We have been cataloguing Late's career on this site and have seen his profile grow, as well as observing the expansion of his Wolftown partnership with Tricksta. Now, Aidan Severs has a few words with Late to find out about his US link ups and discuss his latest release, his solo LP – Below Street Level. Read on to find out more.
Can you tell us your necessary background details so we can build on basics for the rest of the interview? For example: who you are, projects you have worked on, people you have worked with…
Late: I grew up on a council estate in the West Midlands as a typical naughty kid. I released my first single ‘UK Sound’ in the group Villains which came out my own label Wolftown Recordings in 1999. I then went on to release the album Villains ‘Welcome To Wolftown’ in the year 2000 and have actively been releasing music ever since. I put together a group called Wolftown Committee with Tricksta and released the album ‘Legendary Status’ in 2002.
I toured the UK with DJ and producer Juttla as well as featuring on hundreds of mixtapes worldwide. I was also the first person to record a posse track with fifty MC’s on it which came out in the UK in 2003. I have recorded with artists from The East coast, The West coast, The Midwest, The South, Canada, Jamaica, France, Germany and all over the UK.
As a DJ I have done official mixtapes with Chamillionaire, Trae, K-Rino, Papoose, Grand Daddy Souf to name a few and I’ve released three underground mixtapes projects; ‘The Villainous One’, ‘An English Man In New York’ and ‘2 Thousand & Late’.
This year I am getting ready to release my first full-length solo album ‘Below Street Level’ which features Willie D from the Geto Boys, K-Rino, Dope-E, JT the Bigga Figga, plus a few more special guests. The whole album is produced by Tricksta. Both myself and Tricksta have done so much it’s hard to keep track of what we have done; I know when this interview goes live I will remember lots of other achievements!
What are your current or upcoming projects? i.e. albums, singles, tours, guest spots…
Late: I released my underground CD, Late ‘2 Thousand & Late’ at the beginning of 2008. I have also released my debut single Late ‘I’m A Saint, I’m A Sinner’ which features K-Rino and KB Da Kidnappa, which also features on the double CD compilation that HHC have just released entitled ‘Recognition – 20 Years’. My main release this year is my solo album ‘Below Street Level’ which drops on October 20th.
You’re from Wolverhampton which has one of the most well known rap scenes outside of London in our country. Can you tell us a bit more about the Hip Hop scene there?
Late: It’s just like any other city in the UK really, the club scene isn’t as vibrant as it was, but there is a lot of talent here.
You’ve worked with a load of Wolftown’s natives but you’ve also worked with quite a few American artists. How did those hook-ups come about?
Late: I also along with Tricksta run www.RagoMagazine.com, so we have made a lot of links. The American artists really understand what we do out here. I love doing collaborations and also get asked to do a lot of collaborations. I guess they understand what I’m doing a lot more.
How important is it that you are having an influence over there? What can you tell us about the scene you are involved in there?
Late: I work with people all over on the East Coast and the West Coast and I get a lot of love in the South. I’m also a member of the legendary Houston rap organization Southpark Coalition (S.P.C.), and as an independent artist in the UK I think it’s very important to spread your fan base, as it’s very hard to survive in the UK market alone.
How would you describe your sound? Is there any one track that would best define your style?
Late: My style is Reality Rap. I rap about real life, and what I see, what I think about and situations in the world we live in.
Who have been your biggest musical influences and which Hip Hop artists have inspired you? Which are your favorite albums? What music were you brought up on?
Late: I love all aspects of hip hop from UK, East Coast, West coast, Midwest and the Dirty South. I don’t have a favorite album because I like different albums for different things. Some times I like deep lyrics sometimes I wanna listen to some hardcore stuff. Sometimes I wanna here some lyrical stuff! I listen to a lot of artists. I listened to a lot of SPC artists like K-Rino and Dope E, and the Geto Boys when I was coming up so it was an honor to work with them on my new album. I was also inspired by independent labels. I like what Master P did and I like how he exploded onto the scene and his whole marketing schemes. I liked labels like Rap-A-Lot Records and Suave House.
What is your earliest memory of anything Hip Hop related? First rap track heard? First time you rapped?
Late: I got into hip hop around 1983 when I saw the video for Malcolm McLaren ‘Buffalo Girls’. I didn’t really like the song but I liked the graffiti and break-dancing in the video. That made me start tagging and breaking. I wasn’t that much of a break-dancer so I focused on the graffiti side until about 1990 and then I started DJ’ing. I started messing about rapping after I heard the song Ice T ‘High Rollers’ around 1988, but I didn’t do it seriously until around 1994/5. Before then I was mainly a DJ playing hip hop.
You have long been a major player in the UK scene and are often named in top lists of singles and albums. What do you feel your role within Hip Hop is other than MC? What do you think about the Hip Hop scene in the UK, where do you think it’s headed? Are things good / bad? What are your current philosophical thoughts on the current trends in rap music?
Late: Since I got into hip hop all I wanted to do was to promote and be part of the culture and take part in it. I can proudly say I have taken part of the four main elements of hip hop; Breaking, Graffiti, DJ’ing and MC’ing. I think at the moment majors are not interested in UK hip hop, and if they are they want the artists to have a dance floor hit that’s gonna rock the clubs. In any other genre they don’t look for that. Indie bands don’t have to make music that is club friendly and they can talk about the world’s problems and it’s all good, but if we do it as UK hip hop artists they don’t want our words heard. It’s like we are a threat. Most UK hip hop is not aimed at the dance floor so we don't get a look in, we just gotta build a healthy scene. UK Hip Hop is mainly working class music, and as working class people we don’t have much money, but we have to support the independent scene. If we don’t it will die out and we will have to listen to major label crap that don’t represent us.
What’s your philosophy when making a track? Do you have a concept or a message to get across? Do you want your music to be accessible? Do you want what you’re saying to be clear or abstract?
Late: Sometimes I have got something to get off my chest and sometimes I will just gel with the beat. Sometimes I will write a song without hearing music and wait till I get the right beat to fit the song. I write in loads of different ways. Of course I want my music heard by as many people who want to hear it, I’m not being abstract though, I’m just being me. I like my music to be understood worldwide, that’s the way I like it.
Any last words?
Late: Thanks to Aidan Severs for taking time out to do this interview and to all my fans that have been buying my music since 1999. Check out www.wolftownrecordings.com to find out more about me and buy my music and peep all my videos at www.youtube.com/lordlate .
LATE ‘Below Street Level’ is out October 20th 2008 on Wolftown Recordings.