Mr Grant talks with group member and britishhiphop.com owner Dwyz about how the group came together, their album 'Prevalent Evil', the group's evolution, the scene in Nottingham and supporting states side acts.
Non-Thespian hail from the city of Nottingham, England. This midlands metropolis is renowned for producing acts like Cappo, Scorzayzee, C-Mone, and the P-Brothers. I was going to say that Non-Thespian follow in their foot steps but that doesn't do them justice as on listening to their music and researching their activities (they don't call me MI5 Matt for nothing – well they don't actually call me MI5 Matt but if they did it wouldn't be for nothing) it is clear they are pushing forward in their own path and taking hiphop in their own direction. Dwyz, the producer of Non-Thespian and owner of BritishHipHop.com, kindly takes time to explain to DROP SCIENCE the path he and his crew have chosen to walk… step up The Elevator… (see what I did there – I'm on fire baby!)
Could you first introduce the Non Thespian crew for those who don't know?
Sure, Non-Thespian consists of 2 MC's, Stanley King a.k.a Duke 01 and Lethargy, our turntablist, Jeckyl and myself, the crew's producer, 'Dwyzak the Elevator' aka Albert Wesker.
How did you come to the name "Non Thespian"? I always thought the Meaning of 'thespian' was drama and entertainment which I would have thought could describe elements of hiphop…
You've kind of got it right with the Thespian tag meaning drama, that's where the 'Non' tag comes in, its a way of explaining that we are not about dramatising or own lives or social situations, but want to communicate ourselves and our feelings with a more accurate representation of who we are and what we feel.
So tell us about the new album "Prevalent Evil"...
"Prevalent Evil" will be our 2nd full LP, the name comes from the darker side of mans psyche and the ills that men do, it also refers to the fact that when hip-hop first emerged it was called an 'evil' music form by the media etc, and that it wouldn't last, yet here we are, and it's still very Prevalent indeed. We are still six months away from completing it though, and will be releasing an interim EP to introduce our new sound to the streets.
How have you evolved as a crew since the "Prototypical" album?
We've actually had a bit of a change around in personnel since our last LP, our DJ, Dislexic, has chosen a new career path as a Lawyer, always handy, whilst I've stepped back from MCing to concentrate full-time on production duties. We have drafted in a new DJ, Jeckyl, who is a more turntablist based showman, and we have a new mc, Lethargy former member of Tusken Coalition, who dispersed due to the sad and untimely demise of their producer, R.I.P Johnny Morrow…
Are there any more plans to work with other UK artists? If you had your pick, who would you work with?
We tend to do work with other UK artists under a collab banner as we haven't done any guest spots under Non-Thespian. In fact, we've worked with more projects from Europe, rather than home. We didn't plan it that way, its just how the cookie has crumbled for us up to now. Stanley King is doing a track with Ironbridge at the moment which should be interesting. If I had my pick I'd like to produce a few tracks for Scorzayzee, Manuva and Wildflower from the UK.
And what about other music forms, are you involved in making music outside of the hiphop genre?
I'm currently working with Sophie Johnson-Hill (ex Out Da Ville) on her new EP. She has a white label out in June, 'Its A New Dawn', which we think will bring her a lot of attention. She's not so far removed from hip-hop as you'd imagine, though she's not an MC as such, think of her as a cross between Ms. Dynamite and er…Lauryn Hill? Jill Scott? She's heavily into her social commentary.
How can hiphop heads get their hands on your material?
P-Brothers, Scorz, Cappo, the list would strain your browser.
Nottingham seems to be a leading light in UK hiphop what with Out Da Ville, Cappo, P-Brothers and yourselves, why is it that this city has produced so much hiphop talent?
I've often wondered that myself, i did some research a while back and it seems to be linked in with Nottingham's central location and the fact that back in the day Nottingham had a lot of hip-hop all dayers at places like the infamous 'Rock City' where heads used to converge from all over the country and exchange ideas and influences. That must only be part of it though, someone like Big Trev from Out da Ville would have way more answers than me.
How do you think the Nottingham scene compare to others like that in London and Bristol? How is it different?
I have no idea at all. I find Nottingham can be elusively oppressive at times though behind its external facade. It seems to breed MCs.
What did you think of the "Great Britain" track by Notts emcee Scrozayzee? Do you think the controversy over it has drawn attention to the rest of the scene?
To be honest I think it's a total joke. It could of been any MC that the establishment decided to castigate, the fact that Scorz has recently converted to Islam makes me very suspicious of the actual motivation behind the press. Nothing against Scorz though, tracks dope!
Do you think the controversy of Public Enemy and NWA is perhaps something hiphop now lacks?
Not really, hip-hops always looking forward, that was the past, that kind of controversy will probably raise its head again at some point, everything goes round in circles doesn't it?
Thinking about homegrown artists doing well, what do you think about the more light-hearted hiphop crews like Goldie Lookin' Chain? Are they a positive manifestation of our scene?
Hard to judge, I've only heard two of their tracks, I thought they were funny, I think within the scene they are perceived as a bit of a novelty.
Do you play out much? What are the best hiphop nights in Nottingham at he minute?
We play out all the time, were currently looking at supporting Inspectah Deck's European tour, we just supported GZA at Rock City which has helped put us forward for that. Detonate, Heavy and Prescription are all good nights in Notts.
You've supported the likes of Sole, Ugly Duckling and Kid Koala, how Has this helped build your profile?
It's helped massively, basically when your independent, the only way to get any kind of profile is to play live as often as you can, it also helps you grow, we're pleasantly surprised by the feedback we have been getting recently after all the hard work we have put into our live shows.
So you are going to be supporting RJD2 on the 10th of June at the Rescue Rooms (Notts), how did you managed to hook that gig up?
We've began to secure better and larger gigs as time goes by through playing well and gaining the confidence of the promoters we've worked with, we love doing the live stuff as much as the studio work.
Do you find the acts you support are quite receptive and interested in your music? I would imagine for some US acts it's their first direct contact with live UK hiphop..
All the US acts we've played with have been very gentlemanly, some seem to be just going through the motions but most are very intrigued by what our scene has to offer.
So what do you mean by 'going through the motions'?
I mean some of the US acts seem to just want to get in, get paid, then get out again, some are not really interested in what other acts are on…
Aye, I understand what you mean. I often go to see artists and see the support act get no love from the crowd, have you ever experienced this and how do you counter it?
I think its human nature, I'd imagine if you were into rock and had booked a ticket to see say, er…whatever, you'd not be particularly interested in the local support either, the only way to counter it is to entertain and show your passion and love for the game, most crowds will come round if you can deliver that.
Moving on, you've recently set up BritishHipHop.com, what was the thinking behind that project?
I wanted to try and provide a portal for unsigned/independent UK acts to display their stuff, whether that be graf or rap etc. We've got some quite interesting acts with pages on our site, where you can check their biographies and some mp3's. We also try and review/interview as much UK culture as we can fit in our busy schedule, but its a bit time consuming as I'm sure your aware with your site. Hopefully, given time it'll grow and grow.
How is it going? Are you getting much interest?
Definitely, the sites getting more interest than I have time to take advantage of at the moment. It's been online for 1year in June, and its hits have increased month by month.
What do you do outside of hiphop? Do you study or work?
Outside of hip-hop? There is no outside! Is there?
That's pretty much it from me, is there anything else you want to add….any shout outs?
Thanks Mano, shouts to Sophie Johnson Hill, Non-Thespian, Dealmaker Records, firstname.lastname@example.org, Heavy Events, Blast, Seedy, Blamstoker, Treble777, Phat Ste, Rikki Marr and yourself – good luck with your site…