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Universal Soldiers :: Part 2
Universal Soldiers
Universal Soldiers - Tongue Tied Records
Universal Soldiers
Universal Soldiers - Ricochet
For a while was Ultra based away in Brighton was it? Did this mean the Universal Soldiers were put on hold for a while?

Ultra: Nah, that was Fly.
Ric: He's been down there from before Unisols was formed. He just used to send us beats and then me and V would build concepts on what we liked.

Was it during this time you had the Great Escape track on YNR produced by Cee*Why and Ricochet featured on the Four Horsemen track of Tommy Evans. How did these hook ups come about and do you think you will be working with any of them in the future? 

Ric: I already knew Tommy through Jehst and he must've introduced us to Cee-Why at one jam. We talked about maybe doing a track in the future and as soon as I heard that beat ('The Great Escape'), I got the idea for a straight-up British crime story with me and V and as the two main characters. I knew that only me and V can do that type of shit on that level over here-we sat down and proper wrote that shit together. As far as Four Horseman, Tommy just belled me up and asked me f I wanted to do it and I was down 'cos I felt the concept and I knew it would be a challenge to write. Nuff props and love to YNR 'cos they put us on when no one would fuckin' touch us. 

There was talk of Ricochet solo material on Low Life a while ago. What came of that? Were there just too many other pressures that prevented it coming off?

Ric: To be honest me and Jo was discussing that before Unisols had even been formed and since then my whole focus is on this project with V. After we put the album out, who knows? Brainz is a very busy guy and his roster at lowlife is kinda full so we'll have to see what the future holds…

Recently Ricochet had the Mad Runnings track on the Low Life Food compilation though. That was a mad tale of juggling. You had to be pleased with the final result, but maybe a bit disappointed that it didn't have more prominence?

Ric: Nah, nothing surprises me any more when it comes to this game. As I understand, the tune done alright at Radio 1Xtra and various DJ's have told me they're feeling it but it's a lyrical tune and a story-based one too so it's only going to appeal to man who appreciate that kinda ting. I got to say that nuff rappers have propped me for it though and that's real to me-that was my life in 1999 right there on track and no one can fuck with that. 

Right now you have the double A sided 12" out. Heavyweight Product b/w P.O.W. - Panorama on Wax. Can you break down those tracks? What are they about and what sort of a vibe are they on?

Fly: Heavyweight Product has a sort of throwaway party vibe to it, not really the sort of thing I usually do…
Ultra: Everyting we deal with is heavyweight, whether legal or illegal…
Ric: Lyrically it works on two levels - realism versus the conceptual…
Fly: P.O.W is just musically cold. For me it conjures up the vision of a barren landscape-but it still has balls!
Ric: Straight documentay on wax. That's Edmonton and that's our life.
Ultra: It's the title, it's drama. Just a quick flash of what's happening on our streets. It's gutter soul…

What is it like trying to come back out after so long without your own release? Admittedly you have done your guesting, but would you agree you have to make a bigger effort to get over now?

Ultra: We didn't have enough weapons. You can't go to war without an army. There's a serious war going on right now and we're in the frontline… 
Ric: It's definitely been tough, but the name still carries a lot of weight and we ain't really been forgotten-we're still in man's subconscious for what we done last time around…
Ultra: Before we didn't feel we was ready, we had to get our money and our business right first…
Ric: Yeah, being away from the scene for this amount of time has actually done us a lot of good 'cos we could go back to the lab and build. I think we was in danger of getting sucked into all this UK rap bullshit that we never wanted to be a part of anyway. We have to find a place in this industry on our own terms or we'll just end up falling at the first hurdle.

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?

Ultra: I'm not where I want to be but we're cool at the mo'. We just need to build on our target market and concentrate on using mix cds and radio specials to help push us out there…
Ric: We're in a difficult situation 'cos although we're a rap group from London our music don't have that much in common with most of these other cats on the circuit. Our music appeals to ghetto youth who ain't really listening to English rap 'cos it don't appeal to them. There's nuff industry people who don't want a group like us to get any sort of exposure 'cos we represent the shit they can't relate to. Me and V ain't on some news reporter shit, this is us-our life. 
Ultra: This county ain't really seen Universal Soldiers yet anyway… and the ting is, 'cos we've taken time we've been able to look around us while we've grown. Basically, we're out to prove that we're some versatile motherfuckas!

Universal Soldiers Part 1
Universal Soldiers Part 2
Recently you must have been busy getting your new LP ready. Let us in on what your plans for this are and what people can expect from it? Perhaps you could describe each track and what the meaning behind them is? And let us know of any collaborations...

Fly: It won't be a completely unpleasant listening experience, but it won't be a barrel of laughs either…
Ultra: Yeah, we're keeping our shit close to our chest but all you need to know is that man are eating up riddims… 
Ric: I ain't felt so focussed on anyting in my life, serious. If you consider yourself to be competition, be very afraid.

I believe your earlier stuff was recorded in the Low Life studios, but now you are recording at Evil Ed's, do you find there are different ways of working and with different equipment you achieve different sounds?

Fly: There's obviously going to be differences but it's cool.
Ultra: Brainz is a quality engineer and Ed is tight but we've got a different sound now anyway.

Can you let off some of your production techniques? What sort of equipment are you using both to make beats and to record?

Fly: I use a MPC and the techniques I use are pretty standard. The only thing I could really say is that production is about focussing on your own sound and style and building that on whatever techniques you pick up from the people that influence you.

What is your opinion on the recent war with Iraq? Do you feel the reasons for going to war were sufficiently proven? 

Ultra: I'm not really interested in anything I can't control.
Ric: I followed the whole shit on the news and it made me realise how fuckin' helpless we really are. Like V said, shit happens beyond our control.

Muslims in Palestine (and throughout most of the world) are getting a proper hammering from the Israelis and the US with our help. What are the reasons for this and how does it make you feel? 

Ultra: It makes me feel like a rat in a maze.
Ric: Ditto.

What can realistically be done to help people live together?

Ultra: Understanding. No one wants to listen.
Ric: A nuclear holocaust-only if the whole planet is threatened with a common evil, will people put their bullshit to one side. It's human nature to fight, quarrel and war.

Does this make you at all political? I ask everyone about politics, because I think it is important that we have knowledge of what is going on, but occasionally 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?

Ric: I deal with the daily politics of street life.
Ultra: Ditto.

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

Ultra: Open your eyes and see the maze-seriously.
Ric: It's been said a million times before but why the fuck is anyone starving on this planet in the 21st century?

Our homegrown music rarely breaks the charts and many people purely check for US material. What are the reasons for this and how can the situation be remedied?

Ultra: The British market and the US market are different. If you check the states, they already have a specific market set up to buy urban music. In England, the market is dance-oriented-So Solid, Dynamite, Craig David-they all had to bust through the dance scene…
Ric: Forreal, the US got 25 million black people and over here you ain't even got 3! Plus, hip hop's got to compete with bashment, garage and r'n'b… V's right, if the gal ain't raving to it then it's dead on club level and without that, it ain't busting charts. You can go a r'n'b club and you'll hear commercial US hip hop, but you'll never hear English rap in there until it can properly mash up the dancefloor.
Ultra: The only option may be to get US production but that's a whole different ball game. I see Europe as a more realistic vision.

Outside your crew who are the UK artists you listen to and admire? What is it about them you like?

Ric: At the mo' I feeling Jehst for his lyricism and flow and Mystro 'cos he's got a rap style that's fire…
Ultra: Supa T-'cos he's nuts…
Ric: Yungun-straight professional…
Ultra: Rodney, Skinny and Fallacy for holding it up longtime…
Ric: Lewis Parker and Braintax jus for the way they construct tunes and build concepts… Jargon of MI5 'cos he showed me so much.

Who or what are you other influences? What do you do when you are not doing Hip Hop stuff?

Ultra: Successful people. No one was put on this Earth to suffer. God's given man dominion over everyting so if I see people doing well then I respect them.
Ric: I hear that. They say that money can't buy you happiness but without it, there's very little you can do in the material world…
Ultra: I read books and watch movies to relax…
Ric: Yeah, I spend a lot of time with Tony Soprano or chilling with one of the wives. Life can be good…

You have the website. What can people expect when they arrive there and what plans do you have to expand or improve it?

Ric: It's looking a little shabby right now but we're about to commission one guy to work on it over the summer…
Ultra: It's going to look like star trek when we're finished with it.

Universal Soldiers - Tongue Tied Records logo OK. To wind this up, what is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months?

Ultra: Getting the album finished.
Ric: Promoting our shit as much as possible. Expect a whole heap of artillery before 2004.

What are your longer-term plans and objectives for you both as artists and as a record label?

Ultra: Just to keep taking one step at a time. The album's the priority for now.
Fly: I just want to keep plodding along.

What artists do you like and would most like to work with, not necessarily Hip Hop artists?

Fly: I'd like to do a track with Ghostface Killah, Nas, Jay-Z and Rass Kass.
Ultra: I want to work with Ozzie Osbourne and 50 Cent.
Ric: If they was still alive I'd do a posse cut with Big L and Big Pun 'cos for me they were two of the greatest. I'd have to go first though-I couldn't go after either of them…

Finally is there anyone else you would like to mention?

Fly: Supa T
Ultra: Tongue Tied fam, MLC, Culprit and the ends…
Ric: Whole Tongue Tied staff, Supa T (aka Tom Hagen), my whole street team and all the pirates that support us.

Thank you for your time.

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False Dawn:
Underground Years:
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1995- 2000
The Future:
2000 & Beyond
Artists &

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