Check out this short chat with Afrosaxon in which they talk on the vibe of their debut album, the views of the UK hip-hop scene and the interesting and educational meaning behind their name.
Wassup, Can you introduce yourselves for everyone?
We're Afroaxon- Madlox, Spike Foxxx, Brother Nature & Elle Dee are the main crew, and other artists from the collective such as Celena, G'Lena, Anubis & DT are ducking in and out from show to show. All the main members have been involved in the Bristol scene for a number of years and between us have been involved in numerous Bristol based projects such as Catchin Smoke, Colourstone, More Rockers and Smith & Mighty.
How did the name Afro Saxon get chosen? What's it mean?
The short answer..
We were fed up with the categorisation of UK black people -'Black-African, Black-Carribean, Black-British , Black-Other, Mixed Black …....' – and if you can tick one of the boxes, you can usually tick half of them, so we took to using Afrosaxon.
The long answer..
The name has a deeper meaning, apart from the pun. There is, if you look and apply some logic, enough evidence to prove that the Nubian was inhabiting this island for ages before the Caucasian emerged from the Caucus mountain region (the first Caucasian civilisation being the Scythians who did not emerge from the region until 4000BC) – There are ancient monuments in the British Isles that pre-date this time- this is not a point of racial contention but a simple historical fact that will make you realise that Britain is as much a part of the ancient heritage of black people as it is of the Anglo Saxon, – One Love .
..and the word Saxon, like the Zulu word Shaka, is rooted in the same place… 'sacya' – meaning seeker of wisdom, so 'Saxon'.. thats African too.
When I saw that you're based in Bristol the first thing that came to mind was Roni Size. How does the hip-hop scene compare to the DnB there?
The Rap scene is strong down here, there's a lot of young crews coming up, and a lot of the old school still working to establish a movement. Bristol was at the forefront of hip hop in the UK from the first school . Drum and bass came out of Hip Hop when house music stepped up the tempo and you could mix breakbeats with dub records. Hip Hop could never get established as a UK music form in the old days, there were never enough strong artists to kick the scene off properly without looking to America. So the last few years has been like a rebirth, and the UK as a whole is a much stronger contender than it used to be.
So tell us about the music you guys make. What can listeners expect from it?
It's hip hop. It isn't UK hip hop. .Iit ain't American hip hop, It's straight somethin outa nothin hip hop. The album is slick but raw. It's got a little something lyrically for everyone. There's a lot of substance in the music and the rhymes… It's intelligent hip hop, and it's expressive of the many diverse personalities gone into it, tied together by the time and the place and the life we live.
What's your debut album called and what sort of sounds and subject matters does it feature?
It's called 'New England' – again it's got levels. American rap is a big influence on us, we've grown with it, and 'cos our stuff isn't typical of the UK, it's been branded sometimes as 'tryng to be American' ... whatever… It's just another way of saying fuck you to whomsoever has an issue, and plus Afrosaxon wants some changes made to old England, so hopefully this is gonna be a new New England when the work is done.
We talk about war in the East and on the streets, we talk about love…. and groupies, we hypothesise, we philosophise, we fantasise, we touch on whatever we experience. Some of it's dark and grimy, some of it's funny, some of it's conscious, like life.
Who handles the production of your tracks?
Me, Brother Nature, handles most of the production and sometimes old time partner Phil G. co writes/produces. Our production facilities are very limited right now, but you wouldn't know how limited from the sound we're making, most of the music is original material written by myself, a format we're sticking with for the second album because we're creating a certain atmosphere right now, but we want the third album to be more organic, and the tracks to be created from conception, in the studio, by the collective.
How big are your ambitions in terms of the success that you hope the release to achieve?
How high's the sky? We wanna be contenders for the US market. We wanna represent for the UK around the globe. Hopefully this first album will bring us the recognition within the underground fraternity to get a firm foundation and a decent deal to bust the second album out with.
Would you agree that a lot of domestic artists/acts tend to settle only for a certain degree of success rather than letting ambition go wild and aiming high?
Yeh domestic is the word. It's like we almost become accustomed to being second in the world and that makes the real music very introverted which keeps it underground. You're almost looked down on for having more global aspirations.
What are your inspirations on and off these shores?
There's a lot of us , we're broad, rap wise …..Method, Ghostface, Killa Priest, Pac, B.I.G, Redman, Kanye West, Talib Kwali, Mos Def, 50, Dre, Dead Pres, Poor Righteous Teachers, JayZ, Foxy, Lauryn. That's the obvious ones off the head top, and that's just MC's… saw TY in Bristol the other week. He was inspirational on a live tip.
How do you rate the UK scene in 2004?
It's still a little ropey. Only real recent industry success that can be described any where near hip hop is Big Brovas or Goldy Lookin whatever… need I say more. A lot of stuff which really aint, is getting too loosely classified as hip hop. .It's frighteningly reminiscent of the whole 'Trip Hop' accident which it mutated into last time it almost achieved any degree of success in this country. The underground scene is getting strong though. I just hope we can keep it hip hop this time.
Any shout out's or promo messages you want to drop?
Yeh shout outs to Ronni, Oshin (57TH Dynasty), Kelz, Sir Plus and the Soldier Clique, Aspects, and all Afrosaxon's people.