Oi! Who’s that O to the Z! You may remember that line from the classic Grime track 'Oi' which still smashes up dances. In fact More Fire Crew, which then consisted of members Ozzie B, Neeko and Lethal B and is now the collective known as Fire Camp (minus Neeko), have notched up several classic bangers, including a little known track called POW.
Ozzie B one of the founding members of Fire Camp has been through it all and seen the highs and lows of the murky world that is the music industry. From meeting Lethal B at school to doing the rounds on pirate radio, from signing record deals to losing them, from charting in the top ten to lyrical beefs. Ozzie B has emerged a veteran from the Grime scene and has certainly garnered the respect of his peers.
2007 looks set to be a big one for Ozzie B and Fire Camp. Signed to Lethal Bizzle Records, Fire Camp are determined to set the UK on fire with their aptly titled album 'Great Fire of London' which will then be followed up with Ozzie's solo project 'Sweet Boy in a Sour World'. Britishhiphop.co.uk had a serious one to one with the talented but possibly slept on mc, about beginnings, beefs and representing East London.
BHH: So going right to the beginning, how did More Fire Crew begin and how did you get into music?
I got into music about 7 years ago. I was in school and everyone at the time was on football or music. If you knew you weren't gonna get grades, (laughs) it weren't even the fact that I wasn't intelligent 'cause obviously I’ve still got knowledge of what goes on and what’s happening so ‘erm it was say between '98 and '99 when me and Lethal got together.
He used to move with his guys in school and I used to move with mine, he was in 10.4 and I was in 10.1 but then after a while there must have been some R.E class that was going on but the teacher never turned up so they just said we can use it to do whatever we want, bring in music or whatever. So I must have had a tape with me that had instrumentals on it, so we put that on and Lethal goes to me 'can you spit blood?' and I was like' yeah, yeah I can spit' but I must have said back to Lethal 'can you spit though?' I must have spat my lyric and then the whole class was like 'yeah man he's big, he's big' and then Lethal spat and he got the same response, so from there me and Lethal were like mans might as well link up and do a little music ting after we live school or something.
We had some guy called Seani B who used to be the DJ, we used to go to his house and muck about and do tapes; make bare noise and piss off his mum and dad (laughs) telling us to turn down the music and all that stuff. From there we must have done one tape and there was some guy called Gappy who used to be with us- a DJ and at the time he had a pirate radio station that was in Boundary.
I used to go to a place in Chingford it was called Sound Training and various people who could spit would go there to get practice and learn how to mix and spit. So Neeko must have been there with his crew Mad Dog Crew, so I must have linked up with Neeko and he heard me spit and he was like yeah man you might as well join my team. I was like yeah I’ll jump on that 'cause I wasn’t really doing anything at the time. So we used to go on one radio station called Amy FM with some DJ called Crucial B, by this time me and Neeko had started our own crew.
So I think we were in JD Sports in Selbourne Walk when we came up with the name, we were thinking what should we call ourselves? At the time man was listening to Capleton, so everyone was like man should be called More Fire Crew. So from there now we started going on Amy Fm as More Fire Crew and Lethal was on there with Forcer and Slim Ting.
Neeko said to me yeah, your cool with Lethal you should bring him in the team. From there now that’s where More Fire Crew starting getting bigger, then De Ja Vu FM came into the picture. We used to do I think it was twelve to two in the mornings but after that we started getting bigger and it moved from twelve to two, to eight to ten at night, at that time on a Monday that was like primetime.
BHH: So how did Oi come about?
So we started going on De Ja getting prime time people listening. So we thought all this hype is building up we need to make a tune now. We linked up Nicky Slim Ting and he knew some producers called Platinum 4/5, at the time they had a couple of big tunes on road. So me and Neeko started going there and the first day we went there, there was some instrumental, which was available. So we heard it and we were like yeah, that tune sounds big.
Then Lethal now, he's a mad man walks with his book everywhere, opened his book and just started flying to it like 'oi who’s that boy Lethal B?’ At first me and Neeko was like that sounded a bit funny like, a bit cheesy (laughs) but Lethal must have gone nah its big, its big. So me and Neeko must have put our verses down and Lethal was like when you do your verse say, 'Oi who’s that O to the Z' and Neeko's was like 'Oi who’s that N- double E'. So that’s what happened.
The first day we got it we went to Music House and cut it on dub plate, it cost like £35. So we must have went to some Barbeque rave in Newham, I think it was called All Fruits Ripe or something. So we were like lets play the tune and see the reaction. There were other crews there like Nasty Crew- this was when the scene was actually building, so everyone was cool. So we said lets perform the tune, the first four bar no one weren't saying nothing. The second four bar everyone started getting involved shouting 'Oi who’s that boy Lethal B!'
After this event, our Manager Marky B knew some guy called Commander B who worked on Choice Fm and done the night flight. So he gave it to Commander B and he played it and hyped it up proper for us, everyone started ringing the lines for the re-load and after that day it just went crazy. We stopped doing radio, they kicked us off I think it was a jealousy ting, so we were like lets just do shows from now on. Then our Manager was like its time to do a video.
I was getting a lot of stick for the video though, people were asking me how comes there’s no black girls but it was the director, he picked the girls, he said they will appeal more to the commercial market. Then after that Labels started enquiring after us.
BHH: So you know what I’m going to ask next, how did POW come about?
Ozzie B: (laughs) Lethal must have got the beat from some guy called Dex-plicit.
BHH: At this point were you still More Fire Crew and why did More Fire Crew change to Fire Camp?
Ozzie B: No this is where Fire Camp started. After everything crashed with the Label. Well the Label dropped us because they had too many acts so from there we went quiet for about a year and we were just thinking we had it all for a second and then its all gone.
Then Lethal went Ghana and got some different inspiration, come back fully re-charged like a battery. These times De Ja Vu had a Diesel show where all the MCs used to go on the station, so Lethal started going up there saying 'POW you don’t know about me', singing that and everyone in the studio was like yeah man that’s a big lyric.
So going back to Dexplicit he had a couple of instrumentals, we got that actual beat and phoned up various artists like D Double E, Napper, Neeko, Demon, there was a guy called Hot Shot on there but he didn't bother following it up. So Lethal was like to me how would you feel about doing a tune with other MCs, even the ones we've got war with? At first I was like do you think its gonna work though bro, are you sure, but Lethal was like nah, you have to think about it bigger now.
Then Lethal organised the day when everyone was gonna lay down their bars. This was the line up: Lethal, Fumin, D Double E, Napper, Jamaka B, Neeko, FlowDan, myself Ozzie B, Forcer and Demon. We met up at Commander B's studio and enough of them were like: don't really like this tune, not really feeling it, but obviously we listened to each other. So Lethal knew everyone’s lyrics. So he was like I want you to say this lyric on there and I want you to say that lyric on there, so he was telling everyone what he wanted from them. So everyone even though they didn't feel it just done it.
Afterwards everyone was like it's alright, don’t know what its gonna do though, maybe just for pirate radio but Lethal's a man that when he says he's gonna try something he don’t stop. Lethal just went on and as he had various links in the game from 'Oi' he went to a couple of commercial DJs- they started playing it. Then raves started playing it, we would get like five re-loads in raves and then Lethal was like I know one Label is gonna come soon.
So Lethal met up with Relentless Records and they said that they wanted to sign the tune for a solo deal and from there the Label said they wonna try and release it commercially it was getting that much hype. It got released and got to number eleven in the charts which is good for a tune like that when people are talking about crack your skull and stuff like that and 'Oi' obviously when we done that, got to number seven in the charts first week and then moved to number eight second week. So that’s how Pow came about.
BHH: So how do you feel knowing that you made a classic track? The kind of track that can hype up any club.
Well we've made two really, boy I feel good but at the same time I’m a man that has come out of church so I know how to stay down to earth and keep everything cool and just know what is there today, can be gone tomorrow. At the same time I’m proud, I know I achieved something and I know I made my mum happy but there’s still more I need to achieve, not gonna stop till I make that million or near to.
BHH: So what happened with Neeko? Why did he leave?
Ozzie B: It was a personal issue between Lethal and Neeko- it was disagreement between them and obviously he had his own movement at the time and his own guys that he was gonna bring, so he was like I’m just gonna do my own thing. It wasn't no bad blood or nothing, everyone just went their own ways and I went with Lethal and that’s how it is. I just wish him the best and I know he's a talented mc- if not even more talented than us. I know he can achieve things out here, so good luck to him- straight.
BHH: A lot of artists who have become well known always talk about dealing with haters and rumors etc, what has your experience been like so far?
Ozzie B: With that boy, if people aren’t hating then you aren’t really doing nothing innit. I think they can't really bring you any negative vibe; it can only bring good vibes because people are talking about you- I’m on people's lips. I remember when no one was saying my name. So for people coming up, when it happens to you don't think that- why do people have to hate on me, it's just a natural thing. People have to hate on you because you’re doing something, don't take it as a negative thing.
BHH: So as a music lover, who are you feeling at the moment?
Ozzie B: I 'll be honest I’m a reggae guy; I like Ritchie Spice, Sizzla, Turbulance, Natural Black, boy there’s loads of them. In terms of British hip-hop, I’m feeling Moorish Delta 7: they are putting Birmingham out there- they've got big tunes, big hooks. Erm, Sway- he's one of the man dem, he's close to us as well so big up Sway and Klashnekoff.
At the moment in the British scene not to be funny, I think the levels need to get a bit higher because obviously people have been doing hip-hop over here for a while now. Its not like it just started, it's only because Channel U's come by that we are starting to see people but I think everyone needs to higher the levels now. Its that time, we can compete with the US, we've got the money. The pound is stronger than the dollar everyone knows that.
Everyone needs to up their ideas, come with new things. With me if you can sing- sing, don't be worried about what your boys think- 50 does it don't hide your talent. There are not enough R'n'B acts out here, there’s nothing wrong singing about a girl because we love women innit (laughs).
BHH: So tell us about the new Fire Camp album.
Ozzie B: The next Fire Camp Album is coming out in February and it's gonna be called the Great Fire Of London and the reason why it's called that because everyone knows or for everyone who don’t know: Fire Camp is one of the top crews out here. We worked our way up, Roll Deep are up there, Nasty Crews up there, we're up there. We are making the big tunes out here; no one is making tunes as big as us, the way that if you go to a dance today they are getting played it. We are the great fire of London. If you done your history in school you will remember that the great fire of London burnt down the whole of London but we are doing it musically. You can expect variety from the album, there’s not one thing on it.
BHH: What members of Fire Camp are blazing on the album?
Ozzie B: Myself not on a big headed one but I’m doing my thing on there. Fumin, Lethals on there, Knowledge, Gambit, Two-Face and Glocker. There’s a bag of talent you’re going to hear on there.
BHH: So where is Lethal B at the moment?
Ozzie B: He's in Jupiter, he's away from everyone at the moment, he's on a break but he is working on his second album. Should be coming out the same time as the Fire Camp Album so it's all a good look for the Lethal Bizzle Label.
BHH: So tell us about your album Sweet Boy in a Sour World.
I’m basically a humble guy and I think that’s sweet but the world going on around us is sour. I’m a kind hearted guy but obviously there’s a point where I won't take shit but at the same time I’m saying I’m a nice guy in a sour world. On the album I’m taking it deep. I'm going to be going into issues that other people are not going into. That’s why the Reggae at the moment is influencing me 'cause certain topics they are talking about influence me. I'm going Jamaica in a couple of weeks so I’m going to try and hook up with some guys out there.
BHH: Do you think there is a problem with violent lyrics in Grime music?
Ozzie B: Yeah there is and a lot of people say it doesn’t portray violence because we are only talking, but there is meaning there but you can’t always blame it on music. It's movies as well and movies are showing them what we are talking. You can't just blame what is going on in England or the world on music 'cause music is upliftment it's not to make people die but as I said, on my album I’m looking to go onto other topics. Its not always about one thing, we know who's got the biggest guns and stuff we don't need to hear that no more we wonna hear some other things now.
BHH: Obviously everyone had their favorite mc and favorite verse on POW and your verse was popular but do you think you were slept on a little bit after that track?
Ozzie B: Not really, I had other lyrics that could have made more of an impact then that but at the time Lethal used to love that lyric, he was like that desert eagle lyric- love that lyric blood. Lethal's a guy who likes his Reggae as well. I just wanted to come with something different as I've spat all English talk, so I came with some Reggae bar. I wouldn't say I was slept on but people who know- know what’s going on. I used to get bare people say that to me though.
By: Michelle Adabra