So taking a break from trying to record my EP, the radio show, the pimping, and the daily grind of the 9-5, I decided to hook up with a couple of emcees looking to cause some tremors on the Hip Hop scene in the months ahead.
In this first interview I managed to find the Iguana Man, Kashmere. Known more his mic prowess than his time-keeping skills (sounds like someone I know!), I was pleasantly surprised to see Kashmere waiting for my arrival in central London, here’s what happened…
Ghost: So Kashmere what’s the deal with name Kashmere, and the Iguana Man alias?
Kashmere: Well the Kashmere thing is obviously its quality material! And I like the down low quality of Iguana’s, they act weird y’ know what I mean, they act mysterious, that’s pretty much how I like to make my material, on a mysterious down low tip.
Ghost: And from there let’s just go back to your roots with Hip Hop, take it from the top, run through how and when you got into Hip Hop roughly.
Kashmere: I got into Hip Hop through my older brother who was like a B-Boy and stuff, he used to do breakin out in Nigeria and stuff like that you know, so I used to see the way he got down with his mates and stuff, practicing in the yard, and I was like raa, what’s this all about, this was in about 89, another one of my brother’s introduced me to De La Soul, the 3ft High LP and I started listening to that, then I got into the tribe first album, from there I wrote my first rhyme, I was listening to the first tune, “Push it along”, hearing Q Tip’s first verse I took some rhymes from there and added my own. Kept listening (to Hip Hop) and in about 94, got into Graf and stuff like that, and people like Artifacts. The Graf thing took up quite a lot of time in my life, but from like 94 onwards I started to get deeper and deeper into Hip Hop. Started doing tunes in about 96, started making beats and stuff, thinking about putting together tunes. The first dude I actually hooked up with was a drum and bass DJ called Edge yeah, and I did my first tune with him, hooked up with ILL BREED in about 98, started think about the label thing in 99/00, met up with Tuf Kut and all that doing the breakin bread thing, then we finally set up receptor records in 2001.
Ghost: Ok, so what about emcees, is there any you think back and say they’ve had an impact on you as in your style or your delivery, or what you write about?
Kashmere: There’s quite a few man, obviously like your KRS-1’s etc etc, for me mainly I’d say people like Scaramanga, people like Kool Keith, as soon as Octagon came out that changed my whole perspective on everything, he just opened my head big time, Godfather Don.I mean, I’m mainly into the emcee’s that can get mad technical, they can actually make me think damn, listen to the way he just flipped that flow there y’know, listen to the way he rhymed these two things together, obviously the content is important but it’s more like style, y’know what I mean, I’m more into styles myself.
Ghost: Different bunch of emcee’s there you picked out man, probably not what some people were expecting to hear, but they all dope emcee’s. So you had the Raw Styles EP, which went down nicely, what sort of feedback did you get from that?
Kashmere: Main thing that we got is like a lot of people were saying it reminded them of like early-mid nineties sound y’know what I saying, it’s like mainly the older heads got into it cause perhaps they understood it more, when I came through, a lot of people were surprised cause they didn’t even know that I made beats, a lot of people just knew me as an emcee. We wasn’t really expecting too much, we didn’t even promote it that much, we just put it out to see if anybody would bite the bait, and they just did. It was pretty cool, very good response, we were pleased with that.
Ghost: Yeah a nice little starter, and from that, what’s the deal with the Low Life hook up now, how did that come about?
Kashmere: That came about through releasing Raw Styles, cause I went through Braintax to press it and basically he heard the EP and he was feeling it, so he was like yeah would you like to do an EP on my label, I said of course, that lead onto the track I did for the Food Compilation. The Low Life EP that should be out sometime towards mid to end of the year basically, that’s gonna be some next ish.
Ghost: Haha, yeah. We forgot to mention production influences, any particular Producers over the years that have kinda like made you think yeah, I wanna do something along those lines?
Kashmere: DJ Premier, Premier is like my main favourite producer, but my style doesn’t even mirror his style at all, but I appreciate him the most. In my personal opinion he’s never let me down, as far as people my styles closer to, I dunno, I don’t really have a production style that’s similar to anyone, but the type of producer’s I feel are EL-P, I’m feeling Pete Rocks older style, feeling some of Celf Titled beats, Godfather Don’s beats are heavy, who else, hard to think man, obviously my man Ghost (!), but he’s asking over the years so…..
Ghost: Diamond D man
Kashmere: Yeah definitely Diamond, Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop, the beats on that album were off the chain, you know about DJ Alamo?
Ghost: Yeah yeah
Kashmere: I was feeling his stuff, that’s a difficult one man, I’m also feeling Insight he’s a sick producer, mainly Primo though over the years.
Ghost: I think primo is for a lot of people, consistency man, and what about UK stuff, what UK producer’s do you see at the moment pushing the music forward?
Kashmere: Let me think now, production wise Lewis Parker is very sick, I’ve been feeling his stuff from time, Harry Love is smashing it, feeling more of his raw styles like Staircase 11 Stage more than his Silent Mobius type and U Know beats, they’re more smooth type stuff, but I’m feeling his more raw style. I’m definitely feeling Ghost’s production cause, and that aint even cause he’s sitting right next to me haha, cause he’s definitely got ill beats, very musical, just treading that thin line between that raw beat and that musical sound, if you know what I’m saying, both, raw and musical which is what a lot of people lack, a lot of people just throw a bunch of sounds together, and that the problem with a lot of producer’s over here, there’s no soul in the beats.
Ghost: What about emcee’s?
Kashmere: I’m feeling people like Big P and Skeme, cause them mans there as emcee’s they are very very sick, Jehst, he just smashes it all the time, his style is raw solid flow, feeling Braintax, and that’s from back in the day, Rodney P, Fallacy is jus sick, I’m feeling Wildflower a lot man (!), she’s bad,
Kashmere: C-Mone, yes definitely, she’s definitely up there, yeah, by the way, you know what I’m saying, haha, C-Mone if your out there, Iguana Man is pining for you, anyway,
“… . Pick up the new Mis-Teeq 12″, you can sample some nice drums, and if you put that in your beats people are gonna love that, that’s the way to smash it man!….”
Joint laughing follows……..
Ghost: We better cut that there, we don’t wanna get to dirty there, we might have some repercussions from that…….
Ghost: What do you think about UK Hip Hop this year, like for me going back 10 years was a good time for Hip Hop, right now it’s like a second coming for UK Hip Hop, what do think about UK Hip Hop for this year?
Kashmere: This year, I mean a lot of people always want the New Year to be “the year” for UK Hip Hop, I just wanna hear the UK stuff progressing, you gonna see more people coming out with LP’s that chart and stuff like that, just a steady progression, you can’t rush it, then again a lot of people might diss me for saying this but I think that UK Hip Hop has blown already since that if you look at garage and jungle, that is actually the UK’s version of hip hop, and that’s been here for time. People don’t realize that, or wanna realize that, but as for the traditional style of hip hop I think all it will take yeah, is just more people hooking up with labels really, but the only problem is independent labels don’t have enough money to go through the correct promotional routes and stuff like that. It’s just a case of hooking up with better labels and trying to get funding from different places, people need to think about it seriously and that’s the only way it’ll keep going up. And I think it will happen cause people are realizing it’s here to stay.
Ghost: How do you see that market of UK Hip Hop outside of the UK, are you trying to get your tunes out to other countries?
Kashmere: Very much so cause in places like Germany they’re very in tune with UK Hip Hop, so I’m very interested to get out there, France is a bit of a tough nut to crack cause they just like the Americans, they’re very much on there own stuff, places as well like Australia and Japan. America is not exactly my number one on the list but it ain’t impossible, it can be done.
Ghost: Do you think too many UK artists concentrate on trying to represent over here rather than trying to make a name on a more worldwide scale?
Kashmere: Definitely cause a lot of people think that you have to crack where you came from first before you step out and stuff, but really and truly I think people are cutting themselves short, you know what I mean. Really you should try and hook up distribution, distribution is the main thing really, a lot more people need to hook that up, I’m not saying that’s easy but it’s a must, you must do it. They want it but they can’t get it out in Europe.
Ghost: There’s a lot of young people into hip hop now, what would you say to them, as in what kind of advice would you offer them from what you’ve learnt yourself up to now?
Kashmere: Pick up the new Mis-Teeq 12″, you can sample some nice drums, and if you put that in your beats people are gonna love that, that’s the way to smash it man! Haha, nah, but basically if you are gonna do it yeah, just be real with it, don’t just think I’m gonna make this kind of thing, so I’m gonna smash the clubs and people are gonna love it, blah blah blah sit down take time, build your skills, and only when you’ve done that come with a record, cause basically it can be your undoing before you even start, to just come out with anything, you must build your skills first, then drop it, that’s the only advice I can give you know what I mean. With like my first 12″, we didn’t even promote it, it got the recognition cause I put my soul into it, I put my time my effort into it, I spent years just trying to get to a certain level and once I put it out, people heard it and appreciated it cause it was me in there.
Ghost: Yeah it’s all about Mis-teeq, yagetme, funnily enough have you seen that program that just came out on CBBC called yagetme…
Ghost: About a pirate radio station in a school or something, what do you think about that?
Kashmere: I think that’s the dope material right there, nah man but in a way that’s all good, it sort of opens people up to the whole underground pirate radio thing and they get to see it at least, but at the same time it’s kinda bait man. Please, Children’s BBC, I aint even seen it myself, but now that Ghost has recommended it, we all know that Ghost watches it, chills at home, watching CBBC, so I’m gonna go home and check it, cause that’ll obviously help me get on the airwaves!
Ghost: Where do you think I get all my ideas for my show from, exactly! I had to just drop that in there, strange TV these days! So what can we expect from Iguana man in the future, what’s the plans, what does 2003 hold and beyond?
Kashmere: Nothing man! Basically I got this new 12″, “Duck Season”, coming out in the next couple of months, after that got the Food Compilation on Low Life, a tune called “Next Level Response” on that, got an EP coming with Low Life, which Ghost will be doing some of the beats for, not 3 not 2 but 4, that’s gonna be heavy. I got an EP coming with Rob Life as well, cause you know I did that 12″ with the Iguana Verses track on it with Rob and Cappo on Breakin Bread, so we gonna hook up and do a whole EP. There’s a few releases coming on Breakin Bread as well, one with Tom Carauana, one with Ghost on the Ghost Stories EP, just keep it moving really. Possibly have another Receptor Records thing towards the end of the year. But I wanna start working on an Album, spend a couple of years just doing an album, so that pretty much everything I can remember right now.
Ghost: What about doing a video, I know we spoke about this the other day, you gonna hook that up?
Kashmere: I’m gonna do a video for this Duck Season thing, yeah yeah yeah and hopefully that’ll help us, but people gotta try and get a video, that is one of the largest forms of promotion you can have, if you really wanna be serious about selling units, you wanna do a video. A lot of people turn round to you and say there’s no money in UK Hip Hop, that’s a lie, if you go about it the right way chances are you’re gonna be able to help shift some more units.
Ghost: What do you make of the response that the new task force tune has had, Fugs R Us, cause you’re on it, it seems to me that people don’t quite understand the tune and they don’t like it, what do you make of that?
Kashmere: Well basically they need to recognize the real; we’re just a bunch of fugs out here looking to blast people, put holes through your skull. Peace Recognize, buy the record otherwise we’re gonna find you in the jam, if your not dancing in the jam, believe me, I will pull out the machete, believe!!! nah but on the real, fugs r us is just a joke ting really, it’s a parody of the whole thug thing and the people that don’t get it obviously haven’t been listening to Task Force. Even the intro it’s just like over aggy, I can see how people could take it the wrong way, but at the same time like I said, if you’ve been listening to Task Force for some time you’ll know.
Ghost: So finishing up, is there anything you wanna say to the people reading this, cause it’s not just UK people that are checking this site cause it’s Worldwide.
Kashmere: I have to say, go out and buy my record. Go out and buy it now, Suspect dash Packages dot com, suspect-packages.com, haha, but on the real, thanks for all the support and all of that, I’m gonna keep coming with tunes, keep blazing it, and hopefully you guys will be into it, and for everyone on the wider scale outside the UK, prepare for Iguana man entering your household, lock your doors, shut your cat flaps, lets keep it real!
Ghost: Lock up your daughter’s that’s all I’m gonna say! Lastly who do you wanna shout out?
Kashmere: I’d like to shout out Peter Falk aka Colombo, the obvious greats such as David Hasslehoff, Dr Sloane and Dr Travis from diagnosis murder, I’d like to give a shout out to Task Force, all the Itch fm heads, Ghost, 2 Hands, Unusual Suspects, Breakin Bread Crew, Secure, and them heads out there playing the tunes, 563, Braintax, Jehst, definitely going to be hooking up with him this year, like to shout out Suze, all the receptor records heads, Mr Brown, Ra, DJ Crooked Fingers, my mom my pops, everyone at Bongo’s as well, Deal Real and the whole world man. And my girlfriend man.
And that was Kashmere, nuff respect for taking the time out to have a word with us and do this interview for ukhh. Top geezer he is and truly a sick lyricist, destined to make some moves soon. We head off after we (me) finish our beers and grab a couple of photo’s for the interview. Gotta shout out Deal Real for letting us snap some photo’s in the shop, and shout to Suze for taking time out to take the photos.
We got another interview coming your way soon with another multi-Skilled artist, a beatmaker and emcee, the man like Apollo.