Here's a fresh interview with the opinionated crew from London, ahead of their EP release 'Rogue State'. The guys talk about forming, recording, thinking and a whole lot more.
Introduce yourselves and give a little background info on each of the members that form Chain of Command?
Manage: Mr Manage… Hailin' from New Cross, South East London… Been on the under rated conveyor belt for as long as I had a voice worthy of speaking with.
Conflix: Gyeeah Connimus Maximus, Lord of Haribo's at your service. Been writing since 2000. Made my debut release in 2003 with my 'Brainstorm' EP. Was recruited to CC last year, 2006… 5 months and about 20 Haribo bags later… We got the EP ready to drop.
CLG: In terms of my background, I made my debut on Mage's 'Early Life Crisis' EP back in 2001, and I released my EP 'Streets, Demons and Fears' in 2004 which was well received. I've also done various collabos with different people.
Skandal: Skandal aka Skanz. Not much background on the hiphop tip as I only took my stabalizers off when I got a lil' feature on Conflix's 'Character Assasins' Vol 2, back in 2005. Kinda just ran from there, making tracks with Manage until I got the bring in on 'Not In My Name'… and I been CC ever since.
Syanyde: Syanyde. Been doing this for a long time now. Put out a few things, done a lot of features. Still grindin'.
Apart from being a crew of dope spitters, what is the main reason for all of you guys being a crew? Is it your shared political opinions?
Manage: We're friends… family… These are my family… The only people I know that are real with me.
Conflix: We have similar views on that subject, although I think most heads nowadays ain't too keen on what's happening in the government. We're all striving to hone our art and I can say collaborating on this EP has definitely helped me develop as an artist. We've known each other for time now. They're all my mates except when I play Manage and Sy' at 'Fight Night' on the 360. Then they're my arch enemies.
Skandal: After 'Not In My Name', as a unit, we couldn't be ignored. It made sense for us to form as a five man crew. We share political views and are all on the same page when it comes to having and viewing other's skill. Although for me personally not only is it that reason, but it's a respect thing, as friends and as rappers.
Syanyde: Yup, like Manage said, this is my family.
Do you have any hard earned nuggets of advice for any aspiring emcees about getting noticed in the UK scene?
Manage: Hmmm… Either you stick to ya guns, work hard for next to nothing and keep your morals and maybe some good can come and people may give you some credit… or you can suck industry cock, bend over and take a shafting and I'm sure all your hopes will come to reality.
Conflix: Get your name about, init. Hit up shows, ciphers… Speakers Corner is basically where you'll find most of the underground emcees pretty much all in the same place though. Good a starting place as any. It's hard but if you wanna get out there you have to branch out and make yourself heard, nah'mean? There's too many sick emcees out there who don't make the effort to make themselves heard, for real. You also need a thick skin.
Skandal: Move next door to one of the sickest rappers in the country.
Syanyde: You're gonna run into locked doors… a lot of 'em, and you're gonna see a lot of people sell out, a lot of people try to step over you to get their spot, a lot of fakeness and backstabbing and egos and general bullshit. That's just the industry. As long as you know what you're getting into on the way in and are prepared to stick it out, you'll get to where you need to be.
CLG: No matter what avenue you're looking to take your music down, you need to ensure that you can 'bring it' when it comes down to the crunch. I'm talking about lyrical dexterity and content. Without that, you'll have no integrity and therefore will not be respected.
Your logo is ill. Who came up with the design? And is that a Soviet-esque star?
Manage: It's a really big tank with a really big gun that goes bang.
Conflix: Yeh it's alright, init? Who did it?
Syanyde: Chemo did it.
How do you enjoy performing live and how important is it in getting noticed by the scene?
Manage: Live shows are the best shit… It's a chance to really communicate with people that may or may not know your music… This at the moment is probably where I can relax the most 'n' have the most fun away from all stress 'n' politics etc… Ya know, let it all go.
Conflix: I like doing live shows. There's so many different crowds out there to perform to. It's crazy. Not just hiphop crowds either. It's a challenge trying to win 'em over. Always a learning experience. I recently performed in my hometown Wimbledon for the first time ever. The crowd were a bunch of business men and women, just finished work. By end of my set they was all listening to what I had to say.
Skandal: Shit, I think sometimes without the experiences I've had from doing live shows, I wouldn't love this shit as much as I do. On a real though… I think you're already starting to get noticed when you're doing the live shows… It's what comes before that which is the real reason for your acknowledgment… The open mics, the ciphers, the features. Some people have been grinding away at these things and haven't even performed a live set yet.
Syanyde: The live thing is the most important part of the grind. You get to really see how your music connects with the audience. Also, with everybody downloading shit these days, it's flipped to a point where instead of doing shows to increase your visibility and sell CDs, you're moving the CDs to get heads in the door at shows. Touring is where the money is.
You guys are heavily linked production wise with Chemo and Beat Butcha. What makes those two so great?
Conflix: Word, I known them two dudes since way back, when Chemo was still using women's tights as a popshield and Butcha was wearing clogs whilst stealing daffodils in Holland. They keep evolving and I think that's what separates 'em from the rest. They don't stick with one sound.
Syanyde: We got the best producers in the industry backing us. We can't fail.
Tell us about The Rogue State project.
Manage: 'The Rogue State' signifies the rebellion from within… When a country is classed as a challenge or a pest to the powers that be and maybe stand in front of their plight… They're classed as a rogue state… and the powers go through any lengths to bring them down and cripple their recovery… It's a metaphor for our self opinionated position in this music industry.
Conflix: It's gonna be some raw shit. Believe…
Syanyde: Right now I think we're kinda the underdogs. We got a bit of momentum but heads ain't really putting the same pressure on us as other artists which is good. We're gonna catch a lotta people sleeping with this one.
Although he seems to be not an official part of the crew, you guys are heavily linked with DJ Snuff. Who is he and how did you hook up with him?
Manage: Snuff is officially part of Chain Of Command… He's the hidden link… I known Snuff around 6 years now. I think… maybe more, maybe less… He's a man with drive and a plan… I got a lot of respect for that. If you don't know or doubt what Snuff has been doing for the scene, just check out Speaker's Corner. Even mention it and you will be schooled about the one man army takeover, DJ Snuff.
Conflix: Yeah, Snuff aka Snuffles the deadly ninja seen darting in and out of shows chucking out ninja shruiken with Speakers Corner flyers attached. Dude is like the wind (farts). Yeah Snuff is putting in bare work. Dude does some sick ass spoken word stuff too. He calls 'em rants.
CLG: Snuff is one of the hardest working people involved in UK Hiphop, if not the hardest working. He's an invaluable asset to the team, fundamental to our setup. He also runs our label, Merciless Records.
Skandal: Know what… He aint on all that recognition shit… Snuff is the type of guy that would cause revolution wearing a balaclava… As long as his guerrilla's know who he is, that's all that matters… In years to come when this UK hiphop shit gets the recognition it deserves… people will know that Snuff was at the front throwing petrol bombs.
Syanyde: Yeah, he's definitely part of the team. Snuff's the backbone of the whole operation. As far as live shows, DJing for us, gettin' hookups & general grinding, he's the fuckin' man. Big up Snuff all day.
Who are your influences musically and politically?
Manage: Bill hicks, Jedi mind tricks, Rage Against The Machine, Capleton, Sizzla, Morgan heritage, Bob Marley, The Doors, Nas, Mobb deep, The Specials, Blind Alphabetz.
Conflix: Biggie, Kool G Rap, Big L, Copywrite, Amy Winehouse, Incognito, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali, Benny "The Jet" Urquidez, Bill Hicks, Jargon, Mystro, Halloween, Aliens, Captain Scarlet.
CLG: These are intertwined influences, so I would say; Marcus Garvey, Capelton, Nas, Mobb Deep, Kool G Rap, Rass Kass, Wu Tang, Martin Luther King, Bob Marley, John Lennon, Nelson Mandella, Muhammad Ali.
Skandal: Gil Scott-Heron, Tracey Chapman, Jedi Mind Tricks, Immortal Technique, Rage Against The Machine, Non Phixion, Bill Hicks, G Rap, Nas, Wu Tang, Biggie, Saigon, Capleton, Morgan Family, CC Militia, Tony Benn.
Syanyde: Musically: Wu, old Mobb Deep shit, Boot Camp Clik, G-Rap, Rakim, Nas, Saigon, Jadakiss, Ras Kass, Tragedy Khadafi. Politically: Anthony C Sutton, Noam Chomsky, Joseph Stiglitz, Malcolm X, John Stockwell, John Pilger, Robert Fisk, Sun Tzu.
Would you consider Chain of Command to be solely a political rap crew, if you like a more modern, British and gritty form of Public Enemy?
Manage: No… we're not all about politics. I don't think we have any certain pigeon hole yet as we haven't even released anything as a crew… Expect some suprises… That Kylie Minogue feature track for charity is coming along nice.
Conflix: Nah, we not just political, we're just like everyone else. We're trying to express ourselves.
CLG: That's a great compliment, as Public Enemy are one of the greatest groups ever, but I think we're completely different. We are Chain of Command. Our whole set-up is different and we're bringing something different to the table.
In political rap I find there is more of a tendency of emcees to preach rather than let the listener make up their mind for themselves. What is your response to this?
Conflix: Don't know about that. I see it as the artist is just offering their view on the issue. It's for you the listener to make of it what you will, agree or disagree. Maybe some try to force their views more so than others but it's still down to the listener to interpret the message. There's no right or wrong.
CLG: I can't really speak for any other acts out there, so it would be unfair to criticise how other people chose to approach their music. What we do is put our point across on matters. It's up to the listener to decide how they react to that.
Don't you think its a better idea to not be so firm in your 'raw' approach so your message will be heard by more people? By only keeping it in the underground, aren't you basically preaching to the converted?
Manage: We don't do music to preach… We're not teachers here. Music is music. We reflect what we see or how we feel in our lyrics. That's natural. I ain't about to make music I don't even like to get my opinions across… Maybe I'm alone here but I don't really give a fuck for conforming to be heard.
Conflix: Haha, fuck that and it's not even about keeping it real either. For us to water our stuff down would sound forced, wack and stupid. We feel strongly on the issues we speak on so there's no point in holding back just because we're afraid we're gonna limit our fanbase!
Syanyde: Fuck watering it down. Reality ain't meant to be broken down into some digestible conveyor belt pre packaged bollocks so man can sit there with some shit to ummm and ah over at their coffee table. We're all grown men and we have a responsibility to present things how they are how we see 'em without glorifying or down playing it.
There is talk of wanting to bring about a revolution. What kind of revolution do you propose? Furthermore, while in the UK and the US the system is obviously corrupt to some level, don't you think such a plan of action is a little too drastic as a method to solve governmental duplicity?
Syanyde: Y'know what, I ain't tryin' to be condescending but if you got no attention span, stop reading right here 'cause it's gonna be long 'n' it ain't for you… Any real revolution begins with the evolution of an individual's way of thinking. What people call revolution is the external manifestation of that change on a mass scale until it reaches a critical point where the political environment either changes to fully accomodate it or it becomes obsolete…
So, without raising the consciousness of the individual, it's either just random violence used in order to replace one tyrannical corrupt system with another or the realisation of the individual's power in determining his own destiny is lacking and he can be co-opted, appeased or supressed. We need to become men first. A man doesn't sit back & let other people get fucked or fuck somebody else over to gain status or material shit. There is no compromise when it comes to seeing other people suffer for nuttin' because he's aware of his own power and he's wise enough with it to know how to apply it.
The elites are not men. They're prang little pussyholes who drop bombs on kids from thousands of miles away and hide behind their laws, send other men to die for their shit & get fat off your work. Look at all this surveillance shit we have… Phonetaps, satellites, video cameras with microphones & x-rays, vehicle tracking etc. They wanna spend billions on this shit to watch the average man go about his business. If that ain't the actions of a paranoid mindset I dunno what is. They're afraid of you and your potential to build something without them when you realise they ain't needed and they should be.
They should be fuckin brickin it. So when you ask if a revolution is too drastic… not at all… It's a necessity and everyday I see a greater need for it. If this shit doesn't stop with my generation, then we've sold out our kids and we've fucked them out of an opportunity to live in a world that's better than the way it was when we found it. We've already sold out the people who struggled to get us the few rights we have by letting it get to this stage. It's time to step up and do something about it
Any shout outs?
Manage: Yeah… All the real heads who know me and roll with me… All the snakes who have recently hissed in my presence for showing me their true colours.
Conflix: Yeah, the Speakers Corner massive… Too many to mention yo. My sister always and my peoples. Biggup.
Skandal: Lewisham social services!
Syanyde: Yeah, big up my CC fam, Speakers Corner fam, Chemo, Beatbutcha, LeEo, Jai n Diva Spark, Rap6 & Paragon, Samebrain fam, Ciph Barker, Logan, AMS & K, Bex, my family 'n' everybody else I forgot. 'Rogue State' drops 07/07/07. Go get that. Peace.