Sketchy: What music do you represent?
Farma G: I represent music of self, expression from within for others to consume and have fun with.
Sketchy: What first got you into hip-hop?
Farma G: Watching things like Beatstreet, breakdance, and listening to battles with Roxanne Shante, and some Planet Rock and Africa Bambaataa and stuff from the old school. It captured our imagination and our imagination is still caught in that.
Sketchy: And how did you get involved in the UK scene?
Chester P: Boy, firstly I probably got involved through graffiti and my brother getting involved through whatever means he got involved. I dunno, things like Slick Rick & La Di Da Di, tunes like that kept me proper into it. They broke me through into rapping cos I used to copy his lyrics and just rap them. I kinda used to freestyle, never really used to write rhymes. We were very young, he was around 10, I was about 8. It’s like 17 years later, we been through all phases of it and now it’s kinda like our profession and it’s what we do to survive. We’re not trying to represent UK hip-hop, we’re not trying to represent hip-hop, we’re just trying to represent us as a couple of brothers who have always tried to get on in the world.
Sketchy: So your first release… that was New Mic Order right?
Farma G: Nah, it was actually something on a compilation album released on OM Records from San Fransisco called “Deeper Concentration Part 2”. That was a track with Mark B. Then we did a track with Vadim called “Raps Don’t Grow on Trees,” the b-side to a track called “Friction” by one of the Dilated Peoples. Then we did New Mic Order which people have classed as our first release.
Sketchy: Cheers for clearing that up! Going back to New Mic Order then, what do you think about the phenomenon of the record on E-Bay?
Farma G: It’s sort of really nice, but then at the same time it’s really insulting…
Sketchy: Why insulting?
Farma G: Well, because I’m a musician, and I’m a fan of music and I’ve always loved music. I like pedigree music and I like music that is at a calibre where you can class it sentimentally valuable. You don’t have to put a monetary value on everything. Our music’s not older than 3 years. You can go out and look at Beatle’s records that are originals and they’re not getting sold for as much as our record that’s 3 years old, and I don’t think that’s fair. So that’s why I say insulted.
Sketchy: But at the same time it also suggests that people consider your record as a modern classic for it to be sold in the same price range as real classics. Do you find that a compliment or do you just find that odd?!
Farma G: Like I said, in one half of me I feel like it’s good because people are respecting mine and my brother’s art – and Mark B’s art – to an extreme. But that also raises doubts in my mind what people are spending their money on and what they class as classic music, cos I wouldn’t like to teach or encourage my child to aspire so greatly to modern music as I don’t think there’s as much sentimental substance in it. So to put that much monetary value on it – if it’s sentimentally great for people and they love it that much, then just burn it off the Internet or get a bootleg copy of it but don’t pay £90 for it.
Sketchy: That’s an interesting point. You got no problems with bootlegs and burning off the Internet etc?
Farma G: Nah, there’s a bootleg available of New Mic Order at the moment…
Sketchy: I heard actually that you lot put that out! Are you gonna comment on that?
Farma G: Nah, we would never do anything as criminal as that. That’s totally illegal and we’d never do anything like that! But we know a dodgy guy on the side or a corner somewhere on a dark street that might have a few copies for sale.
Sketchy: And that’s all good with you?
Farma G: Yeah, I don’t mind. It’s all enterprise isn’t it.
Sketchy: So do you want to tell us about the “Chester P for Mayor” campaign?
Chester P: Yeah, I’m gonna make a healthy run for mayor…
Sketchy: So it’s true then? There’s a lot of talk, but most people believe it’s just a publicity stunt. Are you actually officially running?
Chester P: Yeah I am officially gonna run for Mayor, either this time or the time after. It depends basically on the financing behind me and whether I’m too late to actually enter the election run. My people are just talking to the election party right now, but I am seriously gonna run for it. In the next few months after this “Chester P for Mayor” thing on Tuesday night (referring to the Kung Fu “Chester P for Mayor” special) I’m gonna start producing certain things and I’m trying to get hold of an assembly hall to have a forum in with some people and try and set up a committee and what not. The way forward is gonna be shown, and it’s as serious as people take themselves.
Sketchy: Well if you’re serious, what are your reasons for running, as it’s obviously quite a unique thing for a hip-hop artist, or for any musical artist to do?
Chester P: I think anyone could do it. I think it’s not something that I’m particularly suited for over anyone else. I just think that given the opportunity and given the control over the finances put into things like homelessness by the government, and put into things like crime and development of underdeveloped neighbourhoods, I could do a sight lot better than what’s actually being done if I had that facility given to me. I know it’s a long shot, but at the end of the day, throughout our generation, the people I’ve known and the people around me have never rebelled or revolted against the system. And no other generation has been like that. My parents revolted, they had their little marches and little riots and the poll tax riots. Our generation hadn’t done anything yet, we ain’t actually stood up and made a stand for something we believe in – generally because we’ve never had nothing to believe in. So cos I already have a certain popularity, I’m trying to carry it onto the forum of politicians and like, I’ve got a serious mind on my head. It’s not about hip-hop to me when I deal with it, and my music’s not gonna turn into politics, and my politics ain’t based on music. I opt for freedom above all else and I opt to get homes for the homeless which are available for them, and so on and so on…
Sketchy: So you talk about your anger for the system. Would you say that this anger comes through in your music? Basically, would you say that your music is angry?
Chester P: Our music is inspired from all things that life is made up of. Some tunes are angry, some tunes are sad, some tunes are thoughtful, philosophical, what have you. It depends on the actual mood that inspired me to write. Cos generally if I have a mood I carry it our creatively rather than aggressively cos there’s no other way for me to take out the things I feel inside. That’s how I’ve always dealt with it – by writing. And if I didn’t write, I would probably draw… but I don’t.
Sketchy: In that case, what do you fell about the prejudices against hip-hop? The way people associate it with anger and call it gangster rap etc? Do you feel that sometimes you’re against a losing battle?
Chester P: Yeah, I think it’s just an obvious one for the ignorant people to tarnish. If it was 20 or 30 years ago, they’d have been saying black people instead of hip-hop. It’s still just an assault on black culture at the end of the day, because it is black culture. What they’re trying to say is it’s Jamaicans and black people who listen to that sort of music who are doing this sort of thing. And you know, at the end of the day, who invented guns? Who sells guns? And how do people unlicensed manage to get them? They’re the questions we should raise about guns, it ain’t nothing to do with hip-hop. Ignorant minds do what they can with their ignorant bit of mind. If they wanna put me in a pigeon-hole, so be it. But if I will be in a pigeon-hole, I will end up being free and flying away.
Sketchy: One last question about your music. Do you want to break through into the mainstream? Do you want to make popular music that’s in the charts, or do you just wanna carry on doing what you’re doing?
Chester P: I wanna just make music. I’m always gonna make music like I make. I listen to many types of music, and in my mind it’s very ready to expand, but if my music becomes popular, it’s because it becomes popular, but not because it was pop music. Me, personally, I can’t write something I don’t believe in, and if I do I won’t be able to carry out it’s performance. So in that sense I can’t do it.
All photos by Lika Maliks
Interview by DJ Sketchy