One of the shining lyrical lights of the UK scene, Cappo’s discography is an advanced lesson in uncompromisingly dense and artful Hip Hop. With a brand new EP on the horizon it was only right we interrogated the Nottingham heavyweight.
First of all, Unwritten Rule is my shit, were you pleased with the response to The H Bomb EP with your long time friend Styly Cee?
Cappo: Me and Styly made the H Bomb with the intension of bringing the most napalm hardcore music we could to the table- Unwritten Rule always felt like the most viable for a video and for playability on radio and we got a great response from the E.P as a whole. We did the launch in Notts city and that was one of the best shows I’ve ever done. Being able to release it on vinyl was a real privilege for me and getting back in the studio with Styly was ill cause he is a powerhouse of real production. We didn’t intend to release the tracks as an E.P until we finished them and decided people should hear it as a full product.
Your EP with Endemic is out right about now – how did that collaboration come about?
Cappo: I heard of Endemic through a mutual friend who played me some beats he had produced, I went to see him and we started work on a track for his album 'Terminal Illness'. Once I put the lyrics to the track we decided we should keep it and build towards a full base of work. We collaborated on 10 tracks and picked the best 5 for the E.P 'Needle Drop'. Endemic has got beats on tap and it was always good to finish a track so I could get some more beats off him to write to. Being able to get the calibre of guests on there was all Endemics doing, he worked hard on making sure we had Nott’s city representatives on the 'Eagles' track Scor-zay-zee and Lee Ramsay and he hooked up the collaboration with Cyrus Malachi and Iron Braydz on 'Hacksaw'. I have recently just listened to the test presses and listening to it overall as a whole it sounds hard as hell. I honestly can’t name many other artists who are going in like us out here. Its relentless uncompromising Hip Hop and one of its main attributes is that it’s international.
For me, everything you write has a timeless feel in the sense it all seems to have an over arching wisdom to it. How do you approach writing verses?
Cappo: I feel that my rhyme writing capabilities come from writing extensively to whatever track I am working on at the time. I write in layers, meaning I will try on most verses to build them in at least four parts. I try to illustrate a verse by putting words next to each other that create images to the listener. On each verse I will switch flow by cutting the rhyme short or lengthening the rhyme. My main focus is to make the verse as hard, intricate and intense as possible, but in recent times I have also tried to lessen the syllables and put the words into bulk blocks and because of this, at times I have been known to write verses that don’t rhyme at all.
In your opinion, what is your best work?
Cappo: Spaz the World was my debut album and got me a lot of recognition for my rhyme and production skills. As a full body of music – Spaz the World has been my best work to date because it contained both my beats and my raps. However having recently finished my new album I can honestly say that it is the best music I have ever made. I have never worked so hard and for so long on any piece of music I have ever released. I truly believe my new album has the potential to destroy planets.
Many people think live shows are the true test of an artist but realistically Hip Hop shows can go wrong very easily due to sound problems or lack of basic technique or presence. What’s your live show like?
Cappo: Being part of hip hop I am a staunch believer that live MC'S should have a DJ on stage with them and that they should be able to rock a crowd over break beats. This may not always be the case because I have witnessed live shows where the artist is preceded by a live band or has performed on their own to a dat or CD. Overall I feel an MC should be able to move the crowd no matter what situation they are in.
I’ve heard about your passion for producing and I know you were heavily involved in the production for Spaz the World. What’s happening with your beats these days?
Cappo: All my recent beats have been put in a vault over the last three years and the very best of them have re-emerged for my new album. I have still got the same process of production. I will purchase second hand vinyl from various places until I have more than I can listen to in one session, then I will spend time with the vinyl and listen carefully and methodically through the albums that catch my ear. I listen mostly for four bar loops that have a hypnotic quality and that contain detailed percussive patterns. Thinking about it, the way I produce is similar to the way I write because I try to fit as much information in to the smallest amount of space possible, So like a four bar rhyme, I will fit as many metaphors and images as possible, I will fit as much instrumentation and rhythm patterns in to a four bar loop.
What equipment do you use?
Cappo: An MPC2000XL, a silver writing pad and vinyl from all walks of life.
Which producers are really doing it for you right now?
Cappo: All the majors in the game, Drake has been using some good producers. The Raekwon album really epitomizes what a hip hop album should sound like in 2010. 9th Wonder beats always make me want to produce. I have been listening to a track by Fashawn called 'Life as a Shorty' that beat is ill. Havoc and Black Milk, McNasty Forever. I feel all types of production from Outkast to Alchemist it doesn't matter the studio cost of the record as long the heart of the producer is in the right place. Hip hop lives!
I’d be interested to know what contemporary emcees you rate on a technical level (UK or US)?
Cappo: Flow wise, Jay still does it, Royce kills flows, Rae is the best technically for pictures, stories and sheer skill. Style wise – The Clipse, Andre 3000, Big Boi and Drake. Rhyme wise – Fabolous, Jadakiss and for sheer pulling rhymes out the bag and rhyming the same words for minutes at a time, Lil Wayne (check Death Wish and One Arm).
What do you think of Grime and emcees like Ghetto and Duurty Goodz who are quite rated on that scene?
Cappo: I feel grime is good for the UK because it is making money and is helping artists to support and develop their careers. I am not involved in grime music and rarely get the chance to listen, but when I do, I feel the music is a high octane and rapid hybrid of hip hop. Just the same as rap music, I can tell who is winning MC-wise in grime, but I don’t have enough knowledge to pass judgement.
In comparison to the nineties the noughties has been a weak decade for Hip Hop, people struggle to make lists of classic tracks let alone albums, why do you think this is?
Cappo: MP3’s and downloads have literally taken artists whole careers in the space of three years. In a genre such as hip hop, there is no limit of expectation of what an artist should achieve. Many gifted MCs have been forced to exhaust themselves creatively due to the demand expected of them through mix tapes, downloads and the internet. When I was young, you would listen to one album for weeks, perhaps months at a time. Those artists would be leaders of the genre for that space of time and were able to earn, tour and gain respect because of this. In recent times, artists are expected to have an endless well of music to the point that an artist is expected to release almost an albums worth of material nearly every three months just to keep their names on search engines. In one aspect this has changed hip hop forever by allowing only the most affluent label funded artist to survive in the same way as the nineties. In another aspect it has created a level playing field in which only the strongest and ideologically creative artist can survive. I feel that real hip hop still thrives but is hidden in a midst of literally thousands of MP3’s. It just takes time to search for the genuine article.
Are you a fan of the more clubby type Hip Hop? Is Cappo ever in the club dancing to Neptune’s?
Cappo: Between shows and working on new material, I rarely get the chance to attend the big club nights, but it’s always good to hear the sonics and bass lines of million dollar studio produced records in the way that the producer would want you to hear them. N.E.R.D, Timbaland, Rich Harrison, Neptune’s, Danger Hands, D.Dot, Outkast are all amazing producers and I admire their work greatly.
Have you got a day job or are does music pay the bills?
Cappo: I am able to live, work and survive by using the skills that I have acquired from music.
How’s the scene in Nottingham these days?
Cappo: Notts City is very much the same as it always has been be it on a scale of less musical releases. I generally keep myself to myself and work with the artists I respect and keep in touch with. There are a lot of new artists in Notts who are innovators of the Grime scene and the established artists are still creating Hip Hop.
What did you think of Le Donk?
Cappo: I have not seen it although I’ve heard a lot about it; Shane Meadows is a great film director so I reckon it will be good.
Apparently Obama has banned Hip Hop from the White House, if you could ban one genre of music from your house what would it be and why?
Cappo: I would ban all music made by sell outs who sell their souls and sacrifice all they believe in. No more music by the suckers.
Thanks for your time.
Cappo: R.I.P Mr Magic.
By: Max Weldon