After a complete pisstake of a train journey (the conductor was kind enough as to make us feel like we were on a fucking Blackpool tour bus – ‘If you look to your left you will see the overflowing riverbank with the waves steadily rising towards us’). The perfect distraction from my frustration was a reet ol’ chinwag with Huddersfield born ‘n’ bred (should be a Sir…) Spida Lee.
When and where did you first pick up a mike?
Spida Lee: I was 8 years old. It was at this show, there was dancing and that. And I did a bit of rapping as well. I clashed this guy – so he was like rapping against me…
Is MCing something you flowed right into from the start then?
Spida Lee: Yes, definitely.
When I talk to people out of West Yorkshire – especially the London crowd, they seem to underestimate the scene up here. How would you describe it compared to anywhere else?
Spida Lee: Well, London is proper live – I like it – it’s alive. I did some shows with Skinnyman down there and it was proper full, everyone was loving it. Up here – sometimes it’s full. Sometimes it’s not… When it is full everyone just stands there doing this (*does the classic ‘too cool to dance’, arms crossed head bop ish*). No-one wants to get into it man.
Got any favourite local nights then?
Spida Lee: In Huddersfield? There’s ‘Beats ‘n’ Pieces’ and ‘Inertia’.
Elsewhere in West Yorks?
Spida Lee: Get Cained in Shipley – I played there last month. I’ve played the Faversham. and The Cockpit.
So which MCs would you say inspired you when you were a kid n that? Is it the same ones as today?
Spida Lee: Yes. I’m strictly 94’, 95’ hip hop. As far as particular artists go… There’s so many! Well, at the moment I’m listening to Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Common.
Everyone’s saying Common’s latest album isn’t as good as his old stuff.
Spida Lee: Sorry! Nah! I reckon before he was going more to the commercial side, but this one he’s brought it back again.
What do you think of this whole comeback thing that’s everywhere at the moment? Nas, Jay-Z, Wu Tang…
Spida Lee: Not really into that… nah.
Would you say you have a main lyrical focus or do you just spit about anything and everything?
Spida Lee: Anything really. If there’s a beat and I’m feeling it. I’ll spit whatever comes to my head to go with the beat.
Are you quite open with your lyrics?
Spida Lee: Yes. I do get quite personal and some of the new stuff I’m doing at the moment is like that.
So what’s the latest stuff you’re recording like?
Spida Lee: It’s got quite a jazzy sound to it. It’s not commercial – just a bit more friendly. Haha. Cos most stuff is really raw, I’m just trying to get more radio friendly.
So speaking of raw… You into grime at all?
Spida Lee: Nah! Can’t take it. Sorry. There’s probably one or two tracks. But…
Haha. Not even the lil crazy kids? You’re not a Channel U viewer then?
Spida Lee: They make me laugh if anything! I’ve been played on Channel U… but it’s not really my cuppa tea.
What about the whole idea of kids kind of making it happen for themselves… organising and promoting their own shit n that?
Spida Lee: I like that idea man. It’s good that they’re doing something. You know – they’re not sat there doing nothing. They’re trying to push themselves doing different things as well. So that’s a good thing.
Was it easy for you starting out back in the day? Were there certain people who made it easier?
Spida Lee: Kind of ‘cos my manager had my back and that. Everyone was like yeh… we’ll push you out and that. And they pushed me out. So yeh!
So what have you got planned for this year then?
Spida Lee: Touring! Just plenty of touring and gigs and that… I’m supporting Skinnyman again this year. I just phoned him saying, you know I want to start getting back out there again, and he goes to me ‘well, any shows coming up – you’re there!’ Can’t really complain.
I need to catch him live! Will definitely have to head to down to one of your shows.
Spida Lee: It’s mental! We’ll be playing Leeds so…
Could you give us a few lines, just to kind of give people an idea of what Spida Lee is all about? Could be anything at all.
Spida Lee: I’m representing for my people at the bottom of the cliff/ I bought ten cigs to make them build a big spliff / Amongst all the mist I see people in the struggles/ Hard working men get by/ People still struggle/ Whenever times get hard like bamboo/ I pull through/ And stay strong like a can of special brew/ As for me/ I just chill/ Try to pay ma cable bill/ While mans pack 9 mil fat like them Dekker drills/ Old school like Grange Hill/ Yo, up North ma sector/ Huddersfield, Leeds, Bradford and Manchester/ From Liverpool, Sheffield to Dewsbury/ I rock steady on empty belly/ I’m rhyme starving so you can feel ma hunger/ Hollow like shots that’s discharged from the pumper/ Like Bruce Forsythe I play my cards right/ And for the right price I blow up mics/ Trying to bring my family fortunes/ Like Les Dennis.
Mintin… Cheers for that!
Spida Lee: Haha. You know one time though I went to London and I was doing this interview and I was so tired. And she asked me to do a freestyle. So I was like… okay, ‘I’m in the room downstairs and I’m looking around’… erm… I fucked it up! Haha. I was tired though, you know, long journey!
Haha. You can’t allways be on point innit?
Spida Lee: Yeh. She caught me off guard man! I wasn’t expecting it!
Something I’ve noticed a lot lately – is that some MCs are like constantly reading that, learning from literature and written words. Whereas there’s others who are more about the music and culture ton influence them and their work… Where do you stand?
Spida Lee: I do read. I’m into like – DaVinci code, that Dan Brown type of shit. I’m into all that, I’ve read nuff of his books. That’s all I’m into at the moment. Dan Brown. I’m not really a reader but I read the DaVinci code and I was like I’ve got read his next book! And his next one!
Safe. Would you ever do any spoken word kind of stuff?
Spida Lee: Ooo I’d give it a try yeh. I do like it.
Speakers Corner’s gone now innit. Proper gutted bout never getting to witness that!
Spida Lee: Yeh. I did a set down there. That’s a hip hop crowd! It was mental man!
Any people on the scene at the moment you really want to work with?
Spida Lee: Definitely Skinnyman. I’m gonna do a track with Skinny. Jack Flash – he’s from Huddersfield. And Chief Wigz… in fact I’ve written 16 bars for a track with him already. It’s gonna be sick I swear.
That’s about it for now. As the year goes on I’ll see whatever pops up.
If you could pick anyone dead or alive to work with?
Spida Lee: Biggie… That’s one of the main guys for me. Biggie Smallz. There’s too many to mention, but we’ll leave it at that.
Do you want to do any work further abroad at all?
Spida Lee: I want to do the U.S. I do. I don’t know what it is about there but… NYC… And Germany. They’ve got big scene there…
Yeh man! I’m from Germany! And I mean, everyone makes out that it’s still full of Nazi’s. Don’t get me wrong -there’s plenty of problems and that. But it’s not the way people think it is. And Berlin? It’s one of the most open minded cities in Europe.
Spida Lee: Damn. Like we’re thinking, yeh there’s hip hop things going over there – but I thought it was proper racist! If you don’t know, you don’t know do ya? Till someone tells you…
Do you listen to any European MCing? Like German or French or anything?
Spida Lee: I like the French stuff. This guy called Lasser D. He’s sick. It’s a like live band ye… Like The Roots – but they’re French.
O yeee. That sounds mint. Questlove is one of my top drumming inspirations …
Spida Lee: Ye ye. And MC Solaar – big guy man! I like French hip hop, I don’t know what the hell they’re saying but its sounds good! Latino hip hop as well…
You know Miss Tofelees don’t you? Her beats are mint!
Spida Lee: Yeh. I’m doing some stuff with her… This one beat! This Brazilian one… it’s sick man. It’s like Latino… I go to Mexico a lot so I get on the vibe…
So what you up to as far as recording goes this year?
Spida Lee: I’m doing the EP with Miki B (Brutal Artistry) Working on the jazzy album… Those are the plans. If it happens it happens. If it doesn’t it doesn’t!
The jazz shiz will be mint to do live…
Spida Lee: Ye. With a live band it’ll be even better. See what happens innit.
Mmmm jazz drumming.
Spida Lee: Yeh! You’re a drummer innit! I used to drum as well you know. When I first started technical college I had to learn an instrument. I was like sod guitar, sod bass – I’ll play the drums! It’s hard like, getting your head round the whole snare and hi hat thing. Takes time, but I got it eventually.
You still drum at all then?
Spida Lee: Nah. But now and again I’ll see a drum kit there. And I’ll go for it. I loved it!
So, with your old stuff. Did you do any music videos?
Spida Lee: Done three. Right, ma first one was in a skateboard park. We were like – who wants to be in a video?! Everyone was like, yeh yeh me! Like 60 people came down and they were all boppin’ to my track Verbal Assassin.
The second one I did was with Miki, that was like in the town centre. Just walking through the town centre like some mad man! Haha. We did some in Bradford as well.
My third one, I was in an asylum like, with a straight jacket. That was mad. My cousin actually built a little cell. I was in my straight jacket, and I like broke outta the asylum and I was running through these fields getting chased by security guards. Haha. Mad shit.
Sounds fun! Do you think you’d ever do any proper films?
Spida Lee: Yeh I’d love to do that. I’d try acting. Ahaha.
Got any favourite music videos from other artists?
Spida Lee: Ahahaha! You should see me when I get on YouTube! Ask Miki what I’m like when I get on You Tube and I bet he laughs. I’m there forever. Cos all the old school rap videos is on. I’m like check out this song! There’s too many, I can’t say! Ermm… definitely ‘Chief Rocker – Lords Of the Underground’. ‘I Get You Open’ by ‘Black Moon’. ‘Curious George’… I’ll shut up now or I’ll just keep on going.
Do you remember the first album you bought?
Spida Lee: This group called ‘Illegal’. Jamal from ‘Def Squad’. And the other guy was on Snoop Dogg’s first album – that little guy! With the squeaky voice. Yeh. And Eric Sermon produced ‘em. Cost me £16.99! And I bought it with my own money, I was about 15. Still in school and that. Saved all my pocket money to buy that album, I swear!
Are you into any other genres of music?
Spida Lee: Drum n Bass. That has to be second. It used to be first actually… Bassman, Trigger, Skibadee, Shabadee, Dex… DJs wise – Micky Finn, Randall, Kenny Ken.
Used to go to Hysteria – was always in Leister man! I’m into soulful house as well. None of this bang bang shit. I mean like soulful chilled out house music.
You into indie or owt?
Spida Lee: I like Arctic Moneys! My cousin’s into all that. Like The Kooks and stuff.
Yeh. I know one of the Monkey’s cousins. They’re the Cookes fam innit. Chapeltown. She went to the Arctic Monkey’s New York gig and Jay Z was standing next to her! So hip hop heads love a bita that innit…
Spida Lee: That’s deep. Like my cousin was in a restaurant in Las Vegas and Lil’ Jon was sat behind him.
Spida Lee: YEEEEEHHH! All in your face.
Haha. It’s like – I mean I’d love to meet Flava Flav but it’d be like…!
Spida Lee: That guys mental. He gives me jokes. Funny guy…
What do you think of the whole ‘Flava of Love’ thing he did on MTV. And stuff like ‘Run’s House’?
Spida Lee: It gives me jokes sometimes. But it is a bit overboard.
Do you think like, nowadays in hip hop people feel the need to go one way or another. Like they’ll make an entire album that’s all jokey and that, or one that’s totally serious and heavy…
Spida Lee: You need a balance you know. You can’t always be serious. Like when you’re doing a show, if you give them something to move to as well… Like especially in Huddersfield. Some of ‘em might dance if you give them something to dance to instead of just standing there nodding! It’s like – I had a show Saturday just gone,.and most of the crowd were like yeh whatver. Standing there. But these two girls were proper going for it! I was like, ‘you came down here to come and enjoy yourselves and that’s exactly what you’re doing!’ When you go to a gig, you don’t want just stand there looking cool – you want to have fun!
Drum n bass gigs seem to be a bit more lively don’t they!
Spida Lee: Exactly. I did some drum n bass MCing a few weeks ago and at first no-one was doing nothing. But as soon as we got on the mike everyone was there!
There’s even girls wi no shoes on n’ that… Ha. I love it man!
As far as the youth culture in Britain these days goes… There seems to be a lot of kids saying they’re into hip hop yet obsessing over guns ‘n that. What do you think they need to understand what it’s all about?
Spida Lee: Really and truly ye… These kids who are into all this gun business. I’ll take ‘em to America. To Rio. To some fucked up places in the world where this shit really goes on. Then we’ll see how ‘hip hop’ they are… I can’t stand all this gun business I swear. It is hard when you’re in hip hop. Everyone thinks you’ve got guns, you sell drugs, you’re this and you’re that -but you’re not! You know… It’s not even about that! It’s about frickin expressing yourself you know?!
You go anywhere elsewhere abroad? Think you’ll do any shows in place?
Spida Lee: Caribbean – obviously. And I’ve been to America as well. Brooklyn. I was about 17. My mum used to go all the time. She was like ‘oh come to America’. So me and ma cousin went over – she was like ‘it’s a really nice area’. First day we got there, we walking up this high street and these guys are looking at me and ma cousin going – ‘who tha fuck are y’all?’ Me and ma cousin were like, heads down, walking past and that. Just wonna stay out of trouble.
You’re not one for the unnecessary drama ish then?
Spida Lee: Nah I’m a good guy. I got kids man so you know… My step daughter’s 10, me other ones 6 and me other ones 2. All girls as well!
Do you think you changed musically when you had kids?
Spida Lee: Kind of… I was still doing a bit of the hardcore stuff. I’ll tell you truth – I’m not a bad person, but I’ve done stuff in the past. And I’m surrounded by a lot of bullshit as well. So I just talk about what I see and what I’ve been through you know. But, as I’ve got older, I’m like now actually I’m going to stop all that stuff. It’s not just getting older; I’m thinking I’m sick of all this hardcore stuff, I’m stick about talking about was gwaaning on the streets. Now I’m talking about my times in Mexico, what I been doing in Mexico and having fun. I’ve lived it – so I might as well talk about it!
Do you want your kids to get into the old school shiz you’re into?
Spida Lee: Definitely man – they’ve got to! I been raised on that, so I got to raise my kids on it! You got to school em man.
Have any youth work or teaching?
Spida Lee: I’ve done a couple of DJ workshops and that. I can’t really DJ properly! But I could teach ‘em how to switch it over and that. And I did MCing workshops. Trying to teach ‘em, you know, if you don’t have a gun – don’t talk about guns in your lyrics! Cos you han’t got one! Talk about what you do with your friends or whatever. Keep it real. Some listened and some didn’t. You know I’ll merk ya, Ima merk ya!’
Safe safe. Well… Any last words for the audiences and that?
Spida Lee: I wonna ask Britishhiphop.co.uk a question… Why did they diss my album? Can’t remember who it was but they said I was trying to sound to American and I should leave the old school to the old school stuff and try something new basically. I guess you can’t please everybody… But the stuff nowadays… I mean. Old school is more creative.
(After a bit of research…it seems as though our very own Analogue was said rudeboi reviewer. Haha).
Owt else to say to any aspiring MCs or youngers out there?
Spida Lee: Keep working at it. It ain’t easy neither. It’s not gonna come out of nowt. You got work and keep at it! Don’t give up. Or you’ve wasted all that time for nothing…