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J Spades on Slick Rick and pagan yats

Two years after A$AP Ferg delivered ‘Shabba’ to the masses, Hackney rapper, J Spades, has given us our very own, UK, ode to an unsung hero in ‘Slick Rick’. Enlisting the help of Tinie Tempah and Professor Green, we are made to remember and also educate ourselves on hip hop royalty, Slick Rick. This is all done over a banging beat and airtight verses from all three rappers. We caught up with J Spades to talk about the new single, living in new gentrified Hackney, and *pagan yats.

*Pagan Yat: Noun,

1) A young lady who is immoral and disloyal.

J Spades Ft. Tinie Tempah and Professor Green – Slick Rick

PN: What do you think about the new, gentrified, Hackney?

JS: I feel like it’s definitely helping and I feel like, eventually we’re going to get in a space where the police are a lot less aggressive. With the area getting built up and all that stuff and the incoming traffic, the incoming finances and stuff… it’s a lot better for the area. I think Hackney is in a much better place right now and so are we, the people that live here.

PN: Has the soul been taken out, the rawness, the edge?

JS: Would you rather it be like the old Hackney? [Laughs] That’s the environment we are trying to change and break out of so that there’s no longer that negative perception. With the developments and the investments going into Hackney, I’m not at all upset. Like I said, I can see the changes in the area. The juveniles will have a lot more to do. We are going in the right direction. Hackney is in a much better place.

PN: What are you memories of Hackney as it was?

JS: My experience of Hackney was only up until I was about six. Then I was getting naughty, so I got sent to Jamaica. I came back at 15, right at that age… the ‘bruck out’ age [laughs], so obviously… but pushing the clock forward, now were are here. Being a bad kid, my memories are good and bad. Hackney is one of the most prominent places in east London so you can never knock it. Living and growing up here is/was a double edge sword.

PN: With your time spent in Jamaica and your father being Josey Wales, who was a very big reggae/dancehall artist, the obvious musical route for you would have been reggae/dancehall, or even grime, given that grime borrows so heavily from Jamaican dancehall culture…

JS: Don’t say that to them [grime artists]… they will get mad. They won’t want to accept it. All of us realise the musical patterns used in grime is reggae speeded up, but you can’t tell them that. They’ll be like, ‘No! This is our genre, this is what we do’.

PN: Reloads, clashing, are all used in grime, but all stem from Jamaican dancehall…

JS: Exactly. All this lot did was speed up the tempo and give it a different shift, but you know where it’s from. You know where the birthplace is.

PN: So why hip hop and not reggae, dancehall or grime?

JS: With me going to Jamaica for ten years… we couldn’t tell you what grime is. Grime, drum and bass, none of that has connected with the Caribbean. Jamaica is closer to America than it is to England [geographically], so all we heard was hip hop, dancehall, reggae, that kind of thing. So, when you listen to my music, you will see it totally mirrors that. So you’re not going to hear my music sounding grime based unless I’ve got a grime feature, which I don’t really do that much anyway. Most grime artists do hip hop singles as soon as they get signed anyway, so…

PN: Wouldn’t it be harder to chart with grime than it would be with hip hop, as hip hop has a much wider audience and grime doesn’t?

JS: No, not really. Dizzee, ‘you don’t know where I stay, that’s poor…’ that tune charted. ‘I Luv U’? …Anyway, leave these grime artists to do their do their thing, man. We’re good over here. We’re creating our own lane, our own genre that they’re going to thank us later for.

PN: Why the hostility?

JS: [Laughs] no, It’s not a personal thing. It’s just we know what we are doing and that’s it. If we need to come together and make something where it’s good for all parties involved then, yeah. Apart from that… I’m comfortable doing what I’m doing.

PN: …and you obviously listen because you know Dizzee Rascal lyrics?

JS: Yeah. It’s nothing personal. Leave these grime people to do what they’re doing.

PN: Your new single is called ‘Slick Rick’. Why Slick Rick, given that a lot of younger people, or the not so hip hop inclined don’t even know who he is?

JS: That’s exactly my point. That’s one of the main reasons why I did it. I feel like, these guys were ambassadors for UK music and took it global. Slick Rick was a guy from Brixton, from south London. He took himself and his music to America and they embraced it. To this day, you can see Slick Rick’s influence from Biggie, to Jay Z, to Nas, there isn’t one of them that haven’t picked a leaf from Slick Rick’s tree. So we’re just paying homage really, because he set the levels and paved the way. A lot of people in the UK don’t even know that. A lot of people in the UK don’t even know that Slick Rick is English. For a young English guy from Brixton to go to America and be influencing some of America’s biggest hip hop’s artists… come on, you have to pay homage. It also lets the newer generations know too.

Slick Rick – Children’s Story

PN: Do you know if Slick Rick has heard the track?

JS: We have been trying to chase him up actually and I don’t think we’re too far off. I’m trying to get him over here for the video.

PN: You also have another mixtape coming out…

JS: GRT triple MP3. We are near enough done to be honest. We’re just trying to execute these singles and deal with it properly.

PN: I know you are very selective about who you work with, but you always pull in really good feature artists. Who can we expect to hear on ‘GRT MMMP3’?

JS: I don’t really want to give away too much, but Shy Glizzy the guy that did ‘So Awesome’, Drake’s main artist P Reign is on there, Krept… I don’t want to give away too much. You’re spilling out all the beans! [Laughs]. Wait for the mixtape. You’ll realise the brand that you’ve trusted us with has not let you down one bit. Everyone has waited this long, I don’t want to spoil it.

PN: Why is your music so negative towards women?

JS: Me!?

PN: Yes.

JS: Me!? Nah, I can’t believe you said just said that… that’s like, whoa… What about ‘Hot Gyal’, ‘Babyfather’?

PN: There is an undertone. Sly digs here and there all the time.

JS: Maybe it’s just what I’ve been shown to be honest with you. It’s not even an ‘anti *pagan yat campaign’ if you respect yourself, I will respect you and that’s it really. I’m in a field where you end up being around a certain type of girl all the time, so maybe that’s what comes out and that’s what you are hearing.

PN: Any final words?

JS: Yes, we just rap. We are good guys. We just want to deliver great music and we just want the fans, media labels, everyone to embrace what we’re doing – as they already are or are starting to do – so we would also just like to commend them for that and to just also thank everyone that has been supporting.


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