Racism, ‘Realness’ and Rap: Interview with Sunderland’s New North East
Mark Tyers talks 21st century racism, “realness” and all things Grime and Hip-Hop with Wearside’s very own independent movement of rap artists, New North East (NNE), ahead of their first headline gig at Sunderland’s Independent on April 29.
MT: A lot has happened since you supported Absorb in Independent last October – tell us a bit about your self-organised Hope for Heroes charity gig at The Wheatsheaf in Boldon?
Raza: I can say the sheaf gig was a really fun night as a first headline gig for NNE. We got a good turnout and everyone who took part made it the night it was. The charity idea was good as well – felt great knowing the money was going to a good cause.
Listaa: The sheaf give us an insight on how many local fans we could bring in and how much we could raise from the gig.
Tehuti Gold: I’m just happy that we actually raised money for charity. It shows that we are in this for the love and to help others.
90 Bro: One of the things I’m proud of New North East for doing is sending positive and conscious messages through our music. We were glad to be supporting Help For Heroes and the night was a huge success.
Listaa: Inside Track [NNE EP] actually gave us the idea of giving it to Help for Heroes.
Tehuti Gold: I’m sure it was my idea but you know [laughs].
Raza: There’s confrontation already! [laughs] Nah man, that was a good night whoever came up with it!
MT: You also performed at your first Newcastle gig in February at Static – that’s probably the Hip-Hop & Grime night right now in the North East?
Tuckage: To get on at Newcastle for me was unreal. I only picked up a mic about 4 years ago. Before that I was just a lost, lost lad growing up in Sunderland.
Beezy: Static was insane! A totally new environment, new crowd but the same NNE. Even though we had an early set, we made our mark and showed Newcastle that NE music isn’t limited to Tyneside anymore.
90 Bro: Peforming in Newcastle was a natural progression for us. It was great to see the North East rap scene come together. The cypher at the end was an exhibition of what we all have to offer talent wise, and we welcome the next Static event.
Tehuti Gold: Static was big for all of us. We got to share a stage with the people we’ve looked up to in the [local]scene for a while.
Beezy: It was great to see some real North East legends come through as well, like Rick Fury and Nato.
90Bro: It was HB’s night, mostly Grime, we opened the show with a mix of grime and new wave hip hop.
Listaa: Static was lit man! Big-up to Fahd [Mr Static] doing his thing with Static – the man throws a good night.
MT: Some up and coming artists steer well clear of talking about poverty, war, social problems, political corruption, but you guys don’t – many of your tracks are really political, really critical, why?
90Bro: Because we care, next question! [laughs] listening to NNE should be an enlightening experience.
Reali-T: I remember buying chicken fried rice from a Chinese shop and being called the derogatory P-word for Asian, or wanting to buy chicken from another shop when a person called me the N-word, or the day I was coming back from the chicken shop and kids on bikes started making monkey noises.
Listaa: Basically, it’s every time the man gets chicken!
Raza: It’s sad to see events like this take place brother Tomi.
JD: If I was there and witnessed this I would have applied some civil justice!
Tuckage: I wudda flung the chicken at them!
Tehuti Gold: For me, I speak about that stuff because it’s what’s happening and we tell the truth. I want people to be conscious of what’s happening. Music’s the universal language man!
Beezy: It’s what interests me basically. Some people have the money to rap about cars. Some have the experiences to talk about different countries and food… Most of us grew up in a town where racism is rife, unemployment rates are high, people struggle to make ends meet. But when I and 90 make a track like ‘creme’ days after what happened in Paris and don’t hold back, we know some people might find it uncomfortable…well fast forward. Because it’s what we want to say and it relates.
Reali-T: A lot of us have been through issues due to where we’re from, our background, even down to how we look. We might as well not shy away from it cos we know people out there can relate.
JD: I think any artist who is real will feel the need to make a political point, otherwise what kind of message are we spreading to the younger generation? Let’s open their eyes!
Raza: We don’t make watered down industry ‘ish hash-tag; that’s not me!
Beezy: and Inside Track [EP] is the realist ish out of the North East.
Raza: Excuse me? Na man! [laughs] It is though, I agree 100%.
90Bro: As independent artists, we have no contractual obligations, we can express our thoughts freely and we take full advantage of that.
Tuckage: It’s just whats real, its what we know.
JD: I think there are different kinds of real. There is real issues to oneself like stuff in there personal life and then there is what’s real to the world. Things that artists who want to please the industry will avoid talking about.
MT: Since last October you’ve also released a lot more singles and EPs and collaborated with the likes of Naughty 40 and Westy Productions. Were there any particular EPs which stood out and do you feel like you are progressing, getting better and if so, how?
Tehuti Gold: No one else I know in the North East has done what what we have done, with the collective. And the work rate we have, it’s insane! We released over 100 tracks in 2015 alone.
90 Bro: I feel like anything you do, it’s important to be at the forefront of it, be the cutting edge. That’s where I feel we are collectively that’s why we’re NEW north east. I feel like each member is finding themselves artistically. Between us all we cover the entire spectrum.
Tuckage: Unfortunately, I had to take me verse off that collaboration with Naughty, it was a banger! I dropped New Beginnings my 3rd project not so long back, a big step up from me compared to my other stuff.
Raza: I feel like my EP, Frame by Frame, has opened up a whole different perspective for me, different styles of writing and producing the project. Mediocrazy and Man.tra have been slept on a bit but there’s so much in each of them projects waiting to be heard.
Reali-T: Tuckage’s – New Beginnings EP was also slept on.
Raza: But Lost Tapes Ov HC [Tehuti Gold album] is only round the corner, truss that will be lit! Truss mi daddy! [laughs]
Beezy: 100%! like 90BRO says, each member has found their calling card and what works for them. It was great to see the lads show a top guy like Naughty40 what we can do on his track and then even get the video done with Alex Mann.
Raza: We don’t JUST work on music either, we like to spend time just chilling sometimes which is where some of our creative content actually comes from. Like just sharing chips and talking about our next steps.
Reali-T: A Carbonara and a glass of lager.
JD: Penne carbonara, no spaghetti Raza! [haha]
Raza: My bad! [laughs]
MT: What and who is cutting-edge right now, as far as you are all concerned, in the world of Grime and Hip-Hop? Apart from NNE! [laughs]
Beezy: For me, HB [H-Man and Just B – Grime duo from Newcastle]. I think they’re making major moves in getting themselves out there and being creative with the grime wave, and we are right up there with them. Take away London and possibly Birmingham… North East are making serious noise in the grime scene right now.
Tuckage: For me right now, it’s gotta be Manek honestly sickkkk! I try to stick to North East though and ya can’t beat listening to MC Halo seriously inspiring.
90Bro: Producers inspire me most at the moment. Conceptually our music hasn’t moved enough, but sonically it’s going from strength to strength. People have nostalgia for hip hop and how it used to sound. But this is a new generation of artists, and a new chapter in history that’s being written. If I hear anything from 2016 that could’ve been released in 2003, it doesn’t inspire me.
Reali-T: Don’t forget the hip hop heads, I enjoy Rick Fury. I still think TM Trick needs to release something – I believe in that kid!
Raza: Rick the ruler! Full Belt is a classic!
Listaa: There’s a few of the older names still releasing some absolute classics. Rex Regis with his last release was dope and the Chymera album Waifs and Strays. There seems to be young MCs coming out of the woodworks everyday, so I think this year will be fruitful for the North East music as it’s in a nice little rhythm.
90Bro: Internationally; Boi-1da, Metro Boomin, Timbaland, Vinylz and Kanye West recently
Reali-T: That new Justin Bieber inspires me.
Beezy: We are actually working on the next step, production.
Raza: We have three producers including myself.
MT: What should people expect from your Independent set?
Tehuti Gold: Energy! They should expect the gig to be lit, expect a lot of raging and loud brilliant music!…Peaceful raging though, of course [laughs]!
Beezy: Firstly new music…and lots of it! It’s without a doubt we will bring that same energy we always bring. We set the bar for ourselves last Independent set we had…we plan on raising it again!
Listaa: We have sat through the tracks and got it locked like the Da Vinci Code to flaunt the energy.
Raza: They should expect nothing they have ever heard or seen before.
90Bro: The full New North Experience. Wholly unique.You have never heard or seen anything like this before. I’m proud to say Leddie & Smoggy will be supporting us, alongside the legendary MC Halo.
Tuckage: Big up MC Halo!! Coz if it weren’t for him I’d just be a spectator in the crowd no doubts.
Listaa: Shouts to Halo, keep an eye out for him, he puts on one hell of a show.
MT: You’ve been going since 2013, you’ve grown in numbers, your music has developed and you’ve been exceptionally consistent in dropping single after single, EP after EP, week after week – what’s your secret?
Tehuti Gold: It wouldn’t be a secret if we told you [laughs].
Beezy: Hard work, dedication.
Raza: The chemistry we have with each other – we are truly a set of brothers.
Listaa: Hard work and eating properly also makes a difference, and keeping to a routine while pushing each other.
Tuckage: Well, I am determined to make it out this struggle I’ve had personally growing up. Now these lads have blessed my life, so I dedicate my life to NNE to make this work for us all… Love for ma brothers!
Reali-T: I’m just pleased that these lads have brought me back to rapping, I’m something like a hip hop revenant!
New North East headline Young Sceptic Presents 100% Grime and Hip-Hop at Independent, Holmeside, Sunderland on Friday 29 April. Tickets are £4 and are available on the door which opens at 7.30pm. Support acts include Middlesbrough’s L&S, local legend MC Halo and Young Sceptic.
To Download all of New North East’s EP’s and albums for free, go to https://nnejo.bandcamp.com/