Days after watching Dirty Dike and Jam Baxter smash a huge show alongside their High Focus label mates and other big UK names, I catch up with Dike as he paints a piece on a sunny Brighton afternoon. Not that I can tell you what he’s in the process of writing, but I can say, however, that this particular artistic expression incorporates a ‘spunking cock’. This toilet humour epitomizes a rapper with track titles that include ‘average wank fam’, and has an album called ‘Bogies and Alcohol’.
I’ve known Dike for years, but our encounters are usually on stage or heavily intoxicated. To be fair, I’ve been in some strange situations with the Contact Play lot over time between house parties and random raves. I know he’s been working hard since the release of his ‘Constant Dikestar’ album and has a string of releases ready to drop. It was nice to find Dike on some down time preparing for the High Focus 2nd Birthday Party the following weekend in Brixton…
Hines: It seems like a good time for UK hip hop at the moment. With over 900 through the door at the Rare kind: Chrome & Black launch party, you and Baxter must have enjoyed that one.
Dike: Epic gig, probably the best one yet I think.
Hines: I noticed that when the line up was announced at the beginning of the night, you got one of the biggest cheers from the crowd. Considering you weren’t one of the headline acts, it must have been a good feeling to get that response. The crowd were really young too.
Dike: Ain’t no party like a CP party… It’s mad. I don’t know if it’s me getting older or they are actually getting younger, but kids seem to be really getting into UK hip hop again. A new little wind of it I guess. It’s good; it makes it all seem worth it.
Hines: I catch you here painting; I presume that’s something that came before the rapping.
Dike: Yeah. That’s where the whole ‘Dike’ thing came from. I used to write it when I was little and everyone started calling me it.
Hines: I’ve got to admit, it struck me as an odd name when I first got introduced to you but I’m used to it now. I think it kind of reflects your music as well: quite happy to make fun of yourself.
Dike: Well, we’re all idiots aren’t we? Try not to take yourself too seriously because if it doesn’t work, then you’re going to look like a prick.
Hines: One of the first times I remember noticing you rapping was the ‘Cribs’ video. Which must be a first for ‘pro-squat hip hop’?
Dike: That old Chestnut. The song wasn’t actually an SMB track; it was a Life 4 Land track. It was their idea and we just featured on the song because they were all our mates. I came from all that. They made it a massive video and we became well know for it, which pisses some people off, but I think it did us favours to be honest. It brought that entire scene into the hip hop world and as a result we have a shitload of fans in Bristol and the party scene. We play nights and festivals where they don’t necessarily play hip hop and stuff so it’s opened up a new audience for us. I don’t really like the tune though, at the time I thought it was good, but then we were just having a laugh and that’s all that mattered.
Hines: When it comes to Contact Play and SMB, you guys are from all over the UK. How did your paths cross to form a crew?
Dike: I met Mr Key when I was well young in Cambridge. Scissor Tongue’s from there too. Key went off to Uni in Brighton, where he met Baxter, I ended moving here too because I was jealous of all the rapping. Ronnie Bosh had been mates with Baxter for time since back in London so he was standardly involved.
Hines: How about the wider crew of SMB?
Dike: I dunno really, The 3 amigo’s knew Kim the DJ from Too Many Steps and came down from Glastonbury to get involved. It went from there really, they’re good lads and we just got on with each other.
Hines: I guess the team’s even bigger now you’re part of High Focus.
Dike: When Fliptrix signed us all to the label, it really brought us together. It’s made us some sort of powerhouse, every gig there’s loads of us. It’s getting us noticed more; everyone’s getting noticed more I think.
Hines: There must be lots of travelling between recording and doing shows?
Dike: I never travelled much as kid and now I get to do it and like it, I get on well with it. I think we all do really. We go on big mission’s every year all over the place, busking and seeing it we can do in shows around Europe. Just blagging it, I like it.
Hines: Are there going to more releases from Contact Play?
Dike: We need to go away like a bunch of hippies on holiday and write it. It’s going to take a bit of work just to get us in the same place. It will happen, but we’re all getting secured with our solo projects at the moment. Scissor Tongue, Ronny Bosh and Mr Key have got things coming out and then we can think about other stuff.
Hines: A lot of people might not know you’re a beat maker on the sly.
Dike: I started quite a while ago but on and off. I’ve always doubted my beats a bit and never really got stuck in. Nowadays I’m starting to like it more and people are taking them. I’m getting a mix tape made under a different name with loads of guests. It’s something I keep doing, I’ve recently upgraded from just an MPC to a bit of software, finally, which I hate, but it’s got to be done to take it further.
I live with Bozak, who’s a digger extraordinaire, so that’s just got me sampling loads. I get so much from him; we all have in the past. Loads of our albums were made off the back of his music collection.
Hines: You’ve started doing the SMBOZAK radio show with Bozak recently too?
Dike: Bozack doesn’t play out much and I was like ‘this needs to be documented’. I thought we should do a show and that was that, turns out it’s fucking wicked, he took to it like a duck to water. We do it with 184 and the Purist then get guests in every week to talk bullshit. We try and avoid the obvious. You can’t just come and rap, if you’re a rapper you should come and play us your favourite songs. We talk about stuff that’s completely irrelevant, a bit more of an insight I guess.
Hines: What projects have you got in the pipeline?
Dike: Me and Baxter have been working on this album for fucking ages but it will come out eventually. I’m doing a whole next solo album with leafy, just on his beats. Sammy B’s doing a mix tape of all my other stuff I’ve never released, I’m doing a four track EP with Pete Cannon which is coming out soon on vinyl. I’m doing an EP with Mr Boss as well, also on vinyl, that’s about it.
Hines: And an anonymous beat album?
Dike: I dunno, I just wanted to see if I could get in there without using the name ‘Dirty Dike’ and now I have so I should stop being a baby about it.
Hines: From our conversations in the past and things you write online, you seem quite a little bemused by the battle scene that’s around at the moment.
Dike: It’s a tricky one. Everyone gets so offended by my comments, which is weird seeing as all they do is hurl abuse at each other. I just don’t like it creatively or musically. Of all the ways of expressing yourself through the power of a pen, it’s the most negative. When I was young all I wrote about was hurting people and being a prick. I realised I did that because it’s fucking easy to do that, it was the easiest shit for a rapper to do. So when people are inspired to be abusive now, it doesn’t impress me. Secondly, the media attention. I don’t think it’s a fair representation of what I do, yet people think it is. It’s kind of like what I do but it’s worlds apart.
To me, when I’m sat with people who don’t like hip hop and they’ve turned their nose up at it, then start watching this half rap/half spoke word stuff. I don’t want their acceptance, I think their acceptance is patronising. It’s not that they understand it at all; it’s that somebody dumbed it down for them so that it was nice and digestible for the average solicitor/social worker/ parent. I had my hip hop confiscated as a kid by the kind of people who are applauding it now. It’s not personal, they all do their thing, I just don’t think it represents us at all really. I understand why people do it but, in all honesty, I think I grew out of it.
Hines: Final thoughts?
Dike: Be honest with your self and never say what people want you to say, because it’s bullshit.
Shouts out to all of Contact Play, SMB, Hi Focus crew, my Glasgow crew: Physics, Konchis, and Gasp. Big up Stig, Dabbla, All of LDZ, big up Rare kind, Bozack, Purist, 184, Hinesy… In fact, big up everyone who came to the Rare kind night at Concorde
Big Thanks to Tom Hines for dealing with the interview http://twitter.com/HinesyHines