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Marvin Sparks interviews Skepta

Following the success of the summer clubland anthem Too Many Man, Goin In is the new single from grime collective Boy Better Know. Marvin Sparks caught up with Skepta to discuss the lack of crews in grime, whether he was happy with the final outcome of Too Many Man, regrets from his crossover attempt, Chipmunk`s tweets and the importance of credibility. read that here on PyroRadio.com

For the full interview which includes his opinion on the relevance of clashing, more regrets, whether he'll be on Lord of the Mics 3, what he'd change about the grime scene, #BBKcorrection, his own future plans, IndustryHater, Grime Daily vs. Grimeforum and more carry on reading below



Marvin Sparks: How did BBK form?

Skepta:
We’re just mandem. Everyone knew each other from early.

Marvin Sparks: Who’s actually in the group?

Skepta:
Skepta, JME, Aaron BBR, Frisco, Shorty, and Maximum. And can’t forget Sam that’s BBK

Marvin Sparks: What about Wiley? Is he not in the group anymore?

Skepta:
I don’t know, I don’t like to say his name included in the group when I do interviews because one minute he’s in it, the next minute he doesn’t want to be, so I just leave it up to him. It’s up to him to say yes or no. I don’t vouch for him, he’s just on his own thing, but as for the people I mentioned they’re definitely in it.

Marvin Sparks: How would you describe your sound? Both Too Many Man and Goin In aren’t typical grime.

Skepta:
Our sound? Super hype!

Marvin Sparks: So it’s all about making bangers for clubs?

Skepta:
It’s all about being hype and vybzin’.

Marvin Sparks: At grime’s height the scene had loads of crews, but it isn’t like that anymore. Why do you think that is?

Skepta:
Because they weren’t real [friends]. They didn’t grow up with each other. There are only a few crews left, and all the crews that are left actually grew up together. It isn’t fake. I’m never not going to be around Shorty, Frisco or Jammer. Some people are Boy Better Know like Jammer, but not directly. When he’s in a video it will just be Boy Better Know because he’s family like that. Crews like Ruff Sqwad and SN1 are still about. All the crews that were made up because it was the best MC’s in their ends/area, they just all fell apart because they weren’t real.

Marvin Sparks: Were you happy with the success of Too Many Man?

Skepta:
Yeah. When we first made the tune radio weren't supporting it. When we were going to do the video originally, we were going to do something that would get us a lot of TV play so we could chart with it. Then we came to the conclusion that if radio weren’t supporting it, it’s not worth doing some plush video, looking all nice with bright colours and that, we were just gonna do a proper vibes video with the face paint and the hood look, so its got that credibility.

It’s not like we tried to make it go commercial. If you try to make it go commercial and it doesn’t go commercial, that’s a fail init. If you just keep it real to yourself and keep it credible then the tune is gonna be an anthem for time. People don’t like commercial shit - I’ve noticed that. No matter how much people like to see success, once a song goes commercial or videos commercial people just go off it, because people that don’t really know about it start liking it. When you’re walking down the road and some guy in skinny jeans is tryna say “You don’t know about Boy Better Know” then people get mad and say “Boy Better Know are shit!”

At the moment we are just trying to make everything look credible and real. The video was good for Too Many Man, it’s a classic and all the people who know about Boy Better Know love it.

Marvin Sparks: All that stuff you are saying about going commercial and wanting to stay credible, is that something you learnt from your own experience of attempting to crossover commercially with Rolex Sweep and Sunglasses at Night?

Skepta:
Yeah man. Everything I do throughout my career I think; if I die tomorrow, God forbid, I’d like to be remembered by my last video. The only thing that I was upset about with Rolex Sweep is I didn’t spit a lot of lyrics. I reckon I could have spat a lot more lyrics in the gaps. Somebody who listens to that tune may think “I don’t like that Skepta guy, he can’t spit. Why did he leave so many gaps?” When I did Sunglasses At Night, I spat a proper lyric that I can go to the most ghetto or grimey rave and say it. Obviously after that I done Too Many Man so yeah, it’s nice to be in a place where I wanna be. I’m just learning everyday.

Marvin Sparks: The Goin In video is getting a lot of praise. How did the song come about?

Skepta:
Basically Jammer was sleeping in the studio, I was messing about [singing] on the vocoder, that T-Pain thing, we made the beat around it, my [friend] Majestic came and put the electric guitar on it, C Gritz did the chorus and everyone just wrote their lyrics and it got formulated.

But it’s mad because when we did the actual tune, Jammer’s sleeping then the chorus to the tune, we didn’t realise that... when we were sitting in the car thinking what video we should do, it all naturally formed like “We could actually make Jammer be asleep in the yard, we get to his house, it’s his birthday and he’s sleeping in the bed then we could say we‘re going in,” so the video kinda made itself.

A lot of people never got the tune when we first made it. There were mixed reactions like “Argh this is shit” or “It isn’t as good as Too Many Man”, but we weren’t trying to make another Too Many Man, we were just trying to make our vibe. But then the video came out and people realised the hype is immense!

Marvin Sparks: That’s real talk, a lot of people on the forums weren’t feeling the track until the video came out.

Skepta:
If you make a tune on a hype ting, no one can really hate it. If you hated it, that’s not really real because that’s our vibe, init. If you like us as people, like our music or you like our vibe, you can’t hate on Goin In ‘cos that’s our hype. If you don’t like it I don’t know what hype you’re on, you aren’t on our vibe.

Marvin Sparks: Also on the forums, many posters said your flow sounds like Devilman’s. Would you like to address that?

Skepta:
My flow is nothing to do with Devilman’s. You know what it is, I clashed him and after the thing was done, I started seeing couple videos uploaded to Youtube of him saying stuff about baby mothers. I know he said that in the clash but clashing is clashing. After that, I heard all this baby mum talk. I haven’t got any youths, but in 3 or 5 years time if I have a child and he goes school and everyone’s trying to say “I went on Youtube and some guy is cussing your mum”, so I went back and just tried to cover my tracks. Just write some songs that will address that situation.

When I wrote that lyric “Can you do better? Always ready I bet you a tenner” that was just a vibe we were on. My flow on Goin’ In is not anything to do with Devilman, that’s just Skepta. It’s when Jammer comes in with “The rasta’s ready!” that is in the Devilman vibe.

It’s just like I’m 50 Cent and he’s Ja Rule, I’m just murkin’ him. All that shit he was saying to me on Youtube, for that I will make sure of it that he will never, ever, ever get a say in this music ting! I will never stop another black man from getting money, but I’ll never let him be the man he think he is trying to cuss my baby mother. Next time he is going to learn never test the boss!

Marvin Sparks: You speak a lot about making music on a hype, what do you do to get into that vibe?

Skepta:
It’s natural; I’m just one of those people. I don’t know when it’s going to go, but I’m just always on a hype. Same as my brother [JME], same as BBR, same as Shorty, same as Jammer, we’re just always on a hype. I believe that this music is for everyone to vibe to. Some people make this mixtape music to listen to in your yard for man smoking their weed and that, I used to make that, but I realise what’s doing it.

I’ve been headlining shows for four years now. I’ve never had a quiet point in my career. From the day I made Doin it Again ‘til I’ve made Goin In all I’ve concentrated on, specialised in and wanted to do is make hits and bangers. When I go into the studio I don’t really premeditate anything, I don’t write bars down, it’s all in my head. I just vibe, create a hype, sing it in my house, then just put it down in the studio.

Marvin Sparks: The major label deal never really worked out for you, if a couple major labels came knocking would you be interested in taking that route again?

Skepta:
At the moment with Boy Better Know, we’re just trying to make it work naturally. We aren’t trying to get signed or anything. I think there was a time when Rolex Sweep came out, that was the right time for it to go, but when labels get involved they don’t really know what is happening for real, they are just watching from afar trying to look in. All the work that I did initially with the Timmy Mallet stuff, all the other stuff, they thought that was nothing. They were trying to get some new ting poppin’. They put the tune out too late; that tune was supposed to come out a good 4 months before. Can’t look back, so just gotta carry on moving.

At the moment, it isn’t a record label ting, that's when they will start trying to make us do things we don’t wanna do. Right now Boy Better Know is just us doing what we wanna do and it‘s got credibility. No matter if I want to go away tomorrow and do a year of commercial work, when I come back in the rave and say “Boy Better Know” man know in the grime scene that’s a credible thing to say. I don’t want to get back and say Boy Better Know and it sounds like Spice Girls! Like we just go away for a year, then come back and we’re air, no one rates us and no one cares.

Marvin Sparks: So credibility is a big thing to you then?

Skepta:
Yeah that’s the main thing, I remember before when it wasn’t about all this money, getting record deals and that shit, when I was younger and I listened to all them crews all I wanted to do was buss up the microphone. Once you’ve got the mentality in your mind that all you want to do is buss up the microphone, that’s when you write your best lyrics. Instead of focusing on all this other shit like worrying about what your clothes are gonna look like in the video or gonna get signed and all that shit, you lose creativity. You’re just thinking about shit you didn’t have to be thinking about.

I’ve got to remember that, like I said before, long life and prosperity and all that, but I’m going to pass away one day and I have to leave a legacy in this world. I want people to look back like “He was f*cking ‘ard! Whenever he was on a riddim he would murk it.”

Marvin Sparks: If you could change one thing about the grime scene or the way people see the grime scene what would it be?

Skepta:
One thing I could change?

Marvin Sparks: For example, a lot of fans heavily critique what is and isn’t grime or maybe the artists creativity or lack of.

Skepta:
I don’t know, I don’t know. I’m a person who accepts change, so when shit starts changing... Sometimes I’ll go to a video of mine, then go to look at the comments, I go 3 comments down and I see people chatting shit. I think “Why am I even reading what you’re saying?” I have to remind myself when I come off it. Why am I actually reading what they are saying? I know when I was making the tune, I knew it was cold. If you don’t like it, just don’t listen to it. I know the tune is cold, I listen to it in my car with my mandem, I’ll tell myself when it’s swag.

I don’t really care what anyone thinks, as long as I know that I am a credible artist, I can accept everything. I was talking to my friend the other day about the tape days, and making a tape with your bredren or going to radio and must murking. Them days are going, man. It’s sad, but at the same time people are growing up and got families to feed, so change has to happen for the world to progress. So yeah man, I wouldn’t change anything. I’m happy the way everything is. I’m just doing my thing, Boy Better Know forever, for life, for every generation until the world ends.

Marvin Sparks: What do you check first; Grime Daily or Grimefourm?

Skepta:
Grime Daily. I like Grime Daily man, it’s everything that you need to know. I like them, I like them.

Marvin Sparks: Are you going to do another Westwood freestyle? The last one passed one million views and you said once you hit that mark you’ll do another one.

Skepta:
Imagine this yeah; I done the freestyle, passed a million hits, phoned [Westwood] and told him I want to do another freestyle, but he told me I have to do the Crib Sessions - them ones where you have to hold the mic. I don’t know if it’s my era of the game but I love when I watch the ones with the mic hanging. BBC took away his Sunday show, so I was a bit annoyed. I need to do one though. I may just set up something like go to a venue somewhere and just get camera’s filming with Westwood on the decks as long as he can put it on his channel. I need to get another million views.

Marvin Sparks: What’s your opinion on clashing in ‘09 going to 2010? Is it still relevant? I know Lord of the Mics 3 is in process.

Skepta:
I think its good training. When you feel like you aren’t up to scratch, I think it’s something to remind you whether you’re ready lyrically. Everyone’s on the mic talking about “Yeah, I’m a badman” or “I got the better garms”, “I’m so fly”, “I got the most girls” or “I got the best car”. Everyone’s on the mic biggin’ themselves up, so if a next man is going to tell you you’re not, what you going to say back? If you’re going to be on the mic saying all that stuff in the first place, you need to be prepared for a man to tell you he’s better than you.

I think it’s good. I don’t think you should concentrate your whole career on it. I’ve done it. When I first came into the game I remember I was clashing 8 man at once. Anywhere in London I went to I’d get myself into some mix-up with some sort of crew. What I’ve noticed is, now, people feel [scared] to approach me. Certain artists look at me and think “He must think he’s bad”, ’cos they’ve got that preconception. Then you’ve got someone like D Double E that never clashed anyone, and no one [is afraid] to say they love him as an MC. I will never [be afraid] to say he’s the best.

A lot of MC’s will not say I’m the best, because they think I’m gonna want to clash them one day or I have that attitude that I think I am a gangsta or I think I am the best anyway. If I could change it, I probably would have never clashed anyone unless it was an organised clash like the Lord of the Mic ting. I would have done the Devilman [clash] ‘cos that was enjoyable for me. But all them other clashes before, I think that it kind of put out a side of me that I don’t really want people... like now I’m older. At the time I didn’t really care, I was straight off road, I didn’t care what anyone thought. I just knew if anything kicked off I got mandem that would come and help me to do this ting, but now that I’m older I’d say that I wouldn’t have like to have done it ‘cos it was a bit reckless and now a lot of MC’s don’t know how to act towards me. They look at me like I think I’m bad, whereas I’m just a cool guy.

Marvin Sparks: Are you going to be on Lord of the Mics 3?

Skepta:
Naaaaaahhhh!!! I think I set pace on Lord of the Mics 2; I’m happy with that clash. I would rematch Devilman ‘cos I think I beat him but I did repeat one lyric. I would clash him; this is the super confidence I’ve ever had and just bury his whole life to the ground bruv.

Marvin Sparks: You were one of the main pushers of Ed Hardy back in the day. Is Ed Hardy dead now?

Skepta:
Ed Hardy’s dead! From Peter Andre’s pioneering it now I had to burn it. I don’t think I’ve worn it in a good couple months. My wardrobe's getting empty now, I’ve been giving it away. I might just drop them outside a charity shop or something.

I hear a lot of MC’s trying to diss Ed Hardy in their bars now, but at the time when Ed Hardy was the lick I was running it bruv! Let’s not lie, let’s not lie! We can all go on like it’s [rubbish] now, ‘cos it is swag now, and I’ll say it’s swag now, but when it was the boost, I was the boost. So if there’s a new boost everyone think their on, I’ll just be the boost of it again.

The last few months of ‘08 to early months of ‘09 was the hype part of it, but it’s just gone now.

Marvin Sparks: What would you say is the realest shit you’ve ever written?

Skepta:
The realest? Wow! All my bars are real, first of all. I think the deepest thought I’ve ever had was “God forgive me if I buss my nine”. It’s a thought that a lot of people on the road think but would never say in their bars. When I said it I thought “Yeah that’s sick!” I knew people would like it. I knew people who were actually out there doing this ting on road would think “I can’t believe he said that on the mic.”

Marvin Sparks: What do you prefer; the money, cars, clothes or the hoes?

Skepta:
The money, the cars, the clothes or the hoes?! WOW!!! The money. The cars. The clothes. The hoes. Shiesty! Probably... probably... it’s between the money and the hoes, but I don’t know which... nah the money, the money, the money!

Marvin Sparks: Why’s that?

Skepta:
Because I can look after my family with it.

Marvin Sparks: Speaking of which, big look on buying your dad a car.

Skepta:
I know, that was a hype! It was nuts. I’ve never done it before but it was a hype. Obviously it wasn’t a Bentley or anything but it was good. He can keep that for like the next 6 years and that’s gonna be his car so it felt quite good, still. It made me realise that, for every club I go - for example, I go to clubs in central London and spend like £3,000 on alcohol, drink it, then come home wake up in the morning and piss it out in the toilet. It makes me think that if I didn’t go out 3 times I could buy one for my mum. Priorities, man.

Marvin Sparks: You produced and featured on the remix of Chipmunk’s Oopsy Daisy, have you spoken to Chipmunk since the suicidal tweets?

Skepta:
I texted him but he never got back to me. I will say I’m worried about him, at the same time I’d like to say it doesn’t sound like Chipmunk should be thinking that. Maybe, I don’t know whether it was set-up by the label because when guys are signed now, I don’t know what to believe about anything. I know that Chipmunk has got a lot of strong characters around him and he’s got a strong personality.

When I saw the tweet, I thought it was at a concert, jumped in the crowd and people were dragging him so much he thought he was gonna die or something mad - I don’t even know what I was thinking. Last thing I was thinking was that he’d wanna kill himself. There’s no need for that. He’s got a lot of mandem around him - grounded people - people that people that feel suicidal shouldn't have that feeling. What ever his problem is, he’s got too many people around him to solve that for him. Obviously he got famous early, but he’s around people so it’s not like he’s just an alien. But yeah, I’ve texted him and I hope he’s alright.

Marvin Sparks: As a follower of your on Twitter I see you have the BBK correction, what pronunciation annoys you the most?

Skepta:
When people say “My bredrin’s in the bin“. It’s b-i-n-g, yeah, BING! Don’t say my bredrin’s in the bin. I’m like “why’s your bredrin in the bin for? He must stink! “My bredrin’s in the bin,” tell him hop in the shower!

Marvin Sparks: And what are you guilty of mispronouncing?

Skepta:
You know what I do say; I say he’s instead of his. I would say “That’s he’s phone”. Donatella said it to me on Twitter the other day and I was like “I actually say that”. I can’t be correcting people and be chatting shit myself.

Marvin Sparks: What do you make of IndustryHater and do you have any suspicions as to who it is?

Skepta:
I don’t know who he is but obviously he’s just tryna be involved in something because he probably can’t make no tunes.

Marvin Sparks: Do you find his tweets funny?

Skepta:
I don’t follow him so I don’t see it. Sometimes when I'm going through my mentions list I’ll see something that he said, but I don’t see all his tweets.

Marvin Sparks: What can we expect in 2010. What are your aims and hopes?

Skepta:
I got a new single that’s coming out at the end of February. That’s solo because after [BBK] Goin’ In, I’m going back to my own thing. I’m going on the Chipmunk tour in February. I’m supporting on his tour.

Marvin Sparks: That’s a big look! Who else is going to be on that?

Skepta:
I can’t remember the girls name, but she’s a new girl that’s been signed to [Always Recordings] and Tinie Tempah, so I’ve got a song that I’m gonna be promoting in January through to February. I’m gonna put out a next song in summer time that will take me around the summer island resorts, one more single when I come back, then put my album out called Doin It Again.

Marvin Sparks: What’s the future for BBK? Working towards an album?

Skepta:
Everyone’s individual, there aren’t any tag alongs in Boy Better Know. There’s no little swag, little cruddy guys just trying to hold on to people’s coats. We’re just gonna keep doing our individual ting, once in a while you’ll hear another banger from Boy Better Know, by the time we get 7 tunes that are naturally hype and raw - no fakeness - we’ll just formulate the album and put it out. It’s gonna be called VI, we aren’t gonna say a date right now, but there will be one.

Marvin Sparks: I’m not 100% sure but I’m sure I saw someone tweeting about a possible link up between Boy Better Know, Roll Deep and Eskiboy. Is there any truth to that?

Skepta:
Nah, it’s not true. If it was happening I’d definitely know about it.

Words by Marvin Sparks [www.marvinsparks.blogspot.com / www.twitter.com/MarvinSparks]

Boy Better Know's hot new single Goin In is available to buy from 14th December on iTunes


You may also be interested in:

My Tinchy Stryder interview here

My interview with Chipmunk here



And bonus piece of footage

My gawd, the things I'd do with you Dynamic Dolly! Things like eating a pizza and downing a couple jars to those with naughty minds. What else?

JME is a smart guy. Last 2 were easy but the coffin one, unless its common, I didn't get that one. I'm judging him on the time and way he made his calculations more than anything.

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