Jeez, we treat you lot well. Here's another Rapnews exclusive. Come check out a fresh new chat with Braintax about his best work to date, his highly anticipated second album 'Panorama'.
Hey man. How's life been treating you since the last album release?
Life is good. I've had a better five years than the previous five years, so that's progress.
What's your new long player called and how does it compare in content to 'Biro Funk'?
It's called 'Panorama'. It's similar to 'Biro Funk' but it's more deep. In a way, I'd say it's a natural follow up to Biro Funk. Same variation in the type of tracks and the same variation in subject matter but it's more mature and less concerned with what's going on in the Hiphop scene and more about what's going on in the world at large.
Can you let us in on some of the musical flavours and lyrical angles we can look forward to hearing?
Beat Butcha produced two tracks on there. One of the ones he did is about what we need in life and how petty the hiphop scene is. It's got a gospel vibe to it! Then there's a track called 'Syriana Style' which I think is my favourite and is a look at the corrupt people that govern us and the pathetic media that reinforce them. It's produced by Louis Slipperz and it's some crazy eastern sounding shit, and his brother Elmore Judd produced a crazy electro kinda track called 'Decade' which lyrically is about Thatcher and what the 80's did to me. Kind of a northern version of Estelle's '1980' 'cause it obviously wasn't the same growing up in London compared to where I lived up north!
Did your previous success put any pressure on you in following it up?
Kind of. I assumed people would be going "It's not as good as Biro Funk' all the time but actually everyone's been saying the opposite so I'm pleased about that. Plus, it's been so long since 'Biro Funk' that the pressure's worn off to be honest.
What guest producers and artists have you got on there and why did you choose these guys specifically?
With producers I just chose people based on what beats I happened to hear. I didn't really plan it out, so even though there's a few obvious ones like my mate Copperpot from Chicago, Bengrymm and Louis Slipperz, there's also a 17 year old kid from Spain called Tejota who did a beat and then I did some as well. As for guest MCs, I hate it when albums have a million guests. I think it's like the artist saying they can't hold their own, so there's a track with Mystro, one with Verb T, and one with Dubbledge who is a heavy, heavy newcomer, that we're gonna be releasing on Low Life next year.
Why do you think Mystro and yourself always work really well together when collaborating?
'Cause we get on. We're very different people but he understands where I'm coming from and what I wanna do. We also have very similar tastes in music and we've spent so much time together on tour that it's easy being around each other so knocking out a track takes no time at all.
Do you reckon fans could ever expect to see an EP or mix CD by you two as a duo?
I doubt it. I dunno why but I just can't see it 'cause we keep talking about it and it hasn't happened yet!
You've said you wanted the release to be low key. Are you put off by the public profile thing?
Yeah. More than anything it's the fact that I can't be bothered with it. Don't get me wrong, I'm a friendly guy but I like my home comforts and I'm quite a private person as well. When you're in the public eye people go on like they know you and they wanna know your business and that can be quite stressful at times.
Has the project been something you've worked on in a time frame or just as and when for quite a while?
Yeah, totally as and when. I set myself deadlines but I never meet them so in the end I gave up and just said 'well when it's finished it'll come out'. The thing with running a label and promoting records properly is you need about three months lead time before release, so you've got the finished album in your hands and you're sitting on it for ages so that gets a bit frustrating.
How do you think the presence or lack of a deadline or completion date, effects the creative process?
It can help depending on what you're like as a person. Without a deadline I get lazy but with one I always push it to the limit 'cause I like breaking the rules. When I was at school I'd always do my essays last thing on a Sunday night! At the end of the day, everybody's different so it just depends what works for you.
When you're working on new material, how aware are you of what the rest of the scene's currently up to?
Just in general terms, I'm not that aware like I used to be. I stay on top of the music and what's hot and what's not, but I don't see myself as part of the scene so much as I used to. The main thing you meet in any music scene is people talking about their albums and when they're gonna be released and most of it never happens so I just got bored of it and in the end figured I'd rather be at home making music than in a club talking about it.
Since the last time round, what do you feel has changed most about the music scene's environment?
The only thing really is that downloads are more prevalent now. Our vinyl sales have suffered massively and generally speaking CD sales have gone down. Obviously people don't wanna pay for something they could get for free, even if it is lower quality and they get just a file, not the whole packaging. I guess that's understandable but for small labels it's threatening their existence.
What artists and records have you been enjoying the most in recent times?
In Hiphop I'm a big Jay-Z fan and De La Soul fan. Then I like Ty, Little Brother and a lot of old stuff still, plus I like a lot of soulful stuff other than Hiphop. I'm a big Dwele fan. There's a new guy from Sweden called Stray who's amazing and I listen to a lot of Stevie Wonder.
Aside from your album, what releases can people expect to see coming out on the label soon?
Dubbledge's new single will be the next thing other than my stuff. It's called 'Imagine That', plus there's 2 killer tunes on the B side as well. Next year we'll be doing his album and hopefully another Jehst album which the lawyers are probably wrangling over at the moment.
What can be expected of Klashnekoff's album and how did that release end up being a Lowlife product?
The Klash thing came about 'cause it's actually a Riddim Killa release and I run that label with Rodney P. As Rodney's a good mate of Joe Buhdha who produced the album, he sorted it out and at the end of the day, people know we don't fuck 'em about and everybody gets paid and the label is as transparent as it could be, so all in all a combination of those factors meant we got to sign it.
How have the recent 'Underworld Epics', 'The Borrowed Ladder' and 'Working Class Dad' gone?
Yeah, they've all gone well though they were all fairly underground albums. It's hard to bring out fairly new artists, especially these days with the whole vinyl single thing not being as big an influence as it used to be.
Is there any sign of a follow up to Skinny's LP or do you suspect that'll be another very long wait?
It'll be a long wait I think!
Do you think it'd be more beneficial for his follow up to drop soon, to sustain the great reception it got?
Yeah probably, but he's got a hectic life so I don't think another album is top of Skinny's list right now.
How do you rate the UK scene at the minute and how do the new takes on rap such as grime sit with you?
I'm not a big fan of grime but then it's not something I'm involved in. I'm probably too old for it. It'd be good to see a better level of subject matter though. It's a shame there's so much testosterone flying about that kids wanna talk about fucking each other up and not a lot else.
The Lowlife site's now got an mp3 store. This is the way of the future for music retail right?
Yeah apparently, though we don't really make a lot from it. Our digital sales haven't increased much in the last year.
Have you got any messages to throw out there to the fans to wrap this up with?
Yeah. Whether you're involved in music or not, don't watch anybody else or worry about what people think. Just be yourself in life. It's a lot more satisfying and it'll make you a lot happier in the long run. Plus, it gets you more pussy as well.
'Panorama' and 'Run The Yards' Reviews
Braintax 2003 Interview
Verb T Interview
Beat Butcha Interview
Official Lowlife Site