Tag Archives: The Colony

New Joint – The Colony

The Colony – “Trifecta” (The-Colony.BandCamp.Com / 2023)

London’s mighty Colony crew make a welcome return with this G. Jones-produced single.

New Joint – The Colony

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The Colony – “Biggie Tribute” (@TheColonyOEM / 2014)

The UK crew pay tribute to Big Poppa on the 17th anniversary of his untimely death by rocking over some classic Biggie beats.

New Joint – The Colony

colony cover

The Colony – “To My Soul” (@TheColonyOEM / 2014)

The UK crew unleash another unreleased track from the vaults in the form of this 2012 cut featuring Conspicuous, Cobane and Grimlok.

New Joint – Conspicuous

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Conspicuous – “J Dilla Tribute” (@ConsOEM / 2014)

UK emcee and Colony member Cons remembers the late, great Dilla on the eighth anniversary of his passing.

New Joint – The Colony

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The Colony – “The Same” (@TheColonyOEM / 2014)

The UK collective unleash some unreleased flavour from the vaults featuring the lyrical talents of Sir Smurf Lil’, Cons and Cobane.

81 June 6 Album Download – Conspicuous


Veteran UK emcee and Colony member Conspicuous celebrates his birthday with the free release of this self-produced fourth solo album – full of honest, reflective rhymes and soulful, head-nodding production the album also features appearances from Tony D, Seanie T, Grimlok and more – download here.

New Joint – Conspicuous

Conspicuous – “All I Care About” (@ConsJuneBug / 2013)

Self-produced track from the UK emcee’s forthcoming album “81 June 6” which will feature The Colony, Seanie T, Reveal and more.

Old To The New Q&A – Cons

Originally entering the UK Hip-Hop scene under the moniker Conspicuous The Coroner, this charismatic Turkish emcee quickly gained attention through his work with London-based crew The Colony (which also counted Grimlok, Willo Wispa and Sir Smurf Lil’ as members).  After establishing his name as one to watch, Cons set to work on a number of well-received back-to-back solo albums including 2005’s “Backgammon” and his collaboration with talented UK producer Evil Ed entitled “The Get Together”.

Known for dropping personal, heartfelt rhymes over soulful, sample-based beats, Cons recently returned after something of a brief musical hiatus with his latest album “June Bug” (which also includes the many remixes of 2010’s nostalgia anthem “I’m So 90s” – Onyx fans take note).

Here, Cons discusses his early days in the rap game, not seeing eye-to-eye with beatbox extraordinaire Rahzel during a visit to NYC and some of his favourite 90s memories.

For those reading this who might not already be familiar with your music just give a brief breakdown of your early days and previous projects…

“I started rhyming seriously around 1998. My next door neighbour had a studio and would be playing music at all times so to keep my dad sweet he said said that I could go over there to record. One night he was sorting out some video work for Homegrown and asked if I wanted to go along. I remember it was Christmas 1999. I went along with him and it seemed like anybody who was anybody at the time was there like Reveal, Jehst, SkinnyMan, Rodney P, Skeme, 12 Stone, Manage, a bunch of people. Apollo was hosting and I think DJ AM was on the decks. I remember Apollo was telling people getting up to rhyme that if you spat with an American accent then don’t bother taking the mic. At the time I spat with an American accent (laughs) and that was the night I changed my style up so that I rhymed with my natural accent. That night it seemed like I met everyone and that was when I really started to take it more seriously. I met Grimlock and Smurf Lil’ through Homegrown and that was when we came together to form The Colony and put out our first 12” in 2002 which got single of the month in Hip-Hop Connection magazine. From there I started releasing some solo stuff and mixing with people like Lewis Parker and Outdaville. I put out my first solo album in 2005 which was “Backgammon” and then LG from Sit Tight Records got in touch and said he wanted to work on something together. At the same time I was also working on what would be the “Get Together” album with Evil Ed. But the “Family Photo Album” came out first on Sit Tight, then the Evil Ed album and then we did a Colony mixtape. After that though I had to pack up my studio because I had a daugther so we needed the space. So for three years I didn’t have a permanent place to record, I was just working at other people’s places. But at the beginning of this year I set up my own studio again, picked what I thought were some of the best tracks I’d done previously and re-recorded them to put out “June Bug” this year.”

The Colony made something of a splash in NYC during the early-to-mid Noughties working with the Stronghold crew  – what was that like?

“We went to New York for a shopping holiday (laughs). That’s all it was originally. We went to New York on a shopping trip and obviously I’d heard about Fat Beats so I wanted to see what that was all about. I went to Fat Beats and met an emcee called L.I.F.E. Long who was part of the whole Stronghold collective with Poison Pen, Immortal Technique and all those guys and he was really cool. But there were some funny stories that happened during that first New York trip. At the time I was a massive Thirstin Howl fan and I’d got a CD with a number on the back of it. Smurf had gone out that day and taken the video camera so it was just me and Propaganda (extended Colony fam) and we decided to call the number to see what would happen. We called the number and Thirstin picked up! I told him we were from Channel 4 in England and wanted to do a quick interview with him (laughs). I thought he was just going to say no but he said ‘Okay, I’ll expect you in two hours.’ We didn’t know what we were going to do (laughs). An hour goes past and Smurf’s still not back with the camera. Literally forty-five minutes before we were due to meet Thirstin we see Smurf walking back with the camera. We literally just grabbed him and told him we were going to Brooklyn (laughs). Smurf thought we were joking the whole ride on the train and still didn’t believe us until we got there and Thirstin opened the door (laughs). I’ve still got that footage but we really did just have to wing the interview though. But he told us a whole bunch of stuff like how he battled Jay-Z back in the day.”

That footage would be YouTube gold now…

“Yeah, I really need to dig that out (laughs). Now, the second time we went to Fat Beats there was a cipher outside with Sunz Of Man, dead prez, Questlove, L.I.F.E. Long and Razhel. No word of a lie, Rahzel was just straight up rude to us. We had copies of our Colony 12” on us to give out to people. So I walked up to Rahzel, introduced myself and offered him a copy of the single. He said, “I don’t have any decks.” So I said that maybe he could take it and give it to a deejay he might know. He said, “I’m Rahzel. I don’t need a deejay, I’ve got my mouth!” So anyway, we’re outside rhyming in the cipher and Rahzel is making these funny noises every time one of us is rhyming. So L.I.F.E. Long had to go over to him and have a word because he was only doing it to us UK emcees (laughs). It was funny.”

There definitely seemed to be a strong Colony / Stronghold bond for a minute though…

“When we came back to the UK L.I.F.E. Long stayed in touch and then the second time we went out there we recorded some material together and he suggested we did a Colony / Stronghold mixtape. We performed at End Of The Weak while we were out there and I gave a copy of the “Backgammon” CD to DJ Metaphysics who produced a lot of Immortal Technique’s early material and also did “Hell Yeah” for dead prez. The day before I was due to leave he messaged me saying that he had studio time booked with a whole bunch of artists and that I should come through. But by the time of the session I was due to be on a plane back to England. So we stayed in touch and the next year I went back to the States and he took me to the studio and we recorded some tracks. He was saying we should go and live in New York for six months and he could it make it happen for us. But that was something I just couldn’t do at the time. For the record though, Metaphysics passed away recently in a car crash so I just want to say a big rest in peace and send a big shoutout to him as he was one of the people in New York that really looked out for us and held us down properly. In general though, the response we got in New York was good. Obviously some people over there would say that we sounded funny but that was to be expected (laughs).”

Do you think making those Stateside connections actually gave you more a buzz here in the UK at the time?

“I think it did because at the time not many people were doing those sort of Stateside collaborations. Jehst had worked with J-Zone and there was the odd thing here and there but no-one had really come together at that time as a crew. During that period, they were the US Colony and we were the UK Stronghold. When we were all together it wasn’t just straight business and about making the music, we hung-out, we joked together, we talked about life, we were friends. But I think people definitely took more notice of us over here in the UK once we made those connections.”

Your solo material has always stood out for me because you’re not afraid to dig into your personal life for your subject matter – was that something you consciously decided to do to separate your own music from the more battle-orientated rhymes The Colony were known for?

“To be honest with you, I’ve just got a big mouth (laughs). To me music is all about expression. Battle rapping was something that everyone was doing when I started rhyming, but to be honest I’ve never been that comfortable doing it, expecially not in a crew like The Colony that contained emcees like Willo and Grimlok who were so good at it. I mean I could drop battle rhymes, but I never felt like it was my strong point so I just decided I wanted to make music that really showed people who I was as a person which was really the motivation behind recording “Backgammon”. Regardless of how much it sold, I do feel like “Backgammon” was something of a turning point in our scene in terms of the old soul samples I was using and the concepts throughout the album. I could hear the influence of that album in some of the material that bigger UK artists started making afterwards. But at the time, in 2005, I don’t think anyone in the UK scene was doing what I did on “Backgammon”. I’m not saying that what I did on that album was entirely new but I don’t think it had been done in the UK as a complete package. Personally, I feel you should be honest in your music. I think the word ‘real’ has been bastardised because nowadays for people to consider you ‘real’ you have to show how supposedly gangsta you are. That’s what the word ‘real’ means to a lot of people right now. You could be an Oxford graduate with nine PhDs and all you rhyme about is physics, but if you’re tight with the way you spit those rhymes then what’s not real about it? So both listeners and artists are getting the meaning of being truthful and real mixed up. I’m just me in my music and I’m just an average joe and a lot of time hearing people talk about real experiences is more interesting than listening to someone talk about what they think they should be saying to be considered real.”

You came up during a period when there was still a very active Hip-Hop scene in London – do you think that scene still exists today?

“It does and it doesn’t. The Hip-Hop scene that I came up in revolved around Lewis Parker, Jehst, Blak Twang, Seanie T, Task Force, SkinnyMan, Mud Fam and that circle of artists. You’d go to a jam in Camden and all the same people are there. You’d go to a jam in Ladbroke Grove and all the same people are there. It was the same group of people that you’d see at nearly every jam and everyone knew each other. I still think that scene exists to a certain extent because when you go to some shows you’ll still see some of the people from those circles there but overall it has become fragmented. Back when I was starting out you had to pay dues and go through certain avenues like performing at a Homegrown or a Battlescars to gain your respect and for people to start mentioning your name. Now you can come straight out of your bedroom or battle people on YouTube (laughs). We didn’t have that back then. The Internet has definitely brought with it a higher level of awareness of artists because you never know who’s looking and listening to your stuff.”

Which brings us nicely to the point of Onyx recently releasing a track called “I’m So 90s” a year after your own track and series of remixes under the same title – pure coincidence?

“I’m not saying that they bit me in any way shape or form, but even if they weren’t aware of me when they made their version, when they put their track on YouTube and typed in “I’m So 90s” they would’ve seen my music come up. So whether they were aware of Cons beforehand, I now know that Sticky Fingaz and Fredro Starr, two emcees I grew-up listening to, are aware of me now. They have to be. Whether they’ve listened to my music or not is another question, but they are at least aware that there’s a UK artist out there called Cons who’d already done a track called “I’m So 90s”. Now, fifteen years ago, before everyone was on the Internet, that situation would never have happened. How could an underground artist such as myself have made themselves known to a group like Onyx? It would have been very hard. But now with the Internet you just never know who’s going to come across your music while they’re online. Also, going back to your earlier question about the UK scene, I think the Internet has united the underground scene as a whole, so now it’s not necessarily about a UK underground scene, an American underground scene and the similar scenes from other countries, the Internet has helped merge them all together because of people being able to communicate so freely, so now there’s a global underground scene which is how I think it’s supposed to be.”

So what did the 90s mean to you when you look back on them now?

“To me the 90s was just all about discovering new music and artists coming out trying different things and wanting to bring something new to the table. It was all about watching “The Box” and waiting to see those underground Hip-Hop videos that would get played on there. Talking to your friends about what had been shown on “Rap City” the day before. Listening to Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” for the first time really low so my parents wouldn’t hear the swearing. Laughing at the jokes in the “House Party” movies (laughs). Watching 2Pac in “Juice” and Ice Cube in “Boyz N The Hood” and “Friday”.  Those are good memories. In the 90s, black American culture wasn’t as widespread in the UK as it is today. Hip-Hop culture hadn’t blown up like it has now and really it was only just starting to blow-up in the States in the 90s. So for me that period was really all about discovering the music and the culture because it wasn’t everywhere to be found like it is today. You really had to look for it back then which made it seem more special.”

The “June Bug” album seems to have been received well since its release a couple of months ago so what’s next on the agenda for Cons?

“This next project that I’m looking to put out might be my final album. Since “June Bug” came out I’ve recorded another ten tracks for this next album. I’m going to keep recording until December and then take a look at what I’ve recorded and put the album together from that. With this next project I want to really push the boundaries musically and incorporate a lot of live instrumentation alongside the sample-based production that people already know I like to use. I’m really competing with myself on this new project because I want to outdo every other album I’ve put out and the only way I can feel I can do that is to try something new. As it could be my last solo album I also want to document the whole process so that people can really see what goes into my music. So watch this space.”

Ryan Proctor

The album “June Bug” is out now on CD and digital download through Ottomanelfmusic.