UK Hip Hop: International
C.R.F. - Capital Rhyming Force / Tone Def Records
Capital Rhyming ForceHaving heard the buzz that CRF and his Manchester based crew have been creating recently with their 7" released on their own Tone Def Recordings as well as their radio shows and magazines, britishhiphop.co.uk thought we had better find out exactly what was going on up in Lancashire. In his own words peep what CRF had to say regarding how he got to where he is now and what he reckons to the current state of UK Hip Hop.

What are your thoughts about the state of UK hip hop? 
I think UK Hip Hop is going through a good stage at the moment. Alright its still not gettin the props and recognition it deserves, but there are artists such as Mark B and Blade and Roots Manuva etc who are reachin a certain level of success and gettin daytime airplay on big stations such as Radio One. There's also a lot of good independent UK labels that are regularly putting out good Hip Hop tracks by artists such as Jehst, Black Twang, Rodney P, Doyen, Taskforce to name just a few. I can defiantly see over the next couple of years more and more UK artists at last gettin the props they deserve. 

Do you get the adverts for Shortee Blitz's LP in Manchester? Do you think records like that and Tim Westwood's will help get UK stuff accepted, or are they too false/commercial/US biased? 
I've not heard or seen anything about the Shortee Blitz LP in Manchester so I can't really comment on that. As far as the Westwood album, I can't see how that can help UK rap what so ever. I've not actually got the album, but from the adverts I've seen, the artists he's got on there are people like Nelly, Ludicrous, Eminem, Missy etc. Artists who've already sold millions of records and been in the pop charts and shit.

I'm not 100% sure but I don't think he's got any UK tracks on there which I think is a bit disrespectful. He didn't need to have heads like Nelly on there. He's already sold shit loads of records. He could have quite easily put some UK joints on there, but no he stuck with all them over commercial big name American joints. If I was Westwood I would have filled half the CD with UK joints and the other half with good independent U.S. Hip Hop instead of half the commercial trump he's got on there. 

What Hip Hop radio shows are there for people to listen to in Manchester? What is the deal with the Critical Beatdown show? 
As far as Hip Hop radio shows in Manchester at the moment, there isn't really much. There are various shows on pirate stations but they ain't really playin independent Hip Hop. The Critical Beatdown Rap show however is 100% dedicated to independent Hip Hop. I've presented the show on various different pirates throughout Manchester over the years like Buzz 88 fm, Northsoul 107.9fm, Lazer Fm, plus licensed stations like Storm and Space. I play a lot of UK joints as well as tracks from the likes of Kool Keith, Necro, Thirstin Howl, Akrobatik, Mr Lif, Kane etc. I try to play Shit that other DJs don't seem to be playing. Right now I've turned the show into a 90min radio/mix style show which people from all over can order via my magazine or over the internet, due to the fact that there ain't to many pirates on the air at the moment and I wanna keep the Critical Beatdown Rap Show in action.  

CRF and DJ Jepi We know there is quite a longstanding Hip Hop scene in Manchester with a few rivalries. How do you position yourself with regard to people like Fat City or Dave the Ruf? 
I've got nothing against Dave the Ruff or what he's doing. In fact I've not seen the guy in years, but he's still doing his thing so good luck to him. The same with the Fat City crew. They sell my records in their shop so I got nothin against them guys. I just wish they'd put more UK MCs on there albums instead of these U.S. heads, but thats up to them I suppose.  

Who is going to be the next big thing out of Manchester? 
I'd like to say "The Rap Parasites" which is my crew but there's also a few more good Manchester groups coming through. I don't mind though, there's enough room for all of us. I hope we all reach our own personals goals. 

Who are the UK artists you listen to and admire? 
I listen to most UK Hip Hop and try to show support to as many as possible, after all I know how difficult it is to get recognition as a UK MC/producer etc.  Artists I admire are people like Rodney P and MC D who've been around for years and are still doing their thing regardless of the struggles of being a UK artist. Also my man Mc Buzz B, not because I'm working with him but for the things he believes in and his views and attitudes towards life.  

Who are your UK influences? 
Like I just mentioned, people like Rodney P, Buzz B, Ruthless, Hijack, Demon Boyz and how can I forget Caveman. Positive Reaction is defiantly one of the greatest UK Hip Hop LPs of all time. 

Who or what are your other influences? 
I suppose other influences are people like Kool Keith who as far as I'm concerned is the greatest MC of all time. It was actually through listening to the likes of Ultramagnetic, Rakim, Kane, P.E. that got me into Hip Hop in the first place. I've also got mad respect for artists such as Kool G Rap, Poor Righteous Teachers, Tim Dog, Ice Cube, The Fu Shnikens, Raw Breed and EPMD plus more. 

Can you tell us a bit about where you are from, who your crew are and who they are associated with? 
Were all based in and around Manchester, probably about 10-15mins apart. As a crew we go by the name of the RAP PARASITES. The lineup includes me (CRF), DJ Jepi, Chocolate Moon Roket, who has featured on my new 7" under the name of MC Wayne D. We've also got Syl and Flex who together are known as Compound, plus my man the old skool vet Mc Buzz B. We've also got Carson and Anderson who were 2 of the original members of Ruthless Rap Assassins ready to work with us as part of the Parasite Crew. I'm defiantly tryin to get that old skool feel back and as you know Buzz B and Ruthless were 2 of the biggest names in UK rap back in the day.  

Are there any other producers or MCs in your crew to look out for? 
Were all either MCs or producers in the crew so you can look out for either one of us. Also look out for the name King Infamous Coming through soon.  

You have been around for a long time - over 10 years. I can remember going to Spin-inn (/Spin-offs?) back in the day. I think that was in the shopping centre that got bombed by the IRA. Can you tell us a bit about those early days? Who were the main players and who you hung with back then? 
The main players in Manchester back in the day were again the likes of Buzz B, Ruthless Rap Assassins, MC Tunes etc who were all signed to major labels and shit. Radio was also good back then. In the mid to late eighties we had Stu Allen before he sold out with the Buss Dis Hip Hop show. Then in the early 90s we had the Ruff with the Boomin System show and Leaky Fresh with the Out To Disstress Rap show which used to be excellent. Not just because of the fat joints he was playin, but also cause Leaky definitely had the voice for radio. I remember speaking to Tim dog over the phone via the Leaky Fresh show. We also had heads like Dj Owen D representing at the DMCs and Sefton doing the fat Beatboxin and then his radio show The Mad Face Invasion. There was defiantly things happening back then. I used to try and hang with my older brother who was a Hip Hop do by the name of L-Double-E and his crew "The Pizza Muffin Posse". Me and Wayne D Used to spend hours makin beats and putting out demo tapes. 

What were you mostly doing back then? MCing? Or did you partake of all the elements? 
Mainly MCing and making beats. I did try breakin but I wasn't very good. id have ended up breakin my arm or something.   

I hear you are going to bring back MC Buzz B, is he one of the people you were down with back then? 
I didn't know Buzz B on a personal level. I was just a fan of his music like I was fan of a lot of other Hip Hop groups. It wasn't till quite a few years later until I got to know him on a personal level and talked him into getting back into making tracks again. 

You had a record out then too. What was it called? 
We didn't actually have a record out back then. Me and Mc Wayne D just had a few demo tapes flying about. It wasn't until a few years later that me and Dj Jepi had our first record. It was an 8 track EP entitled The Complex Lab. We were signed to a company at the time and they had more say over the record than we did, so it ended up sounding a lot more commercial than what we wanted it to. I think they wanted us to go that commercial poppy route so we thought bollocks and ended the contract with them. As you already know Buzz B had a few records out back then including his album "Words Escape Me" which was released on Polydor records.  

How do you feel about it now? 
I'm not really arsed about it to tell you the truth. If wed had full control over the record it would have been a lot better, but to me it was just a learning curve. We got quite a lot of publicity out of it and a few P.A.s so it weren't all that bad. There was only a few copies of the record that actually made it into the shops. the majority of them are still boxed up in an office somewhere.  

Chocolate Moon Roket and CRF Why didn't you keep on with it, and continue to put out stuff? 
We've always made tracks. Thats all we do. Constantly writing lyrics and making beats. I just wasn't sure what to do with them all. It wasn't until the last 12 months or so that I thought "right I'm gonna take the D.I.Y. method and put out some tracks out myself". 

Can you let off some of your production techniques? What sort of equipment are you using both to make beats and to record? 
We haven't really got any set method when it comes to making beats. We like to try different things in order to stay original. As far as equipment goes, right now were using 2 Korg ES1, as well as various computer software to make the beats, plus a couple of keyboards. (Oldskool M1 etc). We record onto either a Fostex digital 8 track or onto a Roland VS 840ex. We got other equipment but I'm not giving away everything we use.  

So you and DJ Jepi had the 'Iller Concept' demo circulating last year. How was that received after such a long time away? Was that a tester to see if you wanted to put out the 7"? 
That was like a 7 track EP we did on CD in about 1999. I suppose it was like a bit of a tester to get the name circulating around a bit. We only sent out a few copies to certain people but we got some good feedback from it. (big up Mike Lewis) and also from the pirate DJs who were playing it around town.  

Did you find it hard setting up your label? Was there much support or funding available from anyone? 
It wasn't too hard setting up the label. I mean right now its still in the early stages, with the 7" being its first release. As for funding the label I got no help what so ever from anyone. No one wanted to put there hand in there pockets. Everything so far as been funded by me. I'm not arsed though. Its something I've wanted to do for quite a while, so now I'm giving it a go and no one has the right to dis me for that. I know a lot of people who make there own tracks and expect other people to put out there joints for them. They wanna try doing it themselves instead of relying on others 

What was the reason for putting out your latest record on 7" format? 
I just thought it would be different. 99% of Hip Hop records are released on 12",so I thought a 12 would make a change. Its also a bit cheaper to put out a 7" and when your paying for everything yourself, money is a major issue.  

How do you feel you are positioned within the marketplace and is that through your wishes or with different circumstances, would you do it differently? 
I think I'm positioned with the rest of the MCs making real Hip Hop music. My new tracks are defiantly not pop records, so you wont be seeing me on top of the pops just yet. I wouldn't change my position at the moment. I just need to concentrate on getting more promotion for my music in order to create a bigger fanbase and create more outlets for people to get hold of my music.  

Chocolate Moon Roket, DJ Jepi and CRF

I see you have started a 'home produced' fanzine 'Critical Beatdown' a bit like Rago or Absence Of Authority. Can you tell us about the reasons for starting that and what you intend doing with it in the future? 
Lets see. As well as wanting to be a part of the Hip Hop kulture, I'm also a great fan of the music. I love to go out and check out all the latest releases, what's hot, what's not and read all the Hip Hop magazines, find out what's going on etc. I just thought id like to share what knowledge and what info I've got with the rest of the public, and what better way than to put together your own fanzine. At the same time it helps to promote what I'm doing and gives me the chance to meet other people. interviews etc.

I'm gonna continue to put out a new issue maybe every couple of months or so and try and get some funding from the likes of adverts etc. At the moment I'm putting out the magazine for free so people have got no excuse not to check it out. I'm gonna hopefully let other people share their views, opinions and contribute towards the magazine as well just really to take some weight of my shoulders and make it even better.  

Where can people pick up your stuff, the records and the magazines? 
My records are available at certain independent record stores including Fat City, Peper Recs, Piccadilly Recs and Pelican Neck in Manchester, Mr Bongos, Uptown and Major Flavas in London and Store Records in Sheffield. You can also get hold of the tracks via mail from N.Bradley, PO Box 227, Hyde, SK14 5YE. The same for the magazine. For your copy of the mag via mail order just send an A5 stamped addressed envelope for 50p (cost of p&p) to the same address or you can call me on 07773298509 for more details on music, mag etc.  

Are you at all politically motivated? If you could change something about society, what would it be and why? 
I'd make all knocking shops legal so we don't have to worry about the cops busting in when were lying there in the red room with 2 birds dressed up in maids outfits. I'd open my own "The Critical Beatdown Knocking Shop" where MCs could go, buss a freestyle and get there back scratched at the same time. 

What is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months? 
I'm gonna be spending time promoting the new record as well as working on the next one which will hopefully be The Rap Parasite project as well as some solo material for Mc Buzz B. I've also just finished issue 2 of my Critical Beatdown Magazine so I'll be out and about with that as well as working on issue 3, plus I'll be doing The Critical Beatdown magazine radio show which is like a mixtape done in the style of a radio show for the people to buy via the magazine or over the internet. I'm also gonna be DJing in and around town with Jepi so there's always something keeping me busy. 

DJ Jepi and CRF Earlier you mentioned MC Buzz B - what is his new stuff going to be like and when will it be available? Will you be putting it out on Tone Def Records? 
His new stuff is basically gonna be an updated version of the old Mc Buzz B. He's still got the same type of style and concepts and when the records finished it will be on Tone def Records.  

What are your longer term plans and objectives for you, both as an artist and as a record label? 
I don't know. I just take each day as it comes. I'm gonna continue to make records as a solo mc and as part of the group, and hopefully get some sort of distribution deal for the label. 

Is there anything else you would like to mention? 
Yeah, just keep an eye open for the CRF joints and don't judge anybody or their music until you've heard it. I just hope people continue to support UK Hip Hop and support these independent labels who put a lot of time, energy and money into putting out these joints which will continue to make the UK Hip Hop kulture stronger. 

Is there anyone else you would like to mention? 
I'd like to give a few big ups if thats ok. First of all you guys at Britishhiphop.co.uk for letting me do this interview. Also to the rest of my crew, The Rap Parasites, Jepi, Buzz B, Chocolate Moon, Syl, Flex, Ruthless, Christine, Create, Subkulture Magazine crew. And all UK Hip Hop crews, heads, artists, breakers, beatboxers etc. everyone who's involved with the Hip Hop scene. Also Cookie down there at In the paint Records.

Peace Mr CRF (Capital Rhyming Force).

Thank you  CRF for your time and giving us all an insight into your crew and locality. 

C.R.F. Discography :: Tone Def Records Discography
Email: crf1@freeuk.com :: Tel: 07773 298 509

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