I am running a few meeting minutes late. I tell the photographer not to worry as it means we will have less time to wait around for the interviewee. To my surprise we are greeted by the sturdy figure of Kyza Sayso standing outside the pub we have arranged to meet at, he whispers down the phone ‘he’s arrived’..
I tell him he is an anomaly for me, a rapper on time for an interview. He scoffs at the lack off professionalism from his peers. He also informs me he doesn’t drink or smoke and as of recent has given up eating meat, and that his only real vice is women (have you heard the song Porno!?!). Indeed he attempts conversation with every female that passes. Here’s more from the one they call Mr Sayso..
I thought Terra Firma were from East London, but that’s obviously not the case, can you explain the evolution of TF, how you guys got together, what are your plans for the future? Is there one?..
No, were not all from East London, that’s a common misassumption. I’m from Ladbroke Grove. I met K-lash through my older brother, and Skriblahs cousin is friends with Klash. We all linked up like that, basically by hearing good things about each other through other people. In fact, I’m not even originally from London, a place just outside called Wellinborough. And no were not splitting up, were just working on our own projects at the moment, but were still doing shows together and should have a few bits and pieces coming out over the next few months.
So how come you’ve decided to release a solo record and why now?
It’s something I’ve been intending to do for a while and the time just felt right. Initially I was working on a mixtape, but I felt that wasn’t really going to do the job, no disrespect to those who make them, but they’re more of a street thing. I felt I could do better than that, what’s more I wanted something that I could truly say was mine. If you notice I have only two songs on the album that feature another MC.
That’s quite a brave move as I’m sure you could have got a few big name collaborations on it. But you had a vision for it and it seems to be paying off.
Yeah, I suppose. I didn’t want a lot of collaborations or features because someone else can’t tell people about my life. I mean it was quite difficult at times, especially when there were some people close to me who were doubting it (the album), but generally I’m pleased with the overall results and people have been complimentary about it which is cool.
TF have always taken a very independent route, I know Klashnekoff was approached by a major label. I’m not sure if you were as a group but if the opportunity arose as a solo artist to sign to a major, is it something you would consider?
Going the major label route is something that I haven’t really considered to be real with you. It’s like a girl that everyone says is buff, and then you meet her and get to know her and you find out what she’s really about and she’s a bitch, that’s what majors’ come like to me. With me doing what I do with my company (beatmakersanonymous) I have complete control over what I do, so it wouldn’t make any sense to hand that over to a major. Also I don’t think that the majors are really in touch with black street music any way. So I’ll be D.I.Ying it for now. Financially it, could, be beneficial but that’s only a possibility.
“…In all honesty I still don’t think Hip hop has found it’s own identity in this country yet…”
It’s true, people talk about cash advances. Which can be huge, but it’s just like a loan in all reality.
Exactly mate. Exactly, and if your album doesn’t make the sales your fucked.
There’s been a recent trend where we’ve seen pop people like Robbie Williams attempt a Hip hop record and I also heard that Elton John was going to make one. Does this sort of thing piss you off?
This ting don’t piss me off because at the end of the day people will see that kind of thing for what it really is, a feeble attempt to cash in on the culture and to try and be “down with the streets”. They have no business trying to be “down”. From what I hear Robbie Williams song has been slaughtered all over anyway.
Why do you think it is that English Hip hop still isn’t achieving significant mainstream success? Will it ever?..
In all honesty I still don’t think Hip hop has found it’s own identity in this country yet, and I’m not convinced it ever will. We are like the little bastard brother of American Hip hop. A major problem is the attitude, the professionalism. We don’t seem to be looking to evolve from the industry through to the individual. It’s like earlier when you turned up a little late for this interview, and how this is the first ever time a rapper has been punctual for one of your interviews. That’s not good enough, and it’s just fucking typical of English Hip hop. I work all day in a normal job, I’m a civilian, and then come night-time I’m Kyza. I’m doing shows, radio and interviews like this. This is a business, and I am my own investment, which is why I am always on time. Professionalism is key.
I see what you’re saying about professionalism. But I think it’s difficult, if inevitable, to compare to the States. Just look at the sheer size and infrastructure of the industry over there. I do think we suffer from a bit of a self-pitying attitude in UK Hip hop, which is something we journalists might just perpetuate. But I do genuinely believe that Hip hop in this country has really progressed over the last 5 years.
Well I’m not so sure. I think it’s still got a long way to go. The game in this country has been in the same position for well over five years now, with only a few man dem blowing up who are not even directly connected to “uk rap” anyway.
And the music industry in general in this country?
There’s many reasons why the industry isn’t achieving the success that we’ve hoped for I feel like we’ve been fighting a loosing battle from day. The game in this country is so backwards and full of politics and bull-shit, that if we want to progress. We are going have to make some DRASTIC changes to it man. When people say “industry” to, that pisses me off. There aint no “industry” over here man, from when we can start holding proper business conferences and “proper” seminars and generate revenue through this game PROPERLY, then that’s when I will say that we have an industry.
Even though I ask this question in the broad context of the music industry Kyza answers it in relation to Hip hop. I’ve interviewed various musicians and rappers in the past that I can tell don’t really give a shit, or posses any real knowledge about the music they are supposedly involved in, but are somehow making a relative success out of it. During the course of the interview and after we stop recording it becomes blatently obvious that Kyza is both very passionate about the music and does indeed know his stuff, and that includes both sides of the Atlantic.
“…I am my own investment, which is why I am always on time. Professionalism is key…”
I’ve mostly been covering Grime for ukhh.com. Having interviewed several Grime artists a subject that often comes up is the whole Hip hop/Grime debate. But for the most part they have been open to working with Hip hop artists, coming from the other direction what’s your views on Grime?
I don’t really like it to be honest, but at least it’s got it’s own identity in a sense. You could argue they say the same thing over and over and there’s no real conscience to the lyrics. But I suppose it’s more about the vibes, which reminds me of Hip hop in it’s early days.
More of a live medium?
Yeah definitely. Hip hop has become very commoditized.
Returning to Grime, is there any particular artists that interest you?
Erm…collaboration wise I’d take a Wiley beat, I don’t think much of his rapping. I think Kano’s good. And The Streets is a good producer, I’m not sure what you’d classify him as though.
Your album covers a lot of ground. The intro talks about inspiration and samples Jay Z heavily. Is he a big musical inspiration for you?
Yeah man jay-z is a big inspiration to me. Not only did he turn himself from just a roadman/shotta to a brand/business that is recognized across the globe, but he did that as a black man living in America. Not many can say or do the things that he has accomplished. I think that’s why a lot of people have the utmost respect for him, he has literally set out “the blueprint” for many people who would have started out like him. So most definitely yeah he is a BIG inspiration to me.
The song ‘Real’ is an interesting one. Why do you think that people still try and pull this fake gangsta crap, more so over here?
My breadryns and me talk about this a lot. If you’re a big time shotta man, you’re not rapping! Real gangsters never tell their business, they don’t blab. I always tell people I’m not a road man, that’s just not what I do, I know people who do, but it’s not me. I don’t drink and I don’t smoke, girls are my only vice. But when I hear this man and that man say ‘yeah I just got out of jail, this and that’..
“…Keeping it real to me is, going to work, coming home and trying to help run my company…”
It’s nothing to boast about really.
Not at all, you a dumb criminal that got caught! Real gangsters and bad men roll silent!!.…
But there’s many reasons for this fake gangster image some rappers portray, personally I think it comes down to some people feeling inadequate, whether it be a sexual or physical thing. I mean look at the Game, guys like that bowling around the streets with their tops off. Who does that? What the fuck is that about!?! It’s mad gay.
Ha, ha. It’s true; there is a homoerotic undertone to big groups of men all hanging about topless together…
And Camron, he’s blatantly gay. What’s all that pink about?
You’ve got a point but were kind of digressing here. Returning to the song, what is ‘keeping it real’ in your opinion?
Honestly?.. Keeping it real to me is, going to work, coming home and trying to help run my company, going on the radio to spit a few bars, then coming home to have dinner with my family. That’s what’s keeping it real is to ME!!! Just doing what you do to LIVE your life and get by. Aint nobody can say that aint real cause that might be a whole heap of people’s reality, not just mine.
Ok, to finish on a lighter note the song ‘Lucozade bottles’ is about being a 90’s child. What are your favorite 90s’ throwbacks?
Oooh man, too many things. Lines shaved into you hair, ha,ha! Really leery Moschino shirts, 7’11s, every single pair of air max that came out in the 90’s,karl kani tracksuits, the running man dance step, Adidas leggings that ALL the buff chicks in my school would wear. New jack swing, Illmatic, Reasonable Doubt, all the early Wu Tang stuff, jungle mania compilations,……there’s to many to count man seriously! Maybe I’ll do a Lucozade bottles pt2 for the next album…ha ha ha ha.
Cool. Finally any shout outs?
Yep. Shouts to the firma fam (the foundation in stores nov6th), shouts to Pepa Records, Juice, Subvert. Shout to Dlux, Seryus, Ms Selby, Anthea and Selina. Shout out to Mr Lawson and the criminal corner man dem… all manors and ends… “The Experience” is out now… please cop…1UP!
“…Keeping it real to me is, going to work, coming home and trying to help run my company…”
And finally, a big up to Andrew from Game Plan Promotions for settling up the interview and good luck to Kyza with album. Hopefully by the time the next record comes out it will be to an industry that is able to substantiate it better.