Take a step into the mind of Stig Of Dump, currently one of the most interesting artists in the UK. Max C to the man about all sorts, from his various mindsets to future music.
For those unfortunate not to know you, please introduce yourself. Who is Stiggie Smalls?
Stiggy Smalls is one of the many other me's.. I'm a bit too fucked up to really answer it in one sitting, but the Stiggy Smalls you're likely to meet is a massive piss artist who you will start out as an endearing and jolly care free character and end up being that fat pissed kid who wont go away.
You recently destroyed Asher D in a battle after he announced that he could take anyone on. How was it for you?
It was fun. I mean, I wasn't enjoying it on some "yes I'm destroying Asher D", but more someone made a throw away statement which they were pulled on… He said he would battle anyone and probably didn't anticipate someone accepting his challenge. It was good fun, but if I'm honest in retrospect, I think I took it real easy in the second round as my conscience which is usually
sedated by alcohol, was telling me it was wrong to straight up rinse him and I don't think he knew who I was an' so had no idea about my battling experience.
You dropped 'Homeless Microphonist' EP recently. Do you wanna talk a little bit about the CD? And was it really produced for the sole reason of paying the rent?
Yes, well to get the money for a deposit and first month's rent to get me in somewhere and also to actually put something out before I just became someone who was known but never releasing anything. After a heavy heavy sesh in Brighton I was with my boys Newborn & Steve Clear. I was trying to get through my hangover with a few more beers and was whining about the fact I haven't released anything and the fact I had no money and Newborn basically told me to quit bitchin' and said I could have an EP done in 7 days if I wanted, so that's what happened. That night Steve Clear produced a track, I wrote to it and the next day recorded it and that's how things continued.
Ido, who is one of the sickest new producers I've heard, threw some beats my way. Blufoot came through and smashed a beat, Disscuss did the cuts, Skrein, Syntax wrote verse… Everyone went out of their way and helped me through until 7 days later, I had 6 brand new tracks written and recorded in 7 days… I then added 2 old tracks and a bunch of skits recorded as the week progressed… and somehow what started as a drunken idea actually ended up a complete product. Now I just need to shift 'em. I don't want people to buy it because of my situation. The name was just to kinda mark it as a time in my life and also because of how it was conceived, but yeah, pity me and buy the fucker!
With the fact being that in a battle you are humiliating, and usually emasculating an emcee in front of an audience, is there ever any threat that your opponents wounded pride rolls into real life clashes?
It's only happened once. I'd like to think if someone is quick witted enough to battle then they aren't completely stupid and so can understand it in the content of a battle. It doesn't really enter my mind though. I mean, if it happens then fuck it.
The content of a dope battle is usually a barrage of witty insults revolving around homophobia, misogyny as well as social and racial stereotypes. Is this moral or is that just not the point?
I wouldn't say that… I would say that a dope battle actually involves less of that and more originality. The whole point is just to bring a complete character assassination or at least it is for me. However, everyone has their own internal boundaries. Personally, it's like my humour. Very very little is off bounds… So you bring stereotypes and exaggerate.
If someone is short, they are a dwarf. If someone is chubby, they are a leviathan. If someone has glasses, they are Mr Magoo… It's just about exploiting someone's appearance and mocking it. I mean, I'm not racist, misogynistic or homophobic but I might come across as all three in a battle but it's a battle. I mean, I have a black lesbian freind so I can't be any of those! Hahaha. Nah, basically just rinse someone. I know and my people know I'm not a cunt so I'm not worried about being conceived as one.
The Jumpoff.tv battles have taken off in quite a massive way, and with the preference being for a clever and witty approach to emceeing rather than a 'road' one. Do you think this signals a shift in the interests of the hiphop audience?
I think the whole road approach is bullshit. I mean, it's like seeing two people kick off. It's never funny when one says how hard he is while hiding behind his girlfriend, which is basically what's happening. It's always funnier when one is just generally condescending. I think it's certainly been brought to a much broader audience and once people take a moment to actually watch and see the skill involved and can see it's more than a bunch of dudes shouting abuse, then they appreciate it.
I also think all that written shit about how you shift weight and how your guns are huge an' all that shit is a bit boring. If you get two battlers who can freestyle well then it's the instant turn around of them rinsing someone right in front of 'em and tailoring their insults so it's always funnier.
What's it like being, in your words, a 'fat, hairy, homeless, northern, drunken arsehole'?
Hahaha. Yeah man, it's not all beer and pies. I mean, I been through some of the most stressful shit in my life to date, over the past few months. Certain people have helped me, certain people have just added to it, but fuck 'em. I mean, I wouldn't recommend it to everyone but for as low as the lows are, the highs are fucking high! I've had some of the best times of my life also.
The whole drunken arsehole thing is just the fact that I'm not trying to fit in. I don't anyway, but I also don't want to fit into most scenes. I'm from Newcastle which has a big drinking culture and people are more up for clowning around. It's like, I got enough shit to deal with on the day to day so I wanna try 'n' bug out and have fun. If you don't like it and you can't let loose or whatever then fuck you. I am the arsehole you think I am. If not and you're willing to just be you and not what you think other people will respect, then it's all gravy.
You seem to be quite a contradiction. Obviously in battles you have to come across as being very confident yet in your music and general attitude you seem to veer towards self deprecatory humour. Which one is the real Stig?
All of it. I am confident, very confident. I am a piss taker and I do have a dry sense of humour so I will take the piss outta myself like I do. You shouldn't dish it out if you cant take it. I suppose I do use it to hide behind sometimes but everybody has their issues, just weather you choose to focus on 'em or learn to accept 'em.
People should learn to ride a joke at their own expense if they're willing to laugh at other people. Some of my future music will be more honest. Like I said at the beginning, Stiggy Smalls is one side of me. It's not a front, it's just a huge part of my character. I bet Richard Pryor doesn't laugh about the shit he deals with but it makes up the bulk of his stand up. I'm not comparing my life to his, just maybe my approach to humour.
Is Stig of the Dump a stage persona or the genuine thing?
Both. It's probably the biggest side of me.
I remember a UK rapper proudly stressing that there was no difference between his rapping persona and him in reality, saying 'I rap the way I would speak to my grandma' or something. In rap do you think it's important to have no distinction between real life and hiphop music?
No, I think for your sanity you need to learn to separate the two but you also have to not be too conscious of it to the point you become your fake persona. Then you end up Kurt Cobain'ing the shit outta yourself… If I was always Stevie Dickhead or Stiggy Smalls then I would just be chatting shit, not really answering your questions as honestly.
I think it's about balance. if you give yourself 100 percent to people, you can't escape from it, but at the same time, you have to live life as you. Stig was a nickname given to me by my Dad when I was about 5 so I guess as a stage persona I just hide certain things and expose other character traits more, rather than just straight up fabricating new ones. Think deep speak dum!
What's it like being part of the Freestyle Masons? Inspiring?
Hugely. Each of the other 3 are amazing talents and each has certain strengths and weaknesses so when we cipher it's ill. The crew name just came along as a way of us kinda being able to big each other up.. We're all mates who met through hiphop who connect on a level and are all geeky about rapping, so we used to cipher all the time.
The 2 on 2 comp started and the name was bounded about and now people can kinda group us together as a unit, which is what we wanted. I love geeking out with 'em. I could sit with Possessed, Reain and BA and just cipher and battle each other for hours and have done on numerous occasions. It's just dope to chill with people who you respect so highly, who are so talented (which they are, some of the sickest in the world) and who are equally as passionate about what they do.
As a northerner, what's your perspective on life in London?
I like it and loathe it. I'll be honest, I think there's a lot more front than back home and as it's so huge, there's a lot more anonymity which can be both a good and bad thing. However scene wise, it's ill. Every night there's something to do and people are more on it business wise and promotion wise. But everyone who I run with and work with are on the level. I met some amazing people in London. I think London has more of an issue with me than I do with it. Hahaha.
Drinking, depression and a dab of violence flavoured with a sense of humour. Your lyrics have a clearly 'British' feel. Is this sense of 'Britishness' something that the scene is lacking?
I seem to be coming with the same "I'm not sure bollocks" but again I dunno. I mean, I think I find British humour and life so much easier to relate to obviously. British film, music and humour are all more gritty and less glossy and I hate people who try and aspire to being something they're not… so yeah, I suppose in that sense it is.
Plus, I'm mad into some of the UK artists. I am happy to use the tag UK hiphop to describe the scene but that's more because with such a small scene, I think it's good to encourage independence and push as a unit at the same time. Hiphop or more importantly rap, is music and I think if it's good, it's good. If it's shit then leave it alone.
Do you consider yourself as 'hiphop' or 'UK hiphop'?
I consider myself as me and mine. My music is me. As I say, I'm part of the UK hiphop scene and make hiphop but I'm me and nothing else. Make of that what you will. Hahaha.
What are the future projects on the horizon? I hear things about a 'Mood Swings' EP and a mixtape called the 'Sasquotch Prophecies'...
Yeah, loads on the horizon. 'Mood Swings' EP as you said which will be more serious. I got some deep tracks on there. Of course there will be some humour but people will hear me do shit they probably wouldn't expect, that will probably be quite long like 'The Homeless Microphonist' EP. 'Sasquotch Prophecies' will be the title of my first length LP.
I'll be doing the 'Fatty & Specky' EP with Dr Syntax, another of my close freinds and defo my favourite MC at the moment and also, the 'Notable Features' mixtape with him which will be us featuring heads we are feeling and need to do collabs with, prolly over famous beats, not clichéd but famous boom bap shit. Hopefully 'Live Poets Society' EP which is my crew with EsyouBe and Mr Burns from back home. Maybe some 'Freestyle Masons' tracks…
Fuck knows, I got loads planned, just a matter of how much time I got left to cram it all in. I have got a 12" featuring RA Tha Rugged man and a 7" of 'Intoxicated' (my anthem if you will) comin' in the new year so make sure you look out for those muddy funksters.
As the anti-hero of British drinking culture, are you enjoying the 24 hour licensing laws?
No, it's a bag of shite. Off-licences just wack on loads of money. Beer in the big smoke is way too expensive. I'll stick to stocking up or just chucking as much down me as I can then getting the night bus home.
Who are the Live Poets Society that you are part of?
As I mentioned before, it's my crew from back home. It consists of me and an existing crew called TextOffenders which are Mr Burns, EsyouBe and DJ Adika. They are talented beyond words and I love hooking up with 'em. If I ever get complacent, I just speak to one of them and quickly realise that I have to pick my game up. Same with a lot of my peoples who make music, just with LPS they are on a similar flex. Less alcohol but the same approach and sound.
You have supported US hip-hop greats such as the GZA, Jurassic 5 and DJ Premier alongside slots for Taskforce, Jehst and Skinnyman. Is there a real difference between US and UK Hiphop?
Yeah, definitely. The main being money. No fucker really has any over here but at grass roots level, having spoken to some of the illest acts some of the dudes I grew up listening to, they have the same passion and the same love. It's once you add money to the equation things change… on every level.
Also, I think as a lot of the US heads grew up from day dot with hiphop, they are more immersed in the culture and I think their business is better. I think as a lot of people say, UK is how the US was mid nineties. There isn't the same draw of money as there is in America today so that doesn't affect the scene or music.
Any shout outs?
Too many… Dr Syntax, Newborn, Mr Burns & Esyoube, the whole of my Newcastle fam. Beggar Fam, Possessed & Rhyme Assylum, Respek BA, Whashisface aka Reain, Manage & Speakers Corner fam, Apoc, Baron, Chester, Jehst, Kashmire, IQ, Ido, Blufoot, Whinchester…
Fuck it, you know who you are. Everyone who I know 'n' respect, everyone making music, especially the ones who are smashing it and inspiring me and my friends who aint makin hiphop and put up with me chatting so much shit on the regs. Alex & Cat who's welcome I am currently outstaying, Dug, Discuss, Rain Liz and anyone who I offended in Brighton this weekend by being excessively drunk.
Check out Stig's website Myspace.com/Stigdastardly