Dubbledge's new album The Richest Man In Babylon is dropping on Low Life Records and it's pretty damn good. I certainly feel Edge's unique take on this thing we call Hip-Hop so when I was offered the chance to ask him some questions it didn't take me long to get on it. Here we have it then, the definitive word on everything from dodgy record labels to didgeridoos…
How long exactly have you been rapping? What artists really made you want to get into the scene?
Dubbledge: Been ten years at least, I’m the oldest newcomer in the game right now so guess I weren’t in a rush to come out, but that’s probably a blessing coz I’d probably have been spitting a ‘ole heap of fart.
When I first started I was more about the flows than the lyrics – in fact I’d say that it was Jeru tha Damaja that really got me on it. When he dropped “…The Prophet” that was just next level in my opinion, just the way the story dropped and the way the message was in the music but not on no preachy tip. Then there’s the beat, the comic strip video…just the whole package was too much.
Can you remember your first ever memory of hearing Hip-Hop or rap music?
Dubbledge: Not really, but then again the first rapper I really remember was Muhammad Ali even though I didn’t realize he was rapping at the time. I’m not really a fan of anyone, but I reckon I’d be a bit star struck if I ever met him.
I know you have links with Dented Records and the Foreign Beggars but your album has now dropped on LowLife records. What exactly happened there?
Dubbledge: Long story but none of it was really Dented's fault. “The Richest Man in Babylon” was meant to follow straight after Fist of Jah which was all meant to drop on Dented but there was another label with a bit of money that wanted to invest in Beggars and they wanted to back my project as well. Basically without naming names one dude from that label lied his way into the Guinness Book of Records, told all sorts of fibs, made all sorts of promises and pretty much kicked the shit out of the chances of the album dropping anytime soon. Man was a little stressed by the nonsense.
Lowlife had recently licensed ‘Working Class Dad’ from Sit Tight, Parky was telling me that Brains was feeling what I was doing and basically I was fed up of the setbacks 'cos before Dented the album was meant to come out on Janomi – this is years ago when they had Yungun and Mr Thing but I got some funny vibes from the label and walked out of the deal. Good choice too 'cos the label closed down a few months after (note: always trust your instincts).
Anyway from Janomi, within the same week somehow the link came with Dented and everything was cool, we released the Smile 12”, then the mixtape and a couple of features. It was all good till that one dude got possessed by the spirit of Pinocchio and cocked it all up so now that that was turning long as well I just thought why not?
I mean, Low Life’s big in the game and things happen for a reason so I phoned Braintax and we had a meeting. I thought about what he said, meditated on the decision and chose to drop it on Low Life and now I’ve finally found a home for The Richest Man in Babylon…. Well, for this album anyway 'cos like I said me and Dented are still cool.
(NB For more on this check my interview with Vulgatron from earlier this year – http://www.britishhiphop.co.uk/features/interviews/foreign_beggars.html)
You have quite a distinctive style… is that something you work on or is it just a natural thing?
Dubbledge: Nah it’s natural, I mean if every MC was themselves, I mean truly themselves you’d have a million unique sounding spittas. Truth is no-one’s really themselves. I mean, we’ve all been influenced by someone. I’ve had to check myself a couple times 'cos certain rappers if you hear them enough their style starts to rub of on you and you’ll start mimicking their style without even realising.
The best of UK rap doesn't always get the attention it deserves on mainstream outlets such as MTV, Radio 1 etc. Do you feel it's important to resist the pressures to compromise for the mass market and just be yourself?
Dubbledge: Definitely gotta be yourself, you was born to be yourself so you got no choice. Anyone that tries to be someone they ain’t gets exposed in the end so what’s the point. The mainstream outlets are like that dude in a betting shop that only bets on the favourites. Every DJ wants to find the next big thing but not a lot of mainstream DJ’s are willing to risk their jobs on backing outsiders, they just bet safely and choose the favourites but there’s too much talent out there right now so they’ll be forced to take risks or they’ll just lose listeners.
On “The Message” you directly address the topic of DJs who don't support UK acts. Why do you think this is and do you think it's something that's starting to change?
Dubbledge: The internet is exposing people to more and more underground artists then ever before so Radio don’t dictate what you like as much as it used to. That means they’ll be forced to change whether they like it or not. That song's just the truth on a big phat heavy beat by Benz and the real DJ’s will support it cause they been supporting UK from Day One and the DJ Frauds will support it 'cos they know its time for a change. That tune’s almost like blackmail set to music, so you gotta love it!
You did a bootleg over a Roni Size tune (“Lips 2 Da Floor”) and your style has been described as being influenced by Grime. Do you think it's important to look beyond the typical sounds and styles of Hip-Hop in general and UK Hip-Hop in particular?
Dubbledge: My style was influenced by Hip Hop, Ragga, Reggae, Jungle, Garage, Grime and more. Music’s just music to me, remember Killah Priest on that Heavy Mental track? When a producer samples a track it don’t matter whether its from classical Beethoven, James Brown or some Aborigine playing a Didgeridoo, as long as the tune sounds like a smash when he’s finished looping it who cares. It's all about the vibe and fear just holds you back so I ain’t scared to experiment a bit.
I take it you're going to be touring the album. What can we expect to see at a Dubbledge live show?
Dubbledge: Could be anything for real! I don’t really know what I’ll do till I reach the venue sometimes.
Sometimes I’ll be bored of performing the same verses over and over again on stage so might have to just freestyle and have some fun. Basically when I’m having fun the crowd seems to catch the vibe and have fun too and I feed off that so really it is what it is.
I’m experimenting with a flute player called Biscuit as well 'cos he smacks it with the flute and that live music really adds something to the vibe, so you're gonna get all sorts. On top of that man might reach with Parky or LDZ (London Zoo) or whoever else so you get what you get , but whatever you get, you get entertained…. and thanks for taking the time out, to find out, wot I rhyme bout!