Cyclonious' talents first came to my attention due to a trip he made northwards to play at Leeds' Urban Mondays night. Having heard some of his tracks, I wanted to find out some more about him so I made the connection and in the process sorted out the following interview for your reading pleasure.
Hi there… introduce yourself to the readers of britishhiphop.co.uk…
Cyclonious: Wassup, what's good? I go by the name of Cyclonious the Natural Disaster. The bringer of lyrical genocide but also the bringer of food for thought.
Cool, so you're coming from the West Indian community in East London, do you want to just say a few words about your background and where you're coming from?
Cyclonious: Yeah I'm from the east end of London. Walthamstow, Leyton, Leytonstone… all over. Nothing much to really gloat about. It's the same wherever you go in London. Same old street life and wrongdoings. I'm not saying there ain't no good things about where I'm from but the wrongs outweigh the good.
I've always been into making music from when I was young. My father was in a sound-system and had a lot of records! Just watching his movement kinda paved my way into what I am today. He used to do a thing called toasting, which today we call freestyling. He was really good at it too. I wanted that so much when I was a child so I worked on it.
An obvious comparison coming from that background is the Terra Firma crew… do you think you have anything in common with them? Have they been an influence?
Cyclonious: No influence whatsoever… and I wouldnt say that it would be obvious!
No disrespect to them, 'cos they are giving UK hip-hop the right formula it needs, but I have been rapping for a long while. My first CD was out in 2000. Two more after that came. Them times there, I never even knew who they were. Didn't hear any thing from them. My influences then and now is revival music, mans I spit with or certain pioneers in this game called music.
Ah okay, cool… you yourself came up through a crew called Darkside, right?
Cyclonious: Nah, Darkside was a crew I was down with. I was in an extended crew that Darkside formed up called 5th Regiment. Me, my brother called Opio Omega and my friend called Omen left 5th Regiment because we wasn't getting taken to the studio like the rest or wasn't shown that much interest.
So I came up with the concept of a crew for us three called Trowjan. Not long ago we had a song on Channel U called "The Rap Game". It still plays now and again on there. Or you can see that vid on my MySpace page.
Okay, got that straight then… Anyway, you're now doing your own thing… you're running your own label and website, doing your own production, MCing… and holding down a full-time job – how is that?
Cyclonious: Hahaha… well, I can speak for a lot of people out here 'cos I know lots that are doing the same as me. It's hard. I was so blinded when I first started getting into this music game. I'm an unselfish man. I was raised to share amongst my peers, but that's not how 99% of people are like in this field. Which is sad 'cos I know a lot of people in this music game and they are all for themselves, which in a way is a good thing – but if we don't collaborate with each other how is the game to further expand? How will we rival our European neighbours or the States if we don't have a strong foundation within music? The industry right now is a cut-throat business, especially over here in the UK.
Absolutely. You started out producing using some fairly basic software?
Cyclonious: I started making beats on that same reason that no one was trying to hand me beats. Which I'm thankful for, 'cos now I have beats when I want and they are how I want 'em to be.
I started making music with other people's beats, flipping and bouncing 'em with a tape deck. It was madness but it worked. I just had bullshit quality but it was good enough for me. Then I moved to the first music game on the PS2. From there I bought a PC and got my hands on Fruity Loops and from that came my first album. I use Reason 3.0 now.
Do you find it helps to have produced the tracks that you spit over? Does it maybe add something to the track to have all the elements be the product of one person?
Cyclonious: The beauty of me producing my own music is that everything would be how I would want it for a particular vibe or message I'm trying to bring across to the listener. Nobody knows you better than yourself. I'm working with a few other producers though… it's not always good to rap over one sound. I try to experiment.
What other artists do you work with?
Cyclonious: Opio Omega, Omen, Duby, Cloud 9, Tuberculosis… there's many more. I like working with all kinds of people, I'm up for a challenge. I love good music.
Where do you see yourself going from here – do you plan to keep it independent or would you like to see yourself signed under a major one day?
Cyclonious: Right now I'm just trying to get myself on my feet and get a strong movement going. I'm for progress so what ever is gonna help my ship to sail smoothly, I'm for it.
Speaking of major labels, I know you had some thoughts on the "Urban" tag which gets used for a lot of music nowadays… do you want to break that down for us?
Cyclonious: Firstly, the people behind the major labels don't give a shit about real music! They said hip-hop wouldn't last, now it's the biggest selling music on the planet.
Who gives them a right to label something that isn't theirs? Look at all the music that is under the title "Urban"! There's too many genres of music to put under one banner. All are different and have their own zones, their own signature. Anyway times is changing. people don't need the majors as much any more now. They know it too.
Are there any other creative avenues you'd like to explore? Any particular projects or ideas you want to work on once you have the time and/ or resources?
Cyclonious: Well, I'm going to be in a film which I think starts filming in May 2007. I don't know a lot about it to tell you guys in great detail but when I know more I will inform you. Things are still in production for it. I've never even dreamt of acting and most probably wouldn't have a few years back but I'm open to doing a lot more things this time around.
As for any thing else, if someone had an idea and ran it by me and I thought it was innovative I would definitely be a part of it. I'm a great team player and I like to be a part of things.
Assuming that there are a lot of readers out there who haven't heard your stuff yet, what do you think is the strongest point you can make to them to convince them to check out what you do? What makes Cyclonious and the Bravestarh sound stand out from the herd?
Cyclonious: Well I know I won't appeal to everyone but I have something for all to embrace. Hip-hop is me. I speak from the heart and wont compromise myself for nothing. I bring elements from my surroundings and my memories to the mic. I feel I'm a real person and try to bring that to the game.
Okay, and finally – tell us about the "Natural Disaster" series you have out right now.
Cyclonious: The Natural Disaster series was my beginning. There are three volumes. Through all you can hear my development as an artist and as a producer. Them times there are my favourite, 'cos I was finding myself and experimenting with all kinds of melodies and flows. What I display now is me. I know what I want and where I wanna go with it. Some feel I should make a new "…Disaster" volume, I dunno though…