfie – there was a little 22 stamp on the corner, I thought it looked like an EP cover which gave me the ideas to start building up tracks. I tried to bring a bit of something for everyone. It takes you on a journey through different vibes so whether it’s a late night cruise, working up a sweat in the gym [or at home in these circumstances], or just doing the cleaning I’m sure there’s something for you. Six tracks, six producers, most notably Nathaniel London. He produced the beat for ‘Natsu Freestyle’ [my personal favourite] and is behind some of the biggest bangers from people like Lil’ Baby, AJ Tracey and D Block Europe. I’m yet to find a producer to work with properly, but for now YouTube is doing me just fine. Eventually I would like to produce my own stuff. Some of the verses you hear you may recognise from my Instagram, a lot of the songs I make start as freestyles, like ‘Give It Some Love’. I never intended to make it a track when I uploaded the first verse, but when Elle [Delaney] messaged me about the hook she came up with, it fit so perfectly it had to make it happen. The track ‘How I Do This’ was a crowd favourite at the Lay It Down events, originally written to the ‘Boom’ instrumental by Royce Da 5’9. I wanted to make sure I kept that old-school feel with the new beat and my guy Scott Whitman did an incredible job. He also mixed and mastered four of the tracks  and the other two being mixed by Eli [who is also featured on ‘Flexing’].

You’ve got some quality guests on the EP. Is that a reflection of a supportive Northampton musical community?
Definitely. Northampton is full of amazing talent, we are all here to support and lift each other up, we are all in the same boat, trying to make a name for ourselves and fly the flag for Northampton.

Describe your live shows in five words or less.
Great vibes, even better music.

What has been your favourite Napps moment of the past year?
There was so many it’s hard to choose. I performed at some great events, but I think has to be my birthday/EP listening party. What started off as a very cold evening turned into a hot night! I was amazed at how many people came out to support and the love and feedback I got was brilliant; big shout out to all my guys that came and performed as well, everyone smashed it.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
I’m pretty sure the last album I bought physically was Chip’s I Am Chipmunk back in the day! Last album I streamed was J Hus Big Conspiracy.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have for after this craziness all blows over?
I just want to succeed and be able to look after my family. As for 2020, in these times of uncertainty all I can hope is that I stay happy, healthy and focused, I pray the same for everyone else as well, stay safe out there.

The ’22’ EP is out now via the usual digital platforms

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New Music Friday: FFSYTHO

The next breakout artist from Northants is undoubtedly FFSYTHO. Strong of flow and with personality to spare, her new songs like ‘You Next’ and ‘Mad’ are not easily forgotten. There…

The next breakout artist from Northants is undoubtedly FFSYTHO. Strong of flow and with personality to spare, her new songs like ‘You Next’ and ‘Mad’ are not easily forgotten. There was no way New Boots was going to ignore this phenomenon, so we went knocking on her door!

What can you tell us about the lady behind the moniker?
4ft 11 giant, big energy, loud mouth, crazy style!

How did you start on this path? Did one particular moment or person help create the spark?
I’ve always been about my music, but never really broadcasted it. The power of the internet changed that. I dropped a freestyle for fun on Twitter, and it kinda went viral. I was called up by Terror Danjah, and within 24 hours I was in RedBull studios recording my debut single ‘FFSWHYTHOUGH?’ Ha, it was only right I called it that!

How do you describe your sound?
A raw, direct, tongue-twisted potty mouth!

You started releasing things about 18 months ago. What was the reaction like to that eponymous single in 2018? Did it give you a big confidence boost?
The reaction was crazy, it really put me on the map! I was actually [and still am] shocked at all the different types of people digging my music! From older to the younger generation, it’s actually pretty mad; amazing support and opportunities that have come from it. I’m just loving every moment!

What can you tell us about these new two for 2020 – ‘You Next’ and ‘Mad’? The energy in ‘You Next’ is off the scale…
Ha, I’m currently working on visuals for ‘You Next’, so watch out for that it’s going to be a MOVIE! I wrote that in the hype at the start of the year with almost everyone on the grime scene clashing each other, so I just thought I’d set the levels before anyone tried to send for me, haha!

What a big moment for you, you recently went to do 1Extra on the BBC. How was that?
Exciting! Man I was so nervous. TBH I still can’t believe I did that, and all in one take! I was literally having a practice round and air Spyro was like, BOOM THATS THE ONE!! I have another freestyle coming up for another major music platform, so stay tuned for that also.

Best/worst thing about Northampton?
What can I say, it’s my hometown! Born and bred, I’ve got a lot of love from the people here too, which is amazing! BBC introducing shown love. Just really cool that people know I’m an artist and rate it!

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Blimey. I actually listen to a lot of old-school R&B mainly. I just stream a whole bunch of stuff from screw facing at listening to grime, to relaxing and blasting therapeutic stuff!

A hard question in these lockdown times, but what are your burning desires to do in 2020? What plans do you have?
Perform! Headline! Festivals! More visuals. More freestyles ! MORE MORE FFSYTHO TO THE WORLLLLLDDDD!!

 

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New Music Friday: DeBe

DeBe, a moniker that originates from his teenage days as a graffiti artist, was born in Northampton – Kingsthorpe specifically. The unorthodox rapper often plays fast and loose with his…

DeBe, a moniker that originates from his teenage days as a graffiti artist, was born in Northampton – Kingsthorpe specifically. The unorthodox rapper often plays fast and loose with his sound, incorporating elements of grime, R&B, dubstep and garage. Debut EP ‘The Life Of Reilly’ has just landed, and New Boots went in search of answers.

How/when did you start making music?
I started spitting bars in school and discovered GarageBand in 2008. I just had a lot of ideas in my head for songs that I’d thought I’d try and lay down.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
I’d describe my sound as out the box, unorthodox, left, slightly skits? I had a lot of musical influences from young. I knew the Nas album from back to front, I remember listing to his music on my Walkman CD player. In at the Deep End by Roll Deep had a big influence as well. When I was young I remember my Aunty catching joke at me singing Alicia Keys when I was in the shower, so I guess her too.
My Mum listened to baseline and garage a lot – I wasn’t fixated on DJ EJ, but to this day his tag is still stuck in my head. There’s always been different types of music around me and I appreciate it all, there’s a lot of music that I wouldn’t put in a playlist or vibe to, but when I hear it I know it’s sick. When it came to making music myself I always take pride in making sure I kept things original. Being so critical I guess that’s how I’ve been able to develop my own style.

Do you collaborate with others on the beats, or fly solo?
Early on majority of my music was done by myself, but as I got older my friendship group kind of all chipped in. I’ve been making music for years but I never really put stuff out, as soon as I did I started collaborating a lot more.

Tell us about this EP, ‘The Life of Reilly’.
To start off T.L.O.R is a start of a trilogy – so you heard it here first. There’s a lot of songs on the project that was made a while ago; I’ve got over 100 tucked away. Each track on the EP represents an emotion that I’ve had to deal with whilst grafting to put together the EP. There was a time when I was going back and forth to London everyday, being in the studio till late and having to go back to the ends for work. I was running on like four hours sleep daily. Once I found a team to work with it was our priority to build a catalogue of songs which came over a period of like a year or so. I had a lot of other stuff going on outside of music that effected me in different ways on different days, so going into the booth was like therapy for me.
The EP cover took a good couple of months to think of. I said to my manager that I liked how Giggs done his visuals for his ‘187’ track, which is also produced by Machine Baby, and I wanted to pay homage to NN. We sat down and came up with a concept that ending up taking inspiration from the original King Kong artwork. I’m using the Express Lift Tower as my Empire State Building.
My cousin Meks actually came up with the title for my EP. Reilly is my last name and “The Life of Riley” is a popular saying for someone who has it easy, which is kind of ironic.
Earbuds & Nick French worked on ‘Enough’. Earbuds also did ‘Comatose’ and ‘Front Row’. Sammy Byrne made ‘Nuffin Long’, I made ‘Vamp’ and Baga finished the EP off with ‘Uprising’ – he also chipped in on the mixing and mastering.

The videos are well thought-out and have a punchy vibe that fits the music just right. Do you storyboard these things in depth?
It’s a collaborative effort: everyone will give their ideas and whatever sounds good gets shot, whatever looks good gets edited. It’s the same with the music; I’m just lucky to have a friendship group who have a lot different skills.

It feels like a great time for Northampton rap.
It’s just great to see the whole NN scene thriving, and the hometown getting behind homegrown music.

Any live shows yet?
2020.

Favourite DeBe moment of 2019?
There’s been a few. I’d say not long after I put out ‘Keep Da Pound’, which was produced by Machine Baby, someone hit me up saying that I had inspired them and to be honest this is what makes me want to do what I do. If you take time to listen to my music it’s mainly me venting, and kind of reiterating my mantras in art form for your ears.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
The last project I listened to was Schoolboy Q – Crash Talk.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
The plan for the foreseeable future is to be able tour internationally. I’d like to eventually be in a position give people opportunities back in NN too [ones who deserve it anyway].

The Life Of Reilly is out now via the usual platforms

 

 

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New Music Friday: Zandr

Northampton’s Zandr is 20 year-old producer Alex Howard, who pops up with these fascinating and euphoric chillwave beats, and DJ Shadow-style sonic journeys. Punchy new single ‘Void’ is just out…

Northampton’s Zandr is 20 year-old producer Alex Howard, who pops up with these fascinating and euphoric chillwave beats, and DJ Shadow-style sonic journeys. Punchy new single ‘Void’ is just out and already making people sit up and notice. New Boots has a chat to help joins the dots.

You’re at the university, studying music.
I am just about to top up my recently acquired HND in music production, to the full degree of ‘Popular Music’ by completing the third and final year. I would strongly recommend a course like this to anybody that is after a well-rounded approach to music. What you can learn from the different pathways you choose is eye-opening.

How did you start the Zandr project?
During the time of my two year HND we were encouraged to make music outside of the scheduled sessions to better our skills and begin to make what came naturally to us. I took the full advantage of having my chosen DAW [Logic Pro X] accessible to me at any time, and began to craft my sound and practice all the time . Whilst doing so I decided it was a good idea to choose a name to release music/ produce under. After some research I decided I wanted a two syllable catchy name that was visually recognisable and easy to remember. I had been thinking of shortening my name or making something out of it, but when my mates started jokingly calling me “DJ Xander” which is obviously a play on my full name “Alexander” it just fitted perfectly. To make it stand out more and look dynamic I then changed the spelling to something more out-there and abstract. And that’s where the name originated.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences?
Whenever I’m asked to describe my sound I always struggle to answer because I make quite an array of different styles under the electronic umbrella. I think as far as what I have released: chilled electronic music, with catchy melodies and punchy drops would be a good description. Although I’ve showcased that I can make more hard hitting tracks such as ‘Void’ also. I have so many influences in music, from big producers such as Pharrell Williams and Timbaland, who’s online MasterClass I took earlier this year. To the other end of the spectrum; course-mates and musicians I have as friends that are just starting out like myself. Listening to them starting to find their sounds is inspiring in itself. I feel a standout artist for me is Diplo – his sound is so versatile and he works with so many different artists whilst covering countless styles of music. Something I aspire to do one day for sure.

What was the reaction like to the ‘Cloud 9’ EP earlier this year?
The reaction was surprisingly positive, as I had no clue how people would react to it whatsoever. ‘Cloud 9’ in a nutshell was supposed to be a small collection of feel-good tracks, with euphoric vibes that reflected the project title. Bar the introductory song ‘3AM Brainstorm’ – that was included to create a contrast and set the tone for the songs that followed. I was extremely pleased with the outcome of my first proper piece of work, especially as I mix and mastered it all myself as well.

The meaning of the tracks:
‘Epiphany’ – I was originally going to do a course in marketing and advertising after completing A-levels as academically I suppose it’s what I’m interested in, but after reading a life changing book on holiday I literally had an “epiphany” and something told me to follow music. Easily the best decision I ever made.
‘Cloud 9’ – doesn’t really have a deep meaning, and definitely isn’t about anyone in particular. The aim was to make a simple but catchy club-style drop with my chopped up and pitched vocals driving the drop.
‘Nostalgia’ – this was the first electronic track that I ever made after learning the basics of production, and I called it Nostalgia as it’s my oldest track and It’s crazy to think how long ago it was!
‘Higher’ – a track I wanted to have a really cool ambient vibe to it. The simple and relatable lyrics aren’t meant to mean anything in particular, it’s more just to blend into the rest of the song and enhance it slightly. And to my complete surprise, amongst my peers it seems to be the most popular song from the E.P!

Tell us everything about this new release ‘Void’. You must be ecstatic it’s had so many listeners already?
It’s a track I’ve been working on for a while, it’s something I started, but put off finishing until I thought it was just right. The goal was to make a single that had quite a distinct feel to it, and I really wanted to incorporate this into a house song because it’s one of my favourite genres. I feel with making music it’s so important that you love the sound of what your making and that your doing it for yourself before anything, otherwise what’s the point? Although the response of listeners is important to me, I’m making what I want to make, any positive comments are a bonus. I’ve been over the moon with the response to the track, it seems like people are really loving the feel of it which honestly makes me feel amazing.

Are you part of a wider scene in Northamptonshire? Do you have many peers you’re in contact with?
I would say I am part of a wider scene in Northampton, having grown up performing in bands as a drummer and building up the amount of people I know through music. Musicians I have met through college that I’ve became friends with have come round to my personal studio to jam or lay down melodies for me, etc. This along with attending local events has all contributed to being a part of the scene ! I feel producing and releasing music helps in itself. As far as peers I’m in contact with, I’ve been lucky enough to be the “resident producer” at a small events company called Yellowbrick, ran by one of my good friends in Nottingham. This means if they need any music for anything promotionally, or they have clients contact them for beats or anything like that – they get sent to me!

Any live shows on the horizon?
Doing live shows is something I want to start getting into, I need to further develop my DJ skills as I’m still relatively new to it all. However this is all in the very near future as I have a couple of small events in the works that will be perfect for me to get started.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
The last album I listened to in full was Tyler the Creator’s IGOR. I’m a huge fan of him as an artist as he isn’t afraid to be different and explore innovative production styles, the album was a breath of fresh air.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
I’ve got quite a lot I want to do, I’m really looking forward to hopefully working with different artists and getting some features after I’ve crafted my sound a bit more. I want to also explore different genres as I produce a lot of experimental stuff and hip-hop as well. Following doing all of the vocals on Cloud 9 I want to really push myself out of my comfort zone and try new things and see what I can come up with, possibly implementing all of this into an E.P within the coming months.

Void is out now to stream and buy on the voidesque internet thingy machine you’re reading this on

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ExP + DJ O.P.1 live review and interview

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…

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

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New Music Friday: Dizmack

Northampton rapper Dizmack returns to the fold after a short break with perhaps his most interesting work yet, and there’s plenty more to come. Strap yourself in for an in-depth…

Northampton rapper Dizmack returns to the fold after a short break with perhaps his most interesting work yet, and there’s plenty more to come. Strap yourself in for an in-depth interview; trust us, it’s worth it.

How would you describe your sound in 2019?
I’d like to think I’m still making lyrical, meaningful, I’d say emo music. Its still very truthful and personal. I couldn’t really put it into a genre, as I feel like I’m make so much different kind of sounds. It’s a bit difficult to put under a genre. I’m influenced by all sorts. I don’t tend to listen to grime or hip hop, I’m more into bands and indie music. Anything with feeling. I try and just create good music really: go into the studio and see how I’m feeling and whatever the vibe is that day work with it, and try and come out of my comfort zone. The new songs are quite melodic, the format is in a more traditional song format, what with loads of pre-hooks, post bridges, stuff like that.

What’s influencing you the most right now?
Just life really. I live a very unconventional life. I deal with ADHD and Aspergers on the day-to-day, but then I’m a practitioner of Chinese medicine working towards my doctorate. And then I get to live a bit of a musician’s lifestyle, so between those three elements it gives me all the ingredients I need to cook up my music.

The ‘Spectrum’ EP from 2017 was a big moment for you, musically and emotionally. How did you feel after its release? Did it get a strong reception?
That’s really personal for me. It’s kind of a life changer really, because it was my first proper release that I’ve been working towards for a while. It was the end of a chapter and the start of a new one. I lost my grandma a week or so before it was released. Then it was released on the anniversary of my grandfather’s death. Because it came out the worst time: Christmas, getting prepared for the funeral, and burying my grandmother. There’s a lot of emotions. Plus ‘Spectrum’ is about me being on the autistic spectrum. I was just going to the studio and cashing in on my moods really. I didn’t really have a plan. There wasn’t a direction for the project. It was like “well I’m going through this, this down feeling today, let’s document it”. Because my moods are so all over the place, it’s kind of crazy. I could be happy this morning and then proper emotional later. It was interesting making it. It helped me grow a lot. It was good to touch on certain things, and get certain things off my chest, and put it out in the open. It helps coming to terms with getting the diagnosis of having Aspergers and ADHD. It took a lot out of me. But it needed to be done, because I had so much to touch on and music I wanted to make. I felt like until I touched on certain things it was never going to happen. It was very emotional; good and bad. It just came such an unfortunate time. There was a lot going on and it summed up how my life was and all of the stuff going on. I say on ‘How About That’ “I’m both happy and sad”. That sums that up. I was going through some of my hardest times of my life, but then I achieve something that I wanted to achieve for a while, and really worked hard to do it. I feel like I did achieve that. It’s hard to be happy about something when such a big event happens in your life, and it puts everything into perspective. But it kept me going. Soon as I got that out I finish my follow up EP a couple of weeks later, which I have been sitting on for a while. It set the tone for that because the next one is ‘357’, which is the acupuncture formula for emotions. It’s quite fitting. It’s funny how universe, God or whatever you believe in kinda gives you all the ingredients and aids you on your journey. I think it was more of a case I’d finally done it, and people were happy that I got it out and there’s a body of work for them to listen to. I can’t complain. It showed me that I’m doing what I should be doing and I need to keep at it. Plus ‘Spectrum’ is 1 of 3: the plan was to do three projects in the year. Put them all together and you’ve got an album, so I’m keen to get the other two parts out that have been recorded for over a year now. Hopefully by the time you get the third project you see the bigger picture, and it will all make more sense.

Fellow NNer Izzie Gibbs is a regular collaborator, you both appearing on the Foreign Beggars tune ‘Toast’ last year. Tell us about that relationship.
He’s actually my younger cousin, so we’re always on the phone, always creating. He’s currently producing an EP for me now. We’ve got a few things in the works. I worked on his last EP. It’s always great to have a family member you get along well with. Plus we’re both on the same things, we are both very similar.  We’ve got a collective called Camotage. When we do our things we roll under the name Two. We are working on a joint project called The Amazing Adventures of Two, which will be him and I. It’s been fun. Obviously I’m on the road with him, gigging with him a lot. He took me to America to do South By Southwest. That was great. He’s took me on loads of tour dates: Bugzy Malone, V Fest, the lot. I’ve got to touch many stages with him. We’re constantly talking about ideas, sending each other references: what we like, what we should do. His basically the little brother I never had. And I’d like to think I’m the older brother he never had. We are so tight, to the point that we’re on the verge of communicating via telekinesis and telepathy because we just seem to get it. We can look each other and we both know what we’re on about. He’s a blessing, he’s an amazing artist. The best little brother I could ask for, and a good friend. Definitely someone I can turn to. It was great to appear last year on the Foreign Beggars album, and Big Narstie’s. Obviously we did the Channel 4 Big Narstie Show together and performed the track. I couldn’t ask for a better relationship, nor I couldn’t be any tighter. Hopefully there’s a lot of great music to come from both of us this year; it’s only going to get bigger and better.

You’ve had some changes on the backroom side of things, which has hampered you releasing new music. What can you tell us about that? What have you learnt?
Life is full of surprises for me. I’m constantly learning. Finding out more about myself and life. I’ve learnt loads about the music industry, and being on a label. There was no problem on the label side of things, they’re like family. Big Narstie is one of my best friends, so it’s all love there. I’ve just realised that what with my life and having Aspergers and ADHD I just like to have things a certain way. I like to have control and to be able to implement my vision. I’ve noticed sometimes on a label, or whatever, you have to deal with outside people who don’t always get it. People can’t see your vision. I know what I want to do, from start to finish: how I want it to be presented, and what I’m aiming for. I found it difficult waiting: making so much music, waiting and then getting things done. I don’t think people saw my vision, and knew want to do with me, or where to put me. I just thought I know what I want to do, I know where I want to go. I’m capable of doing it. I’ve got a lot of music, so let’s just try and do this my way and have full control over it. I’d much rather that than try and do it a way I’m not fully comfortable with, and that doesn’t work out. I’ve got nothing bad to say about my situation. It just wasn’t working for me and how my life is set up at the moment. I just wanted to be more of myself, and embrace the weird side of me. I’m a proper artist, and I’m not really interested in image and all the other stuff. I’m about making quality music with meaning, and getting it out there. Everything else is secondary. It’s all love. Big up to everybody at Dice Records. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had. I’ve got good memories. I’ve got to do some great stuff that wouldn’t have got to do otherwise. I wish everybody the best, and hopefully my thing goes from strength to strength now, even though it may be a bit different and a bit weird to some people. I think that’s a good thing, because it’s unique and that’s who I am. So I can’t do anything better than by being me, and doing things my way.

Tell us everything about these new songs, ‘Leanface’ and ‘Stress/Basic Procedure’.
The new singles are quite old actually, recorded almost two years ago now. It was just music from the sessions I’ve been doing that I hadn’t done stuff with. Obviously with my odd situation certain things are meant to go a certain way. It didn’t turn out like that, and and I have ended up sitting on a lot of music that I want out before I push these next EPs out. There’s no time like the present really. ‘Leanface’ was produced by Izzie Gibbs and Spooksville. Trolley Snatcha brought it all together with a final mix and some arrangements, adding a few sounds here and there. ‘Leanface’ is about THC or CBD-based syrup that I drink to help manage my Aspergers. Obviously there’s a big thing going on about Lean, which is made with promethazine and codeine. I’m not for any of those kind of things. I like to keep it natural. I don’t take medication for my conditions, and I find that cannabis and CBD helps, so it’s about me being a bit of a herbalist.
‘Stress/Basic Procedure’ is a weird one. I was actually at my cousin’s funeral, and I came home still drinking. I’ve had a couple of bottles of champagne; I ended up playing Monopoly with a friend all night. Then still being drunk and going to the studio, and just continuing drinking. I had a song that I was working on that I was struggling to finish. A kind had a bit of a meltdown, what with my emotions being high, I got a bit tearful. Then obviously I felt stress. I made a phone call to one of my friends, and he was basically like “suck it up, go in there and make something new”. So it was just kind of messing about, playing with sounds and what not. So I got ‘Stress’ locked in, then I started working on something else. This time I was so drunk I could barely stand up, and that turned out to be Basic Procedure. Trolley Snatcha was playing the beat, and I was just freestyling. I didn’t write a word for that. We freestyled and dropped in and and ended up with that. I thought they complemented each other, so let’s give them a two-in-one.
We are using them to try and build up a bit of momentum into this next EP. So I’ve got a few more tracks to come out and then we can start with ‘357’.

Obviously people like slowthai and Izzie are doing great things locally. But any brand new producers or MCs in Northamptonshire that you rate, that you want to give a shout out to?
I’m out of the loop with who’s coming out of Northampton at the moment. I like DeBe, he’s got a lot of stuff going on. I follow the Northampton band scene to be honest, I’ve got a lot of friends in bands. I’d say Born Stranger and Kinships are favourites. Rest In Peace to Matthew King and Daniel Padmore; they were both musicians I had the pleasure of working with, and friends of mine.
It would be the same people that I have always known, like your Ill Murk and Jam D and CP. Audio Nurks, he’s got a nice project coming out soon. He would be a good one to watch. I quite like Weirdoe and Samuel Lox, I like their sound and what they’re doing. Also you got producers like Harlz and Spooksville. Oh and Kaotic, my favourite lyricist and brother from another mother. We’ve been through a lot together and he’s a genius when it comes to music. Slowthai and Izzy are flying the flag really hard, so props to those two – they’re doing their thing.

How’s the acupuncture going?
It’s going great. I’m a fully qualified acupuncturist. Just about to start my masters and work towards my doctorate. So hopefully once I go back to that it will be two years, and then I will be a fully qualified doctor of Oriental medicine, which I’m excited about because I love acupuncture. I’m getting great results: it helps a lot to feel like I’m able to give back. I’ve got something of substance that actually means something, and can make a difference in not only my life but the people around me. Health is wealth. Plus I’ve got loads of knowledge, loads of stuff that will serve me for my lifetime, and serve my friends and families. It’s helped with the diet. Plus it’s the way I manage my own condition. I don’t take medication. That’s where ‘357’ comes from, it’s the acupuncture formula for emotions. That’s the name of the EP coming next. Acupuncture is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m hoping to have a clinic in due time. That’s part of the bigger plan. Just keep going on from strength to strength. I went back to be a supervisor this year, I’m going to be a lecturer. I’ve also been esquire-ing for the Knights of Truth this last year. So I believe I will be knighted in October. It’s crazy; I think back five years ago and I was the patient going to get assessed for mental health reasons. And now I’m practically a doctor, and managing myself. I’m my own GP, and I take care of my family and all of that. I take the most pride in that, because I started it when I was in a really bad place and I struggled. At times I thought my life was going nowhere. So to go through it and come out the other side and build on it and now taking it to even higher levels is is a big thing for me. Plus I was recording the music at the same time. I’ve really applied myself in the last few years to get this stuff done, and fix up my life in all areas. I’m just grateful and thankful that I didn’t mess my life up too badly, and had the opportunity to redeem myself and right the wrongs.

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have?
To show the world how good I am. And how the high standard of music is, the levels that I work at. I have a really good understanding of it. In all areas, not just personal stuff. Stuff I can work on with other people, the writing stuff. I definitely want to have a career and get all my projects out, and be consistent and deliver. I feel like I’ve got a lot of people waiting on my music, and asking for stuff and what not. Now I just want to get it done. Get that out, get my doctorate, get a clinic. Try and merge the music and medicine together. The EP series seemed to do well. I’m a big advocate for mental health. Just trying to do right, be a good responsible adult. An upstanding member of the community. Do my charity work for the Knight’s stuff. I would like to get to the position where I can actually do some stuff, where I’ve got money and backing. I could do stuff for other people, for the Next Generation. whether it’s music or medicine. Youth club, whatever. I just want to be able to make a difference. Give back to NN, make it cool. And just live a full life. Be a nice person. Get my music out to as many people as I can. Do some features. Try and see how far we can take it. I definitely want to be doing some live shows. I just want to get these next projects out, and start some new material. See where we are at. Then hopefully aim for a headline show. I believe I will probably be going on tour with Izzie when he does his tour. Right about now it’s just about getting the music out, the visuals out, and trying to work to the level where I can do my own headline show, and start doing something a little different because I’ve got so much music that covers a few different genres and styles. I’d like to be able to breakout an hour set into three 20 minutes. Give them some of the jump up, give them some emotive stuff, meaningful stuff. Then probably do some stuff with a band. That’s the ideal vision of my show, how to break it down. I’d also like to do a documentary series called Travelling The Orient, where I travel the Oriental cultures. Cover music, medicine, martial arts, fashion. I see it as a Vice style kind of thing. Go out there and bring a few friends, maybe Izzie and Big Narstie covering all areas. But base it around medicine and then try and build from there. I’d love to end up as a celebrity acupuncturist. Trying to get my music into a state where I’m recognised for that. And then cross it over and be like a Dr Hilary Jones type fella.

‘Stress/Basic Procedure‘ is out now via the usual digital platforms

 

 

 

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slowthai announces £5 UK tour, including Brixton Academy, pre-sale on now

Northampton man of the moment, slowthai, has announced five UK tour dates for autumn 2019, the pre-sale cost of which is just £5. The Nothing Great About Britain man played…

Northampton man of the moment, slowthai, has announced five UK tour dates for autumn 2019, the pre-sale cost of which is just £5.

The Nothing Great About Britain man played a low-key Northampton show last Friday at The Garibaldi Hotel to a packed and steamy room,  celebrating his debut album coming out. This “BET YA A £5ER” tour on the other hand is much grander. The dates are

SUN 13 OCT: Newcastle University Students Union, Newcastle
MON 14 OCT: SWG3 Studio Warehouse, Glasgow
WED 16 OCT: Manchester Academy 1, Manchester
THU 17 OCT: O2 Academy Bristol, Bristol
FRI 18 OCT: O2 Academy Brixton, London

£5 pre-sale tickets are here, and until Friday 9am. Good luck!

Cover image by David Jackson.

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Live review: slowthai

slowthai The Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes May 7th 2019 It’s Champions League semi-final second leg night. slowthai’s second favourite team Liverpool [he’s a Cobbler, don’t you know] are already 3-0…

slowthai
The Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes
May 7th 2019

It’s Champions League semi-final second leg night. slowthai’s second favourite team Liverpool [he’s a Cobbler, don’t you know] are already 3-0 down from the first leg. They have been belittled everywhere over the past week. And for Liverpool you could read slowthai’s hometown of Northampton in the past couple of years. The football team were relegated in 2018, amid bafflement at how they’ve managed to lose a £10.25 million loan from the Borough Council. On top of all that the County Council declared itself “effectively bankrupt”. The bottom of the pile is real gritty, as slowthai tells us.

As tonight’s show progresses our 99p rapper is getting score updates. “It’s 3 nil to us now! No way!” That wide smile creeps just a little wider. He’s fired up for this short run of small venue dates: his way of connecting with the fans he loves so dearly, on as even keel as can be had. Everyone expects him to go interstellar when his debut album Nothing Great About Britain drops, and fans will struggle to get such close-ups again.

This gig is an explosive mix of righteous anger at the state our nation, and a celebration of youth recognising one of their own flawed companions. The man born Tyron Frampton is a constantly whirling physical presence, aided by his balaclava-clad hype man [and regular producer] Kwesi Darko. Sweat levels get exponential pretty much from the off, when ‘Polaroid’s “Kodak moment/Polaroid picture/Shake it, yeah yeah yeah” refrain initiates.

Over eleven songs here his people bounce, take videos, and shout choreographed banter/faux abuse at each other. He splits the crowd, sets up mosh pits, and generally directs us with the touch of an old-style film auteur. His Freddie Mercury-esque vocal call-and-response bit is so funny even he can’t get to the end of it without falling into hysterics. Then mid-set he reveals a unnamed and unreleased collaboration with US rapper Denzel Curry, hinting at future travels beyond the album already. The two 24 year-olds reaching across the Atlantic sounded like an enticing prospect.

‘Doorman’ is blistering, natch, and once the swirling mosh settles there’s a dozen people up on stage with him. It’s his party and we can most definitely come in, it seems – and all for the price of a cone with flake.

slowthai is the 4-0 surprise victory that changes the course of history. This is another gorgeous moment to highlight him. The Shoe Army marches on.

SETLIST:
Polaroid
Drug Dealer
GTFOMF
Mayday
IDGAF
North Nights
Inglorious
T N Biscuits
Doorman
Unnamed collaboration with Denzel Curry
Gorgeous

Words by Phil Moore. Photos by David Jackson.

Nothing Great About Britain is out May 17th. Pre-order here

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New Music Friday: Anonymous

Uncompromising Northampton rapper Anonymous has started the year with a bang, releasing four singles already. The serial collaborator is looking like a major talent for 2019, so New Boots spent…

Uncompromising Northampton rapper Anonymous has started the year with a bang, releasing four singles already. The serial collaborator is looking like a major talent for 2019, so New Boots spent some time getting to know him.

How did you start this project?
I started my music journey when I was around the age of 12, so eight years ago back in school. It started of as a joke at first, until I had a few of my friends and family members telling me to take it more seriously. At the start I never had much confidence in myself and I wanted to make sure nobody knew who I was, that was how I came up with ‘Anonymous’. From there it stuck and has remained the same.

How would you describe your sound? Who are your main influences? 
I’ve tried many different types of genres so my sound can often vary. I’d say I stay firm and get my point across very well within my music. For example the track I recently released in memory of my Dad – ‘R.I.P’ – I had a story to tell and I feel like I told my story very well – and can’t wait to finish part 2!
My main influences are 100% Eminem, Ghetts and Tupac. I love their realness and how effortless they make it look.

What was the reaction like to your early work, did it spur you on?
During my early days of music I never really got much support, I had close friends and family members sharing my music on to their Facebook pages. However I wasn’t getting any feedback, but that only made me want it that bit more! If I am being 100% honest it was L30 Robinson who made me want to take my music more serious after I seen him doing his thing in and outside of school. After he told me to just follow my dreams and do what I wanted to with my career.

Who have you been collaborating with? What draws you to working with them?
I have been collaborating with artist both inside and outside of Northampton. I have tracks released with the very talented likes of Impact, Troopz, Rdot, L30 Robinson, M0ch0, Jaiidee, and King D, but I have plenty more work coming with other majorly talented artists. I can’t wait for my supporters to hear and see the things I have lined up.

Tell us about these new songs from the last month.
My first single of the year entitled ‘Believe Me’ came about after I decided I wanted to make a track to showcase my lyrical abilities and the way my brain works and some of the crazy ideas I have. For example in ‘Believe Me’ there are certain parts where I’ve thrown in vocals from well known tracks just to add that extra bit of spice. My second single of 2019 ‘Hoes’ came up rather randomly after Impact was chilling at my house and having problems with females. We went outside for a cigarette and I came up with the idea of writing a song about ‘hoes’. I went through YouTube searching for beats and as I soon as I heard the instrumental we used the hook just popped in to my head without even thinking. We knew many people could relate to the feeling of heartbreak and generally the feeling of being used, so after making the track we believed it had quite a lot of potential and decided to release it.

You’ve been performing at the Lay It Down night in Northampton, hows that going? Do you perform elsewhere?
As of yet I haven’t really performed at many places as I’m still focusing on finding who I really want to be as an artist. Since first performing at Lay It Down I have came a very long way and can easily say they’ve helped to further my career and I have gained a lot of confidence through being part of the team. However I will be more than happy to take any shows/opportunities that may come my way.

What has been your favourite Anonymous moment of the past year?
Definitely hitting 1000 views on mine and Impacts track ‘The Roads’. We had so much fun making that track and surprisingly it only took us the space of an hour to get it written and recorded with the help of producer and engineer Theo Chanetsa aka Xmorosi.

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
A Boogie’s Hoodie SZN. I love the diversity he brings to the table and every track on the album is a pure vibe!

What is your burning desire for to do for the rest of the year? What plans do you have?
I would like to further my career and reach out to channels such as Link Up TV and GRM Daily. To be honest my sole focus of 2019 is to show people more of me, more of who Liam Berry is. I want to tell my story and be heard. I will also have an EP dropping some time this year but have not yet confirmed a date.

You can subscribe to Anonymous on YouTube here

 

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