This man is Mr Convenience. He was born in 1987, and grew up in Penzance, Cornwall. He soon followed in the footsteps of his older brother, MC Azreal, and began rapping at the age of fourteen, and progressed to playing at local night spots with the live Band; Carpe Diem. After the band split, along with MC Lexis and DJs Teretz, Pastyfari and Louis Jamaz together they formed the Beatechs.
OK, let’s get straight into this. Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about where you are from / coming from? Where were you born, where did you grow up & where do you live now?
Mr. Convenience: OK people, my name is Mr. Convenience aka The Metronome Man. I was born and raised in Penzance, Cornwall. I’ve lived there most of my life apart from a brief period I spent in Bristol a few years back.
What is the Hip Hop scene there like?
Mr. Convenience: Hard to describe really. In terms of people actually making hip-hop/rap, it’s only really started becoming more popular the last year or so. There’s a certain amount of people who’ve been doing it for time and a few more crews and MC’s are starting to pop up now. With regards to the actual nights and that, it’s live. The Cornish people are very receptive towards a lot of music, they like entertainers. We’ve played alongside some of the biggest names in Hip-hop down here… GZA, The Beatnuts, Rahzel… plus the best of the British as well. I know many artists who love to come down here to play man, cos there’s no front to it. If the people think you’re good, then they’ll show their appreciation ya know? Saying that, we have had the odd shocker…
Can you break down some of the history of Hip Hop where you are from back in the day? What I mean is who were the local heads who were performing, putting on shows and setting up pirate radio stations? Who influenced you and made you think, yeah we can do this? Things like who was the first guy from your area to put out a Hip Hop record?
Mr. Convenience: Well there’s never really been a great deal of people from down here putting out records. There’s a label based in north Cornwall called 33 Throwdown, that have a regular output of material, ranging from hip-hop to more breaksy stuff. We worked with one of the founders a few years back, a producer called DJ Dren, but nothing really came of the project. I’m currently writing to a new track of his at the moment though. Other than that there hasn’t really been a great amount of people really doing anything more than putting on club nights and that. It was actually my older brother and fellow MC, Azreal, that got me into hip-hop. I used to sneak into his room and listen to his old Wu-Tang records. It was through him that I hooked up with my crew, The Beatech Collective. At the time he was playing in a live band with mc Lexis and DJ Louis J. I just eventually came to the point where I felt I needed to put something out there ya know? You can spend years waiting for a break, and making excuse after excuse but that ain’t gonna get you anywhere. So after Craze got back from his bro’s wedding in Costa Rica, we just decided to go for it.
How would you describe yourself and how did you come by your name?
Mr. Convenience: I dunno really, I don’t wanna be pigeonholed into any certain sound. Obviously, I make hip-hop, but I’m not gonna try and compare myself to others or nothing. I’d rather people just decided for themselves, if you relate you relate.
With the name, I just made it up when I was younger and thought it sounded good. It’s kinda stuck since then, and people seemed to like it so…
Are you affiliated with any other crews and are you working with any young cats you are hoping to bring through? Who should we look out for?
Mr. Convenience: Well there’s my crew… The Beatech Collective. That’s myself, Lexis, SoleStep, Louis Jamaz, DJ Teretz, Pastyfari, MC Azreal and producer Harry Craze. Look for all of those names in the future man. Then there’s some friends of mine Foxglove and Refound, two MCs who have just relocated to Cardiff. Refound is one on my oldest friends, and they’re both starting to make moves… DJ Busyfingas too. There is other crew’s like DarkHorse Productions, based in Newquay and another crew called Foren Objects from Falmouth, who’s producer I’m working with at the moment.
So talk us through your recording career so far. Have you had any records out in the past or collaborated with other artists?
Mr. Convenience: Well, myself and Lexis featured on record which was released several years back, but I ain’t gonna give you the name. No disrespect to the producer involved or nothing, but we were both well young and didn’t really know what was happening. We literally recorded this track one afternoon, and then the next thing we knew, there were loads of vinyls pressed up…
Other than that, this is my first proper release. It just came to the point where I had to do something, ya know? And all the crew were extremely supportive with it. We’re currently in the process of recording The Beatech Collective EP, so watch this space!!
What sort of a response do you get from the rest of the country, and are there regional differences you can discern? Are there any reasons for this?
Mr. Convenience: Well I’ve just started to receive feedback from the press campaign, which is being handled by Vision Music Promotions (props to Charlee Brown!!!), and the majority has been very positive. Having a myspace page has also helped to get my stuff heard by people from all over, which is what I want. Getting love and that from heads in London, Ireland, Sweden, Australia, America… I don’t care if ya black or white, boy or girl, rich or broke, whatever. That’s what it’s about for me ya know? Reaching out to anybody, no matter where you’re from.
I think that the odd individual might have a problem with the idea of a Cornish MC, cos they think it’s all farmer’s and pirates down here ya know? And there will always be certain heads or cliques that wanna hate on you, but fuck it. As I said, the majority of the response has been great man, having people like Disorda, YunGun, Rodney P and Skitz, who are all proper pioneers in my eyes, enjoying my music… it’s a good look.
Who are your influences? What is it about them you like?
Mr. Convenience: That’s a big question yo, where to start? Well life in general, is a pretty big inspiration in itself, then there’s my family, crew, friends and other musicians, etc that I’ve worked with / working with. With regards to music, I’m a lover of music full stop. It doesn’t matter what genre or category it fit’s into, if it’s good it’s good. When I was younger, my Dad played in a reggae band, so I was brought up on lots of old reggae and ska. Acts like Toots and the Maytals, Price Buster, Desmond Dekker, Max Romeo, Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley… but at the same time I would be hearing and listening to a lot of Bowie, Pink Floyd, Portishead, Blur, Nick Drake, Talking Heads and The Pogues.
Hip-hop wise: (deep breath) J-Dilla RIP, Wu-Tang, Arrested Development, Gangstarr, Jay-Z, The Foreign Exchange, Little Brother, Mobb Deep, Strange Fruit Project, Common, Kanye West, DJ Spinna, A Tribe Called Quest, BDP, Slum Village, MOP, Nas, The Roots, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Dilated Peoples, Ozomatli, The Beatnuts, Kweli & Hi-Tek, Mos Def, Jehst, YunGun & Mr. Thing, Sway, Terra Firma, Task Force, Micall Parknsun, Foreign Beggars, Braintax, Roots Manuva, TY, Mystro, Harry Love, Asaviour, Verb T, Ghost, Rodney P & Skitz, Dynamite MC, Lupe Fiasco, Just Blaze, Pharoahe Monche, OHNO, Madlib, Peanut Butter Wolf, J-Rawls, Janeiro Jarell, Dre, LG & Biscuit, Dangermouse, Mark Ronson, Dudley Perkins, MF Doom, Marc Mac, Up Hygh, man I could go on forever…
Recently I’ve also been tryna educate myself on a lot of old and new soul / funk / jazz… people like; Barry White, The Isely Bros, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Sly & The Family Stone, Minnie Ripperton, Aretha Franklin, Bobby Womack, Roy Ayers, Curtis Mayfield, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Marlena Shaw, Herbie Hancock, through to the likes of Georgia Anne Muldrow, Aloe Blacc, Platinum Pied Pipers, Tiombe Lockhart, Ben Westbeech, Eric Lau, Steve Spacek, Rahel & Simbad. Then there’s DJ’s like Benji B, Gilles Peterson, Ras Kwame and some random bands like Arcade Fire, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Plantlife, Bloc Party and YoungBlood Brass Band…
What music are you listening to at the moment?
Mr. Convenience: On the stereo right now is the new TY LP ‘Closer’, Yungun & Mr. Thing ‘Grown Man Business’ LP, LG & Biscuit ‘Smoke Rings’, Georgia AM ‘Olesi: Fragments of an Earth, Aloe Blacc ‘Shine Through’, Up Hygh ‘The Venus Album’, Kon & Amir ‘Kings of Diggin’, J-Dilla ‘The Shining’ and Marc Mac ‘Dirty Old Hip-hop’. To name but a few.
How long have you been involved in music?
Mr. Convenience: It’s always been there ya know? Through the good and the bad… blahblahblah
So, when did you first move to become a Hip Hop practitioner, rather than consumer? What elements did you toy with? Was it straight MCing from day 1?
Mr. Convenience: Well, I always messed about with couplets when I was younger. But it was when my brother Azreal first introduced me to the likes of Lexis and co, that I first started to seriously write rhymes, after just turning 14 years old… As cheesy as it sounds, it just kinda came naturally, so yeh it was MCing from the start. I’ve got some decks now, so every now and then, I think I can DJ! I’m also just beginning to get some producing equipment… I definitely wanna produce.
How do you feel about the current state of UK hip hop? Do you object to being categorised in this way?
Mr. Convenience: I dunno man, there’s a lot of people doing good things and pushing it all forward, but then there’s also plenty of cats who shouldn’t be in it at all. I fully support the UK scene, I truly believe we now have some of the best MCs / songwriters and producers around. It’s just very depressing at times… the lack of support it’s given and that. The fact that most of the top MCs from this country, have had to get there pretty much alone, with no real financial help or backing. But I also think we’re a little cynical in our approach towards it all… quite understandable really I suppose. I don’t really object to being labelled as UK Hip-hop, but then I don’t want outsiders to think that’s all there is to me. The next project I’m doing is gonna be different from the mixtape.
Do you think it is getting better or worse and why?
Mr. Convenience: Bit of both really. In a commercial sense, we’re definitely getting more exposure. Due to the success of the likes of Sway, Kano, Dizzee, TY, Roots Manuva and Skinnyman. But the for every great MC, you’ve got another 10 wankers who think they’re the dog’s bollocks! I think Channel U has been great in the sense of allowing us to get our music on the box, but it’s also lead to many heads and cliques who can’t spit believing that they can, and all they have to do is get some shoddy video up on Channel U, in order for them to break the scene… But on the whole, I’d say it is definitely improving. It’s not so much just a little thing anymore, artists themselves are taking it all more seriously and because of that now, so are the public, and A&R’s, Press, Etc. Things like 1xtra have also played a major role in breaking through UK acts.
Who are the UK artists you listen to and admire?
Mr. Convenience: YunGun & Mr. Thing, Jehst, Micall Parknsun, Roots Manuva, TY, Terra Firma, Foreign Beggars, Rodney P, Skitz, Braintax, LG & Biscuit, Dablo, Asaviour, DJ IQ, Ben Westbeech, Doc Brown…
Who or what are your other influences?
Mr. Convenience: Arsenal Football Club, on a good day we play the best football the world has ever seen… serious!
What would you say are the 3 biggest events of your life?
Mr. Convenience: That’s another tough one yo, I’m not sure I could whittle them all down. Everything happens for a reason, there’s certain moments / events that I’ll probably cherish longer than others but I can’t really say.
When’s your new album out and what will be on it? Could you perhaps take us through some of the tracks describing the feel and what you were trying to get over in the lyrics?
Mr. Convenience: The LP’s gonna be a while yet, as we’re only just beginning to work on it. It’s gonna be very different from the mixtape though. It’s entitled ‘The StoryBook LP’ and is gonna take you through some key events / stories in my life. It’s gonna have a bit more of a serious approach to it, but that’s not to say it’s gonna be downbeat or depressing. We’re just gonna try and capture that classic sound of the good ol’ days with a bit of a twist. I feel I’ve already matured a lot since I wrote the mixtape, so it’s gonna be a more grown-up and soulful affair. It’s being produced by some friends of mine based in Crawley, a collective called Sound Investment. They produce anything from Breakbeat to funky house to hip-hop, with lots of live instrumentation, and they’re definitely smashing it right now.
What did you aim to achieve with the record and do you feel you did it?
Mr. Convenience: When me and Craze started working on the mixtape, it was originally planned as a demo thing… a means of getting our names out and getting heard. But the feedback we were getting during making it, made us feel like we could push it further and try and make a little money back. It was all completely funded off our own backs, and the reaction to it has been really good. I think any artist always strives for more, but yeh I feel as a first attempt we’ve done well. There’s already things I know I would and wouldn’t do next time, but that’s all part of the process ya know?
Tell our readers why they should listen to you.
Mr. Convenience: Cos I’m the best there is… nah only kidding. What I’d say to people is just listen to it with an open mind, I’m not tryna imitate anybody or anything like that. It’s just me. It’s a little different to what you might expect, but that’s what I wanted. I think it will change certain people’s minds on how to perceive hip-hop, but at the end of the day it’s music. I ain’t tryna start no revolution or nothing…
For the uninitiated, which of your single or album tracks would you highlight to others?
Mr. Convenience: Well, personally I’d say listen to the project as a whole, as that’s the best way to do it if you wanna draw up an opinion of me. But the main tracks that people have really picked up on, have been ‘Glasses High’, ‘Feel Soul Good’ and ‘Anthem for the Doomed Youth’, which I suppose are the real bangers. Its weird though, cos somedays I’ll have someone tell me they’re loving ‘Working Hard’, then another day it’ll be ‘More’. Whatever floats ya boat, I suppose.
What have you learned from your recording, performing and business experiences so far? What advice would you have for anyone trying to get out there now?
Mr. Convenience: You’ve gotta love it man, you gotta be sure it’s what you wanna do and that you’re prepared for the grind. It certainly ain’t easy, but when the rewards pay off, it’s more than satisfactory. It’s no use approaching it half-hearted though, if you’re gonna go for it, you’ve gotta throw yourself in. Also, don’t expect to make money over night, you’ve got to have it locked in all different aspects. There’s no point expecting everything to fall into your lap, for every show to be rammed and everybody loving your shit. That’s not how it happens, you’ve really gotta to work at it, and often sacrifice a lot of time, money and other things. Prepare yourself for disappointment too, you really do have to stick at it and persevere.
Do you do many live shows? Do you have plans to get out to a wider audience?
Mr. Convenience: Yeh I’ve been playing live since I first started man, since I was like 14 years old, I’ve been up on stage. Mainly spots in and around Cornwall, but also Bristol. We’re hopefully gonna be playing in Sweden around Christmas time, and LDN soon. Once ‘The Storybook LP’ is done, I wanna organise a proper tour. Get out everywhere…
How do you view the Internet? Do you think it is a useful promotional tool and a good way of getting out there and loosening the grip that the major media companies an their TV schedulers have on what is broadcast, or are there too many idiots too willing to spout a load of rubbish with no control over them?
Mr. Convenience: Well man, the internet has been extremely useful for me, in terms of getting my name out there and getting a response from people from all over the place. It does really help artists do their thing without some major fucking them over royally. But at the same time it can be a little out of control too, there’s so many cat’s who are in it for a minute, and think they’re the shit, constantly pushing themselves in ya face, when they have no place or being, no substance or depth. Just after the fame. You can get sucked in big time as well… I spend hours on the net sometimes, cos I just get so lost.
Do you have any plans to get your own online presence? What would you want to achieve with that?
Mr. Convenience: Yeh, we’re getting a website together for this record label / clothing line that me and my friend are looking to start up. It’s gonna be the real deal, no half arsed thing.
Did any of you vote in the last election?
Mr. Convenience: No.
Why do you think the urban youth and people in general are so pissed off with the government?
Mr. Convenience: I think there’s hundred’s of reasons yo, but I definitely feel it’s partly down to the way we’re being perceived amongst other things. Like when the government try and lay the blame on hip-hop / rap for the rise in crime, rather than taking responsibility for the problems themselves and trying to deal with them. There’s no time or money being invested into the wants and needs of today’s youth. Nobody wants to dig a little deeper and try and understand why everybody’s so pissed off! It’s crazy that we can justify going to a war that nobody wanted, to "supposedly" try and help out another country, when we can’t even sort our problems out at home! All that money and innocent lives going to waste when we should be trying to solve the key issues of what’s wrong with ourselves. There’s no support for the youth of today, nobody feel’s like they have a voice that represents the way they’re feeling. Rather than trying to understand so-called "trouble makers" and those that are misguided, people are just throwing the book at them as if to say, case closed. It’s a mad age to be living in for sure, everything feels like it’s on the edge of boiling over. Nobody trusts anybody anymore, because we don’t know if what we’re ever being told is the truth. There’s no human spirit or compassion… it’s depressing.
What do you make of the smoking ban that will come into effect next summer?
Mr. Convenience: Well I reckon it’ll certainly help me stop, I dunno, I think a lot of people are very uptight about it all, but that is a smoker’s state of mind I suppose.
If you could change something about society, what would it be and why?
Mr. Convenience: I dunno man, that’s a pretty broad question…
What do you do when you are not doing Hip Hop stuff? And away from music, name one thing you’d like to do if all things were possible?
Mr. Convenience: Well writing has always been my thing, since a very young age. Anything artistic really, scriptwriting, graphic design, etc…
Where can people hear your stuff?
Mr. Convenience: At the moment you can check out my tunes at my myspace address: myspace.com/mrconvenience. Or maybe catch the odd track on various radio shows either digital or online.
Where can people pick up your stuff?
Mr. Convenience: You can either get in contact with me directly via myspace, or order the mixtape at www.suspect-packages.com. Once I’ve got my website up and running you will be able to purchase all Mr. Convenience related items from there… CDs / vinyl / t-shirts.
OK. To wind this up, what is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months?
Mr. Convenience: Loads man, I’m working with several different producers at the moment, collaborating on a live project with a steel band which is fronted by my partner in rhyme, Lexis. Writing my first LP, and also trying to set-up a record label / t-shirt company proper… watch this space y’all!
What are your longer term plans and objectives?
Mr. Convenience: To establish a good base and foundation to be able to release music and live off of it! Man, I’m not asking for riches (though I wouldn’t mind) but just to be able to get by and do the thing I love most. I wanna work with as many different artists as possible, that are doing there thing, no matter how different it is. I think too many peeps make music within certain boundaries, when that’s not the way it should be. Experimentation is the way forward. I wanna get out all over the world and perform to people, connect with heads from anywhere. I’ve never really had anything given to me, so I’ma just keep working for it until I’ve got what I want, cos I believe if you’re that dedicated to something then you can always achieve your goals.
Anything else you would like to say?
Mr. Convenience: Go buy my mixtape people, and support the cause! It’s 19 tracks deep and available at the bargain price of five pounds! Also watch for me and my crew in the future…
Do your shout outs here:
Mr. Convenience: Shout to my family and my crew, The Beatech Collective, anybody who has supported me in anyway and continues to do so… all the PZ Pirates and Lands End Smugglers!!! Music Evo, All Rockers, Disorda, YunGun & Mr. Thing, P and Skitz, Big Smoke Mag, Charlee B and Vision Music promo… big up!!
Thank you very much for your time.