Posts Tagged ‘mixtape’

Opium – freestyle

September 10, 2010

Our first foray into film.

Big look. Big up Opium!

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Smurfie Syco Interview for Grime Forum

November 27, 2009

Despite having a new mixtape to promote, a tour to prepare for and an album to complete for next year, 19 year-old Smurfie Syco is unnervingly calm. Embracing a workload that many other artists would find too much to handle, the North London MC positively relishes the challenge “That’s where I want the pressure. Right on my shoulders!”

Fresh off his third tour with Dizzee Rascal and with 3 days before his debut release SmurfieSyco.com hits the shelves, Kristian Samuel-Camps caught up with Dirtee Stank’s emerging star to talk Dubstep, Dizzee and Downloads.

I’m sure you get asked this in every interview, but just to clarify, why are you called Smurfie Syco?

Yeah I do! In my family I’ve got loads of brothers and sisters and we all had nicknames for each other. My one was Smurfie ‘cos I was really short. In my area, when I used to run about with my friends, they called my Syco, ‘cos I was this little terrier. Then, when my friends started to come over to my house, they would hear my family call me Smurfie and get confused. So in the end they called me Syco Smurfie. When I signed up to MySpace I switched it around and it stuck from there.

It’s quite a catchy name isn’t it?

Yeah it is. It works to my advantage.

How did you get signed to Dirtee Stank, and what’s it like working with Cage, Dizzee and the Newham Generals?

It’s kinda like Justice League haha! Or maybe Ninja Turtles – Cage would be Splinter with the guidance and knowledge! I’ve been eager to do things and got excited about situations only for Cage to say three or four things and change my mind completely. He sees things way in advance, and is great at making the decisions – which you can see in Dizzee.

All the decisions Dizzee has made, Cage has been instrumental.

Justice League is a good name for them because they are superheroes to me. Even though we’re friends, it hasn’t clicked for me yet. I’ll hop off the tour bus with Dizzee and see people react crazy…

How much say does Cage have in the camp?

He’s like the final thing. At the same time though, he won’t crush my artistry. Seriously, when my album comes out you will see stuff everywhere! He allows me to do whatever I want and then he’ll give me the guidance. It’s up to me to except it. Karate kid can never tell Mr Miyagi how it’s gonna go. He has to listen and interpret it. That’s what I’m doing.

I’m not scared to take risks.

Conversely do you find it stressful having these guys around you, scrutinising your work?

It is stressful. You do get to a point where it’s a gift and a curse. It depends on the audience, and what part of the audience I listen to. You’ve got the fans that are happy to have new music and see new faces, and then you’ve got these internet critics who don’t know much about music at all. In the grand scheme of things, the things that they say will keep them where they are.

They want to compare, compare, compare. I can’t understand why they can’t accept something for what it is. I can’t address all that because if I did, I would never get an album done.

How would you describe your style of music?

Ooh it’s a crazy mix. I ain’t given it a label just yet but it deserves one though ‘cos it’s really good! Haha! It’s melodic and quite old fashioned. I never really owned any music in my house so I listened to a lot of music that at first, I hated. I didn’t jump out of my mum’s womb and straight into Reggae! Now though, when I hear those sweet melodies on a Sunday morning when my Grandma’s cooking or something I can just vibe.

There is a mad mix in my music – I can hear it all in there. On this mix CD I listened to it top to bottom and it is Grime. It’s not quite what is going on today, but it reminds me of those ‘Boy in the Corner’ days. I know that’s a big thing to say but on one track that Dizzee features on (Clappin), it could have made it onto Boy in the Corner. If not Showtime. It’s definitely that era of music. It’s a conscious tune too – it’s not reckless.

What would you say to those people who say that, because you didn’t climb the ranks, Dizzee shouldn’t have signed you?

I would say to them that Dizzee wouldn’t be where he is today if he couldn’t make good decisions. If you respect him and think he’s a smart guy then respect his decision to sign me and wait and see.

Your hotly anticipated new CD, Smurfie Syco.com is due to be released on the 30th. How you feeling?

Excited man. I just want to see it in my hands and I’ll be like ‘Yes!’ I want to go and see it on the shelves as well.

Promotion across Dirtee Stank media, including Dizzee’s official announcement yesterday, has kick started the hype…So what can people expect?

Expect hype! If there is anything out there you want to get right now, forget that and get this CD! It is a breath of fresh air in music. if you are buying CD’s, buy mine, Chipmunk’s, N Dubz, Tinchy’s, Dizzee’s and Newham Generals and that will be 2009 right there. My mixtape deserves to be next to all those releases.

Are there any guest spots on the album?

One. Dizzee Rascal and that’s it. Together we recorded three to four songs for the mixtape, but I’m a perfectionist. When I first signed [with Dirtee Stank] I told Dizzee ‘Don’t tell anybody I’ve signed’ and for six months, nobody knew. Everybody there thought I was an office clerk or something; sorting stuff out on the phone, helping the tour manager. I wanted to figure out what I was going to do first.

It eventually got round that I was signed and so I got recording. I made my first single ‘Where’s Your Head At?’, and after performing it live it got such a good reception that Dizzee wanted to come onto the tune. So for me that’s a sign I’m doing the right thing.

What will be the first single?

The lead track will be ‘This Way’ but my first single will come next year with the album, which will probably be ‘Where’s Your Head At?’

Your free download ‘Unleash Da Syco’ instrumental EP showcased your loud and brash production talents. Did you produce any beats on the album?

I produced all the beats on the album. I’m a huge Dubstep fan and it’s crazy ‘cos I discovered it through DJ Tubby by accident. I really ignored it for the first part, but I’ve always been attracted to the grimier side of Grime, Bassline and that. So when I found it I was like ‘Rah!’ Nobody was MC’ing on it apart from Newham Generals and Crazy D at that time, so I immediately wanted to.

‘Unleash Da Syco’ has some musical similarity with Dizzee’s earliest work – it’s messy, electronic and sample heavy. Was this one of the things that first endeared Dizzee to you in the first place?

It could have been. To be honest I’m not sure – I’d have to ask Dizzee. In fact I don’t think I’d ever want to know. I’d like that to remain a mystery because it keeps me working and if I stick to one type of music it’ll blur my creativity.

Would you consider yourself his protégé?

Erm…I don’t know. I don’t think so. I think Dizzee’s protégé is still out there somewhere. There’s elements of Dizzee, D Double E and Footsie in my work, but I don’t think I’m his protégé.

Your 300 bars series on YouTube was an innovative online promotion tool and opened you up to audiences in a frank, honest way. Are you going to maintain the series or have you got something new planned?

If MC’s want to talk about MC’ing, then I would love to see another MC do that, and spit for six minutes constantly! That series must have totalled thousands of bars. The reaction from that series was big. I’m still getting tour fans going ‘Wow!’

We are working on something! That was one of 15 ideas we had and even now the ideas don’t stop coming. We will definitely do something for people to subscribe to and I will be going even harder to make sure there are more eyes on me.

The crowds on Dizzee’s tour have certainly been going mad for you, judging by the videos and youtube comments. What was touring with Dizzee like?

It’s the best thing that could ever happen to my music. It showed me that I could do what I was doing in my spare time, professionally. The first Dizzee tour was Boy in the Corner and Showtime fans moshing. The Maths & English tour, girls had started to come in, then on the last Tongue ‘n’ Cheek tour it was chicks 6 rows deep from the front. I’m happy I’ve seen that and it has made me understand where I want my audience to go.

I love all the girls there – I’ve even got my own little group now called The Smurfettes – which are my own female fan club.

Anybody who wants to join by the way, just holla me on Twitter @Smurfiesyco!

Tell us about your album due to be released next year. According to Dizzee’s MySpace, he, along with Cage will be executive producing it. Can you shed any more light on it at all?

It’s untitled at the moment, but we’re aiming for a 3rd quarter release. My single should carry me through until then and I believe there is nothing from the UK that will be as complete as mine.

With that in mind, what does the rest of this year hold for Smurfie?

Just promoting really, speaking to my audience, keeping them in the loop. This is nursery rhymes right now. I want to take my crowd and start singing real music that can stand on its own.

I want to stress that SmurfieSyco.com is the sharpest end of the knife, and will be for some people because it’s Grime. But after this I’m going bigger, wider, and you will like it because I keep things real. I’m heading toward success – if you want in, follow me!

Any shout outs?

Shout out Dirtee Stank – it’s the label! Laurence – number 1 UK label manager. Shout to Musical D, my family, my fanbase and R.O.A.D – the Righteous, Organised and Determined.

Kristian

Smurfie Syco

November 26, 2009

Interviewed and then accompanied Dirtee Stank’s Smurfie Syco for a day around his ends in Wood Green, before reaching Kiss with DJ MK.

Pics and interview to come, but check out in this vid in the mean time:

I’m the pesky snapper getting in the way of the camera 😉 Big up Smurfie who is promoting like a madman right now. Follow him @smurfiesyco.

If you need press coverage, contact me here

Manga – The Adventures Of Manga Review

October 28, 2009

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Manga is a bit of a Grime anomaly; a high-pitched, skippy, bespeckled MC whose bars frequently reference style, garms and crepes, yet unlike most rarely stray into badman territory. As a Roll Deep member, his playful persona often seems at odds with the rest of the group – especially when ‘Skeng’ is the main topic topic of conversation (which it often is.) As such, he has faced stick and general ignorance from both MC’s and fans.

Nevertheless, the perpetually adidas-clad MC has persevered, embracing his differences for debut mixtape ‘The Adventures Of Manga’, released earlier this week. Comprised of a curt 10 tracks, the free download features guest spots from Lady Chann and long time sparring partner J2K, and production from Scratchy, Wiley and Bless Beats.

‘The Adventures of…’ starts as any debut Grime mixtape should – with a collection of snippets showing us Manga’s musical journey thus far. If nothing else, in an era of throwaway music, it reminds us why we should pay attention. Verses cut from ‘When I’m ‘Ere’, ‘Fully Involved’ and ‘Do Me Wrong’ set the right tone; a short, stark reminder of this MC’s calibre and his lyrical dexterity.

Indeed, on closing track ‘freestyle’, Manga showcases a colder, ruthless side that has rarely – if ever – been seen before. Addressing his musical demons and stereotypes, he proves that there is substance to back his bubbly delivery. Which begs the question, why include it as the last track? There it is a footnote, whereas if included earlier, it could have been a bold statement of intent.

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The imaginatively titled ‘Style’ featuring Roll deep affiliate J2K is undoubtedly the mixtapes’ highlight. Over a big bastard of a bassline and skittering drums, the pair talk with finesse about their favourite subject. Given their previous form this should sound tired, but they manage to keep it fresh and enjoyable and more importantly – Grimey.

In fact, from the Chemical Brothers-sounding ‘Me Nar Like You’ through to menacing Scratchy-produced ‘Rampage’, this mixtape showcases a rich tapestry of Grime textures within a dancier, more upbeat context. Yet, unlike many ‘GrimewiddabittaFunky’ mixtapes, this isn’t in any way a compromise. ‘Activity’, Danny Weed’s production of the year makes a welcome appearance, although one is left with the impression that the self-named Sir Matchalot could have hit the much-versioned beat a lot harder.

Unfortunately that is one of this mixtapes’ shortcomings. Whilst you can appreciate and enjoy Manga’s stylistic differences, you just wish he’d punch those lines home and add a little dynamism to his delivery. With such skippy, syllable-governed flows, it’s easy to lose track. The radio clips included on the tail-end of ‘Grime Activity’ hit harder than some of the tracks and if Manga is to become top three, he should recognise this and adapt.

This is a solid mixtape, full to the brim with style and should be a welcome addition to any Grime fan’s MP3 library. A great start for Manga, although he will have to shout louder if he is to step out of Roll Deep’s shadow.

Download here.

Kristian

P.S. – Check out Fullygrown’s interview with the man himself here.

P.P.S. Respect to Lady Chann, apologies for the mistake… check her MySpace here.