Interview: Cappo

Cappo is a prolific emcee and producer hailing from the UK whose last album, Genghis, was entirely self produced and his latest work introduces a new style and an entire new persona: Gusto Grizwold. We caught up with him to get his thoughts on working as both an emcee and producer, how he feels about diversifying, and some invaluable tips both for emcees and producers working with other artists…


Oh Drat: Hi Cappo, so how’s things – how’re things going with the new release?

Cappo: It’s good; we had a couple of problems with the CD manufacturing, because the ink on the CDs themselves was changed from the original plan and someone made a mistake at the manufacturers so they’ve gone back… but everyone who’s preordered up to now will be sent one of these CDs that’s not the ‘right’ colours, so although they don’t know it those CDs are super rare – there’s only about 30 of them in existence.

“Before Genghis I was a different artist”

OD: It’s funny how things work out to create these little special limited things.

C: It is yeah, the quirky ways that make things rare; sometimes it’s the tracklistings that change, or slight differences on vinyl or something… hopefully if Gusto goes the way I want it to it’ll be something that’s worth its weight in gold [I’m already treasuring mine – Chris] so to speak.

We did the launch in Notts the other day and had lots of people come out to support and that was a good feeling, because the new music is a new type of sound for me – stories about my life and such – but people seem to have received it well, although it’s not the same as a Learn to be Strong or a Fire With Fire type track, but people who purchased one then will be amongst the 30 or 40 with one of the rare originals, so that’s good.

OD: So as you say, the Gusto Grizwold persona is a little different to what you’ve done previously, and I’ve seen you say the Genghis LP was your ‘opus’… would you say that working on a project like that for so long [2010’s Genghis was the first official solo Cappo LP since his 2003 debut Spaz the World] helped you to turn over a new leaf?

C: Yeah it did, you’ve hit the nail on the head there exactly. Before Genghis I was a different artist. In a lot of ways I was frustrated about how music was going and how things were working out, and I think people who are frustrated haven’t reached that certain point where they’re at ease with themselves because they’re working as hard as they can or they’ve achieved what they want to achieve. Genghis took a long time to make and there was a lot of meaning and a lot of enigmatic flows; it was a lot of my life at the time. When it was finished I saw the matrix of my own music and I achieved something that I didn’t think I was going to achieve, and it was a point in time when I needed to do it for myself, really, nobody else, just to prove I could do it on my own. I learned so much from the album, not just performing it live but the promotion around the release and stuff that gave me a lot of insight into how I wanted to do my music from there.

“I want to see where I can take things with the same formula and the same ethics as hip hop, but changing up the beats entirely”

At the same time Styly Cee and I were doing the Fallout album, so had that as a ‘backup’ after all the detailed, intricate production and lyrics for Genghis I had The Fallout lyrics to let things go and work out a bit of difference in my music. More and more I’ve been working on being as prolific as I can, and for the new stuff, pattern wise I want to change things up drastically. I’ve done a lot of tracks in a 4/4 signature type of beat, and whenever I hear something like that in that 4/4 style, that’s my heart, where I grew up and what I know – so it’ll always be my homeland in music, that’s me. But what I’m trying to do is expand myself. I’m 32 now and I’m trying to expand on my production and my rhyme flows; my rhyme flows are more important than anything and I need to keep rejeuvenating them and to keep things moving on. It’s like what Styly said when we did The Fallout, he’s ticked all the boxes of things he wants to do with hip hop so now he’s making different decisions about what he wants to make, and I’ll say the same thing. From Spaz the World to Genghis I feel like I’ve achieved a lot, and I want to see where I can take things with the same formula and the same ethics as hip hop, but changing up the beats entirely and working on different soundscapes that will inspire me to bring something different out of myself.

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Sonnyjim & Sleaze

Interview: Sonnyjim & Sleaze

Sonnyjim and Sleaze are two Birmingham, UK based emcees who have come together to release an EP – the forthcoming Writing In Mnemonics. Both of them are heavily involved in running their independent imprints Eat Good Records and Greasy Vinyl, and they had some great insights into releasing music independently, being part of a scene, and staying true to their art…

Oh Drat: So, I was trying to work out whether Work In Mnemonics is a pun or not…

Sonnyjim: Well, Sleaze is the best to answer what Work In Mnemonics actually is and the breakdown of it…

“we’re from the same ends so we’re on the same page anyway even before the music” Sonnyjim

Sleaze: You can look into it a few ways man, there’s not just one meaning to it, do you know what I mean? One way we’ve started working, we’re putting in work, that’s one way to look at it, nahmean, also people work in journalism, work in radio, we work in mnemonics.

Oh Drat: Okay cool… and as far as you two working together, how did the decision to put out a joint project come about?

SJ: Basically… shit. I can’t remember where it was but I heard about Sleaze on the internet somewhere in, when was it Sleaze, ‘09?

SZ: What track are you talking about man?

SJ: Erm… I can’t even remember where I heard him but I when I did I was like ‘ain’t nobody sounding like this guy’, innit, and he sounds just like where I grew up so I though,  yeah, this guy’s reppin, he sounds like a proper Midlands geezer innit. He’d just dropped his album Theolovision and so I looked on the CD and he had this feature from a guy called Ruffstylz and I know Ruffstylz from back in the day so I hollered at Sleaze, he came to the studio and had a blaze, and we had this one Beat Butcha beat. The title track on Work In Mnemonics was the first track we made – it came out really good so we just thought fuck it, let’s do an EP, basically.

OD: Was the fact that you two are from the same area something you looked out for – there’s not a great deal of Birmingham emcees in the game, really…

SJ: Yeah there isn’t man, it’s all still quite London centric… but you know what, every area they’ve got the same mentality but also they’ve got their own individual area’s mentality too and we’re from the same ends when it comes to the country as a whole so we’re on the same page anyway even before the music.

SZ: Standard.

OD: And how do you guys approach being… a niche in a niche, I guess, in that you’re British musicians, not from London, and you’re not really making the style of hip hop, or perhaps more broadly ‘urban’ music that’s got the largest following at the moment?

SJ: Erm… shit you know there ain’t even no formula for it, we just do what we do and thankfully some people just pick up on it.

“So everytime we put out a new record the fans are on it because they know we ain’t gonna put no wack shit out” Sonnyjim

SZ: It can be a bad thing and a good thing you know what I mean? A lot of fans can turn their back on a band or whatever if it’s different but with hip hop, people from your ends, the fanbase will build and be strong BECAUSE it’s unique, that’s the difference.

SJ: Yeah you know what that’s a really good answer actually. We’ve got a tiny tiny cult following, rather than being flavour of the month and then being forgotten about in a few months’ time when the next chart person comes along, do you know what I mean. Obviously some people have long ass careers or whatever, but… the fans that we do get, they become fans for life, do you know what I mean and then they just believe in what we do. So everytime we put out a new record they’re on it because they know we ain’t gonna put no wack shit out, and you just build up a core fanbase really, that’s that only way to survive when doing a niche within a niche man.

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