He has just released his new E.P, and Alex Humphrey caught up with him to find out more…
How early did hip hop become important in your life and how did you start out MCing?
Beit Nun: Hi, well I first got into Hip-Hop in about '95, listening to the usual commercial stuff and I naturally moved onto more underground artists such as Cage and High & Mighty in about '98/'99. In 2000 I met someone who shared the same tastes in music as me, and we began writing tracks, and just rapping on street corners and shit. In 2004 I dropped a demo CD, which was followed by my first proper release, the 'Cheap As Chips’ E.P. in 2005, and I've been working solidly since then on various releases and steadily upping my game.
You’re based in Macclesfield, what was the underground scene like there and in the North when you where growing up and how has it changed?
Beit Nun: There literally isn't a scene here, nor has there ever been. There was a brief stint in 2004 / 2005 when the Gouki Productions lot were putting nights on regularly in Macclesfield and they were pretty good... but there's not really many Hip-Hop heads round here. We're usually in Manchester for Hip-Hop shit, where there is a nice little scene, although again there's not really a great deal going on at the minute. I think that's the case for the majority of the country though right now. It all comes down to money. Promoters really struggle to break even, and no-one wants to be throwing money away in today’s climate. But respect to all those who do put on nights, and keep going even at a loss.
Have you had any experience of the scene down South and is it very different?
Beit Nun: To be honest, I haven't performed down South yet and in fact I haven't done anything at all Hip-Hop related South of Birmingham! I do have a lot of links though so I'm sure it won't be long before I do venture down there. The scene is definitely more alive in the South, and the artists seem to be more active. But I can tell you there's some seriously sick artists up here honing their skills, and hopefully we'll see more activity and more frequent releases in the near future.
Where do you get your inspiration from when writing your lyrics?
Beit Nun: I'm mostly inspired by simply wanting to better myself as an artist. I'm very hard-working and well motivated and I generally like to get things done. I'm definitely inspired by most of my musical peers as well and I think we all play a role in inspiring each other - with a bit of friendly competition too.
Who are your heroes, musical or otherwise?
Beit Nun: I don't really like the word Hero, as I don't like putting people on that kind of pedestal, haha. I do have a lot of respect for artists that have been around for so long, and yet still haven't watered down their style for anyone. I'm looking forward to the 'La Coka Nostre' project. They're a great example of artists who regardless of age and the success they've achieved over the years, can still manage to make music as fresh and raw as anyone in the genre. Can't wait for that!
You have worked with literally tons of people as a member of the NW Hip-Hop movement on the compilation Where The Art Is: Volume 1 and most recently on the track A Good Year on your new album. Who has been your favorite artist to collaborate with and who would you most like to work with?
Beit Nun: My favourite artist to work with has to be 777. Me and 777 are on exactly the same wavelength, sharing the same ideas and direction where we wanna take our shit. Working with him really brings out the best in me, as lyrically he just steps it up all the time and his work ethic is immense. We have now teamed up as a duo by the name of Amass Hegemony so look out for us this year!
As unlikely as it is, I'd absolutely love to work with the likes of Cage, Aesop Rock, RA The Rugged Man. Love that style of production from RJD2, Blockhead and Daedelus too - that would be pretty sweet. A Portishead collaboration could be good as well come to think of it. Right, I better wake up now.
How did your working relationship with the producer IllSkilz start?
Beit Nun: I had been checking IllSkilz for a while. Every beat I heard of his just had that really fresh and distinctive style to it and I was feeling everything he was doing. He produced two tracks for my 'Where The Art Is (Volume 1)' release, and also helped with the mastering. We then worked on three tracks together ('The Music', 'Summertime' and 'Leave Me Here') and it just worked. So we built the E.P. around those tracks to showcase them.
What where the main influences, if any, for the very distinctive sound of the album?
Beit Nun: Basically the fact I turned my life around completely in the space of 18 months, and all of a sudden, I had this amazing new outlook on life. The tracks wrote themselves - just good vibes from start to finish. IllSkilz beats naturally complimented the direction of the release as the majority of his beats have that soulful positive sound to them.
Colours is a very positive album especially in its lyrical content which is refreshing especially set against a lot of other doom ridden rap. Did you always have such an upbeat outlook on life?
Beit Nun: Not at all. Between 2005 and the tail end of 2007 I was pretty low and had a kinda loss of direction, and it's evident in the very few tracks I recorded within those two years. In the two years I probably recorded no more than 20 tracks, and most of those made 'Where The Art Is (Volume 1)'. The second half of that release really summed up those two years and it's pretty weird to listen back to some of the lyrics in that. Late 2007 was when I started getting everything back on track and figured I'd release the tracks, to capture those thoughts on record. Things have just got better and better since then and it's definitely reflected in my music.
With the country on a negative tip at the moment maybe they should make you Prime Minister. If they did what would you do to put the Great back in Great Britain?
Beit Nun: Haha, I dunno, I don't think I'd be cut out for that job... I'm a pretty laid back person. But I'd definitely put more money into Youth projects etc. In 2007, I did a bit of a Hip-Hop workshop with Filthy Rich in Manchester and it was really inspiring to see these kids who are otherwise twagging off school and getting into petty crime really showing enthusiasm and promise towards something.
What do you think of the U.K hip hop artists in the limelight at the moment verses their U.S counterparts?
Beit Nun: I don't really like to compare the two. Everywhere you look, people are comparing them, and there's never really going to be a comparison. It sounds like I'm being really pessimistic, but the U.S. will always dominate Hip-Hop and we'll never compete. The fact the country is so much bigger, with more people, and the industry is much bigger means that there's more money. Of course there's some really good artists in this country, and yes, a lot of them do deserve more exposure. Hopefully that day will come, but even when it does I can't see it competing under the same umbrella. We do what we do well, but I can't see it going massive. We all know to get in the limelight you have to jeopardise or alter your sound to some degree and the majority of British acts aren't willing to do that... not until someone offers them a major contract beforehand anyway! I think Grime could do well though for us. It's something that we ourselves have created and represents a generation in the similar way Punk did in the 70's. Dizzee Rascal is doing very well for himself mind, but sadly I think what shifts so many units is that gangsta image and in UK Hip-Hop it's much less prominent.
What is your favorite hip hop tune ever?
Beit Nun: Damn, that's a hard question. I'm probably gonna have to go with High & Mighty – ‘The Meaning'. Such a good track. When I first heard that when it dropped, I was totally blown away. That beat is ridiculous. I dig it out every couple of months and each time I hear it, it's like the first time again.
What do you have lined up to drop in 2009?
Beit Nun: Well coming in the next few weeks is the first Amass Hegemony project. We're hooking up here in Macclesfield, along with Pez from the duo Skrimshank to drop an E.P. which is a kinda demo thing. That'll be a free release. Following that will be the proper Amass Hegemony E.P. due later in 2009. Also this year I'll be dropping an E.P. alongside Bare Records producer Bare Beats and depending how it all pans out I might release 'Where The Art Is (Volume 2)' this year as well. Busy year. Done quite a few featured verses for other projects due to be released this year as well, including a little 8 bars on the debut album from Mr. Loop entitled 'The Bury All'. I've just received my copy of that and I must say it's a brilliant album. Go and buy it!
Lastly what is your favourite colour?
Beit Nun: Well I'm a United fan, so I'm gonna go with red haha.