There’s cause for optimism in the British Hip Hop sector, the genre is on the up and British artists are now steering in the direction where they are able to compete musically on a commercial level with the often better funded and world famous artists, particularly those from US. Fan this flame is perhaps the hottest Hip Hop group on the streets with their unique style and commitment, I caught up with the high-ranking group 57th Dynasty.
UKHH: How did you get started?
57TH DYNASTY: We began back in the summer of ’96 when I (Paradise) was forced to return to The UK from NYC (after 18 years) and met up with Charlie Parker who was running his house as an open studio in Brixton. Our meeting quickly led to numerous singles under Charlie’s FASFWD label. The 1st of which was “M.O.N.E.Y/ NO WAY” then “ET TU?” “BOOMERANG/ CROWN JEWELS”. “M.O.N.E.Y” was backed with “NO WAY” which featured the FASFWD all-stars, some of whom (Thunda Storm) would later form The 57th Dynasty.
UKHH: How did you come up with the Name 57th Dynasty?
PARADISE: 57 is the number of Charlie’s house, which is/was the studio and “Dynasty” came about when I was thinking of the best way of describing the newly formed group. We were first known as the FASFWD all-stars by DJ’s such as 279, but it wasn’t descriptive enough, and I was never an all-star in truth. Also, at that time there was a lot of clicks, gangs, posses, crews, etc, but I wanted a title with meaning. Hence, Dynasty: A succession of leaders in a given field. That was who and what we were.
UKHH: Can you give me a roll call of the members of the group?
57TH DYNASTY: The 57th Dynasty are Thunda Storm (ragga mc), Paradise (the prolific one), Oshin Da Nomad, Charlie Parker & Shineye (our in-house production team known as Watch No Face Productions), and lastly 50, Little Monsta & Dark Troopa who were collectively known as The Juvanile Ruckasz.
UKHH: If you could give a label or description to your music, what would you give it?
PARADISE: The voice of the poor and impoverished (due to my circumstances when I began rhyming and the state of mind I was in), but now it’s more uplifting and filled with positive affirmations. Uplifting and thought provocation and the occasional rowdy street shit. Grit and honest emotion, as a group we are somewhat focused on issues which effect us and often affect others- reality lyrics in a voice you know and understand.
UKHH: What Rappers or groups would you like to work with in the future?
PARADISE: Oasis, the Bee Gees, Mary J, Moby, Nas, Kirk Franklin, Jaheim, KRS, Kool G Rap, Baby Face, ScarFace, Teddy Riley, MC Shan, Eminem & Prince. I want to create something new and true to the person that I am.
UKHH: What producer would you like to work with in the future?
PARADISE: The legendary Marley Marl, Quincy Jones, and the man behind Bounty Killer classics and Sizzla’s 1st album
“… Six years on and as someone’s woman said “this UK hip-hop come in like a big man’s hobby” ….
UKHH: What song did you have the best time recording?
57TH DYNASTY: I (Paradise) had the best time recording Little Bro. It was one take with Monsta and I recording our verses simultaneously. Everyone outside the booths were just awe struck when we finished. The energy and emotion was captured and is evident in the song Little Bro.
UKHH: What is your favourite alcoholic beverage?
CHARLIE: Most of them are ok
PARADISE: I don’t drink alcohol. Others in the group would snatch a bottle at your baby’s christening. Trust! But we honestly don’t social drink they do maybe on a specific occasion.
UKHH: I am going to say a name of an artist or group and you say the first word that pops in your mind. So, if I said ‘RUN DMC’, you may say ‘Ground-breaking’. OK?
*Nas PARADISE: Lucky
*Eminem PARADISE: Talent, determination
*Jay-Z PARADISE: Thief
*Blak Twang PARADISE: 40,000 units!
*Big Brovas PARADISE: Could’ve been us
*Craig David PARADISE: Only phuckn 21
*Romeo PARADISE: Who?
*Estelle PARADISE: Sing girl
*Lamar PARADISE: Who? Nigga what?!? Nigga who?!?
Good luck, you’re a star now
UKHH: Will there be any solo albums?
57TH DYNASTY: There are a couple of solo LP’s and EP’s in the makings now. Paradise’s solo tentatively titled “An Immigrants Tale”, Oshin is compiling an EP as well as releasing the UK Docudrama “From Corner to Corner” which profiles your favorite artists, you will meet & hear the real issues from up and coming groups as well as seasoned UK veterans. Interviews and performances from a diverse array of artists like- AFRIKA BAMBAATAA-MASEO-JUJU-DILATED PEOPLES-AMAD JAMAL-RAHZEL-STICKY FINGERS-57TH DYNASTY- ROOTSMANUVA-BLAKTWANG-SKEME-MADFLOW-C.O.V-BADBREED-FALLACY-YOGI-MOORISH DELTA 7-WOLFTOWN-PHOEBE ONE- MCD- DJ KRUST-BLAKKOUT-SKINNYMAN-PRESTIGE-URBAN MONK-DEXEFEX PROMOTIONS-E-NORMSKI-AND MANY MANY MORE. Look out for Independent Hype Vol. I the documentary with all the drama that you cannot afford to miss… Shineye is currently producing for numerous Ragga artist UK and JA, Thunda is recording with big named artists and The Man’s Dem (formerly The Juvanile Ruckasz) are busy as well. Lil Monsta has his own crew of youngings called TMS. Charlie is producing a feature album as well as being hired as musical director of a US hip-hop documentary called PAPERCHASERS (www.paperchasers.net) He’s in L.A as I finish writing this now.
UKHH: What would you doing you were not making records and in 57th Dynasty?”
CHARLIE: Probably not breathing
PARADISE: Wish I could be a teacher, but more realistically, I’d most likely be a gigolo, again!
UKHH: Do you have anything to say for the people who are reading this?”
PARADISE: Follow your dreams, be honest with yourself and don’t allow anyone to discourage you!
UKHH: What are the best and worst aspects of being a rapper?
57TH DYNASTY: As a group, the worse thing has been the notoriety yet lack of financial reward! Six years on and as someone’s woman said “this UK hip-hop come in like a big man’s hobby.” Or did Oshin say that? As an individual with-in a group often times maybe you don’t get to express as yourself as an individual, but more- as a voice of the group. No room for too much straying into your own realm, especially if the group ain’t following you into that realm.
UKHH: What has been your biggest hurdle/set back so far?
CHARLIE: Lack of money
UKHH: Who influenced you to be an Artist?
PARADISE: Charlie influenced me. I previously wrote what I call prison poetry, never really flowed on a beat or nothing, but being around Parker and putting myself through the paces, I believed my style and messages could and would be favourably embraced by the masses. Lil Monsta was directly influenced by his older brothers, Thunda and Felony. Shineye came up in a sound system (Baby Phonics) and used to mix for them, so that was his humble beginnings which eventually lead into producing.
Dark Trooper, the other sibling wonder to Lil Monsta and Thunda, kind of astounded us all when he started spitting.
50 was encouraged at a young age by his uncles who were in a group known as the Regimen.
CHARLIE: Respeck mi bredda
UKHH: What has been the hardest decision that you have had to make?
PARADISE: To practically disown my sister for the shit she’s doing. I love you girl! Prior to that just making the decision to give myself a clean start in life, causing me to leave everything and everyone dear to me.
UKHH: Who are you’re favorite artist of the moment?
PARADISE: Jaheim, Skeme, Scor-zay-zee, ummmm I love Nas sometimes- most of the time (lyric wise), but I like Jay too (lyric wise). Dizzy Rascal.
UKHH: Who are your favourite artists to relax to?
PARADISE: Mary J. and the whole Motown roster, or Sounds of Philadelphia including Teddy Pendergrass. I like stress music. Thunda and Shineye- that’s a dance hall/Ragga ting. The rest of the crew apart from Charlie and Oshin are really up on hip-hop- the real current shit.
UKHH: What three words best describe The 57th Dynasty?
CHARLIE: Believe the hype.
Interview by Spyce