After the recent success of the Chuppa Chups mixtape in 2006, Bashy has blown up on the UK scene with one of the most positive and influential tracks of late: ‘Black Boys’. Repping a list of British Black males for their achievements and inspiration Bashy praises those who impacted on him, and those he admires reflecting what he believes all black boys can and should achieve.
The impact of this track cannot be underestimated. Pretty much every major rapper from the UK has appeared or will be appearing on the remixes. I say remixes because due to the demand of other artists to appear on the Black Boys track, there has been a continuous stream of releases featuring artists such as Ms Dynamite, Ty, Ghetto and Skinnyman. Bashy has been more than happy to let everyone have their say on the joint.
I can’t remember a track that brought together so many UK artists before now, and has had artists and listeners alike so excited. It’s been a long time coming. This isn’t the first track that has a positive message so why has it struck a chord, so strongly and so quickly with so many people? Maybe it the track’s directness, without being overly preachy?
Judge for yourself, but ‘Black Boys’ is unquestionably an anthem. It’s been so big with the UK audience it’s surpassed its originator and has become an entity in itself.
About time too.
This is truly an important record. All this, from an independent artist.
(Roars of approval from independent artists across the land!)
I spent some time with him recently and quizzed him about being an independent artist, his acting, how he started out and where he plans to go, and being a normal guy. Basically, everything you need to know I just found out for you. Go and get yourself a brew and get comfy.
Lets see what the man has to say:
Lady Jay UK: You’ve commented that you’re a social, street commentator. That’s an interesting statement talk to me about that.
Bashy: Basically I just talk about life, and many other different things, scenarios, situations, topics, ideas, dreams and talk about it over different styles of music; whether that be hip hop, grime, dubstep – whatever. It’s like a puzzle. I got the pieces then I got to find the track.
Lady Jay UK: So is there no particular process?
Bashy: I got a track called London Underground and I penned the lyrics first, then it took me forever to find a beat, and someone sent me a beat one day, Scorcher, and it was like oh, there we go… Sometimes I have to wait. I’ve got books of accapellas. Sometimes I might here a beat and I think; ‘that goes with..’ and put it together; and that’s it. Track complete. I love it.
Lady Jay UK: Have you got anyone in particular who you like to produce for you, or do you much prefer to work with lots of different people?
Bashy: I prefer to work with like ‘nuff, ‘nuff people. But I work closely with Nortyboi, who actually produced the Black Boys track, DeVinci, JD, anyone you can think of… If you got some bangin’ production I’m involved!
Lady Jay UK: Tell me the story behind the Black Boys track. Am I right in that there was no major thought plan behind it in the beginning? Why do you think it’s blown up?
Bashy: I wasn’t thinking, ‘yo – we’re gonna put it out for Black History month’. I wasn’t thinkin’ so deeply at the time. It was only when I took it away… I took it to my cousin, and he was like: ‘that gave me a little tingle down my spine’, and I thought maybe it’ll do that to a few more people, and I was like we should put this out. And Black History month it just happened. E shot the video in August, and we we’re gonna put it out then, but we just didn’t. Then it got some crazy amount of attention… you tube’s gone mad.
Lady Jay UK: The timing was definitely right, but I think it would have blown up anyway…
Bashy: That’s right, Black History Month is just over, but it’s now that it’s raising to the peak. I just thought Black History month would be a good time because that’s when it can get maximum exposure ‘cos a lot of tracks don’t get a lot of exposure. So now November, December going into the new year, I think the levels are gonna raise even higher on the track.
Lady Jay UK: For those that haven’t heard the track, just explain what it is and really, what inspired you to write it.
Bashy: Basically, it’s obvious, it’s called Black Boys, it’s about black boys. It’s about paying tribute and congratulating a lot of achievers in our community. I think in the media it’s portrayed that we don’t have any role models in the black community but there’s loads, and I’ve put some of ‘em on the track. On this track I was talking about black British role models. That’s it, and that’s never been done before.
Lady Jay UK: How ridiculous is that. When you say that out loud and you realise that’s not been done on this scale before. Obviously you can’t rep every single person, but strictly the UK and not America…
Bashy: …I was born in 1985 so like I got both the American side and the UK… I got role models from both sides of the water. I feel like, before me, everyone looked to America for role models like the Michael Jordan phenomenon, the Mike Tyson phenomenon. It’s like ‘yo man; we got stars over here now’; we got like Michael Richards; Martin Lewis Francis; Trevor Nelson, Master Steps; Tim Campbell. There’s like loads of people, Sean Wallace, and it’s not just in like sport and entertainment. Basically that’s what the tracks about; paying tribute to the ones who gone before us and achieved, and those who are still achieving now.
Lady Jay UK: Nice, nice. You’ve got a phat remix of this track haven’t ya?
Bashy: ‘Course, course! Biggest remix on road, never been done like this. Never; ever. I challenge people, to get this many people. I challenge them on that.
Lady Jay UK: Really! How long is it then?
Bashy: At the moment, it’s like 20 minutes! We’re tryna get it down to like 11 minutes, we’re gonna take out some of the chorus’, put people back to back. Nasty, it’s too long. But it’s heavy though. On the track so far I’ve got Ms. Dynamite, Akala, Swiss, Dirty Goodz, Scorcher, Wretch 32, Ghetto, TY, Sincere, Reggie Yates, aka No Bizzi, Reggies got bars! Trust me people. There’s loads of people; Shystie, JaJa Sosay from PDC, Chipmonk, Mike, Tinnie Tempah, you know what, I always reel of this list and I forget nuff names, and people like: ‘ah you didn’t say…’ But there’s people sending me their vocals now. It should be finished, but then people will send a hot verse and it’s like…
Lady Jay UK: You’re gonna have to do like, a part two!
Bashy: Yea, there’s like a northern remix happening as well, yea… Biggest track on the roads. An’ that like, not even on a boastful tip like. I like to say this tracks bigger than me, it’s not even about me anymore. It’s about everyone just coming together, just big movement, and showing some unity. Cos like, I’ve kind of, I’ve had battles with Wiley, Ghetto, like well known battles, and they’re on the track. So, no Wiley’ not. Ghetto’s on it. Ghetto’s well professional, said ‘you wanna do it’, he’s like ‘yea’; within a week, vocals back. You get what I’m saying? So the professionalism of a lot of the artists stepped up.
Lady Jay UK: That’s a good look man. You got major players in the UK hip hop scene, just collaborating together, on a really positive track which is amazin’. And you know like, there’s so many people who are gonna want to hear that. Not just because of who’s on it, but because of what it’s representing as well. Which is a major achievement really.
Bashy: Beautiful ting.
Lady Jay UK: Who are you signed to?
Bashy: Independent. So, on the roads now. For like an independent artist I’m doing heaps. My video was number 1 on Channel U, that was within a week. Votes was off the chain. I’m in the Base charts as well. At the moment I think I’m at number 5, or 6, and this is all unsigned. I’m tryna knock Craig David off the top, you know what I’m saying. And this is all unsigned, this is no major label pushing. This project’s going through Norty Boi recordings, who’s the producer, and we’ve secured a distribution deal. So yea. We’re moving like a big record label, we’re just independent man.
Lady Jay UK: Ok, so that’s where you’re at right now. Are you looking to get signed? Work with a particular label, or… how do you see things moving for you, because this, obviously, has probably blown more than you expected – from being in your cousin’s car and going: ‘yea this is a good track I might release it’, to having most of the UK’s major players on this. Do you even know where you want to go from here?
Bashy: From here, I’ve always got a plan. I read the Secret, so the universe is providing for me hahaha. But yea, with the major labels, or the bigger independents, I sit down I talk to them, we have meetings, they buy me nice sandwiches and stuff, but they never like, we haven’t never come to something where I’ve thought like yea, or my managers thought ‘yea we can go with this’.
Lady Jay UK: So you’re not rushing it then?
Bashy: Nah, cos I know it’s gonna come. I know. Basically, with the distribution company that I work with, we’re tryna secure a little situation, ‘cos basically all we need right now, is money, we got the promo on smash, marketing on smash, everything’s on smash; so really – what’s the record label gonna do? Kind of, you just need them for money now. They’re more like a bank I think. If you want to put a video out you can put it on Youtube.
Lady Jay UK: Or, or you need a big corporate investor! So if anyone wants to invest…
Bashy: Yea, holla at me man. I’m a good bet man. I’ll double that money for you (laughs).
Lady Jay UK: Double that money overnight. Never mind HSBC, never mind Wall St.
Bashy: Forget interest man , bring it back straight away, we’re ready. BOOM!
Lady Jay UK: No messing, I guess that’s good that you’re not rushing into anything, and you totally believe in what you do, and you wait for the right deal…
Bashy: Right money. Gotta get this money. Where’s my money at?… I recorded a track the other day called ‘Where’s My Money At?’
Lady Jay UK: You act as well don’t ya. Tell me some more about that…
Bashy: I went to the Brit School for performing arts, and studied acting for two years. Did my GCSE acting, A*. From like 5, I used to go to drama school called Theatre Arts… I was doing acting before music. Obviously the music’s taken off first, that’s what they see. So if they see me on stage I don’t want them to think, ‘yo he’s an MC why’s he tryin to act for’. I was doing it first. I was in a play called ‘Mind Blowing Decisions’ at Hackney Empire, couple weeks ago I had the lead role. Sold Out. Got a BBC 3 sitcom starting in January or Febuary 08. They’re trying to write me in, like write a character for me.
Lady Jay UK: How did it start for you?
Bashy: It started in the playground. Back then it was just a joke. I used to battle all the older rappers and stuff, and I used to destroy them at like 13. From there built a little name, started going round to house parties, clashing; beating this one that one, beating everyone. Someone from Pay As You Go, Major Ace, saw me and was like ‘yo, you’re quite good init, take my number, phone me’. So I phoned him, but he used to ring me out all the time. Voicemail, voicemail, voicemail. I used to just bang his phone religiously, at like 16, week in week out. He was big then so I didn’t care, man was like JZ to man, so I kept on ringing and ringing and ringing and ringing. An’ one day he was like: ‘Ah, what d’you want man!’ and I was like ‘You told me to ring you man!’, like, ‘I wanna come radio’. So he was like: ‘meet me here init’. It was blatantly far, so I jumped on a train, fly down there. Started doing that. Got known in East London, cos that’s where the scene, the hotpot was at the time. From there, there was Dizzy, Kano. More Fire, Goodz; all those guys were from there so. I kinda just went into the belly of the beast, rhyming with them. Come back to West, brought a bit of attention to West; started making, tracks – the first mixtape. Then from there… little bits of money, enough to get by. Was under some management, that didn’t work out so changed.
Lady Jay UK: Why didn’t it work out?
Bashy: Ah, politics. You grow an stuff init, …they got their agenda, you got yours… If the puzzle ain’t working then you just have to find another piece to make it work that’s all. Then there was no management, put out the Chuppa Chups mixtape – me, my cousin and my bredren. Me, Scaredem and Diamond, Rags to Riches. Everyone put some money in, we can do this thing, we don’t need someone else’s money. We held an under 18’s event and made a few grand off that. The next mixtape sold 1000 copies in the first week, by end of month 3000, and this is hand to hand selling When it got serious for me, like with Chuppa Chupps, getting a better understanding of the business, you’re making loads of mistakes, and then you know, next time I’m not gonna do that. That’s when I kinda thought, we can do this ting.
Lady Jay UK: Have you come across any sharks along the way, like business wise?
Bashy: Yea! You always come across them though. I mean when I was younger, I come across them, like 16, just coming up, a bit naïve and stuff. Like now, someone couldn’t come at me now.
Lady Jay UK: What you working on right now?
Bashy: Right now I’m working on the album: ‘Catch Me If You Can’, coming out 2008, so catch me if you can. Quality tracks, a lot produced by Norty Boi, DeVinci, some unknown producers coming up, maybe one track from America, we’re trying to keep it very UK.
Lady Jay UK: Why?
Bashy: Just like, as an identity. It can be hip hop, but it needs to be like British hip hop… a very British sound on the album. I don’t mean the un-cool stuff.
Lady Jay UK: What’s un-cool then?
Bashy: Talking about the birds and the bees, and Mars and Saturn, and mad stuff like that… I’m a street, social commentator, I talk about what’s goin’ on.
Lady Jay UK: Are you saying then than you have to have some sort of substance in what you do, rather than just a general kind of a rap that’s nice words put together?
Bashy: I’m the best lyricist, that’s long. I talk about life, about situations that people can relate to, how to pick a wifey… If you met God what would you ask him? Then we gonna do a remix like if you met the devil… so these concepts are relateable… I’m tryna ask questions all the time. That’s my subject matter. Vast.
Lady Jay UK: Anything to add?
Bashy: Yea. Bashy.com. it’s Rags to Riches, that’s the camp. Shout out Norty Boi, Chuppa Chups DVD, out in 2 weeks, that vital – it’s a fly on the wall documentary… I’m an entertainer, I got jokes… I’m me, I’m Ashley, Bashy’s just an extension of me. Get into me, watch me. I’m just a normal guy, not some big bad man drug dealer, I just rep for the normal guys. I know nuff of the road man an that, but I’m just like one of the normal ones – and that’s what I talk about. I Work.
Text Blackboys to 78789 and you can buy the single for a pound.
Look out for the album ‘Catch Me If You Can’ and the mixtapes, there’s gonna be Black Boys T Shirts. Support the cause man.