Terawrizin' the Sin CityShare
With his "Blank Canvas" EP and debut album, "Art Imitatin' Life" already under his belt, North Dublin rapper Terawrizt brings us the "Sense The Terror" mixtape with Nu-centz. And with the release of single "Sin City" featuring Collock's Redzer, which is already a massive hit on YouTube, thanks to a great video by Johnathon Lambert, the Dubliner has made a huge impact on the Irish hip hop scene in a short space of time.
Terawrizt is part of Class A'z which brings together some of Dublin's finest rappers for the "Drink Money" mixtape. The group features Terawrizt, Nu-Centz, Redzer and Rawsoul and showcases the talent that is out there in the burgeoning Irish hip hop scene.
Recently he has supported D 12 and Necro and Akil from Jurassic 5 with the rest of Class A'z and he has also had gigs supporting Styles P and Republic of Loose. There has also been successful gigs in Boston in the US, at the "Irish Hip Hop Throwndown" with Slaine from La Coka Nostra and Special Teamz and Irish Rap Legend Rob Kelly. He returned for another Show in Boston at the start of 2008, along with Blanchardstown rapper Lethal Dialect.
How did ya get into hip hop?
Funnily enough I used to listen to dance music back in the day. All the lads were into rave and techno or Bob Marley, because they're a bunch of stoners. Not that I disliked it, I just wasn't into it as much as my mates were. I guess listening to Tupac for the first time really opened my eyes to hip hop. I had heard some Snoop and NWA before but it hadn't quite captured me like hearing Pac did. Big shout out to my man Inmate for puttin me onto everything else that was goin on in hip hop back then.
How did you start rapping?
I was listening to so much rap back then that it was like a natural progression. I wanted to emulate what I was hearing, so I had two options. Go out and shoot someone, slang crack and pimp hoes, or start trying to piece together my own lyrics and flow and try to record my own tracks. Sometimes I wonder if I made the correct decision....
I started recording by tape cassette onto an old cd/tape-deck hifi with a crappy mic. I'd play instrumentals on cd and record my vocals on the cassettes, then play that cassette and record onto another one in deck B to do my dubs. It was a really long painstaking process for such poor results.
Who are your influences?
Tupac heavily influenced me getting involved in hip hop. Since then I've listened to so much good and bad hip hop that has probably influnced me in some form or fashion. But these days I'm so focused on what I'm doing that I listen to very little outside of my crews material or Irish hip hop.
What influences ya when ya write?
I usually go off whatever is in my head at the time. Rappers are like sponges for information cause you never know when something will tie into a track whether its a witty punchline, clever wordplay or a philosphical statement. I always write to the beat so the type of beat also has a big part to play in the subject matter.
What's your opinion of Irish hip hop today?
It's diffucult to hype it up too much cause there's alot of really terrible, cringeworthy and downright awful acts out there. But there are some really talented guys that work hard at there craft. It's hard to say if it will ever take off but there is definately a market here for it.
Personally I see hard times ahead for Ireland as a nation, and the rappers are the poets or bards of old who are speaking out about what's really going on. We're starting to see the youth latching onto it as a platform to speak their mind. But people are less inclined to spend money in these recession times, so that doesnt exactly help wit gigs or sellin merch.
What are the Irish audiences like?
We recently supported D-12, Necro and Akil from Jurassic 5 in Dublin, all great shows but the attendances left a lot to be desired at all of them. In saying that the crowds that have been turning out supporting us have been great and as a collective wit Class A'z we have definitely seen our popularity grow in recent months.
Do you think that Irish hip hop can bring something different to hip hop?
Definitely. The Irish tend to see through the gimmics, so straight away that eliminates the Americanized side of rap which is deeprooted in other European hip hop from developing over here. So we've been forced to redefine ourselves from what we originally accepted as being proper hip hop. Now we are developing our own legitimate and authentic sound which distinguishes us from everything else that's out there. But the core fundamentals are still the same.
How did the gigs in the U.S. come about?
CMX had been in touch with a guy from Boston called Shaymin who was putting on this Irish Throwdown event wit a guy called DJ Holtie. Slaine, Rob Kelly and Sulle where on the bill, among others. I had been working on some tracks wit Mexy for his "Proof" mixtape when they got asked to do the slot and fairplay to the lads for getting me involved. I was over there the first time wit Mexy, Tanya D, Bren (High-T) and we were staying in the same hotel as Kelly Kels and his dj Mo (pacino)-K, which was good craic and the show was crazy.
Second time Shaymin got me back over for a Paddys day gig and I brought a young emcee from Blanchardstown with me called Lethal Dialect, which was a different experience altogether. We were hanging out one of the days with an emcee called Bawston Strangla at his dj's studio smoking some mad potent hydro and Lethal was trippin' balls, which he later described as a, "tumble dryer of negativity." Fucking great trip that was. Can't wait to go back.
What is the reaction to Irish rappers over there?
It was great to see the support the American-Irish have for the homeland, but they love their hip hop so you have to be bringing your top game to impress them. I gained a lot of support from my trips over there as a relative unknown even in Ireland, but I've had lots of online sales of cd's to Boston since then and people supporting and pushing my music online so they definately reacted well to Irish artists.
How did the "Sense The Terror" mixtape come about?
Nucentz was out recording in my gaff alot. I think I was unemployed at the time and Nuie was looking for any excuse to skip college so we'd be in the gaff from about 11 in the morning to 8 or 9 that night, just blazin' spliffs and recording tracks. I just wanna stop here and say its an outrage that to this day Nuie still can't roll a spliff.
Anyway we had so many tracks recorded at the time and we were both working on our solo projects, Nuie's "Why Be Modest" and my "Art Immatatin Life," so we had to do something wit all the tracks. It's such a shame it didn't get released when it was supposed to as there was alot of hype around it at the time, with the Sin City video being released but we are making up for lost time now.
Did your two different styles influence each other when it came to making the mixtape?
Nuie likes to write on the spot which was something I hadnt done a lot of up to that time. The whole mixtape was written and recorded like that. We'd pick a beat, pick a topic then just write a verse as quick as possible. We were getting sometimes 4 or 5 tracks done in one day. But I dont think Nuie was used to being so stoned while writing and recording, so that created a unique effect for the mixtape. Nuie was also my favourite rapper in the country at the time so getting to work on that project with him and everything since then, I think has really helped me improve as an emcee, more because it made me step outside my comfort zone and try different things.
Who did the production on "Sense The Terror?"
The whole project had been basically gathering dust on my hard-drive for the last two years. We original had it mixed and mastered and ready to go, but a lot of bullshit went on behind the scenes to prevent us putting it out so we decided to shelve it. Collie has been doing all the mastering on my new solo mixtape so I asked him if he'd have a look at "Sense The Terror" and see if he could salvage it at all.
The vocals were all recorded on my old set up so a few tracks had to get scrapped and because of the amount of time that had passed neither me or Nuie were in hurry to go record it all again. So basically Collie brought this whole project back from the dead, hence calling it "Sense The Terror Redux." We also got Ratman to remake the beat for Sin City and shout out to Wyze Intellect and everyone else who gave us beats for it.
How did the collaborations with the other MC's on the mixtape come about?
Well the Class A'z lads features are a no-brainer. Actually the "Sin City" track was one of the first tracks me and Nuie had for the tape so it was sitting there with just our two verses on it when Redzer heard it and made a big deal about getting a verse on the track. I think he seen the bigger potential for the track at the time than we did.
When the Lambert brothers got onto Red about shooting a video, Red pitched them Sin City. Around the time we were making the cd, Jambo was putting on all his Underground gigs in Radio City and Maverick Sabre played at alot of them, so it made sense to get all the lads involved that were making moves at the time.
It was actually Nuie who got Mav on the track for "Used 2 Blame" and he asked me to throw a verse on it so we could use it for our mixtape. Funny thing is after all Nuie's work putting the track together he never got around to doing a verse for it himself. He blames himself.... I blame the weed.
Who made the video for "Sin City?"
Jonner and Glenn Lambert (The Lambert Brothers) from Coolock were the masterminds behind "Sin City." It was essentially the first video we had made and we had great craic with the lads while making it. We shot parts of the video in Tallaght, Finglas, Ballymun and Coolock over two days. The boys also shot the footage for our "Who Shot Ya" vid and worked with Rob Kelly on his "Dropkicked" video. We plan on doing more stuff with the lads in the future so be on the look out for that.
What has the reaction been to the mixtapes you have put out?
The reaction from the "Drink Money Mixtape" has been great. I think it's really opened alot of non-believing eyes to the possibility of Irish hip hop being taken seriously. We're also finding now that our music is reaching a lot more people than our sold unit numbers suggest so people are burning the cd's and passing them around, but thats a whole other debate.
But I can definitely see my own progression as an emcee from my debut "Art Immatatin' Life" up through me and Nuie's cd and the Class A'z stuff and I think it will really show for my fans on my new cd "Written In Stone". Its important for that reason to put finished projects out into the public arena. It gives people an oppurtunity to critique what you're doing and helps the artist build a platform to improve on for future material.
It can be frustrating trying to crack the music industry as an underground artist and the over-whelmingly positive feed-back I'm getting from people is what keeps me struggling to get my music out there.
How did Class A'z come about?
I think this time it was Redzer that was unemployed. Nuie was in limbo between extended summers in Greece (supposedly working), going back to college or getting a full-time job and I was still high 24/7. My studio set-up had just died and Red had moved back into his Da's in Coolock and had bought a computer, soundcard and mic. So we were out in Reds getting blazed and bangin' out tunes, Within about three weeks we had the whole Drink Money Mixtape recorded. We even kidnapped Diligenz from outside his college one of the days to do a verse and got him high for his troubles.
So at this point it made sense that we should put this out as a collective group. We had finished recording the cd so quickly we hadn't even had a chance to talk about it until after the files had gone to Ratman to be mastered. Rawsoul who was doing exams in collage at the time wasn't featured on the album as much as he should have been and Collie was still living in Cork at the time so he didn't get involved until he moved back to Dublin which was after the cd released.
Redzer still maintains he came up with the Class A'z name but we were really stoned at the time so my memory is a bit foggy on it. Oh and Jebus the master-mind behind all the artwork for that cd, "Sense the Terror" and Nugget's new cd is also a shadow member of Class A'z.
How receptive is the media to Irish hip hop?
Well Nucentz and Rawsoul got there Hot Property album in The Sun, though that was partly due to the fact that they had page 3 glamour model Clare Tully get her kit off on their album cover. Collie got alot of media coverage when he dropped his first album. Rob Kelly and Mjex are constantly getting coverage in the media, so they are definitely open to the idea. We just need them to show more interest or give more coverage to homegrown music.
It doesnt help when you get clowns like Spiral getting so much coverage and making an absolute tool of themselves. It reflects badly on those of us who are serious about our art. But we do get alot of support from Sean Harley, Stevie G, Frank Jez and other dj's that are pushing are music to the masses.
Is there any support?
I heard Sinn Fein complaining the other day that 87% of music grants that have been given out by our government have only gone to 8 different people, one of them being Bono. That's the level of hipocracy that you're up against. Surely U2 should be last on any grant list without question.
Some state funding would go a long way towards helping the cause, but with our government involved most of the funding would go towards flying executives out to the NASA airbase for mohito's and a sun-tan. At this stage we'll take the small bit of media coverage we do get.
Where do you see Irish hip hop going in the future?
The plan is global. We've implanted sleeper cells world-wide, ready to high-jack your speakers at a moments notice. But it would be great to see someone crack the Irish market and get some good exposure, and thats what we're pushing towards. I was looking through Nostradamus's prophecys and it referenced to a band of illegal drugs (Class A'z) seizing power over the green tiger.... Whatever that means!
Is there anything that could improve the scene?
More fans and less artists. Everyone you meet is an emcee now. Dude's get a job, buy some weed, then buy my cd and just listen to me.... Shout out to my dole brothers.
What are the plans for the future?
I have a new cd about to drop. Then we're looking at getting Red, Collie and Rawsoul's solo projects finished which are all in production now. Somewhere in between that hopefully drop the "Hot Property" cd which has been on ice for nearly a year now. Plus we're gonna start working on the new Class A'z cd in the summer. We also have a new video in production called "Guns of Dublin." We shot it last September but we've put it on the back-burner cause Jebus is getting snowed under with the projects. Being independant is no joke believe me.
Check it: www.myspace.com/terawrizteire