New North East: “We’re not wanna-be gangsters”
Mark Tyers talks to Sunderland Hip-hop crew New North East about NWA and gangster rap, the North East hip-hop scene and their upcoming gig at Independent on the 23rd October.
It’s early on a Friday night and Sunderland hip-hop crew New North East are hanging out in McDonalds, laughing and carrying-on over burgers and chips. Most hip-hop MC’s and producers work solo dropping one, maybe two mixtapes and albums a year, but this lot are different. Originally a duo founded in 2013, the crew’s ranks have swelled to 8 active members and their prodigous output of videos and monthly mixtapes is testament to their infectious love of all things grime and hip-hop.
MT: If you say to most people “I’m into hip-hop”, most of them will automatically think your into guns, gangs, bling… what’s your whole take on that?
Reali-T: When I first started rapping I was rapping in an American accent because I had just finished listening to Tupac’s greatest hits. I was getting laughed at, at school so I was like, “ok, lets start rapping in my own accent”. But that was the time 50 Cent was big so I was 15, rapping about guns and stuff, being in the club, having sex with women, stuff my mum would never allow [laughter]. Then someone stopped me in church and said “your called Reali-T, why don’t you start being real?” Changed my life. Now you get the man you see now…a clown [laughter].
90BRO: There’s a great line in the NWA film where Ice-Cube is responding to a question [from the media] and say’s “our art is a reflection of our reality” and that’s so true for them. For people in the 80s, hip-hop basically showed them this is what’s going on in the streets. In terms of nowadays when I hear NWA, I find it appealing but for different reasons. I listen to the poetry, the stories but one thing I can’t stand is misogny [violence towards and degrading of women], and when I hear stuff like smacking a bitch up I cringe and think why? This is 2015, we’ve got equal rights and stuff!
Lister: I’d just like to tell you all; don’t tar rap artists with the same brush. Just because we rap doesn’t mean we’re going to be rapping about guns, about selling drugs to loads of people and stuff like that, we’re not wanna-be gangsters.
MT: Are you guy’s excited about supporting the Great and Magnificient and returning to Independent on the 23 October? What can people expect from your set?
90BRO: A lot of contrasting styles and a whole new playlist of music
Lister: Hash-tag shutdown – absolute tunes!
Raza: We all come from different backgrounds, so we’re just going to be telling our story. I talk about either stuff I’ve experienced or stuff I’ve seen, stuff around ya.
Church: Life, we’re going to be explaining life! I’m just a storyteller, I just come up with a theme which doesn’t necessarily have to reflect upon things I’ve experienced.
MT: How did New North East Start?
Raza: It was me and Tehuti Gold, we started listening to rap music from a young age and we thought like, why can’t we do this? We started using Jakk’s grandma’s laptop at first and we bought a mic off ebay… started recording in the conservatory at first, then we moved to the attic. We didn’t know what we were talking about then, we just said anything.
MT: How did other people get involved and did you call yourselves New North East from the beginning?
Raza: Online, Jakk reached out to 90BRO and Beezy. We already had the New North East name. Originally it was going to be New Era North East, but we thought New North East sounds better.
90BRO: I describe it as an independent movement of creatives, artists and entertainers. A lot of it’s about Northern Pride, where is the Northern Pride nowadays? I feel there is a huge North-South divide, I want to bring some pride back to the North East.
Lister: Cos we’re not getting nothing from football! [laughter]
MT: Your part of the NE hip-hop and grime scene, what do you make of it? Whose inspiring you right now?.
90BRO: There’s so much talent up here, it’s incredible. …H-Man [of Newcastle duo HB], huge at the minute. He’s unashamedly North East, his energy on tracks is something else.
Reali-T: He’s a bit of a joker like me, he doesn’t take things too seriously… a lot of people are doom and gloom so it’s good to have something that’s humourous
Raza: The people who standout the most in my opinion are probably Just B, H-Man, hecktic records get themselves out there, Rick Fury definetly and there’s a lot of new MC’s breaking out to.
Church: The north-east is very overlooked in terms of talent regardless of genres, but particularly for non-conventional bands and acts.
90BRO: There’s something about the DIY nature of what we do in the North East which is incredible, even Charlie Slough [Radio 1 rap show DJ] said it when he did that Grime-up-north event in Newcastle .
MT: Let’s talk about your creative process, what comes first, the Beats? The bars?
90BRO: The Concept! We start with a concept and build the beats around it, then we write it. Anyone can rap but there’s a huge difference between rapping and making a song. That’s what defines the difference between a rapper and a rap artist and that’s what we strive to do [the latter].
Raza: Sometimes I’ll have a concept there and I’ll find a beat that works with it and I’ll write something down straight away, just off the top my head, like a hook and work on the bars later. Or sometimes I have a track and I want someone to rap on it, so I’ll just sit down with them and we’ll come up with something, sometimes in like 20-30mins
Church: It’s definetly the beats first for me. If the beats have a certain sound it’ll make me feel a certain way and then I’ll write about it.
Reali-T: I think Tuckage (NNE) has the most concepts in his brain. I call Tuckage the Sam Smith of New North East because he pours all his heart out, he’s the most passionate MC I’ve ever seen in my life.
MT: So what’s next for NNE?
90BRO: We drop a mint video every Monday on our Facebook page and we’ve pretty much dropped a mix-tape every month and that’s not really going to stop so I can confirm an NNE mixtape is in the works!
New North East are performing at Independent (Holmside, Sunderland) on Friday 23 October, supporting acclaimed Newcastle hip-hop group; The Great and The Magnficient. Doors open 8pm
Tickets: £3.50 advance on seetickets.com (offer ends 18 October) / £5 on the door