Aidan Severs of Certified Banger caught up with SonnyJim a Brummie battle rapper who previously had out his Soul Trader EP. Now he is inked with Dented Records and is pushing his latest work, the Trading Standards mix CD. Read on to find out where he has come from and what it is like to be on the edge of something big.
Aidan Severs: Yo SonnyJim, can you give us the low down on yourself? Tell us who you are, where you're from, what you're about. How would you describe yourself?
SonnyJim: Yaggo yo. I’m a vocalist / producer from Birmingham UK. I’m signed to Dented Records, own another label with a few other people called Eat Good Records, I’ve put out bare music in the past and I’m often off the radar, but not for long. I got a mix CD out on 22.09.08 and it’s the dog’s bollocks.
Aidan Severs: …And can you give us a brief summary of your achievements in Hip Hop so far. It can be your discography, your guest spots, your favourite shows or even the best thing someone's ever said about you!
SonnyJim: Discog is too long to list and grows daily, literally. Check the Dented website for a full discog. I’ve done all sorts of shit, did a track with ex-gangster Mark Chopper Read in Australia, shouts to my boy Wayne Lotek for the link. To be honest I haven’t done half the stuff that I want to do, yet but I’m slowly getting there. Features wise, I’ve worked with Chopper, Lotek, Mobo winner Soweto Kinch, Foreign Beggars, Stig, Jehst, Moorish Delta 7, DJ Woody, the list goes on. I’m lucky to have linked some seriously talented heads.
Aidan Severs: At what point in your rap career do you consider yourself to be? Have you achieved everything you want to yet? What's the business plan if there is one?
SonnyJim: The plan is too build the label Eat Good Records; we got a very solid team right now. Were putting in the ground work and once we got our foot in the door everyone is going to be forced to fall back. No big talk, I just believe the people I got, in the right setting were pretty unfuckwithable. At what point of my rap career do I consider myself to be at? I don’t know, when you’re coming up you think that there will be one point that will change everything. It ain’t really been like that its just constantly keeping things moving and slowly but surely getting closer to doing what we do full time, one day. Hopefully. Not holding my breath though.
Aidan Severs: What's the transition between battle rapper to recording artist like? Does it give you the chance to explore new areas of creativity? Does it require a different mindset?
SonnyJim: I never considered myself a battle rapper, it was just another side to my repertoire, and it was something else other people decided to tag me with… but coming back to the question, yes it requires a different mindset. To be completely honest, I’m not a fan of the studio, I mean we got our own lab and I spend at least half the week of every week there, recording, so yeah it takes its toll, I’m a perfectionist so when I cant get shit right in the studio I get irritated mad quick.
Aidan Severs: What's the Hip Hop scene like in Birmingham? Do you consider it to be an area bursting with talent? Are there any names you can recommend?
SonnyJim: It’s got a massive talent pool but everyone’s on their own thing; there is no rap community. Artists wise we’ve got Malik, Lost Generation, Soweto Kinch, MSI and obviously the Eat Good roster; Kosyne, Redbeard, Taharka, SK. We got some serious producers as well; Kelakovski, EyeBS, R2thebeatz… lots of talent but no outlet.
Aidan Severs: Your mix-CD 'Trading Standards' is out soon. On it you clearly rally against what is considered by the uneducated masses as Hip Hop. What exactly is it that you don't like about the 'Hip Hop' that misguides these people?
SonnyJim: I mean, there’s a market for everything y’know, but for me the situation’s fucked when I feel to not bother telling people outside of the music that I’m an MC, ‘cause if they don’t know the coup, the first thing they do is some funny hand movements and go, “yoyo, yoyo” or some shit – we are really badly stereotyped and its a problem.
Aidan Severs: Keeping things up-to-date and topical, what do you think of the recent success of Lil' Wayne? Do you like the moves he's making? Do you like the music he's making?
SonnyJim: Yeah I’m a Lil’ Wayne fan. ‘Lollipop’ is a bad tune, I don’t give a fuck. I think Wayne is one of the best in the game right now and he’s a far better lyricist than people give him credit for. But I can see why people be hating on him. Some people want music with a message that’s all good, but I like ignorant music as well… but yeah, Wayne is one of my favourite rappers right now and I think as far as a rapper in the mainstream goes he’s really keeping it real. Dude does interviews high on sizzurp with a fuckin’ foam cup in his hand – that shit is real – going on to Westwood mashed out of his box, I mean that shit is not only funny to me but its a breath of fresh air when you got other rappers in the mainstream who are far too worried about their precious image being tarnished.
Aidan Severs: 'Trading Standards' clearly shows you have some big names supporting you. How does it feel to be alongside some of today's UK Hip Hop heroes?
SonnyJim: It’s good but I really knew it was only a matter of time before I linked certain people, it’s just a case of real recognise real y’know. There was a few people that I wanted to work with so I got at them and that was it – no one was really on a long ting as far as the features went. But it wasn’t like I decided to make a mixtape and get all these different rappers on it, a lot of these songs were just music that I’d made over a period of time and they ended up being used for this project. But yeah, some of these artists are really sick, so yeah, back to your question, yeah it’s good, but most of the rappers on the CD are my bredrins.
Aidan Severs: Who are your influences, musical or otherwise? What are you favourite rap tracks or LP's? Which era of Hip Hop do you consider to be the best?
SonnyJim: Influence wise I just draw shit from everywhere, anything and everything. LP’s, maybe, Common ‘Like Water For Chocolate’ – I mean I got lots of old shit that I still bang on the regs, but that Common record – I remember that point in my life when I was doing some madness and I was always on foot and I had that CD playing everywhere I went, so yeah, when I bump that shit it brings back a lot of memories, I thinks Common is probably my favourite rapper off the back of that LP. Era in hip hop for me? Probably like ‘98 – ‘02.
Aidan Severs: What's the best thing about being an MC? Which thoughts keep you going when things get you down?
SonnyJim: For me it’s an outlet. A release, something to occupy my mind. Well that’s what it was, it ends up taking over and ruling above all else so, I don’t know there’s not really a best thing about being an MC, everyone thinks they’re an MC nowadays.
Aidan Severs: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Is there anything else you'd like to add? Any plugs, thank yous? A funny rap related anecdote perhaps?! Any important advice for anyone?
SonnyJim: No doubt, thank you for your time too and safe for doing a review of my new CD on your site. Plugs: Dented Records / Eat Good Records, check the websites – bare shit on there, check the Eat Good youtube profile – bare videos on there of me and the team. Just want to give people a quick heads up on the other ish I got dropping soon, an EP with my boy Apa-Tight, an Eat Good compilation album out before the end of the year and a 12” produced by Illmind and M-Phazes plus my album will be done next year, featuring Prince Po, Foreign Beggars, Kyza, Jehst and many more. That’s it folks. Thank you for reading and remember to cop the ‘Trading Standards’ mixtape 22.09.08 in all good record stores and online.