We caught up with the Derby artist to find out what he's been up to since first being featured on the site as part of the Deprogrammed Productions crew.
What's your name and where are you from?
For those who don't know, my name is Alex Blood, representing the east mids, and midlands full stop. Part of Soul Alliance.
Who do you consider to be some of the biggest influences and inspirations on your music career?
I consider people and my environment to be the number one influence on my music. I find people fascinating. I learn a lot from watching how people interact and how they move through their lives and what forces or powers influence the way people move. That's where the inspiration for my lyrics comes from.
What role, if any, does being based outside of London have on your music career?
Being outside of London has pro's and con's. Being in London would mean I could be a bus ride away from all the major players/institutions that run the UK urban music industry, which of course would have its benefits. Being outside of London however, means that when I hit up these players and institutions, they take a little more notice cause I'm not just another London MC trying to make it. I stand out from the rest just for the fact I'm not from London. London is saturated with wannabe rappers. There's thousands down there man. I would be a needle in a haystack. So it's all about strategic attack from the outside.
Some people will remember you from the Blood & Jones material. Refresh the memories for those who smoke too much.
Blood & Jonez was my first crew that I officially stepped onto the scene with. We were a duo, me and my boy Jonez. We dropped our first EP and shifted well over 500 copies nationwide, over 18 months or so. Toured extensively and supported some of the biggest names in the game today. That whole project was a key stage in establishing myself in the scene. Plus, we made some pretty fresh hiphop for the time.
How would you describe your style of rap and its content, and how long have you spent developing it into what it is today?
My style of rap is straight soulful. I spit with the feelings that I'm trying to convey in my music. I've always had the same approach to my music, the same motives and such, but over time I've just naturally progressed as an artist and figured out more potent ways to convey my message. I just feel like I represent the times we live in. I don't have any great manifesto or answers to the worlds problems, but I do feel that 90% of people in the western world either don't have a clue what the fuck is really going on around us, or they do know but just bury their heads. So I'm bringing it to the masses. I'm making music that puts these issues right up in people's faces. Whether it's poverty, crime, violence, or bigger picture shit such as corporate control and manipulation of us people who slave our lives away for some rich man's goal.
How did you hook up with Rukus for your new single, 'What Is Your Name'?
Me and Rukus both reside in the little city of Derby. So as two artists making moves in the industry in such a small city it was only a matter of time before we linked up. Plus, Rukus is an artist I have real and sincere respect for. His motives and reasons behind making music are similar to mine. He's about truth. He always aims to give the listener something to think about or take from his words. I've taken things from his lyrics that made me re-think certain shit. So, it made sense for us to put our heads together and drop a gem on 'em.
Where did you find it's producer Diveno and what other stuff has he worked on in the past we should hear about?
I found Diveno under a rock in the greek mountains, making the best music I'd ever heard. Jokes! No seriously, I met Diveno through a mutual friend. Soon as we met we just hit it off. We had the same backgrounds pretty much, the same inspirations, we grown up listening to the same hiphop, the Tupac's, the Snoops. Westcost shit basically. We also found out pretty quick that we had the same goals in life; to be the top of our respective games within the UK hiphop industry. Which is why we formed the Soul Allaince. We paired up as allies in the battle to be the best in the game. Diveno hadn't produced for any other UK artist before myself. He's originally from Greece, and is a top dog in the greek scene. One of the most respected producers out there. Since we linked though, he's got hooked up with other artists and has pretty much stepped into the big boy producer league in one swift move. Right now he's working with Rukus, Antourage (Rukus, Yogi, ShadeOne) and Def1 amongst others.
It certainly sounds like a step up from your past stuff. What other new material have you been working on you can tell us about?
I'm working on a whole stack of material right now. I'm stacking up piles and piles of Diveno produced classics, working towards my debut album, as well as banging out mixtape verses and tracks from other producers. You'll be able to catch me on the forthcoming Baby J mixtape, representing for my home town! I've also just dropped the first of a series of Alex Blood Mixtapes, this one being aptly titled 'The Preface', mixed by the long standing UK vetran and official Soul Alliance DJ BFG (www.djbfg.com). So there's a lot of shit in the pipe line.
What producers and guests are on the forthcoming album? What label is it going to come out on?
Producer wise the album's gonna be mostly Diveno's production. Depending on what comes along in the next few months, you might catch a couple of guest producers on there. They gotta pass the Soul Alliance quality control process first! MC wise, we should have a nice selection of collabo's. I'm working on tracks with Def1, Shade One (Ant Records). We're talking with Fallacy at the moment. We making a lot of links with other artists who are interested in working with us, so there's gonna be a nice selection of features on the final product.
Do you get the opportunity to perform live much and what dates can we pen in our diary to attend?
As of recent, I've just been locked in the studio and behind the scenes, planning my attack, so shows are only just starting to roll in. We hit Nottingham last month, live on 1xtra and we smashed it. We got a couple of local gigs in Derby coming up, one supporting the Foreign Beggars. There's dates rolling in, but its all down to finalising shit and getting more comfirmed dates, so promoters step up! The show we got is live. You got myself obviously, DJ BFG representing strong on the wheels, my man Swift 89 backin' me on the mic. We just tear shit up…
Do you get involved in other areas of hiphop such as beat making, graffiti or breaking?
First and foremost I'm and MC/lyricist, but I spent a number of years focussing more on production and beat making, so I'm a fully capable producer in my own right. I'm producing for a few other artists in my spare time, but for me as Alex the MC, I find it much more inspirational to work with other producer's beats, Diveno's being the top of the list. I got taught how to do a six step once. Rocked it at a few house parties, but I got no real passion to become a breaker. Graff' is something I've always wanted to dabble in 'cause I'm really creative and love drawing, but I can't do everything so I might take that up in retirement.
Outside of the hiphop world, what kinda interests do you have. Into any other genres or pass times?
I'm into lots of shit. I love reggae music. That's right next to hiphop in my musical tastes. I love to help or inspire people however I can, be it though hiphop or just in my daily encounters. The way life is going right now, I have no time for other interests but to make it in the music game, which can be annoying at times. I need to find more time to read and study writers. I need to find more time for my personal relationships.
You can be spotted doing some acting in the new Blade video. Ever thought of going further down that route?
Acting, I see as another way to inspire and provoke thoughts from people. I've done small bits here and there, the Blade video being one project. It's something I fully intend to get into when the time's right.
How would you rate the Uk scene right now and what have been some of your favourite releases of recent times?
I think the UK scene is going through a revolution right now. I see certain artists being taken seriously by the wider music industry and certain artists being left on the underground. The way I see it is, you gotta ask yourself why certain artists are being picked up by the mainstream and why others are left on the underground, and play your cards accordingly. Take elements from both sides of the fence. That's how I see the scene progressing. Klash's latest mix CD, 'Focus Mode', was one of the most significant releases for me recently. It captures Klash's energy and drive and makes you hungry for more.
What's your Myspace and website links we should keep an eye on to find out more info on what you're up to?
First and foremost you need to check www.alexblood.com for all the latest in videos, mixtapes and downloads. After that check out www.myspace.com/alexblood and after that check out www.djbfg.com for some exclusive midlands and UK mixtapes.
Have you got any shout out's or plugs you'd like to drop to round this up on?
Shout's to the whole Soul Alliance camp, Diveno, BFG, Swift 89, Skive 31, Ayzee, the whole On The One team. (www.ontheone.net), and last but not least, Rapnews.co.uk for the ongoing support! Nuff respect.