Genesis Elijah, a.k.a. Nathaniel Winston Joseph Bygrave hails from Brixton and in 2005 burst onto the scene with his Deh Pon Road EP. As I haven’t heard a lot from Genesis Elijah recently I decided to catch up with him and find out what has been up to and what to expect from him for 2007...
LB: So Gen, can you tell me what you’ve been up to recently?
GE: Just getting ready for the next CD man, just finished a track, trying to get the CD finished, do the art work, the photo shoot and decide what videos I want to put out for it.
LB: Seen, so any live shows recently?
Yeah, man I played in Leeds last night.
LB: Leeds, really, what was that saying?
GE: Cool man, Leeds is alright, its crazy between us we sold about 1000 CD’s up there (AC and Terra Mix tape and Industrial Revolution) Kinda crazy still.
LB: So this CD you're working on, that’s dropping in January, no?
GE: Yeah but its more likely to be the end of February you know, cause like no one has any money in January, it gives me a bit of time to do what I need to do. As long as it’s the first quarter of the year all good, not rushing it man, I wanna get it done proper.
LB: Last time we spoke you were saying that you haven’t been looking to get signed this year, why is that?
GE: At the moment there’s no incentive for me to get signed, its not going to help my career in anyway, so right about now I’m just going to do what I do myself, keep building the foundations, keep building a profile, and like see like Roots Manuva say, later will be greater init.
LB: Truesay, so has there been a lot of interest expressed in signing you?
GE: There’s a few labels been hollering and whatever but, I don’t know man, some of them are offering good deals: but from my point of view is like, there’s nothing they can do now that they cant do in a couple of years. I might as well chill, do my thing, pay my dues, no what I mean? Certain people know who I am, certain places I go to people still haven’t heard of me, you know what I mean, I got nuff work to do. I might as well sit back, keep conquering the underground, keep hitting the cities, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester ra ra ra. And then when people know about me go to the labels with a proper deal.
LB: So you have more choice / influence over the deal like?
GE: Its never going to be a case that, you're signing me, I’m calling you begging for a deal, its never that its always going to be a partnership deal.
LB: You make reference to that on Deh Pon Road, ‘I ain’t making money for middle aged white men’.
Yeah man standard, I’m going to be making money, its crazy, I’ve been in situations where everyone’s eating off my talent and its not going to happen again, for real.
LB: Standard. So are you finding more so now, when your out you getting more recognition from people on street?
GE: Yeah man, obviously since the whole Channel U thing it happens quite regularly, and its good man it helps sales a little bit.
LB: It must be quite surreal?
GE: Most people are like ‘yeah you're Genesis’ and I’m like, what you going to buy the CD… and there, ‘Ah Bruv, I ain’t got no money on me now but keep doing your thing’ to me that’s all good anyway, its good to get recognized for what I do. But you know, it doesn’t have any bearing on your talent, all it means is people have seen you on TV.
LB: And do you think over all Channel U has had a positive impact on the scene?
GE: Yeah definitely, I know there’s a lot of hate for Channel U, but when it comes down to it, just the fact of having your face out there on TV is a big thing for any artist.
LB: And how about musically, in general?
GE: Errrm, not really, in a way yeah. It makes you realize there are UK artists out there, and they have championed UK music, I just think they haven’t exercised any quality control, that’s possibly their downfall. Me personally, they have always been good, playing my videos and what ever, but I dunno, they’ve hurt the game in certain ways and helped the game in certain ways.
LB: Ok, can you tell me a bit about Escape Route Music, how it evolved and what going on with that?
GE: (laughs) ERM is basically me and Answer my DJ, how it started was, we started doing mix CD’s back in the day, we weren’t getting no love from the UK scene. We now have some big artists man, Klashnekoff, Sway, Skinnyman. We sold only 2000 copies of the last CD, but it got about man, one brea bought the CD in Cambodia, yeah man it got about, it got about, its crazy.
It’s both of us, obviously he’s a DJ I’m a rapper, both of us are trying to do our music thing, we just come together and try to do it properly, with a view to expand. At the moment we just doing mix CD’s but we are looking to expand into a proper label in the future. Its unbelievable the amount of work I’m having to put in.
LB: I see that man, is it just you?
I’m getting a lot of help from the people I’m working with, like management side of things, Nina Carmela, she’s basically holding the whole, no holding me together. Every time you see Genesis Elijah, you really should see Nina Carmella written underneath it. Trust man, serious.
LB: So what you hoping to achieve through Escape Route?
GE: Well the way I’m kind of modeling it, is like Def Jam, that’s the kind of level I’m going for, sounds big headed right now for something with no money and no nothing to say that, to compare myself with the biggest label ever, but that’s that kind of level I’m trying to reach, its all about progression man, every day just see what we can do, see if we can make it, we might not but I’m going to try you know.
LB: Its interesting you liken ERM to Def Jam, obviously they have money, notoriety, is that what your on it for or is it still about the love?
GE: Ah, well I make music because I love it and I sell music for money. I do it because I love it, but the fact of the matter is there’s money to be made and I’m never going to be one of these guys, ‘doing it for the love I don’t wanna be paid’ I mean I love being on stage, but I ain’t going to be doing that for free unless its for charity or something.
LB: Ok, can you tell me a bit about Deh Pon Road, that’s a very conceptual album, was that intentional or did that just develop that way?
GE: Na it just developed man, kind of, the way we put the album together, because all the tracks were made at different times, whatever, so I had to find a way to fit them all together in one package and that just seemed like the logical way. But then when it comes to albums and mix tapes and that I do think its important to have a concept. I dunno I just love concept albums, putting the tracks in some sort of order.
LB: I also wanted to ask about DPR you say about being a ‘lyrical lepper’ not being able to get beats, how / when did that change and was it a gradual thing?
Man as soon as the album came out, as soon as people see who I was collaborating with and see the videos things changed literally overnight, I mean that Skinnyman thing that’s a real situation. And then them same people are offering me beats and now I’m like na man, I don’t need them anymore. Obviously things change but the only people who showed love from day one was like, Mystro, TF, Braintax, Skinny, Tommy Evans, Yungun, a lot of people who are big now showed bare love, but a lot of people who were big then gave us no love or nothing which is where the Above The Clouds CD came from, we was saying don’t worry about man, we coming from above, next time you see us, we’re coming from a situation that’s above you, and that’s what happened.
LB: So with Industrial Revolution, there’s an obvious concept, but I got the impression that was more messing about, showing what you can do and showing off different skills, would you say that’s right?
GE: Obviously the theory behind IR or what it means yeah, is that’s an introduction of what we can do, we just changed the game right there, I made more money off that mix CD than many artists made in a whole year, right there, and we just did it in one summer, allow the industry, we don’t need you anymore, I got interviews, I got videos I got CD’ s out there, CD’s in the shops. That was the industrial revolution, the industry has changed.
LB: And do you think that’s something with you have contributed to the game, like a unique contribution from yourself?
GE: To be honest, I think MikeGLC was the first artist to be doing that properly, he was out there doing it on the streets, Stylah was doing it, AC and Terra like, when we started doing it 2 years ago, no one else was doing it, we were going out the whole summer and out seeing anyone else doing it, we might see like D Raw and a couple of other people, now its mad you got people all over the place trying to do it. There’s still secrets of the game we’re never going to give away, we still going to be making more money. I stole that off of Mike GLC he started that definitely along with a few others.
LB: That leads me on nicely to another question; I always, always bump into you grinding, selling your CD’s on street, where do you get your commitment from?
Um, discipline and dedication is the name of the game, I don’t do nothing else, all I do is do shows and sell CD’s so if I want to get paid I have to be out at every opportunity selling CD’s. That means that you're going to see me everywhere and I’m going to be out promoting myself, and hopefully people are going to get to hear my music that day. Also that’s me I do like to work hard. I like people to see the end product of that. But my mantra is defiantly discipline and dedication, there the two most important things to success anything no matter what your doing, any aspect of life, and I apply that to my music.
LB: So when you break down the scene what are your thoughts on it?
GE: When you break down UKHH, none of us are stars, no ones big, know what I mean, the biggest artists are just about scraping by, so for anyone to have an ego is crazy. Know what I mean, what are you mad? See if someone shows me love I’ll go to the ends of the earth for them, but when it comes to burning bridges I actually do like burning bridges, I don’t care, whatever, if you hurt me or you don’t show me no love, that’s it yeah, then that’s it. You know what I mean, it’s meant to be about the music and the love, not someone’s name, it’s just feeling the music. When people show me love, well its them I do the music for anyway, that’s real like the way people are supposed to be, showing love and respect to each other, you know.
LB: So what should we expect for 2007?
GE: Well the CD in the first quarter of the year, 2 main mix CD’s and a couple other projects I got as well, trying to raise my profile a little bit more, trying to do some good CD’s and videos and try to build on what I’ve done already. Not sure about tours should be doing some University tours, maybe a big UK tour, doing things all over the last quarter of the year. Hopefully do some support stuff for some big artists. If it’s a bit slow then 2008 will be bigger, at the moment I got time, I got money have everything I need to be successful, you know.
LB: And any shouts?
Umm, I’m going to do my usual lot, Nina Carmela, AC and Terra, Gramma. Oh yeah Answer and Escape Route Music staff, that covers everybody, staff and artists.