OK, when I first heard of you and became familiar with you I thought Riz was your Hip Hop name, but as it turns out that is your real name and your Hip Hop name is
Eastborn. Is that right?
Yeah well Riz is as close to my real name as many will get, due to my DSS and housing, ha ha on top of that it's a nickname that I have had for years, my mum and gran call me
Riz! Eastborn is more my stage name, my lyrical name.
Right, I'm sure you have been through this many times, but for the readers, can you explain what Eastborn means and what he is all about? Stop these people thinking about
Eastbourne, that has to get on your nerves.
Yeah true, ha ha, I have no idea why people would spell it Eastbourne, I mean I think that just reflects the closed minds that a lot of people have in UK Hip Hop without even knowing it. After all I ain't never even been to the place but my DeeJay Bognor Regis has! Ha ha, no seriously, EASTBORN is a science calculated by the stars, the body of the first man was found in Africa, East Africa, he was the
Eastborn, the original man. The Mayan, the Incas, the Minions and so on all praised the Sun, the
Eastborn, the flame, the God of the East that travelled West. I was born in Edinburgh in the East and moved to Glasgow in the West, I am the original, there is no copy of my style…. I could go on all day but I think you got the drift right?
Right, so how did you first get into Hip Hop, and when would this have been?
I can't remember when exactly, I was into Hip Hop without knowing it, like many people I guess. I loved
Rakim, BDP, LL Cool J, Run DMC, I really started getting into Hip Hop around 12 year old, something like that. But as I said, I loved Rappers Delight and stuff like that before I even knew what I was into, I really loved (and still do) Ska like The Specials, Bad Manners and all that vibe.
So, you are now from Glasgow, one of the biggest cities in Europe, and yet there has been relatively little noise coming out of there Hip Hop wise. I guess from Scotland you have the Scotland Yard MC's,
Reachout, Steg G & The Freestyle Master, DJs Plus One, Krash
Slaughta, Ritchie Ruftone, Bunty and older names like II Tone Committee, Damaged Goodz and Deliverance, but apart from those, I would be hard pressed to name any more. What do you think the reasons for this are?
Well you see its and easy answer to a real hard problem. Scotland has severe talent, I mean major league talent, Scottish Emcees could battle with the best of them on a world stage and I ain't just saying that. The problem is we don't have, or don't seem to have enough headz behind us, supporting us. Years ago the kid's in the street would be shouting about Two Tone Committee, now they are all Korn and all that crap. Its also the fact that those that are into Hip Hop ain't really into Hip Hop, they are into the image of Hip Hop so as a result they buy US junk and think they are representing!? Furthermore, on a more professional stance, I get a lot of love from the BBC and the big media sources in London, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Japan but absolutely no love off the same companies in my own back garden. An example of this was standing outside a Westwood show in Glasgow where the bouncers didn't like the look of me, I was ment to be on the guestlist and wasn't, as was the Freak
Menoovers, another well slept on team. Now I know Westwood, and if he came out I would have been able to march in, but the promoters here know nothing of the scene. They don't even know it exists and if they do they take it as a joke because of all the idiots standing in the queue with American football tops on and Doo rags, you know what I am saying? The whole scene right now is fucked. Oh and Deliverance are from England. I also don't wanna start no beef but I know this will, successful Scottish DeeJays should check themselves, they are doing the same to Scottish Hip Hop now that UK Deejays were doing to UK Hip Hop way back. They are in a position of power and they don't use it or help others, I mean look at Plus Ones DMC LP? What the fuck is that all about? Never mind
Eastborn, where's Two Tone Committee? Where's Scotland Yard? Where's
Reachout? Hell where's DJ Extra and Ruftone? That's some corrupt shit right there! I spoke to him about it cos I knew a lot of people were talking about it in Scotland and his answer was cool and all that and he is a good guy and a seriously down to earth guy, but he is in a position that many people would kill to be in, he can put a hand down and pull others up, but I personally don't see him doing that. Mind you, the boy still has a lot to do himself and you can't fault him for that. I ain't saying help lame ducks for the sake of them being Scottish, but these guys are all top sprinters and there is a lot more, in my opinion.
Also it has to be said that some of the acts up here are far too lazy, I could name a lot more acts, but they just ain't pushing themselves so how do they expect others to do so. Having said all this there are some green shoots coming through, Respect BA, Hype, Stereo Type, Pro Vinylist and a few other young guys are coming through, young girls too! So it seems to be getting better, but in a nutshell… the Media in Scotland needs to promote its own Mud Fams and Blades, the London heads need to check those out with England and see that Glasgow is a massive city too, that Urban don't mean London, that UK don't mean England. Education is needed, I am going off on one sorry ha ha.
Can you break down some of the history of Hip Hop in Scotland back in the day? What I mean is who were the local heads who were performing, putting on shows and setting up pirate radio stations? Who influenced you and made you think, yeah we can do this? Things like who was the first artist from Scotland to put out a Hip Hop record?
Erm, for me the first people that made me think, Yeah I'm gonna do this was when I heard Two Tone Committee on Pete Tong in erm 1990 I think it was. I stayed in Edinburgh and I listened to Pete Tongs Rap Selection every week and then he started talking about Scottish Hip Hop, I was like what?
He played Hangman and it blew me away. I was also checking Boomerang, that was a Pirate station in Edinburgh run by the guy who is now Reachout and a few others. I was also massively influenced by Blade, who I met when I was 14 and Gunshot, who I met when I was 14 as well. There were Scottish headz like Zulu Syndicate who influenced me too,
Easi, Babes, Joseph, A1 (as he was called then) and a whole host of local heads in Edinburgh at the time, now it turns out we are all Old Skool now and you have all the new guys coming through. There was also the graff scene in Edinburgh and Glasgow that got me loving this shit, the breaking and it has to be said the ladies, ah the ladies, they knew how to dance to a Black Sheep record, ha ha.
Since those early days, how has the scene developed over the years? Who are the acts that have come and gone and apart from yourself, who is prevailing and building a bit of a following?
I am glad you said that because sometimes I can come across real arrogant, but as an Emcee I have to. I have a following in Europe, Asia, Oceania and the States, now name another Scottish Emcee that can say that? There dam sure ain't many. I work hard for what I do and what I have, I have never been given an easy run at things but it makes things sweeter when you get them. I cant really say the scene has developed to be truthful, I think it has got worse, as UK Hip Hop has gone up, Scottish Hip Hop has gone down. 70% of the beats I hear coming out of the UK suck, the lyrics are superb and the cuts seem to be coming back, but the beats? Some people are trying too much to sound like others to be successful and as a result they lose their own unique style. As for building a following, I know Plus One has mass appeal, Reachout ain't doing too bad, Live Sciences are a new one to look out for, The Woodchoppas Dojo (of which I am part of) are making some serious noise in Glasgow and Europe, with a 12" of the month in DJ Magazine and the Glasgow 141 Allstars record getting play in London as well as selling like hot cakes in Asia and Europe, you cant really ask for more! I should say that Woodchoppas Dojo is made up on myself, Major Threat, NC Epik, Two Tone Committee, The Casual 7, Course of Procedure, Switch as well as Breakers and Producers, photographers, we are really one big unit.
OK, what are the main club nights? I guess the main one I have heard of is DJ Red6's El Segundo. What makes a good night out for you? Would it be a night when you were performing, or do you have a better time when you go to watch acts?
Right now Krash Slaughta has set up a night in Glasgow, Freak Menoovers have a great night in the Art School in Glasgow, I can't talk much about other clubs as they are all piss poor or they are in other parts of Scotland that I don't know about, I have checked El Segundo in Edinburgh, that clubs nice, as is Scratch, having said that I have never been asked to play them so that just reflects what I am saying earlier. I have done shows in Aberdeen at the TNT nights, they need to see some love! TNT in Glasgow was good also while it lasted, I rocked sets with Goldie, The Arsonists, Ty, Mr Thing, Vadim and a lot more and it was a real big busy club, but then the venue expect more and fuck things up. Its just everything seems to be a struggle. I dare say it's the same everywhere, I really feel for promoters at times, other times of course they are just assholes. It must be all that Karma.
For me what makes a good night is leaving the place with more money than you had when you came in, knowing that you just won over a new crowd and that all your mates got drunk for free. In order for this to happen I have to be performing.
What do you think are the main differences between what goes on in Scotland and London? What are the bad points and what are the good things about being away from the Big Smoke?
The main difference is that London loves and supports its own. Scotland hates it's own in my view. Scottish people hate to see there own doing well and cant wait for them to fail, look at the national football team, people cant wait for them to fail, then you have Scots who would rather support Ireland or England. Its like the same thing, people wanna support London Hip Hop or American Hip Hop and they don't care about there own, they don't wanna see them do well, cos they then get jealous, its so sad but true and I don't think anyone could argue the fact. I have played more gigs and done more shows with people outside of Scotland, and that is plain sad and wrong. The Big Smoke is where its at, but the good thing about being away from London is people in London are more inclined to work with me because I bring a differentness to the track or show, a new perspective, a new outlook, and that works well for me, its like a novelty value. I get told I am Scottish Hip Hop or I am the Disorda of the North, which is nice, but there are so many people up here looking to get out there but just don't get the chance, but they think its cos they ain't London, people need to learn more, like I said earlier, education.
You have even performed in Europe, Switzerland was it? Can you tell us about that and how it went? Do you feel the Europeans are open to hearing (and buying) your material? Is it worth putting in the effort to market yourselves over there?
Firstly, Europe was the first place got distribution deals for my LP, they came back to me a lot quicker than any company in the UK, they straight up told me they really liked my stuff and wanted to distribute it. The UK was a lot more stand offish, so what does that tell you?
I have played Hamburg in Germany and I have also played France, I am going back to France end of the year and Switzerland, then I am off to Australia in February, but not before I do Belgium and Luxembourg, Sweden, Hamburg, Hanover, Dortmund and a few others. Europe sees no Scotland/England, to them its all UK, they have no boundaries and are generally more open to Hip Hop, plus I have a harder edge to my tunes which the European love. Its definitely worth putting the effort to sell to them as that's where I make most of my money. I love the European scene, the fact that I did a gig in Germany and I had people that had come on the train from Holland, Switzerland and Belgium just to see me and the Dark Craftsmen just blew us away, any they were mouthing the words of the tunes as well, its some really flattering stuff and makes it all worthwhile.
I so we see that you perform quite a bit. What have been the best gigs you have done and why? And have there been any mad experiences you can share with the readers?
I guess I have a few, people wanting you to kiss their girlfriend while they take a picture can be quite mad! Guess they didn't know I am a deviant, ha ha. I also got to say when I was at the side of the stage at a Mark B and Blade gig and Blade started going on about the one man who rocks for Scotland and lets London know how Scotland rocks, I was actually getting quite pissed off, like who is this guy, I'll kick his ass, ha ha, then the people stared shouting my name, Blade shouted Eastborn and then I was thrown up onto the stage and did a few tracks with him, that was superb, my girl at the time loved it too ha ha, so did I, later. When I was younger as well, I was hanging with Two Tone Committee, Killa Instinct and Gunshot in a club in Edinburgh. The guest area was up a set of stairs looking out over the stage. There was a bar and Mista Bohze and I were straight under the Guinness tap to see if it was on….result! A few hours later, I was covered in Guinness and extremely legless ha ha, Now Bohze is a Muslim so I cant see a reply of that, but memories none the less.
There was also a gig I did in Aberdeen with Plus One and his mixer broke, as a result the music died so I had to Freestyle for a solid 15minutes with no beat and by this time I had the crowd Beatboxing in order to let Plus go back to the hotel and pick up a new mixer! It was very funny and stressful! Another time I turned up for an outside roadshow gig for a Scottish Radio show. Now I was told it was with Major Threat and Plus One, it was… but it was also with Zig Zig Sputnik and Beetle Mania (the tribute band), now that was some funny shit. They were sitting back stage talking about Yoko and calling each other Paul and John etc., it was really funny.
In any discussions about gigs, poor sound usually crops up. Why are
the engineers so incompetent at Hip Hop gigs? Hip Hop does seem to
mash up sound systems more than some other types of music, but really,
there is little excuse for it to be so bad so much of the time. Have
you suffered from this and what can be done to remedy the situation?
I went to University to study sound engineering, so when I do the sound check I usually introduce myself to the soundman, have a chat with him on a one to one basis and have a laugh with him. He knows what I expect and I respect him as a man doing his job, too many people get at the sound man cos the last one was bad, where's the point in that, if you talk to him like shit he will treat you like shit, I treat noone like shit and show them the same respect I expect and, touch wood, I have never really had a problem. Also some Emcees have watched too many MTV videos and cover the mic with their hand and point it to the monitor and 9 out of 10 fuck ups are the Emcee, not the sound man!
You have worked with a whole host of influential parties involved in this, including Mark B and Blade, Ugly Duckling, Goldie, Freestyle from the Arsonists, Task Force, Mud Fam, Gunshot, Killa Kela and Disorda amongst others, but so far as far as I know you haven't had your own record out yet. Firstly can you tell us about some of these collaborations, what you learned from each act and which one you enjoyed working with the most. And secondly let us know if you even tried to get a record out up till now, and if you did, what were the problems you encountered, which meant it never appeared?
Wow, em I loved working with them all. I have a mutual respect for Blade and Mark, I tend to get on with everyone and love working with everyone, but if I had to chose who I liked rapping with it would have to be onstage with Blade. The guy is a mentor and I am his long time student, now he is like let me graduate and shows the same love he has always shown, he has helped me out when it doesn't benefit him at all. That is a superb quality in a man that people take too lightly. He is a hardworker, and he sees that in me. As a result, I have nothing but respect for him, no matter who he works with and what he puts out. I have never heard him do a weak tune, that track with Feeder was superb and he's getting hated on? Come on, I would do a track with Oasis, Star Sailor, who ever… as long as I don't compromise my style and it feeds my family, that's it, bottom line. Blade has never let his fans down and he is a true inspiration to me.
As far as getting a record out, I was with a band, Thoughtz Of Mortalz, we were offered a deal at one time, I was up for it but the others weren't, I then left, or got thrown out which ever way you wanna see it, ha ha and went on my own, I had a few tracks I was going to put out, but never had the funds, for ages I never had the money to press 1000 records then I spoke to Braintax and he was saying how to really put a record out, to demand and repress, then it all became clear, I was already to do this, then I had some bills I had to pay. I was then chased by another few well know UK Labels, they all fell through one by one and then I thought, right I am going to do this myself. By that time I had been on several tracks with other crews, out on CD's, mix tapes, compilation vinyls and I got approached by UK Rap Records. I wasn't fully happy how they were promoting my stuff so I never signed. I then spoke to Krash Slaughta and he advised me to go back to UK Rap Records, I did so, tail between my legs I may add and they were more than happy to take me back. But things started going sour again and I was getting emails and calls from people that I had passed over to the label but the label had not got back to them. It wasn't no fault really of the labels as it was and is a difficult job. I then saw that my LP was being pushed back again and then that was it, I wanted out so I jumped. Now I have set up Dropzonerecords.com, it's my label, my show and my problem. I went to sponsors to get the money in, my LP is now complete and then we had bloody floods in the Czech Republic! Safe to say my LP Word Perfect will be out in about a month's time from now and I can put a whole horrible chapter of my life behind me. I am now working on new stuff too, some solo stuff, some stuff for the Dojo and some collaboration stuff.
And you appeared on the Dark'n'Cold UK Hip Hop Untapped Vol. 2 video. How did that come about and were you a touch disappointed with the way the end product turned out?
I cant really remember how it came about, I think it was the old, represent for Scotland thing. But no I wasn't happy at all about how it came out. I flew down to London and was told I had to do about 30mins recording, I did so and thought it went all well. Then I get the video and I am on it for like 20 seconds!? I got a lot of emails from people complaining that I wasn't on it long enough and that people had bought it to see me and were robbed, I also got people emailing me in support of me, which was kinda nice. I gather Dark'n'Cold got emails too cos they said they are going to do an extended DVD version where I will be on it longer, but we will see. Having said that at least they reached out, they didn't have to have me on there but the did, so props to them all the same.
I first came across you when you were doing the Message Magazine / Fanzine. For a one person outfit it was pretty impressive. Can you let people in on the ethos behind the publication and how you went about getting it out there?
Well when there ain't a scene you have to create one, and when there is a scene you have to find where its hidden. I knew there was a scene as did the others at the mag and we just went about putting it on a stage and showing it off. From that we got to do a lot of industry homework, i.e. find out who are the people to talk to both inside and outside Scotland, as usual London and England as a whole showed us massive love and Scotland was very cautious. I went on to interview Cypress Hill, Jungle Brothers and hundreds of UK Heads, while making friends all the way. The first three were free then I charged a pound a copy for the 4th, but it was getting too much work for one man and keeping it up to date was a nightmare. I toyed with the idea of doing The Message Online, but I took the better choice I felt and snuggled in with the UKHH.com family.
Is there anything else about your Hip Hop career that you want to mention, or that we have missed out? Perhaps you could tell us a bit about the Thoughts Of Mortals?
Thoughtz Of Mortalz were a four-man crew consisting of Zef, Waste, Epik and myself. We were on a few Disorda taped, Mind the Gap and UK Hustlers, we got a bit of press a few years back, but it was clear that some peoples aspirations were higher or generally differed so we split, or was I thrown out, I cant remember, but we all get on now though. Waste is a dad and life goes on.
Continue on to Part 2