Back To Interviews Archive The Hip-Hop Headrush

Kofi in command of the vinyl

HHH: In general, is there a feeling of aspiration from UK Hip-Hop heads towards the 'almighty' American style of Hip-Hop?

Semtex: It used to be like that about 5 years ago but now a lot of our own crews like 57th dynasty and Fire Life crew are being promoted and distributed properly. It all comes down to videos - they often don't have to have big budgets, they just have to make you think. Like that Prodigy video for "Smack my Bitch Up", it made you think and made you want buy the song.

Kofi: The Hip-Hop scene kinda died because of that. Hip-Hop came to the U.K around 1983. The first thing we saw about Hip-Hop, the visual aspect of it, was body popping. An R&B group called Shalamar brought that to us. So it's like in the space of like 7 years the U.K was trying to compete with Hip-Hop from '74 in the U.S. So people would just copy. A lot of people went overseas to do shows and people would ask 'why don't you rap in your own accent?' You can't sell people their own shit. So you have a couple of acts like the London Posse that came up with a U.K style. And up until 1990 record companies were investing in Hip-Hop. At that point house started to blow up so they shelved Hip-Hop for a while. Because the Hip-Hoppers tried to compete without business knowledge, things took a dive. Too many MC's are passionate but what they need to do is get the business sense on. So now, 10 years later the DJ's took the forefront. I mean you say UK Hip-Hop and Tim Westwood will immediately come to mind. But now major labels are starting to sign Hip-Hop again because rap music was the biggest selling music last year and now there's a lot of people out there with the business sense so it's about to blow up again.

Let me hear you scream!

HHH: You don't think that the trend of the rest of the Hip-Hop world being behind the United States will continue?

Kofi: No. I mean France is a classic example of how you gotta do it. On the radio 60% of their content is French. When Nas does a track and they release it in France they'll do a video specially for France. Even in Ghana [an ex French colony] they have a thing called hip-life where they mix high life music with Hip-Hop and that shit makes it to Billboard magazine. If you give it your own stamp of identity everyone will recognize it. When you try and copy no one wants to hear it. Hip-Hop is about representing where you're from.

Semtex: Paris is highly developed. It's like the Star Trek Voyager whereas the U.K scene is like the Starship Enterprise. South Africa is like Babylon 5 in the middle of the sea! It's ill. People just don't know what's going on. You've got a lot to offer but you've gotta show that. Everyone's gotta work together and promote it.

HHH: How difficult was it for you to land gigs when you first started out trying to establish yourself as a DJ?

Semtex: Yo, it's a cold world. I didn't get put on by nobody. The first party that I did I played for 8 hours and got paid 8 pounds. And that's 'cause I wanted to do it. You've gotta build your own hype.

HHH: So what are your immediate plans when you return to England apart from DJ'ing?

Semtex: I wanna set up a label of artists with the same vision. I've got some plans but I don't really wanna say because people will bite on me.

HHH: We hear that your album is in the making. What is to be expected from this project?

Up close and personal with Kofi in action

Kofi: It's not gonna be just Hip-Hop 'cause I like R&B as well so it's gonna be Hip-Hop as well as a Hip-Hop angle on R&B. It's gonna be unsigned acts. I'm doing a music business degree so I'm trying to incorporate all that knowledge. I'm looking to bring some people up to deliver a show like I've done here. If I'm cutting up 2 beats the MC's will repeat the lyrics as though I'm scratching. I wanna deliver something mad crazy. Blend in another tune and another MC will come in or a singer or whatever. I wanna give it like a whole visual feel so it's gonna be delivered around stage performance. I dunno how long it's gonna take me to do. I've done about 3 tracks. It's kinda hard working with people without much experience.

Taking their plans for the future with them, Semtex and Kofi left 206 and ventured on to Cape Town where they were equally well received. Both DJ's enjoyed their brief introduction to the South African Hip-Hop scene and agreed that they would come again, given the opportunity. The UK and SA Hip-Hop scenes took a step closer to one another as these 2 talented DJ's warmed the South African crowd with their solid Hip-Hop beats.


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