One of my favourite MC's of any nation gives us a tour of North London, talks Roland Rat and tells us what we can expect from the forthcoming new material.
How much of an impact did Roland Rat have on your career today? Are their any plans to work with the underground legend?
Without Roland Rat there would be no Tommy Evans. Simple as that! Rat Rappin was the tune that changed my life. Me and Roland still do our thug thing fo' shizzle!
How's work on the solo album coming along? Is there a penciled release date yet and what can we expect?
I would say my solo album is two thirds recorded in terms of vocals; I've done about 13 or so tracks with another three about to record very soon. I'm looking to do another six tunes after that and then narrow it down to the best 10/ 12 tunes as I am a great believer in keeping lp's succinct and punchy…I feel the majority of hip hop lp's these days are far too long! I can understand why artists seek to provide fans with value for money but good value to me is a classic lp with 10 tracks rather than an average lp with 20 tracks! For me the best lp out of the uk was Lewis Parker's first and that only had 8 tracks! Before my lp comes out I'm releasing a "best of" compilation similar to Jehst's "Return of the Drifter" CD with an accompanying single.
What themes are going to be explored? Politics, romance, social commentary, general entertainment….?
All of the above!
What producers and guest spots are there?
In terms of production I've been working with Jehst, Lewis Parker, Harry Love, LG & Lopez, Evil Ed, Cee*Why, Apollo, Beyond There, Karl Hinds and Farma G. That doesn't necessarily mean though that all the tracks produced by these guys will be on the LP! We'll see what happens with the final arrangement of tracks. As for guest spots there are hardly any, there are more featured singers than rappers on the lp cause I've got too much to say…I like hogging the mic!
You've worked with most of the decent names on these shores, if the chance came about what overseas producers and rappers would you like to work with?
Rappers: Jay-Z (my all time favourite mc), Ludacris, Snoop Dog, Eminem, Nas, Kweli, Common, De La Soul, Mos Def, Pharoah Monche, Busta Rhymes, Outkast.
Producers: Neptunes, Dre, Timbaland, Jay-D, Hi Tek, Kanye West, Just Blaze, Jay-Zone, Quest Love (Roots), Pete Rock.
Singers: Justin Timberlake, Pharrell, Nate Dogg, Erykah Badu, Mary J. Blige, Norah Jones, Diana Krall, Beth Gibbons (Portishead) Martina Topley Bird (Tricky) Ms Dyanmite, Bilal, Tom Jones, Tony Bennet.
There's one famous singer I'm working with at the minute…we have a tune out on promo right now…see if you can find it! I'll give you a clue, she lives in England but isn't English!
How are you feeling North London (I'm in Barnet)? What hiphop spots would you recommend the tourists and why?
Yeah, North London's cool, but it aint where you're from it's where you're at! As an adopted North Londoner (I'm from Leeds originally) I have to say I've been embraced and made to feel welcome by all the hip hop cats in London! If I was to recommend hip hop spots to tourists I'd say pay kung fu a visit at Camden underworld (once a month on Tuesday) to see top quality mcs or go to resonance at the oh bar! on Fridays If you want to dance and meet some foxy femmes! Alternatively Hampstead heath can provide some quality chilled out nature vibes!
Approaching the release of the debut full length album, what's your take on the likes of bbc radio and mtv television and their support, or lack of support for genuine hiphop?
Deep question, I can't front on BBC because 1xtra shows me and the whole UK scene heaps of support and love (big up Rodney P & Skitz, Exclibah, Semtex, Letitia SD, Ace & Invizible). However much i want and deserve to appear on mainstream media outlets at the end of the day they don't owe me anything, so If they don't play my stuff I aint gonna cry! But I have to say these mainstream institutions need to recognize the real music rather than the ephemeral, materialistic nonsense they promote to children to turn them into the next generation of consumers! Obviously that would require a major shift in the thinking of the people in positions of power in these institutions because it doesn't serve their (financial) interests to promote potentially status quo threating dissident music that changes minds and therefore actions! So it's on us to infiltrate these institutions and change things from the ground up! As Nas said, "The world is yours…"