This guy really needs no introduction. Repping UK Hip-Hop since 1986, he’s gone from working in a record shop to running a label, PR company, online magazine, to being a producer, DJ and parent… Anna Nathanson meets Tricksta…
You’re someone who’s been in the UK hip hop industry for many many years now, witnessing the highs and lows of the scene. What have been your main observations, or changes you’ve noted?
Tricksta: My main observation is that when you are involved in releasing any type of urban music on an independent level you have to be prepared to work maybe three times harder then anyone from any other genre. You have to be a fighter, a believer and have commitment. The scene is so much healthier than when I started Wolftown Recordings and Rago Magazine back in 1999, but there are a lot more people doing it now and currently with the birth of MySpace it’s like every other man is a rapper!
How do you perceive the scene today compared to when you first started out, and is it a lot easier for artists and other people in the industry trying to make it?
Tricksta: Well I think the whole industry is changing; from the music style to even the way people are purchasing music. I think it’s better because of things like 1xtra, Channel U and more magazines and websites than ever before, but as I said there are so many people doing it you have to come original and from the heart. The majors haven’t really signed any Hip-Hop acts for years now, I mean you look at acts such as Klashnekoff and Sway and they have put in so much work, more than say some of the guitar bands getting signed. So you gotta have a plan. These days UK rappers have to be marketing geniuses too!
How do you feel when veterans such as Blade advise, ‘don’t get into making Hip-Hop! It’s easier making money robbing people!’?
Tricksta: I totally agree! I’ve been putting out records for over ten years now and it’s sent me strange and crazy! It’s the hardest job in the word but at the same time the most enjoyable thing I have ever done in my life. I don’t know about the ‘robbing people’ bit, I’m not sure that is good advice!
Why is it that there’s so little money in the UK scene compared with that of America?
Tricksta: Because the UK fits into Texas (which is one state) three times! We are a tiny little island, we are a ‘nation of haters’, British people love to build people up as quick as possible, give them three years at the top then start knocking them down. In the US the mentality to buying music is very different too. It’s like a way of life, and really is the soundtrack to the streets, where in the UK we also have Grime, Garage, Jungle etc., so not ‘all’ the people in the streets here are into Hip-Hop, where in the US there’s just Rap music which acts as a voice for the youth.
Do you think we’ll ever reach that level, or is this something that you hope won’t happen, what with the mass commercialisation of the genre over there?
Tricksta: I think Mike Skinner and 679 Recordings have done amazing things for the British scene. They have signed a good selection of acts that are all different but all with a certain commercial edge. Most of them have charted and that’s helped. UK Hip-Hop will never be mainstream because its underground music, the same as Planet Asia, Jedi Mind Tricks, Immortal Technique and Non-Phixion will never be in the mainstream. The music is too deep to mass consumption.
Does it annoy you that London artists so often overshadow those from other parts of the country?
Tricksta: No not really. It’s always been the case and always will be. The industry is down there, the media is down there. It doesn’t upset me as I have just learnt to accept it.
What are you up to at the moment and what have you been up to in 2006?
Tricksta: Personally I am still trying to juggle being a responsible parent, running a label, being a producer, mixtape dj, publicist, online magazine editor, music reviewer and journalist with having some kind of life too! I am a grinder. I work unhealthily hard, but that’s a trait of Tricksta and something I have to do to keep it all moving.
This year Wolftown Recordings has released the following CD’s with full distribution;
WOLFCD.005 – LATE Presents ‘Wreckless In Texas’ Hosted by Chamillionaire
WOLFCD.006 – JUTTLA ‘Bass, Kicks, Snares, Spits’
WOLFCD.007 – LATE & TRICKSTA Presents ‘Hustlers, Ballers, Shotcallers’
WOLFCD.008 – UK RUNNINGS ‘National Anthems Mixtape’
WOLFCD.009 – LATE & TRICKSTA ‘How we Do it On the Westside’ Hosted by Bigg Steele
On an underground/street level we also released;
UK RUNNINGS – ‘Volume 4’ Hosted by 10SHOTT
DJ BIG GEE DAMME Presents WOLFTOWN – ‘The Empire Strikes Back’
10SHOTT ‘Ghetto Brick Road’
So what’s next from UK Runnings & Wolftown Recordings?
Tricksta: UK Runnings has gone off the hook! I have already done UK Runnings ‘National Anthems Part 2’ ready for release in January, and I working on UK Runnings Volume 5 too which is going to be hosted by Jai Boo. That’s going to drop mid November. I’m also doing a UK Runnings mixtape for my peoples at www.theurbanshop.co.uk which is going to be off the hook, as well as doing a CD with my boy Supar Novar from Flip The Script which is sounding well big.
"UK Hip-Hop will never be mainstream because its underground music, the same as Planet Asia, Jedi Mind Tricks, Immortal Technique and Non-Phixion will never be in the mainstream."
Wolftown wise there’s LATE’s ‘Underground Exposure’ series which is going from strength to strength. ‘Wreckless In Texas 2’ is hosted by Rap-a-Lot artist Trae, and his Wreckless 2.5’ is going to be a double CD with 50 tracks on!!! 10Shott is working on a new mixtape which is going to be called ‘The Next Avenue’ which will drop early 2007. Jai Boo is working on here mixtape too ‘Lioness Ya Can’t Tame’, and myself and LATE and going to release a new Villains album next year too. There’s more but that info will keep ya going!
Before ya go can you give us all the relevant website addresses for more information?
Tricksta: Sure – artists get MP3’s to me at email@example.com
- TRICKSTA – http://www.myspace.com/trickstawolftown
- WOLFTOWN – http://www.wolftownrecordings.com
- UK RUNNINGS – http://www.myspace.com/ukrunnings