Like a good Chinese soup nothing goes to waste with Chief Wiggum. He utilises his background, personality and intellect to their full potential in every breathing moment. For a malnutritioned hip hop culture he is the pure soul we crave. Ahead of some mintin’ new projects, and the new album which in stores form Monday; I caught up with him, his lass Natalie, their peaceful new born and Miki B from Brutal Artistry.
Nino: So where are you originally from and how did you get into the scene?
Wigz: I grew up in Harehills, moved down to Rawdon – was born and bred in Leeds. Just got into the scene through being obsessed with hip hop and rap. Wu Tang were a big influence. Every rapper in Leeds who doesn’t say that – that just don’t know what’s going on you know! Whether it be bassline or anything. Just the standard of hip hop grew from the 90’s music man. What was coming out in the 90’s, the Method Mans and the Redmans and stuff like that.
Nino: So what was the first hip hop album you bought?
Wigz: 96 Chambers. That was when I was 14. With my own money as well.
Nino: Did you see anyone decent live at that age?
Wigz: Nah, cos you know, I went through stages. Went to see Rage Against The Machine which again is a big influence. My son’s Zacharia is named after him. It more about lyrics and the music at first. I was good at English at school and stuff like that – I was inspired by word play. Metaphors…
Nino: Who would you say are the best lyricists then? Would you say Wu Tang again?
Wigz: I wouldn’t say Wu Tang are the best lyricists as such I just think they captured the comic side of it. Being an artist and not having a message to say that was just about characteristics of what you hold and what you have in your hands. It was about passion of being creative within your mind, not just stereotyping things down to money and values of your imagination you know. There’s greater things to hold.
Nino: So who would you say nowadays it mint lyricist wise?
Wigz: Lupe. Lupe Fiasco! That new track, the guy really is a super star.
Nino: What about U.K. artists?
Wigz: Hug the 90’s hip hop too much. U.K. it’s got to be… Jehst. And Roots Manuva. Even today, Brand New Second Hand can be picked up any time and it’ll still sound like the freshest music you’ve ever heard.
Nino: Definitely. Who would you say are underestimated artists in the U.K.?
Wigz: Me. 9 Lives. Brutal Artistry.
Nino: Right answer…
Wigz: There’s too many Just Jacks. They’ve got the gimmick with it. And it’s sad to say that the music now is not being taken for what it was when we were kids. We used to listen to music because it inspired us. People nowadays are just wanting that quick easy fix. Kids are like that these days – they are just looking for that quick fix from the music and moving on. You know there’s no passion in it.
Nat: Like with fast food, you know you’ve got McDonalds. Now you get fast music. Processed global artists packaged like fish ‘n’ chips.
Nino: What’s your take on grime then?
Wigz: I absolutely love grime. If you listen to the JME’s and stuff like that. People who are actually forefronting that music. If you ask them – then don’t think there’s such thing as ‘U.K. hip hop’ they think grime and garage music is U.K. hip hop. Because it’s just about a growth within a culture. The big difference is the boundaries between white and black in American hip hop. There’s always been that divide. Into you get to like twathead or whoever. It’s passed talking about. It’s boring now in this culture. To people in Britain it doesn’t matter anymore. They’re moving on. The grime scene and culture has grown off itself, so you see all nationalities, all colours coming together just to make something fresh.
Nat: The thing about grime is – they do everything. They’re so young yet they do all their own distribution, all their own gigs, all their own flyers, t-shirts, radio shows. And they don’t need anybody, that’s the best thing. Young people that don’t need anybody.
Wigz: Download my ringtone off itunes…
Nino: Who do you think of mainstream hip hop then? The whole guns, bitches and bling shizzle?
Wigz: It’s got a place within society. But not necessarily a place within British society. In social aspects of the world, then America thrives off that. That is American life to a certain extent. Over in Britain, nobody’s ever had that. That’s why someone like Young Jeezy, come over and gets a chain nicked while he’s onstage.
Nat: It’s like when he did that interview and said, ‘where you from? London? Ha! What did London bring?’ It’s that kind of mentality. They think we’re all crumpets and tea.
Wigz: It doesn’t matter… and yet it does. Because it’s influencing the kids that are buying the records today. If they’re watching someone like Femidom on TV… Then it’s like. I know kids like that. I know kids that are coming up that want to be rappers, that will wear G-Unit vests on myspace. And think it looks good innit. It’s never been my kind of thing you know. Like on the front of my album – I might rock a bandana. And that’s due to the fact of what I’ve grown up listening to. It’s not a gangster thing.
Nino: There’s street and then there’s gangster…
Wigz: Exactly. We don’t rock no bling, I’ll spend it on my baby.
Nat: Bling is Argos.
Nino: Are you a bit of a traditional 4 elements person? Or do think we’ve moved way past that?
Wigz: Nah. The four elements… I think there’s five elements drawn together now. The aspects of it is what matters now. That’s what hip hop is. Hip hop and even grime is a lifestyle. However much the kids walk in and out of it, that quick these days and people can pick it up from anywhere. Any shop and that. It’s a lifestyle. You know whether you live it or, if it’s deep inside your heart and where you started from. We’ve been doing this for ten years solid now. We can’t escape it anymore.
Nino: Would you say that like, people who maybe, don’t practise any of the original elements, like if I just wrote (which you know I don’t), would you say that they are hip hop, or?
Wigz: Definitely. I think it’s about what you bring to the table.
Nat: As long as you don’t ride of the back of it, ‘cos those are the worst people. Like photographers and stuff. That will take pictures of grime artists and do a whole gallery of it, but haven’t got any touch with reality to grime at all. So it’s not authentic. You don’t feel the emotion and the atmosphere in what they capture because they don’t have a clue about what they’re looking for. It has to be an equal balance.
Wigz: Yeh – it’s where you take it. But there are ‘nuf people that have nothing to do with the actual music side that are pushing the scene and it building it up hard. Like for yourself… do you rap?
Nino: No… I’ve tried. I bboy and I drum.
Wigz: That’s what I mean though. You’re pushing the scene innit? It works. It works well.
Nino: So as far as the local scene goes, which club nights, spots, and that are you into?
Wigz: First and foremost I’ve got to big up New Bohemia and Testament who are really pushing the scene. And First World records that have just signed one of my DJs – Eliphino. The guy who co-produced my album. And they’re pushing the scene in a proper confident and respectable manner. They’re not pushing it on the level of the guns, the glitz, the glamour. It’s about just true standard good music. And fairplay. We didn’t get a good reception. We went there the other week – 9 Lives. And we didn’t get a good reception. But, other than that you know. They put us on and they always, always provide a good night. And they’ve been going ten years strong.
Nino: So what can we expect from you now then?
Wigz: Well, basically. I’ve got an album coming out as of today. It get’s released today. Never Speak Ill Of The Dead. Co-produced by Eliphino and Ghostown. Been working with the likes of Guilty Simpsons, the Stones Throw label over in America. Dudley Perkins all them lot – they’ve done tracks with the likes of them. Pushing a traditional element of hip hop. Not the glitz and glamour. I will be working with my boy Miki B – over there, he’ll being doing his thing. The plan is for the 9Lives mixtape to come out. That should in another couple of months. And by that time we should have put our foot down, and working in the Brutal Artistry direction.
Nino: The album then… what are the beats like? Old school? Grimey?
Wigz: Well it’s got everything, A lot of Eliphino’s influences are Madlib and JDilla. The late JDilla R.I.P. And then you got people like Dasheo who’s a member of the 9Lives clik. Who provide more of a bassline attribute. Everything. It’s got the grimey Wu Tang flex at the beginning. Sort of moves as a journey. It’s only eight tracks long. But it’s eight tracks of boom… power! The theme going through the album is sort of like a phone call conversation. I never used to answer my phone. It was a secret code. Three rings. Put down the phone and then ring back. Haha… That’s the thing, It’s got a lot of answer machine messages on there off big people. It just moves. It gets a bit grimey at the beginning, there’s a few track you will have heard via myspace and that. And then boom, just knocks you out at the end!
Nino: Was it quite a freestyle writing process? Or was it really organised?
Wigz: Eight tracks have been picked from well over 50 tracks that have been recorded over the past two years. I’ve minimalised it down to get the best quality I could get. It’s been hard – really hard. Nearly tore my family apart. Album was due 5 weeks ago. This little one came along 5 weeks ago… Trust me, it’s painful. And with the artwork. Everything. It just took so long. You don’t realise how much it takes.
Nino: Who did the artwork then?
Wigz: Dashield. He’s put a lot of work in. Every part of the 9Lives Clik have contributed. 9Lives… We’re a collection of 6 fresh heads that got connected at school. We all met again at Dr Wu’s. Which is again, there’s gonna be the Final Freebass night. Which is the open mike night, which was the beginning of Leeds Hip Hop Scene to be honest. That was the forefront of it. Nothing really happened before that. And we’re doing that again on the 12th December.
Nino: When did you start going then?
Wigz: I’d just turned 16. I’m 23 now. It was mad standing up there, going, ye I’m 18!
Nino: Do you know what I do the exact same thing. Every fucking week. Story of my life right now…
Wigz: It’s works. I love it!
Nino: What other upcoming gigs you got then?
Wigz: Obviously got Get Cained – can’t wait for that. Be there man!
Nat: We’ve got all the best people in the scene coming. Nobody should be missing these gigs. If you need a good shackowt. Then come off your house, put on your shoes and go to a good shackowt. Don’t cry when you miss stuff. Just be there! Part of the experience. You shouldn’t be watching it or reading in a review. You should be there. Saturday 1st December… What’ve you got going on then? GET CAINED!
Wigz: Meant to be opening up at Breadbinz, eventually. Then we’ve got, over in Huddersfield – working with Megamouth. The Don’t Talk To Strangers Guys, they’re hooking as up. Basically we’re trying at the moment to make a bit of a team. A connection. There are a few crews at the moment that are actually doing it. Doing it properly as well. And we need to build that together and move together. I know D.T.T.S. have got gigs in Brooklyn and Philly and that. New York as well. And they’ve asked us to go with them, just to support them you know. Cos real recognises real innit.
Miki: Cream rises to the top. It’s the only way forward. If all crews link together and do their thing.
Wigz: Enough people are bored though, of seeing the same show over and over again. It’s what people need to realise. I don’t wonna see your show, six times a week. You might be booked there and there. But everyone just needs to keep it fresh. Just go pick up the album. The album is a collection of fresh dope beats mixed with conscious lyrics.
Nino: Is there a particular lyrical focus? You know, something on your mind?
Wigz: Yeh. Battles. We grew up in the battle scene. Not battling on every street corner – don’t get me wrong. Just freestyle battling, just in ciphers. Learning to rap with each other and always being open with new vocab and expressing yourselves. Trying to think of new things all the time. And that’s what the albums about. It’s just me being expressive and me telling my story of who I am, where I come from. Either it be the Dr Wu scene. It’s not been from the day I was born you know? Hip hop hasn’t always been in my life. It’s something that I’ve just grown to love and nurtured and I’ve tried to progress and do my best for. And it’s getting there. It’s getting there.
Nino: So if the album was colour… what colour would it be?
Wigz: Cos that’s my favourite colour. And you know orange is a hard word to rhyme. You think porridge rhymes with orange. But it doesn’t.
Nino: If you had to define hip hop in one line?
Wigz: I roll sick bro / With a wristload o’ gizmos / Not diamond encrusted crystals / Just time signature signals…
Nino: Haha. Sick. So… What about music videos?
Wigz: We’re just working with a guy called Lee Ramsay at the moment. He’s looking to do some stuff.
(murmur from Mr B)
Wigz: Ha. Nah. Nah. We’re getting Miki B involved as well of course. We’re doing it all by ourselves, generally freelance and whatnot. And with everything, like all the promotion and stuff. As it comes. We’re organised and ready. Just financing takes it toll. Just got to take it as it comes. Sort of, promote it as easily as we can without not going to work and that. You know. We’ve all got our day jobs. We’ve all got to get paid. Like it says on the album you know – don’t give up your day job just yet!
Nino: Yeh. There’s bare people on the scene still working in fucking Tesco’s or wherever during the day.
Wigz: I rap first last grass – fish and chips for your last. You know. That’s how we do.
Nino: Do you think you’d do any independent films or anything?
Wigz: Yeh. We’ve already a few films about the direction of Leeds Hip Hop Scene and that. That HHB Radio stuff. You know. Analogue, Ant Bloggs. Got to mention Invizible Circle at the moment. We’re doing a lot with them at the moment, but obviously, they don’t do anything unless you do stuff yourself. It’s an independent mark scheme. If you don’t put the money in, if you don’t put the work in – you can’t reap the benefits. It’s taking a long time to do. But we’re hopefully getting there now – reaping the benefits. And I don’t mean financially. Music wants to be heard – that’s all it is. Keep it fresh.
Nino: Nice one. So last words for any aspiring MCs out there?
Wigz: Yeh. Just keep it real man, don’t be manipulated by what you see on the TV. Don’t be worried that just cos you don’t go pop on the radio – that doesn’t mean you aren’t gonna make it as an individual. I mean – if you’re happy with your music and pushing and aspiring to be what you see fit. Then you’re doing your job properly. Don’t worry that its not ever gonna happen. Cos it’s happening right now. As you’re doing it. People think that unless you’ve got the cheque and unless you’ve signed your named on the dotted line then you haven’t achieved. But we’re all achieving as we go on. Just keep making music. Make good music and be honest with yourself. That’s all you can ask for.