This 20 something geeza is a member of Underground Alliance and owner of the Filthy Habits label and Headnod.co.uk shop! Have a look at his answers on questions about all of this and tons more.
First off, can you introduce yourself to the site readers?
My name's Mark, the owner of Headnod.co.uk and Filthy Habits. I also go under the guise of Wyt-Fang, that geezer who makes beats and ghetto haiku's.
Before I quiz you on the billions of things you're involved in, let me ask how you first got involved in hiphop beyond just being a listener.
I was living in Kings cross at the time and (I think) my mum bought a pc which came with a free copy of Sonic Foundry's Acid. As I took most days off of school, I just sat around messing about with sounds. Then, I didn't know what a sample was or how music was made so I pretty much had to teach myself. Back then I hadn't heard of recordable CD's or sample editors so I just made beat loops on tape, which took fucking ages but it worked fine at the time.
I actually did a weeks production course in Old Street (Big up Sgt Nipple!) alongside the first and last rap course they put on in Holloway. I was working on Cubase which baffled the shit out of me and still does to a degree, and writing rhymes about how great life in London was. By that time I had been writing for a year or so but I kept having my text books confiscated by teachers because of the "Explicit content".
What do you favour? Being a producer or getting on the mic? Did you do a lot of one before the other and what do you take more seriously?
I've never been a "real" emcee. I just write when I feel to. Generally, that's once in a blue moon but when I got the fever… I started out rhyming at school and in my bedroom to myself but I sort of quit when production came into the picture, until I got involved with the Underground Alliance.
Personally, I am more comfortable with production. I can sit down at 9 in the morning and bang out 5-6 beats before midday. It's kind of good because I always forget to eat lunch. It all depends on what sort of mood I'm in.
What sort of beats do you aim to make and what equipment do you use? Have you got a little studio set up or is it mainly Pro Tools and stuff at the moment?
I don't aim to make any type of beats really. I just mould what samples I dig up together. Equipment wise, I am just using my PC, running Acid Pro 4 (someone get me 5) and Goldwave. I bought a midi keyboard ages ago but my daughter broke it the day after. It's my 22nd on the 4th of December so I might try and buy a cheap one somewhere. The Underground Alliance have got a studio together but as I am a family man I don't have the space here really.
Who are your hero Mc's and producers, of any nation and of any genre?
Ooh you bastard, this is always hard. I cant tell you my favourites but I can give you a run down on what I listened to as a youth. I was feeling Cypress but for some reason I hated the Wu until I bought Liquid swords and actually listened to it. I don't understand why. I had a Wu Tang hoody and 36 Chamber on tape. Me being ignorant I guess. Anyway, production wise it's….. Muggs, Rza, Large Pro, Premier, Dj Scratch (Where's my interview homes!), Alchemist (hit and miss), Trumaster, Buckshot, 4th Disciple, Havoc (Mobb Deep) and the list goes on…. Emcee wise, there's too many heavy hitting emcees to mention…
Am I allowed to mention that mp3 you sent me of you doing that tiny line about Kungfu? Is there beef?
That weren't me but there was a small thing going when we were putting on jams years ago but those geezers are good guy's.
Who are the main guys in Underground Aliance and when/how did the whole crew come together and start putting out music?
There isn't a "head" but Doobie pretty much has the dedication to sort most issues out. There's been so many artists come and leave the crew over years. There's members I aint even met. The crew came together with DJ Doobie and a few of the Beat Brikkies at a regular jam in Kentish town (Shout to Posh nosh) and I met Doobie outside City and Islington college because my mate called me at home and got me out of bed to come down to check out the ciphers. Skrein was brought in the same day but separate. We were putting loads of mixtapes together. I was going to Doobie's every day to just rock whole freestyle tapes.
What'd you say would be the one song, or if that's too hard, the one EP or CD release which offers the best presentation of what it is Undali do?
To be honest I don't think there is a track that is "Undali" because each emcee/crew come with something totally different. I'm never totally happy with something that I've done.
Is there ever any competition within a crew of several MC's and producers and is there perhaps someone that is more in charge than everyone else, and decides what goes on a release?
As there is so many heads in the alliance, there's bound to be friction every now and then. Right now, I have serious beef with a certain member in the crew but you just have to be civil and rock shows like you would normally. There isn't someone that says what track goes on what. We are an alliance and we all decide. It aint always pretty but it seem to work for us.
Is Undali product still coming out through Dented Records?
The only release that's been through Dented is the Skrein 12" and that's an Undali Records/Dented Records release. As far as I know, there probably will be but you would have to ask the motherfucking Dinnerlady P.I.M.P about that shit. We got the Prem C EP which is produced by Dag Nabbit of the Beggarz but that will be on Undali records.
I'm sure most people know what releases have come out so far, but what's in the pipe line to be released soon, both as a crew and solo projects?
Like I said, there's the '5 Senses Of Def' EP from Prem C. I'm sure Skrein will be putting something out at some point. There's the 'Basementality PT2' EP. I want to put something out but everytime I have the beats lined up, people nab em. Cunts! There has been some talk of a Wyt-Fang instrumental LP but its early days…
There's been a fair few collaborations. What have been your favourite, and are there any artists on your list that you're yet to tick off as having worked with?
I remember Skinny did something over a beat I made but it never saw the light of day and I think the verse made it to his LP. There's a few track collabos coming soon which have been recorded which are heavy. The Beefeaterz/Dirty Verbals track was nice. The version that is on the EP is totally different to the one we recorded and to be honest I wasn't feeling the beat but it's all love. I have spoken to people like Longshot, Yakballz, Immortal Technique, Rock of Heltah Skeltah plus I have sent beats to Taskforce, Mudmowth, Antiheroes, Syanyde and CDs will be going to the Beggarz, Pentalk. There's a couple of artists in the US that are using my beats on their LPs. More info to come…
How's the touring been going? How many dates are there on this big Undali national tour I keep hearing about?
The tour has been good. I haven't been at all the shows but apparently Newcastle was heavy. Reading was shite. I know Brighton was crazy, Buckinghamshire was also shit. I guess the promotion was too much too late. We got Notts tomorrow night which should be good with the Beggarz and then there is Bristol with the Beggarz again and Phi Life Cypher. I think we will be touring for a while now. We are going to do some shows in Amsterdam and hopefully some more shit in Europe.
It must be cool going quite far from home and meeting people that know your stuff. What's been the best area of the country that the tours passed through?
It crazy. I get 'nuff people I don't know talking to me. It's cool. I don't generally drink anymore unless I'm doing a show. I've got to say Brighton as the best manor just because I couldn't believe the love we got. Plus, it was quite recent so the feeling is still fresh.
How long has headnod.co.uk been going for and how demanding is this to keep up? Has it been hard to get it up to the fine quality it is now?
Headnod.co.uk was launched on Monday the 2nd February 2004, It was originally www.hip-hop.shop but most of the punters couldn't view the site so I had to change it to Headnod which I thought up where most great ideas are conceived, on the shitter. I wouldn't say it's demanding day to day but I am trying to sort out this new site and because I don't know html etc, it's draining to do all this programming and shit. I will be glad when the site is fully finished.
Are you handling headnod entirely by yourself, or have you got any £8 per hour vacancies I can have?
It's all me. I had to learn everything about running an online retailer myself. There was one or two people that gave me advice (Angryman & Andre of Sure Shot) but most of it was a real struggle. £8 an hour? Fuck off. I hardly make anything off of this. It wouldn't come close to even paying my weekly cigarette requirements. I wont be living off of this for a long time coming.
A few people have said in the past about how its hard to stock certain artists of a particular distributor because there's a little monopoly going between that and a retailer. Does that get on your tits?
No. They have got to do what they have to do. I mean personally, I would do things different but what can you do? I nearly went to go and help out at that particular retailer. I think they are doing a good job at what they do. Props to Disorda…
When did the idea of your record label Filthy Habbits hatch and what are its main goals?
It all came about when I wanted to do a promotional Headnod.co.uk only 7", so I emailed a few artists in the US asking them if they would mind letting me have a tune for such a project. The next day I got a barrage of emails saying "yeah". I even got emails from other labels offering to give me tracks. The Filthy Habits idea was born when I was in the bath. I just want to put out good Hip-Hop. The reason why I will only be putting out short runs is because I would rather have a sought after release than something you will be able to buy in HMV next year.
All of its releases so far have been by international artists in the form of limited editions. Do you think you'll put out some UK 12's or something at some point?
The reason why I'm putting out US releases, I am just slowly getting through the list of artists that said yes. I will be putting out some UK shit soon. I think the first will be an Undali release of some sorts.
Being the Bill Gates of Camden and UK rap, surely you're living off this stuff now?
I am nowhere near living on this shit at all. Should I be? I owe 2 and a half grand to heads for this fucking shop/label.
Have you got any other plans up your sleeves to expand your empire?
There's a few ideas flying about but I am like my mum, she used to be even worse.
Got any shout out's or promotional messages you wanna leave on?
Keep checking out Headnod.co.uk Undali.com Filthyhabbits.co.uk for new shit and also keep your peepers peeled for the Underground Alliance and Filthy Habits releases. I want to send a shout to most of the Undali members, All except that Austrian mutherfucker (Where's the beach?), shout to the Rarekind crew, Beefeaterz, Dirty Verbals, Apoc & the whole of Mainrock, Skinny, Vex (I would have missed you), Blade, Roy in the shop across the road (We've seen those rats in there), Harry (Bigsmoke), Bronze Nazareth (Wu), Antiheroes, Mosman, Chemo, Syanyde, Salvo, Mudmowth,Mayor, Longshot, Panik, Neanderthal Youth, Tim Stroh, Verbal Kent, Earatik Statik, Sunshine, Boxguts, Gilead7, Prime (UK), Prime (Molemen), Kal (Movemusics), Lucas (Sith boy), Rob (Bare), Xenon and everyone who bought anything from Headnod.co.uk or Undali/Filthy Habit products. Tee I love you man. Finally the huge respect to Zara and Kiera, thanks putting up with my shit. UNDALI