“The human race is fighting a losing battle. There is too much that has gone on before. There is so many evils in the world that are constant and that are resonated so much, there is no way in hell we are going to make it all change… However, I would rather fight the battle!” Tapestry’s vocal tapestry’s make him a must have for a British Hip Hop stylee Q and A.
Nino did the honours in Bradford as the lad weaved yet another philosophical, personal and original take on the English language. Tapestry is holding fort as one of the few conscious young emcees in our scene these days, already willingly passing on his skills and ideas to younger souls, having not even reached eighteen himself.
Nino: So how long have you been into MCing then?
Tapestry: I was about eleven when I got into rap. Then when I was about fourteen I hooked up with a few of my mates and we were going to try make a little crew, thought we were going to be the best of the best and proper little gangsters. I used to rap about the same shit that all these young MCs rap about these days. I’ma kill you, I’ma get a knife, take a life. Blah blah bull shit. But then like fifteen – sixteen I was just homing in on my writing – still writing that wannabee gangster shit you know, but then towards the end of being sixteen… I was like hold up. Why am I rapping about being a gangster when I’m not actually a gangster? I’m from Bradford!
Nino: You always been in Bradford then?
Tapestry: No, I was born in London, January 28th 1991, then I moved to Yorkshire when I was six. But I heard rap from American MTV videos. First ever rap video I watched was Eminem, Real Slim Shady. And I was like wow! I got really cocky. I honestly thought, if he can do it, so can I. This is so easy. If he can make money, so can I. I don’t need a job! But then I’m 17 and this year I was with ExP (Experimnetality – Freyed Knot – http://www.myspace.com/freyedknot) on a train, going to this youth conference thing and basically, I just said to him – this ain’t easy. Being an MC isn’t easy at all. And he was like ‘now you get it?!’
I ain’t about trying to make money any more. That’s not what it’s about to me. I just want to make good music. That’s hard as well. Getting people to feel you from different areas. I’m at the stage where it’s really exciting for me because as an artist I’m discovering myself and I’ve got so many mentors – Freyed Knot, Miss Tofelees – shout outs to all of you by the way. And Testament, First Word. All of them. And I’ve got so many people telling me, I think you should do this. And I think to myself, what do the people want? I put out some really conscious shit when I was at the end of sixteen years old. I was talking to Miss Tofelees one time, three or four weeks ago I think, asking for some beats and I said to her. And I was like, can I just show you this? I found the piece of paper that I wrote the verses on. I spat it to her and she was like ‘that’s well deep, when did you write that?’ And I’m like, end of my being sixteen, seventeen. But when I told it to ExP, he was like, ‘I don’t get it.’ Can I do the verse now?
Nino: Hell yes go for it!
Tapestry: Yay! Let me think… Put me on the spot. Well I put myself on that spot.
Nino: How did the name Tapestry come about then? Is that from when you started becoming more conscious?
Tapestry: Yeh, I used to be called Underdog, my mate gave me that name when I was fourteen doing the whole crew thing. It was alright for the time. But like, in Beckfoot where I used to go to school, we used to have rap battles. It started with my mate who was a producer, Eddie Scissor Hands, big up to you. He was like, you man, you’re winning these battles in school. And we started battling Bradford. We would meet up with MCs like outside Frankie and Benny’s and spit. It was good. And you know I got to a stage where I was winning quite a few and people were like, you know that guy with Jay, he’s quite good. That Underdog guy. And I go to think – I can’t be called that anymore. I’m not an underdog any more!
And then I was in London with my nana cos she lives down there still. I was trying to thinking of name, and she was making this quilt thing. I said, nana is that a tapestry? And she said no, and she explained to me what a tapestry is. So I was like, right, so I could make Tapestry music. I know this is proper arrogant. But I picture it in my head. Me on a stage, people chanting. And the name Underdog didn’t sound right. But then. Tapestry. Tapestry. Tapestry. That works. Sick sick. And then when I met up with Testament, he told me the full definition, and I was like, wow, cool. That’s deep. I’m deep and I didn’t even know it! So it’s not when I became more conscious it’s just my luck that I found it and it just happened like that! But it is a conscious name, so I stick with it.
Nino: How come you decided to do your own thing then after the crew stuff?
Tapestry: Beef. Like all rap crew nowadays. Well, what is was, I am quite arrogant for my age, as a person. Basically, my mate, he wasn’t in our crew. There were three of us, and he just watched us. I was like, I feel like I’m getting to the other MC’s levels in the crew – though they started out before me, when they were like nine and that. And he was like, you’re better than them. My other mate said it as well. I seen you at battles. You’re better than them… So they both heard about this and got the wrong end of the stick. And they thought it was all my idea.
Nino: If you worked hard. There is nothing wrong in being proud of your talents.
Tapestry: But there was like a massive split. We’re not even mates no more. We don’t even talk. They made a F Tapestry website.
Nino: If they’ve gone to that much trouble though. It proves that they’re just jealous.
Tapestry: They made an album though. The first album was the Fuck Tapestry album. Eighteen tracks. Just to diss me. I didn’t even know. Other people told me and were asking if I was going to write a dis back. I did a freestyle diss and that was it. They kept come at me with more disses. But I wasn’t going to do it. I don’t want to beef with you. At that time. I was Year 9. I was like, no, I’ve got to focus on my GCSEs and stuff. I met up with them and I told them, you guys win. You are better. And you know what one of them is doing now. Jack shit. Not in college. Not in sixth form. He’s a bum shotting weed. The other one, we’re cool now.
Nino: The thing with most beefs is – people have run out of other stuff to rap about. And if they had to write an entire album cussing you it just proves that we don’t even need to hear that to know that you must be better than them if that’s all they can rap about!
I mean artists like 50 Cent are bringing the level of hip hop down below ground.
Tapestry: It’s perceptions about what you call the level of hip hop? What is hip hop?
Nino: Peace, unity, knowledge and having fun. And the gangster rappers have none of that. They’re carrying out a stereotype the government let them influence kids with. So they are brought down to that level too.
Tapestry: I know what you mean, but I don’t think it’s just one man. You can’t blame it on one artist or two artists…
Nino: Totally. It’s about the guy in the suit at the top who’s signing these artists, and the people at the other end who are buying this shit. But like, 50 Cent, the power he has now, he could do something positive with it.
Tapestry: Oh yeh. He could. He could. But he isn’t going to. Why stop why you’re ahead? You got to eat, you got to live, you know money makes the world go round. I’m sorry but it is how it is.
Nino: But once you’ve got your ten cars and your ten houses then…
Tapestry: I’ll be satisfied with one house! But like 50 is doing that whole vitamin water thing and he killed of Ecko. Mark Ecko’s like ‘give me my clothing back!’ So he is doing the whole business Fiddy.
Nino: He is a good business man. And a good talker and he gets people doing what he wants. But so did Hitler. So does Bush! I just hate that 50 has hip hop on his shoulders with him, even though he ain’t hip hop!
Tapestry: Gangster rap… What is gangster rap? There is no such thing as gangster rap. Gangsters do not rap. Al Capone did not spit rhymes. I’m not going to try rip some of the biggest legend in hip hop. But come on. People don’t know what a gangster is. Watch the Godfather man! Read up… Gangsters don’t need guns they get people to kill for them. Now I see boys carrying knives, I know people, and I’m not going to say any names cos they’ll probably hurt me. They carry knives all day. That’s not because they’re gangsters or they’re hard it’s because they’re trying to be hard.
And now they’re in such a messed up situation like, they can’t go to Leeds, or they can’t go to Keighley because a race or a person or family wants to beat the crap out of them or kill them and it’s so stupid. Come on, what is this world coming to? Oh, you disrespected me. You said my mum. Your mum this. Your mum that. I’m going to stab you now. I’m going to get my boys. Come on?!!
Nino: It’s easier to do that you know. You’re mums chopping the chicken and you’re like, can I borrow that knife a minute? It’s easier to do that than go out, get a job and get some real respect.
Tapestry: I think the whole British gangster badman tip thing is really sad. Especially the fashion sense. You wearing Adidas with your little hoodie and you got your little knife in your pocket or whatever. At least gangsters or hustlers, whatever you call them in America – they actually look good! From my perception with fashion, please give me something that I can actually wear. Gangsters please help me out, I need some good clothing!
Nino: So Bradford then! What potential do you think the hip hop scene has?
Tapestry: What scene? At the moment as it stands there is not a hip hop scene. But there is always potential for a hip hop scene. Synoptic is holding the torch for Bradford hip hop. That Bradfunk. Go buy the album. It’s AMAZING. Not as good as my mixtape – but it’s alright. But yeh. I mean. Bradford does have potential. We’ve got hip hop heads such as Nino… We’re doing it though. Getting there but not there yet.
Nino: As far as the youngers go in Bradford then. What kind of reactions do you get? Cos if like, kids see us breakin’ or whatever and come down and be like, look, I can beatbox! Nananana. Boom. Boom…
Tapestry: Haha. Can I ask you something though… I saw the video on your myspace (noisewontstop) with that break dancing thing, and was that you on the drums.
Nino: Yes yes.
Tapestry: I thought so. Is that Phil with the mike?
Nino: Haha yes…
Tapestry: He’s rocking an Afro right. Philip. This is Tap. I’m ashamed of you. Rocking an Afro. Only I can do that!
Nino: What where’s yours gone?!
Tapestry: I got rid of it because it’s summer Nino.
Nino: I like feeling them.
Tapestry: A lot of girls do. It’s kind of weird…
Nino: Haha… Do you MC in London town at all these days?
Tapestry: I go down there a bit yeh, I know a few people who know I rap. I don’t really go out much in London cos it ain’t my ends, and I’m cool with Bradford. I normally stay in with my boys in London and we just write. Unless someone is like, you gotta perform at this rave in half an hour, we’ll go down then. But most of the time we’ll chill and just be hip hop heads for the evening.
Nino: Cool…So, how did you get in touch with Miss Tofelees (http://www.myspace.com/misstofelees) then?
Tapestry: ExP… I blagged him. He was like, she’s a good producer. And checked some beats and was like, she’s quite hot! And I was like cool, can I have the beats? He said no. I said can I have her number. He said no. Then finally after like twenty two times and he gave me the number and was like, it’s not my fault if she doesn’t like you! And I’m like, she’ll like me, and now she does.
Nino: I remember the first time I heard some of her beats and I was like, whoah!
Tapestry: She is amazing. Big up to Miss T, because without her and ExP, the Synoptic lot I wouldn’t be doing what I am. I got the mixtape out – Laced mixtape, on the MySpace, via PayPal, its five quid online, three quid on the street.
Nino: It is cool that true heads are helping each other out. But there is way too much beef, even in the West Yorkshire scene. Like when I started out here I thought people into hip hop would all be sorted. But it ain’t quite that way is it!
Tapestry: I don’t trust anyone. I don’t even trust you.
Nino: Cheers Tap. You can trust me a little bit though right? Like a percentage…
Tapestry: Yeh. Let’s say fifty. Forty. Twenty. Ten.
Nino: I’ll remember that… Right moving on. Back on the Bradford level. The riots. You will have been here right? Were you involved?
Tapestry: No! But I got interviewed. I was in primary school. I was like in Year 7. Look North came into our school and they interviewed us and I was like ‘Yeh, it’s bad, you shouldn’t be hurting people’. Now I look back on it. The whole thing was stupid. What was it all about really?
Nino: It was stupid. But it all stems back to the BNP wanting to march up here. There were riots in Oldham and Burnley. But of course, that didn’t get much media coverage.
Tapestry: Yet they put Bradford on the map!
Nino: One lad got beat up and phones started ringing. Blunkett may have banned it, but BNP are in Bradford. And for a lot of people, you know, Mela has been cancelled. You’re in Lister Park. You have a cricket bat, you’re bored. And the tension is still here.
Tapestry: Yes. There is tension now. It isn’t just Asians and Whites. There is tension now between everyone.
Nino: There’s inter race tension.
Tapestry: Yeh! Like, in my ends – let’s say ends, the cool grime word, whatever. Cos we’re in Bradford blood, haha. Like where I live, I have to look behind me constantly. I know most of the people. And my mate didn’t want to walk to Frizinghall because he thought that because he’s white he’ll get jumped and I was like, no it’s cool. It’s like, I was talking to ExP the other day. And why get why certain people feel the way they do about certain races. Have you heard about that Chinese family on the news in Leeds? Two girls and their mum keep getting racist abuse, people just battering on the street and that. It’s crazy. I watched an interview with Lupe Fiasco and how he feels about racism. And he said one thing, that just made me like, what? He said, ‘we need racism’.
Nino: You what?
Tapestry: Listen to the explanation though. Cos after hearing that, I agreed with him. Because the foundations of society today, the human race is so proud of its history. Showing the youngers, showing the fruits of our loins, what we did. What happened with Grandpa Joe. Basically, people love to share the history. And as long as we are who we are as the human race and we are proud of having history and sharing our intelligence with the younger generation there is always going to be racism. Kids brains are like sponges. This is why sometimes I dislike doing youth work. I have to tell them that this is bad and this is wrong. But I believe that they should make their own decisions. But you got to follow the rules. Got to follow society. That’s how the world works.
They get told all these things until they’re older and they challenge it. Even then they may not challenge it because Grandpa said it and then their mates will be saying it to. So unless we make the next generation totally unaware of what happened with slavery, what happened with the Egyptians with slavery, with World War 2 and 1 and people killing each other. Unless we segregate them from the whole of the human race we are not going to stop racism and that is the fact.
Nino: It’s true. Everyone judges everyone else. But there’s pre-conventional thinking with kids where they do just accept what they are told, there’s post-conventional where they should hopefully be thinking for themselves. But then there are other influences which can hit them then, like politicians and that.
Tapestry: I totally get you. But as racism stands, our young people don’t make it any easier for themselves. We don’t try put out the fire, we put more wood on and make it go whoosh! I’d rather give them the hand of friendship and go, here you are, I’m a nice person. I ain’t going to smack them because it will fuel their anger. It will fuel their hatred and what’s the point of fuelling hatred. Even if they have done shit to you. If you want to make the world better. If you want to make a change. Here’s an idea. Don’t put more gas on the flame. That rhymed. Freestyle on the brain!
But you know sometimes, I feel like, even though I’m on a positive tip and trying to be a better person in the community and everything. I always feel like the human race is fighting a losing battle. There is too much that has gone on before. Kids being warped, first, second and third – however many generations we on now. But there is so many evils in the world that are constant and that are resonated so much, there is no way in hell we are going to make it all change. We are fighting a losing battle. However, I would rather fight the battle! Maybe one day, by God’s grace we’ll get there. Well, maybe it won’t be you and me. We’ll be dead by then.
Nino: Probably. At least we’ve done something.
Tapestry: Every little helps. It’s Sainsbury’s innit? Or Asda. Not it’s not Asda.
Nino: It’s not Morrison’s. That’s more reasons to shop at…
Nino: Oh dear… Moving on.
Tapestry: But on the Bradford tip. Like our grime artists are going try and diss Chipmunk. Local grime artists, not including Dorzi but people who know Dorzi are going to try diss Chipmunk. By the way, Chipmunk, love your work, big ups.
Nino: Who disses Chipmunk?
Tapestry: Basically. They got in touch with him and he said he’d do a track with them and hasn’t got back to them yet and now they want to write a diss track. But one little fourteen year that I know, who thinks he’s quite raw. But you’re now Raw. Kid. Told me what happened. Really though, Chipmunk’s mate said he’s be up for it. And they took that as an absolute definitely.
Nino: Right… What a load of… Yes…
Tapestry: But yeh! New mixtape coming out on my birthday 20th June. I’ve decided. Spida Lee is going to be on it. He doesn’t know yet. Spida man, you’re an amazing artist and I’m buying your album tomorrow I swear. Foundations is sick though, I listened to it.
Nino: Yesssss. Spida is a star.
Tapestry: We’ve got two videos that I’m doing for Channel U. Spida should be on the ‘You Don’t Know The Streets’.
Nino: Have you got all the ideas and that sorted for them then?
Tapestry: Yeh! ‘I Don’t Want’ is going to be shot half in Bradford, half in Leeds. Cos you know how Miss T produced that one and all that. We’re going to get all the crew down and have the Laced mix tape people. For ‘You Don’t Know The Streets’ I want something epic. Realistic. I want to get past the whole, just another kid trying to get a vid on Channel U.
Nino: Channel U girls are really starting to get on peoples nerves… What about feminism Tap? Is that something that matters enough to you to address in your work?
Tapestry: You know what… My dad asked me the other day, he was like, okay so you’re making moves. But what are you actually rapping about? And I started shouting at him, like, what you on about? Hip hop can be anything!
But he said, can you actually tell me what you’re about? So, I was like, good point and to be honest, I don’t know what I’m about yet. I know I want to be on a positive, but I don’t know what I want to do. I don’t want to be a leader, but then, could I be Saul Williams? Could I be Chuck D? Could I be a leader to thousands of people? I can talk for Britain! I just told him, I want to give everyone a voice and I want to give everyone a choice. I want to address divorced women in Africa that don’t have any rights because that’s the way their government is, and they are just looked down on as the lowest of the low. Single mothers in Britain raising kids. I want to address the father figure that isn’t present for the child, who ran away or had an affair… why did he do it?
I want to give feminists a voice, those who have been abused by men and who therefore see them as disgusting idiots. I want to get inside their heads and give them a voice. I want to give homosexuals a voice. I want to give everyone a voice and everyone a choice. Every race, person, everything that I can think of. I want to give the sun a voice, I want to give the moon a voice, the sky. I want to give people the choice to feel pain or rejoice.
Nino: Do you think some hip hop heads are confused about how they feel about women? Or how hip hop treats women? Like KRS 1 told Hip Hop Connection that hip hop isn’t misogynistic, rappers don’t hate women, they just love them too much…
Tapestry: Oh what? You know what, record this right now yeh. I don’t care if I do ever cross over to America. Fuck that man. Fuck that. I like his stuff yeh… but if he’s coming out with shit like that. No man. That’s just not right.
Nino: And then you got average people taking all that shit in and agreeing with it. Thinking it must be right. It’s ok because it’s what everyone else is saying or doing to ‘their bitch’ or ‘their hoe’.
Tapestry: People are ignorant. They don’t read. They don’t think. They just smoke weed and drink. It‘s the rap manual. It’s the unwritten laws of rap. You’ve got to be gangster. You’ve got to girl like their ‘bitches’, you’ve got to portray them like their ‘bitches’. You got to say I F this many girls and that. That’s what I got taught growing up listening to Eminem and that. He hated women. I thought I hate women too. If Dr Dre is a gangster, I want to be a gangster, I’m a gangster.
Nino: So right now then… Where is Tapestry at?
Tapestry: Tapestry at the moment, unsigned…
Tapestry: Can I say hype.
Nino: Yeh sure…
Tapestry: Alright then! Unsigned hype. Also starting a new band with DRM, you DRM right. And DJ Was.
Nino: Brilliant! I couldn’t think of a better trio!
Tapestry: Haha yes. Come September we’ll be gigging as a group. At the moment I’m doing the solo tip with Synoptic. But, yes also. Have you heard of Unfinished Drawings? They’re not a hip hop crew. They’re an indie band. They got into the Battle of the Bands semi-final with Freyed Knot and basically I’m doing some gigs with them. Yesterday I freestyled over three of their tracks at a gig and the crowd loved it. There’s the bassist and proper mean guitarist and I want to record some stuff. And then I’ll propose to them, like, do you want to join up with my DJ, my MC and me?!!
Nino: My… that sounds gurrrrd. I’m looking forward to that! Right then… How about a free style to finish?
Tapestry: Most boys buy the book, but don’t read between the lines / They never endeavour really to pen their minds / They follow street signs / They’re involved in crime / And what the fuck’s going on in this time and place / See Mama tried to get them in the places / But they can never wash off the graces /Because they don’t know nothing / And they don’t read / They think it’s cool / They have need for speed / They have need for weed / They have need to be a G / But honestly you ain’t no gangster / Please put down the guns / Put down the knives / And why don’t you give some hugs / And that’s good you know / I got a ridiculous flow / People say I got doe / Yes I’m kind of a pro or semi / And I’m better than you totally / If any boys want to test I ain’t gonna smack you in the face you see / Cos that ain’t me / I’m gonna use democracy / I don’t really know what else to say / Apart from big up to britishhiphop.co.uk
On the train home from the interview I got a call asking if I wanted to join Tapestry’s band project… a week later we were in the studio already getting foundations for our first track together…
Keep an eye on www.myspace.com/textstyles
And of course check out the two batches of downloads from Tapestry on the site and his personal myspace…