‘Real’ is a word that is bandied around so much in hip hop these days that usually it doesn’t seem to retain any meaning, but if there’s even the slightest danger that it does, this is a man who summons it from our lips.
Micall Parknsun has come a long way since he burst onto the scene with his widely acclaimed debut album, The Working Class Dad, in 2005. His first full-length work gained him a healthy buzz across the radio waves, including airtime on XFM, KISS and Zane Lowe’s show on Radio 1.
Parknsun’s reputation as a lyricist of the highest order was further cemented by his stage-crippling anthem Dunya (My World), the lead single on Underworld Epics Vol. 1, produced by Jehst and released in 2006. The Interview Mixtape released in the same year, mixed by LG and Lopez, with cameos from Jehst, Kyza Smirnoff, Klashnekoff, Asaviour and Skriblah Dangogh, to name just a few, makes up his back catalogue. What makes Parky unique when holding his work up against a lot of the hip hop around right now is, and always has been, his feet on the ground philosophy and honest quality of music, epitomised in the title of his first album.
He claims that his strongest influences, other than his peers, are artists such as CL Smooth, Pete Rock, and De La Soul, who made waves in the Golden Era of East coast hip hop. In terms of beat-making, the work of production legends such as Jay Dee (R.I.P), Madlib and 9th Wonder have been an inspiration to him.
Now that there’s something fresh on sale for Parky’s ever-growing following, his plethora of influences can be heard first-hand rather than from people like me. His groundbreaking new album, First Second Time Around is out now on YNR Productions, and in an era when MCs spit aggy styles over grime and flirt with the trendy dance floor crowd, this ‘back to the roots’ work promises to catapult him into the realms of hip hop timelessness.
ukhh.com caught up with Micall Parknsun to talk about his new album, and to find out what’s next for the self-proclaimed working-class Dad.
Tell us about the host of producers you had on the album, and who did what.
I’ve got Jaisu, myself, Apa-Tight, Jehst, my boy LG, one from Ghosttown and the rest done by M-Phazes. If you want to know who done what beat, then buy the album and read the inlay. LOL
M-Phazes’ beats are ridiculously good. Tell us about how you, Jehst and the crew first hooked up with M-Phazes and Brad Strut from Oz.
As far as Phazes, I hooked up with him before I even met him. The first track we done was “All 4 Hip Hop”. Then I went to Australia on tour with Jehst and met him in the flesh. I hooked up with Brad via Beat Butcha.
Brad Strut’s new material with Beat Butcha on the Fallout Shelter EP is deep stuff. Are there any future projects lined up with the man from Lyrical Commission?
I wouldn’t mind doing a collab with Brad Strut because I think he’s a good lyricist.
Tiffany Paige has a great voice and she’s hot property in the US… How did the hook-up with her come about on the track, Everyday?
It was all down to M-Phazes. Originally the track didn’t have a chorus and then I sent the vocals back to Phazes and he said “it needs a hook, I think it needs a singer”. I was like do you want me sort it, but he said no he’ll handle it, and he got Tiffany Paige. How amazing is that?!
“…I’m a father and a husband who just happens to rap…”
For you, how does this album show progression from Working Class Dad?
I think it shows progression as in I’m trying to progress my sound to a wider audience, not just UK. And I’m trying to make a hip hop album, not a UK hip hop album.
You’ve never been afraid to share your truest emotions with the listener, but this album has the bangers as well as the philosophical numbers. How did you go about structuring the album and getting the right balance?
I’ll be honest with you I just wanted to make music, I had no intention of trying to make a club track or trying to tick all the boxes, I just wanted to make a nice album according to me.
With so many cameos and production styles, the listener is taken on a journey through different moods and narratives. Which are your favourite tracks on the album, and which collaborations were most special for you?
All of them are my favourite, because all of them have a story to tell. Collaborating with M-Phazes and Tiffany Paige (even though I didn’t meet her) were special to me.
Which hip hop artists in this country are you feeling at the moment?
Obviously the people that I’m working with, such as Jehst, Joker Starr, Dubledge, the one and only Kyza Smirnoff, Smurf, my Groundwurq click which is Jack Flash, J Simple, Thaboo and the one and only Apa-Tight. There’s too many to mention as all these other artists are helping the scene to grow.
Which artists outside of hip hop have you been listening to recently?
Georgia Anne Muldrow, Michael Jackson and Afrodite Child. To be honest with you I just listen to hip hop, one track mind, “All 4 Hip Hop” out now in stores. (1st single from the album.)
How much does your family life influence your music?
Every aspect of family life influences me. I’m a father and a husband who just happens to rap.
So what’s next for you? Touring with the album?
I don’t know what’s next for me, I’m at a lost. At the moment I’m touring, promoting the album so if any one wants to book me holla at [email protected]
“…I’ll be honest with you, I just wanted to make music, I had no intention of trying to make a club track or trying to tick all the boxes…”
Finally, now that you’ve reached great heights as a rapper, and you’re working with some of the best known heads across the globe, do you have any ambitions to isolate your beat-making skills again and make a production album?
I will eventually do that, but I feel I still have a lot more in me to work with. So stay tuned…
Micall Parknsun is set to appear at ‘Jehst presents… Young N’ Restless,’ alongside Louis Den & Orphans of Kush at the Jazz Café on September 25th. He is also at the same venue on October 30th for YNR’s 10th birthday event which promises to be BIG.
Other upcoming dates include the DMC World Finals at the Indigo O2 on September 11th, Outlook festival in Croatia on September 13th, Doctors orders at Herbal on October 2nd supporting CL Smooth, and the mouth watering Suspect Packages Live, venue TBC, on October 9th.
Parky is a talented rapper and producer who is surrounded by heinous ranks of other talented masterminds… which can only mean there’s more good hip hop to come. Don’t sleep on the album, First Second Time Around, available in stores and online now.