Robin: What are your first impressions of Hong Kong?
No Names: In a word: tall. I’ve got a crick in my neck now from looking up at all the buildings while riding in the cabs everywhere. We were originally planning on going out on a boat today but we took it a little heavy last night. We were down at Sugar for a while and then moved on to that pool hall, Racks. Went up to the peak though, it was cool to see the HK skyline in its full glory.
Robin: What do you think of the music scene here:
No Names: Well I can only judge it from being out last night at Sugar, I get the impression it’s quite commercial, in a sense. But at that pool place we were at, Racks, they were playing some alright stuff: Tribe, Doom. So I guess it’s not all commercial.
Robin: How long have you been DJ’ing for and what got you into hip-hop?
No Names: I was first exposed to hip-hop growing up in Kentucky, jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Fat Boys, stuff like that I heard when I was about 9. Then I moved to Oxford and one of the only DJ’s there was the brother of a mate of mine, he spun Hip Hop and Hardcore and Jungle, (before there was any D&B). There were some great events going on around England in the late 90’s. I don’t think those raves in the fields go on so much these days though, the cops come and shut it down as soon as word gets out. That was my first exposure to a lot of the UK scene. Soon after that I got my own turns and was beat mixing and scratching, getting into hip hop. Then I moved down to London to do my Biology degree, so then I got exposed to the whole London scene.
I started doing university parties, DJ’ing for college events, and got my first taste of radio on a station called Ghia Live, on Brick Lane, here I ran into a bunch of rappers like Apollo, Jehst, and Skinnyman, and was properly introduced to the whole British hip-hop movement that was going on. From there I started playing a few of the club nights with my boy DJ Giz Roc -Bar Rumba, Café De Paris etc.
It was around 2000 I met Orifice Vulgatron, a rapper who can flow on DnB as well as on slower hip-hop beats, along with producer Dag Nabbit, we started doing shows toward the tail end of 2001. After that we played as much as we possibly could around the UK. We were doing whatever shows we could at that point just getting on whatever stage we could, getting experience and trying to build a reputation… it definitely paid off.
Robin: What do you think of the reaction you’ve got from the new album?
No Names: Well its been out since late last year and as far as the reaction. Its been great. It’s a much more personal album for foreign beggars, the first one had more of a classic hip-hop sound, and a bunch of guest appearances, saying that the new album has featuring artists such as Graziella, Skrien, Dr. Syntax., OhNo, Wildchild, and Dudley Perkins, big up Stones Throw records every time..,
Robin: Yeah I wanted to ask how that whole Stones Throw collaboration came about?
No Names: A few years ago Dudley and Wildchild were in town doing a show and we got em in the booth, and both tracks ended up on the second Album; ‘Stray Point Agenda’. We actually ended up doing a 6 date tour around Canada with Wildchild.
Robin: Well now you’ve worked with Stones Throw is there the possibility of more collaborations with Rhymesayers or Def Jux, anything like that?
No Names: Who knows? If they come to London, or we get to go to the States I don’t see why not.. I’ve got a lot of respect for the way Rhymesayers do there thing, putting on shows themselves all over the country, promoting it hard themselves and basically handling all the hard work, and hence reaping all the rewards themselves.. They’ve set an example of the way it should be done.
On the next album you’ll be seeing some interesting collaborations with artists from all over the world, Europe, Africa, America. I love some of the Spanish rap, we do a bunch of shows over there.. a couple weeks ago we supported Snoop Dogg at a festival called Monegros, and we’re going back to Sevilla next month.. they don’t mess around when they put on a party in Spain!!
Robin: So who are your listening to these days, any favorite artists?
No Names: I’m loving everything Guilty Simpson is doing at the moment, all the Stones Throw stuff, Aloe Blacc is ill and J Rocc’s gotta be one of my all time favorite DJ’s, I grew up listening to those Beat Junkies mixtapes. In the UK there’s a lot of talented grime and dub-step artists coming through, some of it is amazing, I’m not too sure if everyone will get it though, very dirty and British sounding., kind of a mix up of hip-hop, garage and regga/dancehall. It’s getting really big. Dizzie is doing really well for himself over in the States, and I know Wiley is also turning heads, so are Sway and Kano. But the kids (in UK) just love it and the competition is fierce, it reminds me of the early hip-hop days in that sense. It’s something new and fresh, very exciting..
Robin: What are your thoughts of the State of hip-hop today?
No Names: I love it, there’s so much going on, there’s obviously that side to it which seems to get more ridiculous every year, (the overly commercial rubbish) but I just don’t pay much attention to it. There is occasionally a tune that comes out in the charts that I quite like, but as a whole the hip-hop that most people hear has just become a parody of itself. There are great new underground artists that kind of counterbalance all that though.
Robin: Do you have a preference between mixing with Vinyl or CD’s?
No Names: As far as that argument goes my stance is whatever you make sound good is all cool with me. Personally I prefer using vinyl and CD’s for Foreign Beggars shows- you can do amazing stuff with the Pioneer CD decks, when traveling comes into the equation, and as far as having a quick means of getting a track from the studio into the live show, there’s no question which is more convenient. We just came back from Glastonbury and my vinyl bag was caked in mud, I thought that the guys at customs on the way here might take one look at it and just chuck it…
Robin: So what can we expect from your set tonight?
No Names: Hong Kong’s going to get a little introduction to Dub-Step and grime and that and some classic hip-hop. I’ve got 2 hours so I have time to play around… Mostly the kind of stuff you’ll hear on the radio show we do; its every Saturday night on the BBC Asian network, 10-12..
Robin: Any chance that you’ll come back here with the rest of the Foreign Beggars crew?
No Names: That’s what I’m trying to sort out right now, so if all goes to plan you’ll be seeing the whole team some time in the near future... Hong Kong needs to get the full foreign beggars experience!! I think it would translate well over here, the show that is, there’s all kinds of people into our sh*t, from techno and drum and bass heads to skaters and rock kids. it’s not your regular hip-hop show..