WHEN a master lyricist comes together with a musical maestro, the result can be sublime. From Morrissey and Marr to Cube and Dre – when two fantastic talents collide they can result in some of the most uplifting and exciting artistic endeavours. Unfortunately such musical partnerships rarely last – ‘musical differences’ and huge egos often result in the implosion of such beautiful partnerships.
Thankfully for us all, UK Hip Hop legends Verb T and Harry Love have stayed on talking terms over the years and right now they’re dropping their first full length collaboration with Bring it Back to Basics. We’ve heard it. It’s dope and we demand to know more…
UKHH: The album is set to drop soon and the first single, Delusion, had fans and critics foaming at the mouth. How are you both feeling about the LP release?
VT: Feeling good, and relieved. Hopefully critics will go from foaming at the mouth to full blown rabies. But yeah it definatly feels good to have the album out there and hopefully people can get into it.
HL: I’m happy, interested to see the reactions. Now it’s all done I want to not listen to it for a while so I can come back to it with fresh ears and hear it as a listener would hear it.
UKHH: Verb, you have, of course, worked together many times before to great effect. Why does the partnership work so well and did you personally dabble in the production side of Bring It Back?
VT: We work well because we learnt our craft together, and are good friends so it’s just natural when we work together. Also we don’t have to worry about being honest in being critical of each other so there’s no ego clash we just get on with it. If I feel like insulting Harry and singing stupid songs for half an hour when he’s getting me to check the mic than that’s just part of the process, and if he calls me names and decides he wants to fuck about on the mic for a while for his own amusement then that’s all good too. For this album I didn’t make any of the beats but had input as far as ideas.
HL: Yeah, Verbs came with a load of sick ideas for the skits too, it’s us two on the album. We never could think of a fitting group / band name but it’s cool, I like the fact that most people know us individually and who we’re associated with. It’s not just the two of us who solely come with all the ideas, we had plenty of contributions from the people close around us from family to friends to experience so our mutual experiences, environment, friendship and inherent trust is a good basis for our working relationship.
UKHH: What comes first – the lyrics or the music?
VT: The egg, or possibly the chicken. It differs really, one thing I will say though is that there are a few tracks where I wrote verses and hooks independently and then linked Harry and he played me a beat like “check out what I just made” and I would spit the lyrics I had and it would work perfectly, that’s not how we did the whole thing but much of the album would consist of us in the same room not talking, Harry making a beat and me writing.
HL: I think beats often have a big influence on the mood of the mc as in what they want to say or how they’d say it. But there are lyrics that Verb’s wrote and I ended up making beats that matched perfectly. Often subconsciously. Run Amuk and Make It Hot from the delusion ep were like that. Verbs had that lyric since he was doing A levels including the hook. I heard a break one night that made a sick double-time feel and I hooked it up. One of the sections actually perfectly fitted underneath the hook he’d written which was a double-time lyric.
UKHH: Harry, Bring It Back has a very timeless feel. Where did you draw your inspirations musically because it seems that movements like grime have not touched the album? Would it be fair to describe it as a traditional Hip Hop LP – whatever that may be?
HL: Well I think a lot of the album was actually written before grime really even existed, round when garage was dying a lot of the concepts were formed. That and grime are dance orientated music and we weren’t really trying to make an album on that flex. We were about putting our thoughts and concerns down. With the overall mood of the album as an album project we couldn’t really see where we’d put a ‘club banger’ or whatever but that’s not to say we ain’t gonna make no club records or we don’t like them. We just crafted a piece of work with a particular feel and mood. My influences stretch far and wide from obvious ones like hip hop, soul, jazz and electro to 70s rock classical and reggae. The older, the more my experience grows the wider my source of inspiration. I suppose I gotta say during the making I was especially in love with the 70’s sound.
“…We just crafted a piece of work with a particular feel and mood. My influences stretch far and wide from obvious ones like hip hop, soul, jazz and electro to 70s rock, classical and reggae…” – Harry Love
UKHH: Verb, tell us about some of the themes explored on the record.
VT: Social issues in general, paranoia, of course delusion, love, sex, relationships, action/adventure. I wrote most of the verses from a more subconscious point of view, stuff that came out when I was writing that I didn’t necessarily try to say but then once I read over it I realized that this was the shit I wanted to get across but couldn’t force it just came naturally. When it came to writing hooks though I just tried to pull it all together by making the choruses put the verse in the right context if you see what I mean.
HL: New world order.
UKHH: Tell us about some of the lesser known collaborators on the album such as Rosie.
VT: Rosie is a really talented singer we have both known for a while, she’s got a really good voice and contributed to the mood of the track chaos greatly, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what she can do really.
HL: Yeah, Rosie aka Rosie Wilson is the voice on the hit gorillas track “Dare”, she’s our homegirl. People really ain’t seen nuttn’ yet. I don’t really think we can say anything about lesser known when she’s got the number 1 under-belt! haha. luv ya girl! We got my big bro Big Red on there with Ramson Badbonez (the secret member of task force) who I’m working on blowin up. Karizma formerly from Out Da Ville (that’s my Notts fam – bare luv) and some other more known cats on there like Jehst and Kyza.
UKHH: Harry, you are one of the most famous and well respected producers on the UK scene right now. Would you say the album sees a producer at the top of his game?
HL: I dunno, people are very fast to take someone’s single piece of work and brand or categorize someone with it. I don’t feel like I’m at the top of my OWN game at all. In terms of certain skills I built up over the years yea I know there aint a whole load of cats to rival but I got a lot of peers and elders that I highly respect and I never underestimate the younger generation. In my heart I believe I only covered a small percent of what I’d like to achieve and accomplish. This album represents me heart up to this point in my life. I’m now a full grown man with a big life mission ahead… Sorry if I’m giving long answers.
UKHH: Similar question to you, Verb. You have been spitting for a long time now. Are you happy with where your career is right now?
I’m happy because I’ve met a lot of great artists and people who I still want to collaborate with which keeps me hungry to create. I’m happy as well that there are people we are into what I do and that I can make (almost) a living off doing shows and selling records (or though I’m doing a part time day job still). And most of all, I’ve learnt a lot about the creative process and how to record as well as a bit more about the business in general so I feel like I’m in a good position to elevate.
“… I’ve learnt a lot about the creative process and how to record, as well as a bit more about the business in general so I feel like I’m in a good position to elevate…” – Verb T
UKHH: Verb, do you look back with fondness on the open mic days of the late nineties and would you say it is an essential part of the apprenticeship of any young MC? Tell us what it was like to step to the mic for the very first time as a fresh-faced teenager in front of a crowd howling for an mc’s blood?
Yeah it’s essential really, I was in my teens when I was doing those open mics and it taught me that no matter how good your lyrics might seem to you and no matter what you think the crowd will react – you’re probably wrong. I learnt a lot about how to deliver lyrics and which flows sound best live from doing the open mics. But all that being said I was never booed or anything like that, open mics helped me build up a bit of a name among the people on the scene at the time and other artists and stuff.
UKHH: Harry, you have your own label, Medication Records, do you have any raw talent we should be expecting to hear from any time soon?
HL: Like I say we got the Ramson Badbonez projects coming, I got my lil bro Jetsun coming thru with the beats and my big bro as an all rounder (in more ways than one – in joke). Also Escapade: Microw and R-Kayne coming soon.
UKHH: What gives you the biggest buzz? Is it the production side of the game or slaying the crowd at your regular DJ slot at London’s Kung-Fu?
HL: Erm, I suppose the live thing is a huge buzz when you got a receptive audience. However I get the same buzz from getting my record fresh from the press and putting it on the turntable for the first time.
UKHH: Is there anything you miss from back in the day?
HL: Yea the vibes, haha. I miss buzzing when I’d look through the record racks seeing all the sick new 12″s. I miss school even though I hated it. I miss Michael Jackson in human form. But I still got all them records and stuff so it aint all bad.
UKHH: Verb – You’re currently working with William Orbit who will be familiar to most for his atmospheric instrumental albums…what can we expect from the partnership? Do I smell an album for ‘smokers’?
VT: We have done a few tracks, nothing is definite yet in terms of when or if they will be released, but we kind of did go out there on a couple of the tracks, as well though we did a very straight up radio friendly sounding number, we’re planning to do more tracks together, but I’m not sure about a whole album.
UKHH: Harry – Corny question time – You have supported some of the true legends of the Hip Hop scene. Jungle Brother, Mos Def, Run DMC and Talib Kweli to name but a few. Tell us at least one juicy back-stage tit-bit. Come on boy, let it all out. You must have a stack of stories to tell around the Hip Hop camp fire.
HL: Erm… one of the funniest times was when me and Mystro were in our room blazin some stinky icky sticky shit. I came out the room for something and Jeru was outside our room sniffing round the corridor. We just looked at each other with that look and he was like ‘yo, you mind if I come smoke with you?’ and I was like ‘how can I turn a man down who sniffed himself all the way here?’ Funniest thing is that was like the 3rd time I met him, none of them ever recognize me but they always squint their eyes and say ‘brother looks maaaaaaaad familiar yo’ hah.
“… I was in my teens when I was doing those open mics and it taught me that no matter how good your lyrics might seem to you, and no matter how you think the crowd will react – you’re probably wrong…” – Verb T
UKHH: Verb – What are you up to for the rest of 2006. Can we expect you to ‘tour the album’ with Mr Love?
VT: We have a couple of dates hooked up, but the proper tour is gonna be us along with Mr Thing and Yungun when their project grown man business drops. But yeah in the mean time we’ll be appearing here and there. Also before the end of the year I’ll be putting out a c.d album of tracks I’ve been working on the past 2 years, production from myself, Chemo, I.Q., Ghost and others, it’ll be a bit of a limited edition thing as I’m funding it myself, and it will be co executively produced by killer chemo.
UKHH: Verb – You have also enjoyed a very fruitful partnership Kashmere, do you have plans to hook up again?
VT: We have done a few track together, I feature on 2 tracks on his new album the hour of chaos which is crazy by the way, people need to check that when it drops. And also we have just made the decision to do an album together which will be the part 2 to the record we had out together, the difference this time is we will do more tracks together rather than going track for track.
UKHH: Harry – Is it fair to say that Tim Westwood was responsible for giving you a big step up when he invited you on the Mixmasters Weekend?
HL: Yeah he was one of the first people to put me on that level. By that point I had already done my own radio show on pirate and community radio but yea Timmy put me in the show when I was 14 after I harassed his offices to do the mixmasters weekend slot. I always give him his props for that cos that definitely kicked a lot off for me, as well as giving me self belief.
UKHH: Do you think it is time Westwood got some respect from UK headz? No one can deny he is passionate about Hip Hop.
HL: I don’t think anyone can be told to respect someone but personally I think he’s done a lot. He plugged so many of my sick favourites, people like London Posse, DJ Riz. I even heard Biggie there first. I don’t know about what he’s highlighting nowadays but what can I say, the dude’s had a big career and he knows fucking good music.
UKHH: Verb – Tell us a good joke…
VT: Two dyslexics were skiing and one says to the other “I’m gonna go over there and zag zig down that big hill” the 2nd dyslexic says “No no, your wrong, it’s zig zag not zag zig” the agument goes on unresolved so they decide to ask a third party “excuse me sir we have a question about skiing”, the third man replies “sorry lads I don’t know about skiing I’m a taboganist”, the dyslexic says “oh right, well can I get 10 Bensons then please”. Oh sorry you said good joke, I don’t know any of those.
HL: Check out the album, and keep an eye out for us appearing live around the country, if any one makes it to Hip Hop Kemp this year I’ll be there too. Nuf luv to my peeps and my enemies. Keep that world spinnin.
UKHH: Gentlemen, thank you for your time and good luck with the album.
Thank you, all the best – peace.
So there you have it – UKHH has squeezed every drop we could out of Mr Love and Mr..err..T . What…are you still here? Get ye all to your local record shop and don’t come out till you’re clutching a copy of the album cos Bring it Back to Basics is the future.
Bring it Back to Basics is out now on Medication.