One of the most satisfying interviews I've done, in which the UK rap legend talks about Storms Are Brewing, producing a record by yourself, talking politics and European prostitutes.
Blade is to UK hip-hop what Run DMC and Public Enemy are to the NY scene. The foundation, legendary, awesome on stage, of seemingly unlimited talent, with longevity and class. With some six EP's and three long players, he has engraved his name into the history books, yet his journey seems far from over. Last month saw the release of his latest album 'Storms Are Brewing' (reviewed last time round) and its lead single 'Pop Idol' jump on to shelves. Straight off the plane from Vienna, Blade privileged the site with this Q&A's.
The new albums just 13 tracks long. A conscious decision to avoid the played out idea of 26 tracks on a disk?
You could call it that.
Handling all the production yourself, was it not a burden on the time you needed to write the lyrics? Did you produce it all because nobody could do it the way you wanted?
I produced it all because I had been doing production way before I hooked up with any other producers and just felt like I wanted to do an album that was all me, no restrictions on what I wanted to say. Sometimes when you work with others, people tend to want to play safe and are afraid to say what's really on their mind and won't let you either, so I just wanted to say what I wanted and not feel restricted. The only thing I'm restricted from talking about is downloading porn off the net in case the girlfriend finds out about it.
Having live musicians in the lab instead of computers must have offered so much more creative freedom?
Yeah it did. It was just really good to be able to translate some of the melodies into songs and finally get the chance to work with the live element. The guys made the work easy and enjoyable. Everybody came into the studio with a really positive vibe and just had fun and got the job done. That helped a lot because they all knew their instruments well which meant I could hum something and leave them to bring it to life, whereas with samples you're kind of limited, but that's not to say I won't work with samples again.
On an album not solely created by you, which artists and producers would you like to get involved, domestically and abroad?
I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to that. Obviously I have my favorites but I won't rule out working with anybody till I hear the beats and the concept of the track. Rakim would have to be a definite, Feeder again and anytime, Eminem, Joe Buddha, The Herbaliser, Oasis, Canibus, Lalo Schfrin, Neptunes, Timberland, Marley Marl, Jedi Mind Tricks, man the list could go on for ever.
How was it for you getting such as good review in OK magazine? The publication catch you off guard?
It's always a good feeling knowing that people are into what you do, but you always have to be prepared for the bad ones too, after all it's just one person's opinion. I never bought a record because of a good review but because I heard it and liked it and I think it's pretty sad if anybody actually does that. And yes it did catch me off guard and to have it being handed out on the plane on the way to Poland as a magazine to read during flight was even more of a surprise, having the person next to you reading that page and not realizing you're sitting right next to them is quite entertaining.
'Reflection' is one of the most inspiring pieces of music I've heard in years. What are your personal favourite motivational jams?
I might be a little biased here, but Reflection would definitely be one of them. Aside from that I would say OASIS … WONDERWALL, BEN E KING … STAND BY ME, RAKIM … IN THE GHETTO & FOLLOW THE LEADER, & BABY HUEY & THE BABYSITTERS …. HARD TIMES.
I was bricking it before a presentation at uni the other day. Feeling really sick. Played 'Reflection' on my discman, was like being injected with confidence, and got a big clap and a good mark! Big up.
Excellent. It's things like this that keep people like me going. Glad to be of service.
Fancy being a bit controversal and naming a few 'robots' on the scene right now?
It's hard to tell these days; they all look so human!!
Any sign on the horizon of a string of London and there abouts gig dates we can catch you at? (I suggest a monnth long run at Jazz Cafe)
We're working on it as we speak, but I would rather have dates all over Europe rather than just London.
Being born in Iran, you must hold a lot of opinions about what's going on in that part of the world right now? Being a part of the peace not war gig, it's clear your not too best pleased with Mr Blair and his merry men?
I'm not pleased with any sort of war that's been and gone or that's happening. I just don't see the point of it. Why can't we just get along? That shit really messes lives up and it's unfair that one guy sits in his chair, makes a call and everybody is supposed to jump at his every whim. I never understood it and never will. My situation is simply that because of people like the leaders of today, I was seperated from my family which more or less put my future in total jeopardy. I hate to think how many other kids are separated from their families at the age of 3 and have very unstable futures because of it. There's just no need for it really. Give me peace anytime.
It's really easy for artists with political intentions to make music very teen angst and cliche. To articulate your feelings in 'What have we done?' how careful did you have to be?
I didn't even think about being careful. I just wanted to write my feelings in the track. Ask questions that have forever been asked but never answered.
Besides from working the new album, what's next for Blade? Movie contracts and trainer promotions?
Actually I have just designed my own airplane and will be having a launch party to show it off in November. I'm in talks right now with the company that's building it for me. They are based in Germany.
The plane is real cool. It's designed specifically for Musicians with soundproof recording studio, a pole for lap dancers, swimming pool; you name it it's got it. Only down side is it only lets you in by scanning your right eye, and if you're not on the computer they you won't be getting in, which is kind of bad if you pull any ladies cause they'll be stuck outside. Need to find a way around that problem.
You must be aware of the hunger people have in their bellys for some of your unavailable earlier work. Re-releases possible?
I would if I could, but things aren't as simple as that these days. Everything costs money to make, but if I can get enough orders to justify doing it then I will.
Your artist/stage name has a graffiti writers type of vibe to it. Ever spray up bus stops and skool walls? You've got the beat boxing mastered, how about breaking?
At some point in my life I've been involved in every aspect of the hip hop culture. And yes I have sprayed on school walls and bus stops and council buildings and train stations, and only last Friday we did a show at the Thekla in Bristol and sprayed my name all over the boat. Some habits are hard to break. The beat boxing is just a past time. I don't really take that serious and keep my beats pretty straight forward so emcees can rap to them, sort of like beat looped with subtle changes so it doesn't throw the emcees off when they're rhyming.