One of the UK's most popular rappers had a chat with us about his influences, past and future projects, the UK hiphop and Grime scenes, label situations plus loads more!
Who are your musical influences?
De La, Tribe, Jay-Z, Big L, the Roots, Marvin Gaye,
What record was it that really made you wanna rap more than any other?
Queen's Head by Blak Twang and Roots Manuva. I saw the video years ago on MTV and it was the first time I'd really heard someone spit in an English accent about English stuff and make it sound heavy.
When did you first get on a mic and what was the first release you put out?
First started writing about ten years ago when I was a teenage rap fanatic, but my first release was a track called "Lifelong" by L.G. and Lopez featuring me, which was released on Sit Tight records in 2000.
Tell us the key releases you've dropped and perhaps what your personal favourite is.
Key releases are my solo debut full-length "The Essance", released on Janomi in 2004, and the Yungun & Mr Thing debut "Grown Man Business" released September 2006 on Silent Soundz. As for my favourite individual tracks, Liquid Love is one that I'm pretty damn proud of, as most MCs can't pull of a 'love' track without making it corny or weak but I reckon I managed it on that one. My best work is still yet to come though…
How do you feel the 'Grown Man Business' album was received by critics and the scene?
Really, really well! The press and radio coverage has been incredible, and we've had great reviews more or less all round. As for the 'scene', I've had so many fans send me messages and come up to me at shows saying they love the album that I've lost count.
What is it about working with Mr Thing which makes you keep using his beats time and time again?
They're hot, simple as that! But as well as that, he's a close friend of mine who shares a lot of my taste in music. We do shows together all over the country (and the world – we went to Beijing recently!), so we have this unspoken connection going on where we both know what works. It's just really natural and fun working with him.
What other producers have you, and would you like to work with besides Thing?
I've already worked with more or less all of the best Hip-Hop producers from the UK, but some of the tracks are new ones that haven't been released yet. I'd really like to start working with people from other genres who might bring something different to the table. I bet some of the Drum 'N' Bass boys could make sick Hip-Hop beats if they wanted to, and the same goes for the broken beat, garage and house heads.
When can we expect your official solo debut to come out and what can fans look forward to hearing?
The album's going to be called "The Middle Man". It will be my most personal and original work yet. It will explain something of my personal background (which is quite different from your average Hip-Hop MC's) and it will explore issues of identity, race and class in an insightful and honest way. But as well as this, there will be plenty of the fun, melodic and enjoyable sounds that people know me for. A little something for everyone, basically! Dropping 2007.
Are Nico Suave and Chef YG casted to make an appearance?
Who knows what those crazy fools could be up to….
Are you linked with any label these days and what happened with your ties to Janomi?
The guy that ran Janomi decided he wanted a change of career so the label was shut down. This latest project with Mr Thing came out on Silent Soundz. I'm in talks at the moment about the Middle Man, with some very exciting opportunities already on the table…
Who are some of your favourite artists and releases from the UK scene at the moment?
Ty's album's nice, Bugz In The Attic are killing it, I really like Ghetto on the grime side of things, Terra Firma have always got something hot… I could go on but I'm sure your readers know what's what.
Are you at all interested in the more contemporary twists on hiphop such as Grime/Dubstep?
Of course I am, when it's good. Some of it's a bit budget in the way it's put together, but sometimes that has a kind of charm. There's definitely an air of excitement about grime that's given the whole UK scene a much-needed kick up the arse. I like Kano, Ghetto and Doctor as far as MCs, and Davinche's got some killer beats. I think people need to start embracing the good stuff and not judging artists because of the scene they've come out of.
To kill the cyber gossip, are you mates with the royal family and do you speak like Prince Charles?
Ha Ha! There's cyber gossip about that?!! I would have thought there was some far more juicy gossip out there, but I guess I'll take it as a compliment! No, I'm not mates with the Royals and I don't speak like Prince Charles. But at the same time, unlike many MCs I don't say "brap!" at the end of every sentence and I'd rather tell you something interesting than prove to you how tough I am. I breathe Hip-Hop but I know how to do a bow tie… that's why they call me the Middle Man.
Are you holding down a day job as well as doing the music thing and how does one effect the other?
Yes I am. It's a big challenge but it's a blessing to have many opportunities open to me. I believe hard work's the key to success, and believe me I don't know many people that work as hard as I do.
Once you've hanged up the mic, what would you like to say you was able achieve with your music career?
I'd like to think I did something to enhance people's lives in some way, whether it be by inspiring them, educating them or just entertaining them. Hopefully I'll continue to feel inspired, educated and entertained by the whole experience too. A Grammy or two wouldn't hurt either…
Where should fans be looking online for the most current news and music from you?
Have you got any plugs or shout out's you wanna chuck out to the readers?
Go and get the Yungun & Mr Thing album "Grown Man Business", out now on Silent Soundz and available on CD and download at Amazon, i-tunes, and all good retailers on and off-line. Also look out for the Yungun & Mr Thing limited edition mixtape "Jack The World" and the Yungun album "The Middle Man", coming soon…