Karl Hinds Interview

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Coming outta Ilford, East London with a hot new album ‘Have Patience’, the Rottonostra Family’s Karl Hinds is back for the O4 and shouldn’t need introductions.

Released on his own label, featuring collabos with the like of Grimlok, ‘Father’ Roots Manuva and Tempa, the album is a challenge to the industry and his peers. It’s also words of wisdom for his peers and aspiring artists. I caught up with Karl to expand on some of the themes on his album.

Do you consider yourself an emcee or producer primarily? Is there a difference between a ‘beatmaker’ (using a sampler) and a ‘producer’ (who can play an instrument)?

Karl HindsI consider myself a producer that can rap. I mean I hum melodies and tap on tables more often then I freestyle or rap. The main difference between a beat maker and a producer is the fact that a beatmaker would normally
sample a melody; producers tend to create them.

Why are there so many ‘rapper / producers’ in UK Hip Hop?

I can’t speak for the others, but for me it’s partly due to finance and mainly because I have the talent to do both.

Do you sample at all?

Yeah I just haven’t released any tracks with samples on them yet. Soon the game won’t be able to tell if I’ve used a sample or not, they only know that I don’t now because I’ve made it so clear. So it’s given the ones who wish to hate a reason to do so, I mean I’ve had cats tell my lyrics are hot but my beats are too ‘keyboardy’. Yet they all love the track with Skinnyman (‘Lets Av It’) in which I play an organ all the way through. It don’t get more ‘keyboardy’ then that! I just feel too many heads in the UK are scared of change, which is what I stand for.

‘…who raps from the perspectives I do in Britain and who produces with original music like I do? I can sample like everybody else does, but take my sampler away and I still give you a pure hip hop LP. Can they do the same?…’

Is Nottingham competing with London for the title ‘first city of UK Hip Hop’?

Yeah for sure! The beats coming out of Nottingham are so hot and at times a lot more forward-thinking then some London beats.

What do you define as ‘success’ for you?

It’s when you get that inner feeling of contentment and achievement of what ever it is you’ve done.

Are you a part of the Essex or London scene, or neither?

I’m a Londoner.

Do you go to ‘Kung Fu'(a Hip Hop club in Camden, London) often? I’ve only been there once but you blew everyone off the stage during the freestyles.

I love Kung Fu even though the crowd don’t seem to respond to me as warmly as they do to others. It’s still the only place in London I attend on a regs.

‘…Just because…a track has a big break or sample in the production, that’s not enough to make the music real. But if you’re a middle-class media bre looking at hip hop from a cliché point of view, you may be fooled into believing it sounds more ‘real’ then the next track because you don’t understand what hip hop is…’

What is your take on the UK Hip Hop media? Is it dominated like ‘the game’ by the middle-class as you say on your album, and if so, what are the consequences of this?

It would appear that the press is, so the consequences might be that they only want to cover what they think is Hip Hop. The problem with that is if you don’t understand its soul you could end up misrepresenting Hip Hop. Just because, for example, a track has a big break or sample in the production, that’s not enough to make the music real. But if you’re a middle-class media bre looking at Hip Hop from a cliché point of view, you may be fooled into believing it sounds more ‘real’ then the next track because you don’t understand what Hip Hop is. Remember Grandmaster Flash’s song “The Message”? All the production was an original composition. It was the soul and content of the track that defined it as Hip Hop.

Is public ‘beef’ good for the UK scene?

I don’t know, but it would raise the quality of the game.

You seem to be dissing a certain rapper on your new album. Who is it?

No one in particular, just the people trying to act like I’m not one of hottest producers in the game, and those who disregard the fact that I’m in the Top 5 or even Top 10 of British rappers. I mean who raps from the perspectives I do in Britain and who produces with original music like I do? I can sample like everybody else does, but take my sampler away and I still give you a pure Hip Hop LP. Can they do the same?

Chris Byrne

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