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Insane MacBeth ft. The Icepick - True Heart CD [Insane Recordings]
OK, lets get straight into this. Can you introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about where you are from / coming from? Where were you born, where did you grow up & where do you live now?

Insane Macbeth: My name is Insane Macbeth……producer/ artist/ proprietor of Insane Recordings. I’m well renowned in the London hip-hop scene. I’m from the old alumni…..the old school. Basically, I’m from Brixton, in the south-side of London. However, I was born in Stoke Newington, north London. I regard myself to represent the Ton-of Brix (that’s what we call Brixton). So that’s me, really.

What is the Hip Hop scene in Brixton like now?

From what I know, there are a lot of groups and cliques recording mixtapes. People such as S.M.S., P-D-C. (Peel Dem Crew), Dutty South, plus others, are trying to record mixtapes and music dvds to promote themselves. None of these artists are trying to get signed!!! In the past, the emphasis was for rappers to sign to a label. Nowadays, the youth, like in the United States, are trying to obtain some form of ownership and control. So this is what is going on in Brixton at the present moment, and I try to keep my ear to the ground, in regards to what is currently going on!

Can you break down some of the history of Hip Hop where you are from way way 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 guy from your area to put out a Hip Hop record?

I.M.: Well, I am from the old school. I was listening to people like Westwood, and Max ‘n’ Dave (Mastermind), from their pirate days. I was also getting old school block party tapes back in the day. This is about 1982. I’ve got old school tapes of people like D.J. Streets Ahead; Cosmic Jam (who taught Pogo, as well as D.J. Supreme); Cutmaster Swift; emcees such as Westrock; Dave Cash C. A whole load of tapes. I used to watch people like Freshki; Family Quest; Dave Cash C.; this is before the scene opened up. Artists started really making records in around ’86-’87. Now, of course, there was Newtrament’s “London Bridge’ choon. But around this time, acts such as The Sindecut, Hijack, The HQ, plus others emerged. Another pivotal person (who rarely gets mentioned) is Mark Anderson, who was a pirate deejay on Passion FM & Lightning FM. He played a version of Hijack’s “Hold No Hostage”, which was never released. He also used to have the HQ emcees such Shaka Shazzam, Huntkillbury Finn, and The Icepick freestyle there. In regards to who put out a record first however, that credit, for me, goes to a school friend of mine called Apollo Belladona, who was on two compilation albums in 1987. He was a major influence, to me in regards to wanting to get involved in music production.

Since those early days, how has the scene developed over the years? Who are the acts that have come and gone and apart from yourselves, who is prevailing and building a bit of a following?

I.M.: Obviously, the scene has changed a lot, as society has also changed. Society generally influences the type of records being made. Plus, many of the artists from my generation, have family responsibilities……..hence priorities often change. The emphasis on life issues often become more important than making music.

How would you describe yourselves and how did you come by your names?

I.M.: Me personally, I like to crack jokes with the people I’m comfortable with. I’m an extrovert. I am very confident in my ability to make ‘killer’ choonz. The name Insane Macbeth was chosen, as I wanted a name to pique the curiosity of anyone who would come across my moniker. Plus, where I’m from, rappers who I was around, such as Huntkillbury Finn, Kamanchi Sly, Shaka Shazzam, plus others, had very interesting names. I guess, this was very influential in me choosing my name.

Are you affiliated with any other crews and are you working with any young cats you are hoping to bring through? Who should we look out for?

I.M.: Yes, I am looking to work with some young, hungry emcees. I have people such as Grimlok, Possessed, Rufstylz, Gatsby, Nutz, plus others under my wing, in some capacity.

Describe for us your production and recording set up. What equipment do you have? And how do you use it? Would it be a matter of getting samples and sequences together on your home equipment and making demos, which you would then take to a professional studio to record and mix down on a multi track?

Insane MacBethI.M.: Basically, I used to use my engineer's equipment to make tracks. My engineer’ name is ‘No-Sleep’ Nigel. He has worked with numerous UK rap artists, but I was one of the first to use him! He had an Akai S950 sampler, a keyboard (which I’m not telling you the name of [LOL!]), plus a 16-track board. I also had access to Marga’s equipment. Marga was in Katch 22, one of the greatest UK rap groups ever. He was kind enough to let me use his equipment. He had a whole batch of equipment… first he had an Akai S950. Then, he upgraded his sampler to an S1000. He had an array of keyboards. I produced Kinetic Effect’s “Borderin’ Insanity”, and “Beyond the Parameters of Amateurs” at Marga’s Spot. Both have helped me in regards to engineering and mixing my tracks. However, I am the sole person responsible for the creative process. I used to dig to find obscure samples, but really, from about 1993, I was also on the live instrumentation. ‘No-Sleep’ plays both bass and keyboards, and has played on numerous tracks of mine. I can play simple lines on the keyboard, but will leave anything complex to a trained musician. Now, I have numerous plug-ins in my computer. Plus I also have a Korg Triton Extreme, which is a keyboard/ sampler/ sequencer. I still like working the old way, however, of using the Akai rack samplers and the Creator sequencer. My main concern is to use a quality mixing console, so that ‘No-Sleep’ Nigel and I can obtain a good mix. I am one of the few UK rap producers to use an S.S.L. mixing console!!!

So talk us through your recording career so far. Both of you have had important roles to play in the early days of UK Hip Hop, both with the Kinetic Effect and Hijack crews. How did these hook ups and releases come about?

I.M.: I recorded “Borderin’ Insanity” with Kinetic Effect at ‘Cold Storage’ Studio, in Brixton. M.C. Mell’o’, London Posse, and Hard Noise recorded there! We are the last artists to record there, though. I was responsible for funding the studio time (which was £200, in 1991) when K.E.’s group 2 The Top were released from their label. I met K.E. from my little stint on pirate radio. We immediately connected, and later became good friends. I decided to set up Insane Recordings, as a forum for K.E. to record the type of records he wished to record. Kinetic, at that time, was very disillusioned with the music industry. With me being from the street, I was able to bring that raw energy into promoting K.E., in regards to releasing “Borderin’ Insanity” and “Beyond The Parameters of Amateurs. I used tactics, that enabled me to gain the required response, and I was pleased with the way the media and market responded!!!

Tell us a bit about Insane Recordings and how that worked as an independent label?

I.M.: Essentially, Insane Recordings acted as a forum for Kinetic Effect to record the type of records he wished to make. We had similar tastes in regards to emceeing, beats, the type of artists we liked and disliked, etc. As I said before, K.E. only wished to concentrate on pushing himself artistically! I therefore told him, that I would do the day-to-day business activities…; promotion; art direction; thinking of concepts, etc. Now, K.E. no longer records material. Therefore, the label is now an expression of what I am on musically. You see, no-one ever helped me in regards to signing me as a producer/ artist. So I have to do for me, now that Kinetic’s gone. On a few occasions, I asked various people who run labels to help me put out material that I had. But for some reason, I’d always be blocked….or the guy I’d be corresponding with, would only be feeding off me. I will soon be in a position where I’ll be able to release music consistantly. I must also say that Insane Recordings always made their releases a purchasing experience, with the artwork on the covers, to the photo shoots, to the coloured vinyl. Basically, I want the consumer to enjoy buying product released on my imprint!!!

OK, conversely what was Music Of Life like as a label to work with? Some people have not been too kind about Simon Harris, do you have anything to say about that?

I used to talk to Chris France, who used to own M.O.L. I tried to get K.E.’s “Borderin’ Insanity” signed to his label! However, Chris France told me that he wasn’t signing anyone after Hard Noise. As for Simon Harris, I met the guy twice. The Icepick also told me that he never did have any business dealings with Simon Harris either! The Icepick told me that it was D.J. Supreme who negotiated the situation for “The Burial Proceedings in The Coarse of Three Knights”!!!

What other records have you had out in the past then? What collaborations have you had with other artists?

I.M.: My discography consists of the following: Kinetc Effect - “Borderin’ Insanity / Beyond The Parameters of Amateur” (1993); Kinetic Effect - “Man Bites Dog [Construction of A Sociopath]/ The Effect of Fear” (1997); Kinetic Effect - “The ‘Mortis’ Experiments” album (1997, unreleased); Huntkillbury Finn – “U-XB”, and “Bad Enough”, off “Mummy’s Little Soldier” EP (1999) {Son Records}; Insane Macbeth – “The ‘Retardation’ Project” (2001, 150 white labels). I am currently promoting Insane Macbeth featuring The ‘Legendary’ Icepick “True Heart” 12” single, even though the label says 2001 [there is a reason for this!].

What sort of a response do you get from the rest of the country, and are there regional differences you can discern? Are there any reasons for this?

I.M.: I have been fortunate enough to have had nationwide distribution. However, I am not aware of my effect in the rest of the country. I know that I am definitely known in London. I have no idea how the rest of the country perceives me. In fact, I would like to know the answer to the question myself.

Who are your influences? What is it about them you like?

I.M.: I am at the stage of my career where I now influence the youngsters in this UK rap ting…..whether it’s overtly, or covertly. Remember, I made my first serious beat (“Borderin’ Insanity”) in 1991.

What music are you listening to at the moment?

I.M.: I am currently listening to Kano – “Home, Sweet Home” album; Kanye West featuring Jay-Z - “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”; Genesis Elijah – “Deh Pon Road”  album; and Klashnekoff – “Iron Face”.

So you have both been involved in music for quite sometime. How do you view being a musician or artist when you compare it to your attitude when you first started out? Back then you must have been stary eyed and perhaps you are now more realistic?

I.M.: Well, fortunately, I learnt from the stories that I heard that acts such as Hijack, The Sindecut, and Kinetic Effect went through, in regards to being signed to a label. I haven’t experienced too much negativity really… off course people have tried to bad-mind me. Basically, because I was better and realer than them……so certain people have tried to character assassinate me. However, any time I have experienced any form of negativity in the music industry, I have just flown to New York to conduct my business. All I want to do is make ‘killer’ choonz, and make ‘p’s. This is what the music industry is all about. Fortunately for me, I haven’t experienced too many bad situations!!! I haven’t got any real horror stories to tell you [LOL].

So, when did you first move to become a Hip Hop practitioner, rather than consumer? What elements did you toy with? Was it straight MCing from day 1?

I.M.: I knew from listening to people such as Rakim, and Kool G. Rap, that I couldn’t write lyrics to the standard that I wanted to. To be real, I couldn’t write lyrics to save my life. I tried the deejaying ting as well, but that wasn’t working out for me, either! D.J. Cash Money’s “Scratchin’ To The Funk” “where he’s cuttin’ up the break “Pump Me Up!” for about 14 minutes, was a record that a friend of mine, Apollo Belladona & myself were in awe of. But only Jazzy Jeff was on that level. The thing with me though, is that I always understood ‘sound’. This is why my tracks sound different to most producers. Crazy Noddy of The Sindecut was very influential in me making the change, from someone who used to just go to jams, and buy music……to actually trying to make tracks and contribute to this genre!

How do you feel about the current state of UK hip hop? Do you object to being categorised in this way?

I.M.: I think that the UK rap scene has gone through a sort of change. UK rap, as it is currently known as, is merging with the grime scene. Then, there are ‘road’ acts…..I’m talking about people such as Akala, Pound Sterling, The Chung Family, Corey Johnson & Blade, plus others, who are making their own videos, dvds and mixtapes. Also, just like what is happening in The States, people are definitely becoming far more entrepreneurial. I guess people are saying to themselves, “noone can market me, like ME!” I like what is going on in the scene, right now! In regards to the second part of the question, I regard myself as a hip-hop producer, full stop. However, me being born in London definitely has an influence on my ‘dungeon’ sound.

Do you think it is getting better or worse and why?

I.M.: Yes, I think the scene is different to the late 1980’s- early 1990’s……but it’s better in the sense that I can now see an opportunity to make a career out of this music ting. Dizzie Rascal’s example has shown this. However, I do believe that the standard of lyricism of emcees such as Kamanchi Sly, The Icepick, Kinetic Effect, T.L.P. 1, Gemini, Huntkillbury Finn etc. was of a higher caliber. Things change though, and I don’t wish to be a ‘dinosaur’ in the music industry, like so many UK rappers I could name. I am very much in touch with what is going on in the music industry, and have a batch of young rappers with new styles and new insights!

Who are the UK artists you listen to and admire?

I.M.: As I said before, I have been in this industry so longer, that artists do not have that sort of effect on me. However, I do respect Karl Hinds, and Ricochet Klashnekoff!!!

Who are your UK influences?

I.M.: I guess, my good friend Apollo Belladona showed me, “yeah, I can make beats”. D.J. Fingers of The Sindecut was the first person to bring me to a recording studio, in 1986. Marga of Katch 22 was very influential. He was very kind to me, in regards to me being able to have access to his equipment. Of course, my engineer, “No-Sleep” Nigel helped me immensely……he was the only person who really understood my ideas. A guy called Mo Rock had an immense record collection, and he’d loop up breaks that no one had! All of the aforementioned deserve their due!

Who or what are your other influences?

I.M.: Obviously, New York hip-hop was very influential to me. Along with my mother, it has helped shape my worldview. Whether it’s listening to the old school Bronx block party tapes, or studio recordings of artists such as Eric B & Rakim; The Ultramagnetic MCs; Boogie Down Productions; Public Enemy; Big Daddy Kane; Kool G. Rap; Superlover Cee & Casanova Rud… all of these acts helped me mature into the man and producer I am today.

What would you say are the 3 biggest events of your life?

I.M.: I would say that the responsibility of running Insane Recordings; the first time I flew on an airplane (to New York, in 1995); and my ‘dear’ mother passing away (in 2002), had profound effects on my life. All of these experiences cannot be under-estimated.

We have heard your latest True Heart 12” and have to congratulate you on it. Could you perhaps take us through the track describing the feel and what you were trying to get over when you made it?

I’m going to reveal something to you. Firstly, the beat for “True Heart” is the intro track to Kinetic’s “Man Bites Dog” single. It was a knock-up beat. However, The Icepick is very picky, very finicky when it comes to beats! I told him that I could do something better, but he wasn’t havin’ it. The Icepick was adamant that he wanted that beat. The Icepick is one of the few artists that I work with, who I give 100% autonomy, in regards to the creative process. Essentially, “True Heart” is throwing down the gauntlet, challenging my peers to make ‘killer’ choonz like this!

What did you aim to achieve with the record and do you feel you did it?

Insane MacBethI.M.: Well, in regards to airplay, the record has achieved the desired effect. I just wish to release the record, and then start recording “The Heat” with The Icepick.

Is there an associated new album to come out and what will be on it?

I.M.: The Icepick & I have no plans to record an album together. The Icepick has his own material that he is working on . He is also working on the second “HQ Radio” mixtape by the HQ (his clique the Hunted Quarters). I plan to release more singles in 2006. Yes, there are other things in the pipeline, but I cannot discuss them right now.

Tell our readers why they should listen to you.

I.M.: Because “True Heart”, lyrically, musically, and mix-wise, is the best UK rap choon to come out in years. Most UK rap choonz still sound like demos. Grimlok once told me that, “sonically, the choon’s baaaad!”.

For the uninitiated, which of your previous single or album tracks would you highlight to others? Which tracks are you particularly proud of?

I.M.: I am proud of all of my catalogue. I do not differentiate between any of my ‘sons’.

What have you learned from your recording, performing and business experiences so far? What advice would you have for anyone trying to get out there now?

I.M.: I learnt very early in my career that a good mix-down is essential if you want to make good records. Also, my advice to aspiring artists is, try to develop your own contacts and network system. NEVER rely on the next man in promoting your product. One last thing… music is the language of the world, so go to wherever the people are ‘feeling’ you! Even if it means that you have to go to another country to expand, so be it.

Do you do many live shows? Do you have plans to get out to a wider audience?

I.M.: I have never performed live in my life. However, I have discussed with The Icepick the possibility of doing a UK ‘tour’. The Icepick also plans to do shows, once the HQ mix-tape is completed.

How do you view the Internet? Do you think it is a useful promotional tool and a good way of getting out there and loosening the grip that the major media companies an their TV schedulers have on what is broadcast, or are there too many idiots too willing to spout a load of rubbish with no control over them?

I.M.: I believe the internet is an effective tool for promoting music. I have allowed a few websites to place ‘snippets’ of my music. I also have people around me who download mp3s as well. The internet has definitely given music ‘back to the people’.

Do you have any plans to get your own online presence? What would you want to achieve with that?

I.M.: Yes, will be in place by December 2005, God-willing.

I ask everyone about politics, because I think it is important that we have knowledge of what is going on, but most current Hip Hop heads decline to answer. I guess they don’t want to upset anyone. Do you have anything to say on that? Any issues you think people need to open their eyes too?

I.M.: Philosophy, not politics, is my speciality. However, I am aware of certain plans that governments around the world wish to implement. The “Loved By Few, Hated By Most, Feared By All” track off my solo album, by Huntkillbury Finn, had certain socio-political undertones. All I will say though, is that the New World Order is definitely in effect… RIGHT NOW. Once you are aware of certain plans, things don’t shock you like they do to the layman. Knowledge is the key, and the truth WILL set you free!

Did any of you vote in the last election and why?

I.M.: No, I didn’t vote, and I don’t plan to in the future, either.

Why do you think the urban youth and people in general are so pissed off with the government? Why are people so politically apathetic?

I.M.: It is always natural for the youth to rebel. This is how human beings develop their worldview. People are politically apathetic because money (or the lack of it) is the one single notion that most people find tangible. Being broke is most people’s reality…..and unfortunately, most working-class people do not wish to read uplifting literature which may actually help them get out of their ‘predicament’. The government know and understand that ‘desperate times lead to desperate measures’. A lack of money means that more immediate needs need to be met. Hence, the building of more prisons, because people haven’t taken the time to understand the ‘plan’ of the government.

What do you make of the upcoming G8 conference and how could this affect some of the poorest people in the world? Do you think Bob Geldof is doing the right thing to try and highlight this?

I.M.: I truly believe it is just a publicity stunt. Soon, another issue will be en vogue. Going to a concert, and wearing a wristband which says “make poverty vanish”, doesn’t mean that people really care. I truly believe that the World Bank should wipe out the debt that is depleting the economy of numerous nations in the African continent. That is the least they can do.

If you could change something about society, what would it be and why?

I.M.: I would make the Pound Sterling easier to earn. The Sterling is the strongest currency in the world. Even stronger than the U.S. Dollar. But it is so had to earn. It is so hard to make money in this country, which is crazy, as London is so expensive. The economic system in the UK, or rather its structure, is something I would consider changing. People need to be able to ‘eat’. All I see right now, is despair. In The States, there is also desperation. However, hip-hop music and its industry has changed so many people’s lives.

What do you do when you are not doing Hip Hop stuff? And away from music, name one thing you’d like to do if all things were possible?

I.M.: I like to read books. I am also a cinema-goer. I’ve never really been a Playstation or Nintendo lover, although I do play the old school games such as Space Invaders, or Pac Man. I would also like to go to Mekkah in Saudi Arabia, God-willing.

Where can people hear your stuff?

I.M.: Obviously, my music can be heard via radio. There are also certain websites that have tracks off my discography, for potential fans to listen to, and download.

Where can people pick up your stuff?

I.M.: Hopefully, Boombox and Sole Trader will be able to distribute my release in a manner that people all over the U.K. can purchase the record. Check out your local independent record store, and ask for Insane Macbeth featuring The ‘Legendary’ Icepick: “True Heart” 12” single. For anyone in the London area, you can e-mail me at [email protected] and I will make arrangements to get the record to you.

OK. To wind this up, what is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months?

I.M.: I plan to record “The Heat” with The Icepick soon. I also have to record a track with Malarchi in the near future. I would like to work artists outside my situation, as well. So if anyone is looking for quality beats, I am reachable….as long as there’s ‘p’s in it [LOL]. I just plan to record a batch of material for 2006. That’s it really.

What are your longer term plans and objectives?

I.M.: My long-term aims include to travel to a variety of spots around the world; I to upgrade my studio further; I definitely want to learn the Arabic language. I think I have highlighted some of my aspirations.

Anything else you would like to say?

I.M.: I want to tell the readers to purchase Insane Macbeth featuring The ‘Legendary’ Icepick: “True Heart b/ w ‘The Icepick’ Freestyle & True Heart [Instr.]” the imminent 12” single. Look out for the limited edition red vinyl. Kinetic Effect’s debut single on green vinyl is now going for £40. So make show you pick up the new release. Also, you can read about The Icepick on

Do your shout outs here:

I want to big up: myself; Territorial Army (my firm); Kinetic Effect in Bed-Stuy, Brooknam, N.Y.; Apollo Belladona, Wayne Maslin for the Insane Recordings logos; Rawality; Marga; Huntkillbury Finn; Shado’; Ripper; Grimlok; Reveal; Rufstylz; Pound Sterling & Bones; Chung Family; Gemini [from Hard Noise]; The HQ (Hunted Quarters – The Icepick, Grizzly, and Shaka Shazzam); The Extremists; M.C. Mell’o’; Boss Media Management; Charmaine Sinclair; Samantha Spade; Barbara Banda; Gatsby (my protégé); Karl Hinds; Task Force; Dark Disciple; Malarchi; Byron The Hip-Hop Arsonist; all detractors and haters (I’m back!); of course Peter Low of; and finally, to all the surfers who took the time to read my words. It’s appreciated. I hope there was wisdom in the interview. BLESS.

Thank you very much for your time.

Tel: 07951 354 944 :: mailto:[email protected]
Icepick contact: Boss Media 07890 347 745

Intro Early Doors:
False Dawn:
Underground Years:
The Renaissance:
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The Future:
2000 & Beyond
Artists &

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