Monthly Archives: February 2008

Amerykahn Dreamin’ – Erykah Badu

Ms. Badu performing “The Healer” from her “New Amerykah” album at the House Of Blues in Dallas, Texas.

Ghost Interview (Originally Posted On UKHH.Com Feb 27th 2008)


If you spend more time than is probably healthy reading Hip-Hop-related interviews on the internet, you’ll already know that you could bet your collection of rare rap singles on the likelihood of your favourite emcee, deejay and / or producer using at least one or more of the stock phrases that nowadays appear to be industry-standard responses during said Q&As. You’ll hear MC Kill-A-Man talking about how he’s “keeping it real”, DJ Radio Payola will insist his show is all about “what the streets want”, and Mr. I’ve-Only-Been-Making-Beats-Since-I-Got-A-MySpace-Page will tell you how his forthcoming album is sure to “take the game to the next level”. However, in all honesty, once the overzealous statements and hyperbole have subsided and it’s time to walk the walk and not just talk the talk, few individuals are actually able to deliver what they’ve promised.

All of which puts one of the UK’s finest producers, Ghost, in a bit of a tricky position. As you’ll be able to tell after reading the interview below, 2008 is all about progression and moving up a creative gear as far as the London-based beat junkie is concerned. Not content with resting on his laurels following the release of his impressive 2006 debut long-player “Seldom Seen Often Heard”, Ghost has been back in the lab working not just on new music, but also on new directions in which to take his sound. But will the finished product back up his claims of sonic elevation?

With three full-length projects in the pipeline, Ghost is determined to cover a lot of musical ground over the coming months. First, there’s the Invisible Inc set, a collaborative effort with lyrical allies Kashmere and Verb T that Ghost promises will be “something different”. Then there’s the Lingua Franca album with female vocalist Devorah, a release that fans of Ghost’s traditional Hip-Hop sound might not have seen coming, but that the producer says was all about “challenging” himself. Last but certainly not least, there’s the official solo follow-up to “Seldom Seen…”, yet judging by Ghost’s description of the album, even that might not be exactly what’s expected from him.

So the individual responsible for some of the best homegrown Hip-Hop in recent times has definitely set himself some high-standards to live up to, let alone exceed. But unlike those who litter their interviews with empty promises of quality product, Ghost’s previous musical track record and sincere respect for his craft indicates that, in this instance, actions are likely to speak louder than words.

It’s been a couple of years now since the release of “Seldom Seen Often Heard”. In hindsight are you happy with how the album was received and did it achieve what you hoped it would?

No on both counts (laughs). I was really happy to get the album out there and compared to a lot of other releases it did do really well and I’m thankful for that. But I guess what I look at is, had I done that album five years sooner maybe there would’ve been more sales because obviously the whole download thing has taken off and it’s affected everybody.

But looking back it’s all a learning experience and by putting the album out when I did it’s taught me a lot about how the industry works. So a lot of positive things came out of the album and I certainly don’t look back on it in a negative light, but it is disappointing when you know a project had the potential to do better than it did. Still, I can look back and say that I did it and not a lot of people even get that far.

I understand you’ve gained a pretty loyal fan base out in Japan.

Yeah, we got a licensing deal for the album out there. It was weird because I started noticing that people were picking up on the singles over there and they were selling really well. Then we had about three or four labels get in touch saying they wanted to put the album out. So Skeg at Breakin’ Bread hooked up whatever he hooked up and that was that really.

Obviously it’s extremely pleasing to know your music is being appreciated outside of the UK and going forward it looks like the Japanese thing will be an ongoing relationship, which is massive to me. They seem to have an amazing taste in music out there, and without wanting to sound like I’m bigging myself up too much, they seem to be into music that’s got some heart and soul in it, and that’s what I like to think I do.

The Japanese audience is very particular about what they want and I feel very lucky and privileged that my music is in demand out there. The next step is to try to get over there to do some shows and promotion.

Ghost ft. Abstract Rude – “Basic Instinct” (Breakin Bread / 2006)

Your recent single “It’s All Love” has introduced a slightly different side to Ghost than perhaps people have heard before – does the single represent something of a turning point for you as a producer?

In some ways, yes. With that single I wanted to do something a bit different because I’m not someone who can just continually do the same thing over and over again. I like to challenge myself and try new things. The a-side is a real party tune, which is something I’ve never done before. It’s not my regular thing because it’s quite happy and upbeat and very much dancefloor-orientated. The b-side, again, was me wanting to do something outside the box. I still think both tracks have a Ghost sound to them, but within slightly different styles of music than people are used to hearing from me.

It’s always difficult because the Hip-Hop crowd might listen to the single and say ‘What the f**k is he doing? Why isn’t he still doing straight-up Hip-Hop?’ I’m not trying to move away from doing Hip-Hop at all, but as a producer I want to be able to express myself musically and that sometimes means trying different things.

With that in mind, compared to the Hip-Hop scene you came up in, do you think there even is a UK Hip-Hop scene nowadays in the traditional sense of the term?

That’s a very good question (long pause). It’s hard to know what’s going on anymore, really. There doesn’t appear to be much of a structure left. I’ve actually been discussing this with a few people recently and I think the UK scene got to a good level a few years back and I can’t quite put my finger on what happened, but it feels like the ground just fell from beneath it. But that said, there are still artists out there making good British Hip-Hop whose aim is to keep pushing it, keep getting shows, and hopefully ride through the storm a little bit.

It is difficult though, because if you look at what’s happened to the majority of record shops just in London that supported Hip-Hop, the main ones have gone. It feels like the scene has dropped down a little bit. But sometimes that needs to happen so it can regroup, pick itself up and move forward again. But I don’t think the music media here in the UK has ever really taken British Hip-Hop seriously and it’s always been viewed as just a knock-off of the American stuff. Which is really disappointing because there are artists in the UK who’ve made some amazing music but have had to really struggle to get it heard. UK Hip-Hop has never really been in fashion.

Many people are of the opinion that there’s a real generation gap developing between those UK Hip-Hop acts who came up embracing the culture as well as the music, and those younger artists who grew-up with Hip-Hop being this huge money-making mainstream machine. What are your thoughts on that?

It’s a weird situation. I grew-up on the culture of Hip-Hop and it taught me a helluva lot of things, but you don’t see that as much anymore. But you can’t necessarily blame the younger listeners coming up because that’s the type of Hip-Hop the media chucks at them. It’s a sad state of affairs, but I don’t think all hope is lost. I think the key is to try to embrace some of the newer sounds but keep the roots in Hip-Hop, which is partly what we’ve tried to do with the Invisible Inc project that’s coming out.

Ghost ft. Verb T, Kashmere & Asaviour – “Seldom Seen Often Heard” (Breakin Bread / 2006)

So how did the Invisible Inc project with Kashmere and Verb T come about? 

After I’d done “Seldom Seen Often Heard” I was sat down twiddling my thumbs thinking about what I was going to do next. “Seldom Seen…” was the culmination of years of me making music, so once I’d put that out I felt that I wanted to try and do something a bit different. The same can be said for Kashmere and Verb T as well in the sense that we’d all finished our respective albums and were looking to do something new. I’d kinda been playing around with some new sounds and I played them some of the music I’d been making and they both said ‘Yeah, we really like this.’

I’m trying to keep the production quite contemporary sounding but with some depth. A lot of the synth-based Hip-Hop stuff you hear can be very cheesy and simplified, but I wanted to use that sound for the Invisible Inc album but give it a Ghost feel, which is exactly what I’ve done. Everything on the album has been played and the only things I’ve sampled are the drums. It’s still very much a Hip-Hop album, but it’s us taking a fresh look at the music.

We’ve been out doing shows together for about three years now, so we’ve all got to know each other really well and have become close friends. We all sort of came up through the scene together at a similar time, and what became very apparent when we started talking about doing a project together was that we’d all reached the same point of wanting to do something different.

I went into this Invisible Inc project without feeling any pressure about what people expect from me. So I definitely felt freer putting this album together and the result of that is a project that I think will stand out from what everyone else is doing. I mean, we might put the album out and perhaps nobody will bite on it, but at least we can sit back and say we’ve recorded an album that doesn’t sound like anything anyone else has done in this country. That to me is a very important thing.

It almost sounds as if recording the Invisible Inc material has been a rejuvenating experience for you.

What I found was that when I was getting caught up in the business side of releasing music, it just took my enjoyment out of making music. It dragged me down so much that I started questioning why I was involved in doing what I was doing. The business definitely took the love out of it for me for a long time. But after I’d had a bit of a breather, went back, and started to think of fresh things to do I rediscovered my love for making music again. Of course, I’d love to make enough money to put food on my table and keep a roof over my head, but I’m not going out there thinking ‘I need to sell records’ anymore. It’s gone back to me just doing it because I love it.

How does the Lingua Franca project you have coming out differ from the Invisible Inc album?

I think the Lingua Franca project is going to be more appealing to some people than the Invisible Inc album will be. Basically it’s a bunch of tracks that I gave to Devorah to write to, and it’s a really nice soulful album. Again, I wanted to try something different and work with a singer on an entire album.

We’ve been busy over the last five months or so rehearsing with a band, so that when we go out to perform we can do all of the tunes live. So it’ll be a drummer, a guitar player, keyboardist, a bass player, and me twiddling about onstage with some knobs (laughs).

Again, it’s all about challenging myself, but still keeping the heart of Hip-Hop involved in the music. The album is a bit happier than anything I’ve done before, but I think that’s perhaps because I’m a happier person now. I think that both the Lingua Franca and Invisible Inc albums have a very positive feel to them. I have high hopes for both projects and they both sound very good.

So with Lingua Franca and Invisible Inc keeping you busy, when can we expect to see a new Ghost solo album?

It’s already done. I didn’t do much else in 2007 but I did record a load of new music (laughs). What I will say about the new album is that it’s more instrumental than vocal this time around. It’s a step further than “Seldom Seen…”.

Sometimes people lose focus of what you can do as a producer when you work with a lot of different guest artists, so I wanted to show that there’s enough depth to my production for me to be able to handle tracks on my own.

If “Seldom Seen Often Heard” is the album that really put you on the map as a producer, what are you hoping the Invisible Inc and Lingua Franca projects will do for your career?

Firstly, I just hope they actually come out this year (laughs). I’m hoping that both projects will allow me to get out and do more live shows, as that’s something I love to do. But I really hope that after hearing both projects people will say ‘Sh*t! Ghost has got a few strings to his bow.’ I’d also like the haters to realise that good music can come out of the UK Hip-Hop scene and that we should be taken seriously. Plus, it would be nice to get some new fans and be able to expand on what we’ve already done.

Ryan Proctor

Thursday Throwback (Part 11) – Smoothe Da Hustler

Smoothe Da Hustler ft. Trigger Tha Gambler – “Broken Language” (Profile / 1995)

A bonafide Brooklyn classic and the instrumental that sparked a thousand rhyme ciphers.

True Master – The RZA

The RZA stopped by LA’s Power 106 this week to talk about all things Wu on Jeff Garcia’s Old Skool Show.

Part One

Part Two

Ladies First – Amanda Diva

NYC’s favourite femcee reports live and direct from California for episode seven of her “Diva Speak TV” series.

Back To The Future – Q-Tip / KRS-One / Common

Footage from this week’s Smirnoff Signature Series event featuring Q-Tip, KRS-One and Common performing the new remixes of their classic tracks recorded especially for the drink company’s marketing campaign.

Leader Of The New School – Busta Rhymes

Bus-A-Bus is back on the block with his new mix-CD “I’ve Already Outshined Your Favorite Rapper”.

Live From Illadelphia – The Roots

Behind-the-scenes footage of the video shoot for The Roots’ new joint “75 Bars” – judging by the beatdown homeboy in the chair gets I’m guessing this won’t be on daytime MTV rotation when released.

Bonus Clip: Another Roots backstage pass courtesy of RealTalkNY.Net.

New Joint – Pete Rock / Redman

Pete Rock ft. Redman – “Till I Retire” / “Best Believe” ( Nature Sounds / 2008 )

Split video released this week to promote PR’s “NY’s Finest” album which just dropped a few days ago.

The New Style – Cadence Weapon

Canada’s Cadence Weapon being interviewed on MTV Live.

The new album “Afterparty Babies” is released next week.

Behind The Boards – DJ Khalil

The West Coast producer previews a new Nas track (“What It Is”) and discusses working with Dr. Dre on “Detox”.

Out For Fame – Bisc1

Mass Appeal TV talks to NYC’s Bisc1 about his passion for graffiti and his new album “When Electric Night Falls”.

New Joint – Common / Just Blaze

Common – “The Light 2008” ( Smirnoff Signature Mix Series / 2008 )


Lonnie Lynn and Just Blaze definitely did their thing on this remake of the Dilla-produced love rap from Common’s 2000 album “Like Water For Chocolate”.

I had my reservations when I first heard “The Light” was being updated for Smirnoff’s Signature Mix Series, as in my opinion the original is timeless and a true Common classic. But Mr. Finding Forever and JB certainly get props over here for a job well done. 

New Joint – GTA

GTA – “Wanna Be Myself” ( Phoenix Down / 2008 )

Off-the-wall video lifted from the Oxford-based duo’s forthcoming album “The Way”.

UK Hip-Hop Acts Needed – Rising Styles Hip-Hop Festival 2008

If you’re a talented UK Hip-Hop artist then this post is definitely for you!


The team behind this year’s Rising Styles Hip-Hop Festival (formerly known as the Brighton Hip-Hop Festival) are putting together a CD compilation in conjunction with July’s event to showcase some of the best Hip-Hop talent the UK has to offer.

The finished product will be available as a free Hip-Hop Connection cover-mount CD, with selected artists also being given some editorial exposure inside the magazine. 

The submission deadline for tracks has now been extended until Friday March 14th so click here for more info.


PyroRadio.Com presenter and HHC columnist DJ Excalibah (pictured above) will be involved in selecting the CD’s final tracklisting. The influential homegrown Hip-Hop figure had this to say when asked about what he’d be looking for from artist’s submissions and the importance of the Rising Styles event to the UK rap scene:

“We’re looking for solid new material showcasing the range of Rising Styles that are abundant in the UK. I’ve been an avid supporter of new artists for the last ten years and this CD fits in with everything I stand for.”

“The Rising Styles event is a culmination of all the elements of Hip-Hop from across the UK. We have nothing else like this in the UK therefore this event is very, very special. It allows artists and fans a platform to network and enjoy the scene we’ve been creating over the past twenty years. Big up the team behind it who work very hard for very little financial reward.”

So get clicking and reserve your place on what might just end up being one of the hottest UK rap albums of the year!

Game Time – Q-Tip / Guru

Footage of two Hip-Hop legends performing at Sony Playstation’s Block Party event as part of this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.



Quincey Tones Interview (Originally Printed In Hip-Hop Connection Issue 220 / Death Row Cover / March 2008)


In case you hadn’t noticed, the world is becoming an increasingly smaller place thanks to almost daily advances in technology, a situation that west London-based music man Quincey Tones has been very happy to use to his advantage. Introduced to hip-hop in the mid-90s and captivated by the sounds of legendary sample wizards such as DJ Premier and Pete Rock, Tones decided to try turning his beat-making hobby into a viable career in 2003. Unfortunately, Quincey’s sound, which he describes as “very soulful and melodic”, wasn’t exactly met with open arms by the homegrown rap fraternity.

“I was reaching out to a lot of UK rappers,” recalls Tones, “but I felt they weren’t really giving me a chance. Everyone seemed to be working with their own clique and didn’t want to hear what I had to offer. I felt quite downhearted, but then I decided to see if any of the American guys who I’d been listening to were interested. I started sending people my stuff on MySpace and almost straight away artists were coming back saying they liked what I was doing. They didn’t care that I was this British guy they knew nothing about, it was just all about the music.”

The amiable producer soon found himself placing beats on albums from respected stateside acts such as Casual (Hieroglyphics) and Apathy (Demigodz), which led to further interest from the likes of Masta Ace and DITC’s O.C..

“In some ways it can be difficult,” says Quincey when asked about the limitations of working with emcees located halfway around the globe. “I always try to get as involved as I can in the concept of a track and stay in regular contact with whoever I’m working with. When artists send vocals back to me I’ll give them some input in terms of what I might think could be done better. Everyone involved just has to be honest with each other and open to constructive criticism.”

2008 will see Tones release his as-yet-untitled debut album; a project he says will feature US, UK and European artists, including Kidz In The Hall lyricist Naledge and Ghostface protégé Trife, plus some “singer-songwriter types you wouldn’t normally expect to hear on a hip-hop project.”

With contributions to releases from Yungun, Torae and The Arsonists also wrapped up, the coming year definitely looks set to be a busy one for the bespectacled beat junkie. Proving that rap’s favourite gangster Tony Montana was right, the world really is yours.

Ryan Proctor

Underground Heavyweights – Percee P / Guilty Simpson

Bronx rhyme inspector Percee P freestyling with Detroit’s Guilty Simpson on DJ MK’s Kiss FM rap show this week.


New Joint – NYOIL

NYOIL – “Cap’n Save-A-Hoe” ( PEM Entertainment / 2008 )

Dope animated video for a track from NYOIL’s download-only project “9 Wonders” – reminds me of watching Saturday morning cartoons back in the day lol.

The Official Mixtape – Jon Wayne


Free mixtape from Jon Wayne of California’s Spacebound courtesy of Domination Recordings (shout out to DJ) – look for the forthcoming album “The Adventures Of Jazzy The Kat and Dirt McGruff”.

Peep the tracklisting below and download the music here.

1. Cake (ft. ???) — Prod. by ???
2. The Future (ft. AVI) — Prod. by Josh G
3. Overstand (ft. Trevor) — Prod. by Josh G
4. 1984 — Prod. by Flying Lotus
5. Lo-Key — Prod. by Bill
6. Don’t Move — Prod. by Yona
7. How Now Brown Cow — Prod. by 00Genesis
8. Pacifist — Prod. by Patch Lunch
9. What’s Wrong? — Prod. by The A3
10. Monstrosity — Prod. by Breakface
11. P.B. & Jon — Prod. by 00Genesis
12. Random Verse Snippet — Prod. by AVI
13. Tater Tots (ft. AVI) — Prod. by AVI
14. Just Another Rap Song — Prod. by JustAnotherDJ
15. Pee Wee Just Farted! — Prod. by 00Genesis
16. Definition of FRESH
a. Smooth Fresh — Prod. by Josh G
b. 80’s Fresh — Prod. by Riff Raff
c. No Fresh — Prod. by Breakface
17. Private Eyes (ft. Black Saint) — Prod. by Mozaik