Rodney P Interview (by A to the L)
Rodney P. The James Brown of UK Rap – the hardest working man in (UK Hiphop) showbusiness. Rodney has been on the scene for the last 15-16 years, blessing us with his Ragga tinged emcee style. From his beginnings with the London Posse, to his career now as a solo artist, Rodney has represented UK Hiphop to the fullest. With renewed interest in the London Posse album “Gangster Chronicles”, due to its recent re-release on Wordplay, I had a chance to chat (eventually – after a dead phone battery episode) with the unfortunate Gunners fan himself…
Rodney I know you’ve done this whole question a million times before, but for the benefit of all those who don’t know, give the people a little background info…
Rodney: Yeah, we started out in 1986… we went on tour with Big Audio Dynamite, and that was really when we formed. We did the first tour without a name for the group, and then on the second tour we went to New York, and the kids we were meeting over there kinda named us. We were from London, the accents were different, and they started calling us the London Posse. So when we came back to London we needed a name we could put on the posters to go on tour again, and we just kinda ran with that. In those days it was me, Bionic, and the human beatbox Sipho. Then DJ Bizznizz came along for the second tour. Then we went to Big Life and we did the record deal – the first single was ‘London Posse” / “My Beat Box Reggae Style.’
Are you still talking to the other guys nowadays?
Rodney: Yeah man. When I see them. Though the only one I really see nowadays is Bizznizz – me and Bizznizz are still working together now. With Sipho and Bionic – I don’t really see them that often anymore, but when I do see them… its all good.
“Gangster Chronicles” came out first time around on Mango Records in 1990. How do you feel about Wordplay re-releasing it now?
Rodney: Thats a good thing. Its gotta be a good thing. I mean if the label feels that they can put it out and make money off it, then that means there must be a demand for it – and thats gotta be good. Plus we own all the rights to it so we getting paid.
What are you working on at the minute?
Rodney: I’m working on my album at the moment… sorting out my label. I’m doing a label with Braintax (from LowLife Records) – its called “Riddim Killa” – and we’re working on that, and trying to put out my album later this year. I’ve got an EP out in about a month’s time. I’ve got a single out at the moment called ‘Murderer Style.’ Things are happening.
UK Hiphop has always seemed to suffer from a lack of big time exposure, and back up from the record labels. Do you think the situation is improving, and what can be done to improve it even more?
Rodney: I think it is improving, but its nothing to do with the labels. Its to do with all the people who are into UK Hiphop. I think people are kinda taking their destiny into their own hands, and making things happen themselves. You can just sit back and wait for people to give you stuff. At the end of the days thats not gonna happen. Thats why things are getting better – its the man in the scene thats really putting the work in y’know?
In your opinion, besides the money aspect, whats the main differences between US and UK Hiphop?
Rodney: For me, I’m a big fan of American Hiphop… thats what I came up on… American Hiphop is still the best Hiphop in the world, and there’s nothing really that can compete with that. But right now I think its lacking a bit of honesty – thats what its lacking more than anything else. I’m a fan of honesty in music, and I think good British rap… thats what its giving you. I still say to you, that the majority of rap coming out of England is complete fucking bollocks… but the good stuff is generally very good.
There’s been a lot of good vibes about the recent Nextmen and Creators albums, and also the Redman / Adam F collaborations, where we’ve seen US rappers working with UK producers. How long do you think it’ll be before we seen the situation switched and we see Rodney P on a Dr Dre or a DJ Premier beat?
Rodney: You know what? I’m not overly impressed by those kind of albums to be honest. Nextmen are friends of mine, I don’t really know the Creators… but I’m not really into the “Rent-A-Rapper” kind of thing. And I’m not into the “Rent-A-Producer” thing either. I’m into organic vibes you know – things that grow. I’m not into giving a man half my fucking budget just so I can have his name on the front of my record. I’m not into that shit. I mean its all good – we gotta heat things up on all levels – but that ain’t my angle.
I’ve seen you speaking in other interviews about working on some Garage? Are you still doing that, and will it feature on your album?
Rodney: Oh yeah I’m still doing that, but its a separate project. At the end of the day, I make Hiphop. Thats what I do – I been cracking my head to this Hiphop ting for years. But really and truly – I’m a music fan… and I like Garage… so I’ll indulge.
How have you survived and kept your name alive for the last 14-15 years?
Rodney: Hopefully its by being quite good. At the end of the day, a lot of people come into the scene – they come, they go, they’re here one day and they’re gone the next. My whole thing is that I love this shit regardless. And for me its not really about… I mean I’m a rapper, and I do this thing and I wanna make money selling my records, but even if I didn’t – I’d still be a Hiphop fan. Thats what keeps me here – I enjoy being in the clubs. I enjoy watching the rappers kill each other with their deadly lyrics. I fucking enjoy hearing the newest, latest beats that’ve got the clubs jumpin’. I LOVE that shit.
Any final words to everyone who’ll be reading this?
Rodney: Final words? Umm… big up the Arsenal!
Fuck you – I’m a United man!
Rodney: Spare me brother. You live all the way in fucking Belfast and you support Man United?
Well I’m an old school United fan – I was with them when they were shitty back in the Sexton days…
Rodney: Well you get credit for that… but its all about the Gunners brother. Seriously though… final thoughts? Just stay true to the music… don’t be in the fraudulent bullshit ting, because this Hiphop thing is meant to be heartfelt.
Thanks again to Rodney P for taking part, and for Serena for setting this up.