Monday, 21 July 2008

Stevie Hyper D -Anniversary Piece BIG SMOKE Magazine

Stevie Hyper D

Throughout history the music game has provided us with great artists, pioneer artists, those whose innovative styles and rebellious ambition to test the stereotype have pushed their music to new levels. On the tenth anniversary of his death Big Smoke caught up with the biggest fans of one such artist, nephew Daryl Hyper D and Bionic (London Posse) to talk about the Original Junglist soldier and the Legacy he created.

Stevie was a West London kid listening to Jamaican Ragga with a deep routed passion for emceeing. His greatest loves where Hip Hop and Reggae which along with his heavy West Indies roots gave birth to his innovative style setting him apart from mc’s popular at the time ‘he would come with a structure, chorus, verse much like a rapper would’. Daryl recollects. But instead of pursuing a Hip Hop angle he saw an opportunity to do something different in the acid house/ hardcore scene that was dominating the summers of 88/89 ‘Stevie was about bubbling, he would hold a rave for 5 hours whilst other mc’s would have an hour set and pass the mic. The first time I heard Roots Manuva’s ‘Run Come Save Me’ was how Stevie made me feel. That feeing you get from a great artist.’In the early days Daryl Hyper D and the rest of Stevie’s entourage would hustle Stevie to the stage, making sure he got the mic. Daryl remembers the early struggle ‘we would have those big raves, Fantasy, Peace-Fest, Stevie was up and coming. If you turned up they’d give you 75 quid, but we had to get to Milton Keynes, Luton or Birmingham. So we used to all chip in and get a mini bus. For 2 years Stevie was doing that and we were behind him we were nobodies. We had to go hustle the mic of these guys who we all new Stevie was 10 times better then.’
‘The type of person he was and that, didn’t go with that image, he was just too real.’ Bionic remembering their first meeting outside the Lazzer Drum, Peckham in 94 ‘ My bredrin took we to one rave, there were bare gals, and every girl was like Stevie Hyper D! Stevie hyper D! I heard the name but didn’t know who he was. Girls were all over him. Stevie was like ‘Yo, Bionic man I used to listen to your music’ and all the girls were like who’s Bionic?’ He grins ‘We got all the girls in the car and went to his show in Tottenham. On the way he was telling me how the DJ’s have got it and MC’s just bust’ Bionic and Stevie quickly found common ground. 
‘His ideas were big! He’s on music, making records. Stevie was on the same level as me, he was future enough to say ok lets make a Drum n Bass version of All I want to do is have some fun. From that minute we had the link. Then he brung me to bare raves. I was like fucking hell bare sexy gals everywhere. I thought this new music was mad! It was like how Miami bass hit me in America. Then I saw him chat rave after rave and thought mans bad! I’ve replayed that moment back in my head the most. The meeting was the beginning of a new stage of my life. I was an angry bad person and that’s what a lot of people remember me for. He brought me to the enjoyment stage of life where I needed to be.’Stevie’s ability to hold an arena of happy ravers for hours on end saw him become a pioneer in the jungle and Drum n Bass scene in the early nineties. His career gave him resident spots at Movement, The Hope, Telepathy, Elevation, Jungle Mania, Innervation to name a few and saw him tour heavily from Canada to Australia, Japan to Europe mostly financed by himself.
‘It felt like he toured every weekend, Germany was like his second home’. Daryl explains. ‘People would see Stevie’s name on the flyer and be like Yeh I’m going to that rave, not cos of the DJ, but the MC, cos you know its gonna be a show.’ Not happy that he was billed to one rave while DJ’s were doing 3 -4 sets a night he began to build a new approach to emceeing, preparing lyrics for dubplates that were currently smashing up and knowing exactly when they’d be dropped by the DJ at the time. 
‘He was all about UK music getting recognized, especially MC’s. Stevie would say that next year was gonna be about the MC and that really burnt a lot of DJ’s.’
‘Hip Hop is lyrically based.’ adds Bionic. ‘And most of the DnB DJ’s in the scene didn’t ever want DnB to be like Hip Hop. They didn’t want to be the little DJ in the background that everybody didn’t give a fuck about.’His ability to hold his own as an MC in a scene dominated by the DJ saw him team up with the established Nicky Blackmarket, a partnership that broke new ground.
‘He knew to make money, to be recognized worldwide you had to cross that barrier, had to do something that’s not the norm. Something that’s not UK Hip Hop, not Jungle.’
Stevie had come along way from his days as a teen splitting over 12 inch ragee rhythms with his ‘5 man army’ crew. At the time of Stevie’s death, he was working twice as much. Signed to Island records he was working on a new album ‘Next Step’ by Different Levels. It seemed the best was only yet to come. But unfortunately on the 5th of July 1998 music lost one of its greatest performers. Stevie Hyper D died of a heart attack with a history of heart problems running in the family. There was a lot of mystery associated with his death, Daryl explains ‘I like the mystery surrounding his death, there’s 
so many stories on the internet that he died on stage, it was an overdose. It was like when Jimi Hendrix died. For the past 7-8 years it’s always been patchy. It happened with people close to Stevie but not the family.
After smashing a massive rave in Canada with Nicky Blackmarket and Kenny Ken within that week he had been complaining of chest pains. But he was like na man its indigestion. He was worried of course but thought it was a consequence of traveling too much, parties and rich living. His death was a wake up call for a lot of the people in the industry who lived the lifestyle’‘On a Thursday or Friday he did a massive rave, one nation or something, he went home with his girl and that’s when I got the call that Stevie was in hospital. No one new what had happened. Stevie was always a joker. I thought he was winding me up. He was more like my brother then my uncle, who took me to my first rave. I couldn’t accept it, he was only 32.’
The scene stopped and paid tribute to a fallen soldier with two raves at the End and Camden Palace with everyone you can name in Drum n Bass wanting to pay homage. Shortly followed the release of ‘Legend’ with all profits going to Stevie’s mum Aida.
‘The rave was packed’ Bionic remembers ‘I was so hurt that day, I felt it when they started rinsing his tunes, that was a love thing. That was huge. For the next year, bare times I thought I’d seen Stevie, you couldn’t accept it. We said we were gonna make a group, He new we were gonna bang up the world and then he died. That crushed man. For so many years people have tried to bring me back to music. So when he died that’s when I knew I had to come out of the music completely.’
‘Stevie was a workaholic doing raves from Wednesday to Sunday.’ Daryl adds ‘He lived the lifestyle. When he would come of stage it was time for him to get out his big bag of ‘dro and nice bottle of brandy and kick back with what ever woman he had.’ So he was a ladies man. Daryl grins ‘ Stevie was a dog man he didn’t have to hide it. Drum and Bass was part of his life. That day twenty different girls ran me asking if it was true. If he had a rave in Bournemouth he had a girl in Bournemouth, know what I mean, It was that lifestyle. When I went to his stone two years ago, there was a girl crying her eyes out, I didn’t know her and asked her if she new him. She said how she lived in Hastings and he used to come she her. I was like ra people 8 years on were still mourning him.’ Bionic continues ‘At the time in America, Hip Hop was a road ting, when I dropped Money mad people weren’t on it, Hip Hop here wasn’t a road ting. America weren’t hearing you if you were British Hip Hop, we needed our own ting, so when Stevie showed me the flex, I loved the flex. English everything English. When I did shows I was a crowd man, when I saw Stevie I was like yeh, he’s a showman. He was an entertainer, when he went no one else was able to recreate his input.’ Drum n Bass was the voice of Britain’s youth and Stevie took it across the waters making a name for himself state side. ‘When I went back 
to America after his death, I wanted to hear what was being said. It was nothing but Stevie mate. LA, New Orleans, Canada. The name Stevie Hyper D was everywhere!’
It took Stevie 4 years with Nicky Blackmarket before he got his first MC award in 1997. In 2007 the Drum N Bass scene presented Daryl with the Stevie Hyper D Memorial award, for his lifetime achievement to the cores ‘when my man Stevie picked up his award in 97 it was one category, best MC, now there are 8 categories for MC. I couldn’t believe it. The MC in the DnB had now got his props.’
On the Ten year anniversary of his death Daryl Hyper D has started ‘Generation Hyper’, a project that stems from a new generation raised on Stevie Hyper D which will include rare releases, remixes and a documentary narrated by Bionic.
‘When Stevie died a lot of people said DnB was dead’ Daryl explains ‘its about ten years later, seeing how music has progressed from Stevie, my man innovated something, he’s not here to see it but he took all the elements of what urban music was, found a template to relay it on and smash it with. What Stevie did was install something bigger then Drum n Bass. He put in place a format that no one has yet been able to recreate.’

" right about now I did it my way, in da place, in da place, move your body to da drum and da bass, cause stevie hyper's right now on the case" - Stevie Hyper D

Shlomo Interview 9/07 Nottingham Mic Magazine

From touring the world as member of the coolest UK Hip Hop crews around, The Foreign Beggars, to blowing thousands of people away with nothing but his mouth and a microphone at this years summer festivals.
Shlomo is one of the finest beatboxers the UK has to offer and now he wants you to sit and pay attention as he takes the fifth element of Hip Hop to another dimension.
I caught up with the humble man behind the voice during sound check at Nottingham’s Stealth to talk past, present, future and music through unconventional means.

Now one of the UK’s finest beatboxers, how did you first get into the oral delight?

It all began when I was a kid. I learnt to play the drums at like 8 years old.
I was always doing it, I didn’t know what it was, this sound, but like I was always playing out rhythms on my legs and stuff. Then I kinda released other people did it, so I was like ‘shit I already do that!’….
But my sounds where never realistic sounds just rhythms, so I then i was like ‘right I’m gonna learn to do things properly.’
So then I started doing shows, open mic nights and stuff. Moved out to Leeds, did loads of gigs. Did this gig and got picked up by the foreign beggars. With them I went all over toured the Europe, the states and Canada

And the rest is history. Did you come from a musical background?

Yeh. My dad’s a jazz guitarist so I used to play drums in his band. My parents have always been totally supportive.

What do you say to those that say that beat boxing is a gimmick, reserved for house parties and showing off?

Yeh! You get that a lot. People don’t think of it as a way of making music but rather a way of impressing people. For me when I first started doing beatbox shows I always thought of it as my party trick. Even then I was like this is my way of impressing people, ‘cos everyone thinks it’s impressive. Back then I never really connected it with the music that I had in my head, I just connected it with another thing I did. It wasn’t till I had been touring for a couple years that I did this track with Björk for the Athens Olympic Games.

It was Grammy nominated right?

Yeh, It was wicked! 4.5million people could have heard that track at that point. And when I went into the studio with her she just treated me like an artist. She treated me like a musician. I was amazed how musical she was treating beatboxing, So I was like ‘hold on a minute I’ve been making music all my life, it obviously is music it’s not just a way of showing off.’

I gotta ask man, is Bijork really a fruitcake?

No, everyone asks me this man. She’s not at all, It was really cool to meet her. I mean people always think she’s mad but she’s not at all she’s actually really shy. She was more intimidated by me then I was of her, and I was a kid back then like twenty….twentyone.

Working with the likes of Bijork and Natalie Williams to name a few, means working with different artists and their different personalities. Do you consider yourself a patient person?

Erm..well I’m pretty chilled out…. With music I think half of the key to success isn’t necessarily your talent It’s how you are. If you get on with people musically you will get on with them. And like, especially with the projects I’ve been doing recently were I’ve started bringing people together and trying to create like this unified thing, you gotta be able to handle everyone’s ego. You gotta make sure everyone feels happy and that’s probably the biggest challenge. Just to make sure everyone is happy.

You’ve now established yourself as a name with your own sound. Looking back at the long list of tours and your achievements with Foreign Beggars has it ever freaked you out the level of your success?

It does get a bit tripy sometimes if you see yourself in the paper or on TV. And like the funny ones is when you do the festival circuit in the summer, like the The Big Chill. You go on to 10,000 people packed into this field all fucking screaming your name and then your back at home and no ones screaming your name and you’re like ‘oh shit I gotta do the washing up’. I think it’s important to keep your feet on the ground, even when its all abit crazy and your pinching yourself to see if its real but you just got to remember you’re still a normal person – you just happen to be lucky.

Let’s talk about your latest project ‘The beatbox choir’. The choir consists of 5-time Grammy-winning vocal group the Swingle Singers alongside 5 of the UK's top human beatboxers. How did the idea of bringing these artists together come about?

Basically I was curetting this event at the Southbank centre (London) which was the World Beatbox convention. I had to program it in and find all the best international beatboxers and we needed to find a headline act who would be amazing for all the beatboxers coming, but would also appeal to the general public. Yeh so we were looking at like Rahzel and such but there wasn’t anyone who appealed equally to the beatbox community and also to your normal Joy block. So I was like how about we create something land do something like ‘The Beatbox Choir’….All the beatbox kids are gonna love it but you can also say to anyone who knows nothing about it that ‘Yeh its headlined by the ‘The Beatbox Choir’‘ and they are instantly interested. That’s why we decided to start it.

Your journey of bringing Shlomo and the vocal orchestra together was captured in the documentary ‘The Beatbox choir’ directed by Colette McWilliams. Where there any funny stories during the filming?

It was weird because I had some creative Vito, creative control over the film but to be honest it was so late in the day there wasn’t much I could do like half an hour before the screening. I was so nervous right up until that point because I hadn’t seen it. Forming the choir was a six week process where Colette and the cameras filmed throughout. I remember like after the 4th week a load of us went to do a gig in Oldham…It was a mini version of the vocal orchestra because half of us went... The documentary people came and filmed the whole thing… going up, the show, which went really well and the journey back.
The cameras kept rolling like seven or eight in the morning during a really long drinking session and we were talking such mind obnoxious shit, being complete dickheads. Afterwards I was like ‘oh my God’. That was a funny piece in the film.
I mean it needs to be trimmed down but we are in talks for a DVD deal and getting it on TV, maybe channel 4….that would be great!

What does the future hold for the choir and Shlomo?

Well I’m doing a 12 month artistic residency at the Southbank centre. They have asked us to do a vocal orchestra show in May 2008 as part of their choral festival so we’re doing a whole new show for that.
Then in April 2009 we’re gonna do this massive show at the royal festival hall. Basically we are gonna commission a concerto for a human beatbox and orchestra – like an original piece of classical music but with the beatbox choir. That’s gonna be like my big finisher to my time at the Southbank… It’s really exciting man, I can’t wait because I’m gonna co-write it with the composer.
Loads of composers came down for the film and they loved it

That sounds mad. From a beatboxer to a composer?

Yeh! That’s it, I mean it goes back to what I said at the beginning. You gotta treat beatboxing as music. And so many people don’t. For me I’ve always wanted to make music – the fact I beatbox is irrelevant. That’s just my way of getting it out there and my way of making sure it stands out from everyone else who makes music that matters.

You can see this with your success in foreign beggars. Beggars are always seeming to push the boundaries with their music.

Exactly, that’s probably why the first album, Asylum Seekers was so successful. It’s just good music. I’ve played it to my auntie who knows nothing about UK Hip-Hop, but she just liked it. It’s just really good music primarily. All the tags, the labels that go along with it are secondary to the fact its good music.

I caught a glimpse of Toni Rotten (Black Twang) and your boy Orifice at the premiere of the film down in London. What’s the support been like for your new ventures from the rest of the scene and the beggars?

Yeh man…They always support me. It’s a bit funny now cos I’ve kinda been doing less and less stuff with the beggars. To be honest they are the people who put me on the map in the first place.
Pavan (orifice) was the guy who originally had so much belief in me, he literally found me on the street and he was like ‘right give me your number, I’m starting this group and can u be in it?’ To give someone that much belief without knowing them is really special.

With so much on our plate, is this the start of the end for Shlomo and the Foreign Beggars?

I dunno if it’s the start, I’ve just got so much going on right now.
I’m still doing quite a lot of shows with them…Beggars have always toured heavily. I found that there was a certain Hip-Hop scene in the UK, that’s how I first grew into beatboxing, but after a while I realised that wasn’t the kind of music I was making.
I started to make music that I represent and my fan base seemed to be attracted to that… For me, playing on the Hip Hop circuit all the time is not conducive to moving stuff forward it’s like you’re stuck in the same circle. It is a real shame because I love those boys; they have done so much for me.

Do you still see a lot of them?

Of Corse man we are really good friends…they all came to my wedding in their traditional costumes. Metropolis was in gaunan outfit and you had Pavan and all his brothers dressed in Indian dress. People kept asking me ‘who are all those men in dresses?’ and I was like ‘They’re my hip-hop band come meet them.’

You use a loop station during most of your shows. It’s a novel idea amongst beatbox sets. Any plans for solo projects?

Not really. I do my solo set and its fun, but the most fun that I ever have is when I’m with the group – Beatbox choir.
Using a loop station on stage makes beatboxing bigger and more musical, but each time you put your layer in that’s it you can’t really fuck around with it. But that’s how we first experimented with the beatbox choir. We first made them into a human loop station. I gave each layer to a human and the most amazing thing about that is every single one of those people can take it off in a completely different direction. They’ve all got their own magic to put into it.

Cheers Shlomo, any last Words?

Watch this space.
Recently I’ve had like three to four massive commissions to bring together thousands of people.
It’s a tripy time right now.
You think you’ve seen anything, you havn’t seen anything…you’ve jus scratched the surface. It’s BIG!

Check: Shlomo presents ‘Music through unconventional means’, a series of concerts hosted by Shlomo at the Southbank centre London.