The high plains drifter sat down to answer our questions about new project 'The Mengi Bus', how the next LP is shaping up, his thoughts on the scene and whether he'll work with Chester again!
How did you feel 'Nuke Proof Suit' was received and how refreshing was it to perform different material?
It was received as expected. I knew some people would love it and class it as my best work to date, while others would just want to hear jazzy smoked-out joints in the style of 'High Plains Drifter' or 'People Under The Weather'. It's like that for all artists. With regards to performing, it's always dope to have new material. I love performing stuff off the 'Nuke Proof Suit' album because it was partly geared towards the live show format when I made it – big beats with strong hooks.
How long have you been working on the 'Mengi Bus' project and what can listeners expect?
'The Mengi Bus' mixtape has been on the schedule for a while now but it took me a long time to gather all the tracks up. That was the longest part. LG tweaked all the mixes that needed tweaking and then me and IQ literally put the mix together over a couple of days doing long sessions. Basically, it's a cross between the classic 'DJ Mix' type of mixtape and the kind of 'Rapper showcase/Compilation' mixtape that everyone's doing now. It's a fast paced and well balanced blend of rarities, remixes and exclusives – so expect to be hitting the rewind button!
Tell us about the title. What does it mean and how much is a single fair?
It's all about a musical journey. 'The Mengi Bus' is a weird and wonderful place – part fact, part fiction! The price of a single fair is mad expensive but if you've got an NUS card or you're on New Deal you can get a concession!
Who've you got on there and how much exclusive/original material's included?
It's mainly exclusive stuff. It's hosted by Sir Smurf Lil' and features appearances from Kashmere, Micall Parknsun, Jyager who's a new artist we're putting out on YNR next year, Asaviour, Stig Of The Dump, Foreign Beggars, Konny Kon, Jack Flash and production from LG, Apa-Tight, Cee Why, Mr Thing, Beat Butcha and myself.
I've heard that this is just a go between until your next album. How's that shaping up?
I've got a bunch of tracks I wanna use but it's real hard to find the time to pull it all together. Obviously I'm promoting the mixtape right now but when I'm done with that, I'm sure it'll fall into place. The main thing for me is to be in a situation where I'm in full control of how the release is handled. I can't keep selling my soul to labels and distributors who really don't give a fuck about my well being.
How do you think your next proper album will compare to the highly praised 'Falling Down'?
I don't really compare my releases. I treat them each as separate projects that will stand alone. Each album is a reflection of my life at the time so I don't waste time dwelling on past achievements.
Are you making an effort to keep things as they are or are you going to try pushing the envelope a little in regards to what people are expecting?
I feel like I always push the envelope. After 'High Plains Drifter' and 'People Under The Weather' nobody was expecting a 'Run Hard' or a 'Monotony', the same with 'Nuke Proof Suit'. I'm not scared to throw a curve ball but don't expect to hear any Grime tunes or 'chopped-n-screwed' shit if that's what you mean!
Throughout the years, how would you say our style of rapping and music in general has changed and developed?
I just do what I do. If people like it, that's cool. Obviously as a person you're always learning and growing so the music is a reflection of that. I only really concern myself with how I'm changing and developing as a person.
Are you consciously aware of how the listener will react to your new material or do you just go with the flow?
The only listener I think about when I'm creating is me! You have to trust yourself. I've never made music with the masses in mind but if the masses catch on, that's all good.
You've recently brought everyone's attention to Sir Smurf Little. Are you bringing anyone else up the ranks?
Jyager, who I mentioned earlier. He's been in the studio with Cee Why for a while now. We've got an EP from Double D Dagger, set to drop early next year too. In terms of who I'm actually working in the studio with, I'm just concentrating on myself and my close crew.
What UK Hiphop and Grime releases have you been enjoying of late?
To be honest, nothing springs to mind. To be fair, there's not a lot of American releases really grabbing me at the moment either. There's so much talent out there but in terms of actual releases, nothing's really grabbing me. It's partly because we've got loads of rappers and beat makers but very few producers. Producing isn't just about making the beat. It's about bringing the whole record together. The Verb T and Harry Love album really stands out for that reason. That's a dope album. I'm feeling what Silent Soundz are doing as a label in general, and Dented Records too. Dented are killing it. I'm looking forward to hearing Ghetto's CD 'Ghetto Gospel' and I still haven't heard the Wiley album. I can't wait for the Ramson Badbonez album to drop and the Chester P 'From The Ashes' album'.
It's been quite a while since you worked with Chester P? Do you speak much anymore and how about a new collaboration?
When the whole Low Life thing started to turn sour everyone kind of went their separate ways in order to re-think things and re-establish themselves independently. I think that over the next year or 2 you're gonna start seeing people like me and Chester working together again. There's definitely a renaissance starting to happen. Basically, we all hit a glass ceiling because the public saw us as big artists on the verge of going mainstream based on the idea that Low Life was providing some kind of infrastructure for that to happen. The fact is, that wasn't the case so we've all had to start over.
Is Mengi Bus all we're getting until LP number two or will you be doing more tour dates to support it?
Yeah, I'll definitely be jumping on 'The Mengi Bus' and hitting the roads! Plus, I'm gonna be out in Australia in October for a few shows.
You've spent quite a lot of your life as a significant persona within UK Hiphop. What keeps you doing what you do?
My love of the music, the talent around me and the fact that I still haven't been able to make an album the way I want to. I'm working towards a time when all the pieces are in place and I can just get on with the music free from all the politics. I wanna be in a situation where I can take 6 months off from everything else and be creative everyday without the rest of my life falling apart. Then spend the next 6 months promoting and gigging the album.
Do you forsee a time when you'll take a back seat to just produce or manage, or have you still got lots of releases ahead of you?
I'd love to take a back seat but it's not really a viable option right now. It's not that I don't want to rap or put records out anymore. It's just that it's way too much work being the front man and the man behind the scenes. You can't be in 2 places at once! Taking a backseat would allow me the time to deal with the business side of things without the pressure of being an artist but how can I eat if I'm not gigging and putting out records? It's a Catch 22.
How's your mate Billy Brimstone doing and when do you think he'll pull his finger out and release another 7?
He's got some beef with Fred Flintstone right now so he's keeping a low profile.
Any shout outs?
Shout outs are long! Shout out to Bar-B-Q Base!