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Live from the UK – Interview with Apocraphe


3 August 2003 No Comment

He knocked out that banger piece of wax “Name Drops” and “Mic Life”. He’s preparing to release his album but in the meantime we got in touch to discuss who makes up the man they call Apocraphe. We also discuss food, South Africa, the weather in Britain and other stuff. Peep it!

How you doing? I hear that it’s winter in England? What is the average temperature in the UK coz in South Africa our summer is anything from 28 to 35 degrees Celsius and our winter is between 16 to 25 degrees Celsius?

The weather in England is way way too changeable to try and place averages on – we’re actually pretty much bang in the middle of our summer now – it’s really nice today, about 26 degrees, but yesterday it was pissing down with rain, and was switching all the time between warm and cold. In fact during the week it was bare nasty, believe me! England’s weather is shite – it’d be alright if it was like it is in the summer the whole time, but winter time gets unbelievably cold (although i’m sure the inhabitants of places like Greenland and Moscow would argue with me on that!). UK weather really doesn’t suit me blud, believe me…

You sent me a piece of wax and a cd with a music video on. The wax was tight, I like Namedrops. Can you tell me a bit about how the video was done and who are all those people in it? 

The video was shot by The Thin King – two guys called Anthony and Stewart who are both bare professionals, but are building up a portfolio of their own projects based on what they want to be doing. I hooked up with them and they offered to do the video for me. The rest of the people are all crew – mates and that as well. The vid was shot in a factory some of my crew are renting and renovating – originally there was about five times as many people there, but the smoke machine set off the fire alarm on the first shot and we had to throw everyone out ‘cos there was no Public Liability insurance and the fire brigade were on their way! bare chaos believe – so the peeps there were those i could re-gather after all that happened.

What can you tell us about yourself? How long have you been living this culture and what prompted you to get involved? 

I’ve been heavily involved with the hip-hop community since I was 15. I started off doing graffiti with my crew from Braunstone Frith, who were really were responsible for getting me into the scene, mainly DJ Dise (who did the cuts on Namedrops and is now doing a lot of my production for me) and Pomone, whose skills now are absolutely off the hook, along with numerous other cats from the Braunstone Frith/Glenfield area of Leicester. I was out bombing hardcore most nights, but to be quite honest I don’t have an artistic bone in my body when it comes to artwork – I’ve always been a wordsman, so after a couple of years my interest moved away from painting and towards rhyming. Since then it’s just been about concentrating on constant progression… 

Tell us about Scalpels. 

What is there to say? Straight up sickening skills, this cat is one of my best friends and also (in my view) probably the dopest emcee on the planet. Freestyle wise I’d stick him head to head with anyone in the world (he’s the UK Freestyle Champion and the reigning FKO Raw champion) and i guarantee victory to the Scapular one, believe! Look out for his mix-tape and album, both coming out soon, ‘s gonna be hot

Which part of the UK do you come from? 

I’m from Leicester, in the Midlands, about as slap-bang in the centre of England as you can get. We’ve got a really good emerging scene, some super sick talent, mans like John Berkavitch, Hiveworm Eschaton and Ralphabetics of Meline Intellec, old school heads like Fresh Beats Incorporated and Knights of the Round Table, Kidabra (who I was the guy I really started rhyming with back in the day in the first crew I was in called Damage Kontrol – big up all them breres there), ED209 who has just released his debut ep ‘Super Excstatic Vol 1’, young and emerging crews like Speech Ferapy and Dirty Rotten Characters, sick breakers like the Fracture Your Spine crew, seriously skilled scratch mans like Dise and Casio (both of whom are featured on the single), graf crews like A D, FYS, 2MK plus some new young up and coming heads keeping dem walls blam up, so ‘s all good! 

What do you think about people like Hijack, Blade, Mark B, Silver Bullet and Demon Boyz coz they were a major influence on me, what UK acts influenced you? 

Man, I love them guys. Not feeling the new Mark B and Blade stuff as much as the old, but them guys have represented since back in the day and have produced more stuff than i could detail that has influenced me. The big UK crew for me was always London Posse – I think the only time I’ve really got star-struck with UK artists was when I met Rodney P the first time ‘cos those guys were such a big influence on all my crew when we were growing up, being rowdy youts! Mindbomb were the first UK act I ever heard – the Tripping throught the Mindfield Vol II album was big for me, so I’ve gotta give the Ruf respect on that score.

Now the stuff you sent me was like just singles, have you released your album yet? 

The album hasn’t been done yet. I’m half-way through finishing my six-track follow-up ep ‘Long Don Spilverbs’ which should be released on Main Rock Productions in the next couple of months, then I’m going to be concentrating on the album which should be dropping early next year. That’s gonna be all new material as well, so the single and ep are gonna be real exclusive (or at least that’s the plan!). Also, look out for me doing some featuring for a band called ‘Out of Karma’. These guys are amazing – sort of a blend of funk, reggae and blues – I really rate them highly, so keep your eyes peeled on that front.

From the way you rip the mic I can tell that you can kick a mean freestyle, am I wrong? 

Hmmm… i’m pretty good but to be honest i haven’t been doing a lot recently so I reckon my forms probably off a bit at the moment, but yeah – representing for all sides of the artform, nahmean? Plus considering the level of skills of the guys i’m working with (i.e Scalpels, Scor-zay-zee, all dem mans), I really can’t rate myself above pretty good cos them mans blow me away with their ability. But Scalpels rates me heavily as a freestyler, so that’s all good….

Speaking of freestyling what do you think about mc battles and have you participated in any? 

I don’t really know what I think of battles any more. I used to like the idea when it was proper, but since 8 Mile every place in the country has been full of 8 Mile battles full of and run by wack geeks who don’t understand or maintain a place in the culture. Scalpels is the battle king (he’s won about every major one in Britain, but you’d have to ask him for the exact stats). I took part in my first battle recently, but it was real wack – i only did it ‘cos the first round one of my mates in Speech Ferapy (Dark Angel) didn’t have anyone to battle and I wanted to do it for a laugh. I went out in the 3rd round to another one of Speech Ferapy (Eyezofman) whose freestyling is real nice, but the whole set-up and running of it was unbelievably wack – emcees only got one verse each not even best of three, the guys running it weren’t even close to being real heads, and the whole vib e (as i realised after being there for about 10 minutes) was just fucking shite (excuse my foul mouth, edit the swearing out if ya like!). After that, I don’t think i’m gonna bother entering any battles again, not unless I know the mans running it are proper, proper heads. However, any mans trying to step up to me on a mic will still get served up complete with verbal garnish trust!

How has the UK media received your music? 

I’m just starting to get some reviews now (the whole review process is kinda slow) but people seem to be feeling it. However I’m already starting to get sick of the single, ‘cos I feel like my style has progressed a load again since, so I’m not watching it too hard.

What producers are you working with? 

For the e.p. I’ve got 2 or 3 beats by DJ Dise on there which are seriously amazing. Cappo (whose new album ‘Spaz the World’ is out next month on Zebra Traffic) has also done some production on there as well as dropping a verse for me, bad as believe me, Mr Serve from Jazz Fudge and Baron Samedi are also doing production for me as well. However on the whole, and for the album next year, Dise is my main producer, and will be doing the bulk of the work, plus he’s my DJ for playing out.

I’m told that the UK heads love their fish and chips wrapped in newspaper. In South Africa we have a food called the “Gatsby”. It’s a large loaf of flat bread with chips, polony, vienna’s, lettuce, tomatoes, peri peri sauce and masala. Preferbly the lettuce and tomatoes should be a few days old so that it looks really ghetto. I’ve been known to eat a whole one (not an easy task). You can also have it with steak or chicken but then you pay a little extra. It only costs 1 sterling pounds in your money. What you think of that? So now that I’ve told you what we eat down here what do you guys eat there when you out on a budget? 

Chips are the staple diet wherever you go. Fish is great with it if you’ve got access to accessories like cutlery and ketchup. Fish and chips costs about £3.50 normally, so aint unreasonable. I don’t know what polony and vienna’s are but if they’re some sort of meat, it sounds like the equivalent of our doner kebabs, which are big rotating poles of grey cooked meat of an unrecognizable variety (in fact, news programmes recently have exposed a lot of it is bush meat from Africa!) that slices are carved off in a flat pitta bread with equally manky lettuce and tomatos. I can’t really handle mouth-burning sauces, but chilli sauce is always available if ya needed to replace the peri peri sauce and masala. That costs about £3.50 as well – for a pound you can get a portion of chips but that’s about it.

For this next question can you write a little off the top of the dome freestyle about our site in one paragraph. Do it for us man! 

It’s that accurate bastard and mathematical master so ya have ta make way,
slaying fake mates, displaying their entrails above the African Gateway
I happen to rate safe, getting four out of five stars for how I pour out my tight heart
Laying the breaks playing the cable like a mic harp to maintain and keep my mind sharp.

Would you ever come to South Africa? But if you do you must come and visit the township coz most artists come here and stay in hotels and they scared to go to the townships. Are you a down to earth brotha who would chill at a dudes house instead of having a big head sleeping in the Waldorf Astoria? 

Whoo, damn! Would love to come to S.A. to visit. Trust bro, I’m straight down to earth and would be down to stay in the townships. I’ve heard the horror stories and I’m sure a lot of them are true but it’s like anywhere – if ya with mans who know the time, and know how to act and where to go and where not to ya gonna be fine. I also know how the media over-blows everything so I’m wary of believing what they say without seeing it for myself as well, so if ya ever wanna bring me out to S.A. bro I’ll be quite happy to crash on the nearest available floor trust!

Do you guys drink alcohol and smoke weed? 

Hah hah, believe that! I don’t really drink much these days – not since my 21st birthday when I practically crippled my liver through super-excess but I used to be a proper piss-head. As for buudha, I’ve calmed down on that a bit as well, ‘cos I used to smoke stupid amounts, but as Lootpack say ‘smoke weed til the day that I perish’, believe that.

Have you ever traveled to another country? 

I’ve been to France a lot of times ‘cos it’s easy to get there, and my parents have friends there so I used to go there when I was a kid, and I played a gig out in Holland last year plus visited Amsterdam once, but that’s it unfortunately. Travelling is something I really, really wanna do, but I’m hoping my music’s gonna enable me to do that.

So why the name Apocraphe? 

It’s an amalgamation of 3 words – firstly the apostrophe, the punctuation, the definition; secondly the apocathery who was the herbal remedist in medieval times in England (if ya know what I mean!); and thirdly the apocalypse which is the end of the world. However I found out a year or so ago from a Greek graf writer called Nekone who I know that in Greek it means ‘something kept hidden from the masses’ so I took that as a sign that the name was meant to be.

How old are you? 

I’m 22, 23 in November, and loving my life.

In South Africa we still have a few isolated race issues here and there in the hip hop communities although it is much better now than a few years ago. I’m always happy at how hip hop unifies people of all color. Do you still get interracial problems in the UK hip hop scene or would you say it’s fully integrated now? 

I dunno really – I think some mans want trouble and then blame it on whatever is available for blame allocation. Sure, we have some problems occasionally, but it aint like in America where all the black inner city youths have like a 9 in 10 chance of going to jail or something stupid like that. I’m white, and occasionally I get the odd man trying to stance on me ‘cos of it, but I just take it to a straight skills level, and mans who are ignorant like that rarely have skills so it normally shuts ‘em down straight away.

Is 50 Cent and Ja Rule big in the UK like it is in South Africa? It irritates me! 

Of course they’re massive. Good hiphop is not big in the UK. I actually quite like some of 50 Cent’s stuff (sorry!) but Ja Rule can fuck right off. It’s very rare I hear a tune in the so –called hiphop charts that I actually rate, and now they’re trying to amalgamate it all into ‘Urban Music’ (I hate that fucking term), it gets real irritating.

What do you think of the Ruf Beats label? 

As I said earlier, The Ruf was the first UK artist I ever heard so I’ve got send him mad love for that, plus he’s a real safe guy. I’m not feeling all the stuff they do, but still, mad props.

What do you like about UK hip hop? 

I like the fact that there’s a lot of different styles and ideas going around, and that there are still plenty of heads keeping it true for the culture.

What do you hate about UK Hip hop? 

I hate all this bling bling bullshit, and when man’s try and Yank it up, if ya know what I mean. I’ve done my fair share of illicit activity but don’t need to shout about it, but ya hear man’s chatting about selling drugs and shooting peeps, and ya know they probably sell eigths of weed and carry an air-pistol, nahmean? I aint saying there aint plenty of heavy-duty crime in England, but those involved in the realness don’t run their mouths off on the record.

Should we even be using the term UK hip hop? Hip Hop is universal isn’t it? 

I hate the term UK hip hop – hip hop is hip hop, and is larger than national barriers. I aint jingoistic in the slightest. My culture is hip hop not English or Irish or anything like that. However, what I do think is that we need to start acting in a more united manner as a culture, and standing against things that are wrong in this world, like the empire-building attitude of the United States. Hip hop should have representatives on the EU council in my opinion – we are a nation that exists all over the world, and we need to both be recognized as and also recognize for ourselves that we are a force to be reckoned with.

Personally I dig all styles of hip hop, whether it be bay area mob shit, down south crunk, murder muzik, conscious hip hop, whatever man, if it’s good i’m feeling it. Do you also listen across the board or are you only interested in one type of style? 

I love all styles of hip hop as long as they’re keeping it real to their lives, and to what they know. I listen to all different styles of hip hop, and not just hip hop either. I listen to masses of reggae, funk, jazz, blues, all sorts of stuff and try to keep my mind as open as possible.

I must say that I like the way you switch up the flow on the tracks, you display nice styles on the mic. Can you tell me what is it that you would like to achieve at the end of this road we call life? 

I’d like to be recognized by those who truly represent for the culture of hip hop as a unique and talented artist. I want to be able to look back over my career and to see a constant progression both lyrically and individually as a person. I try to live my life in the best way possible, and to act as I believe is right, and if I have achieved that at the end, and have made myself happy without bringing misery to others I will be content.

When you die what are you expecting to happen? 

I’d love to say I’ll get rushed off to some Valhalla type place for constant partying for eternity, but realistically I reckon that’s the end of the conscious being that is Apocraphe. Hopefully my chi or energy or life-force or whatever will disperse through the universe and add a little light to it, but we’ll have to wait and see hey.

Personally I could never live in the UK, it’s too cold and I’ll freeze my ass off, tell me something nice about the UK that could convince me to move there? 

We’ve got a real good health service and despite the occasional bit of police brutality or racist attacks, we’ve got a pretty racially harmonious society comparatively to the bullshit that goes on world-wide. Hell, I can’t do this, I don’t wanna live in the UK for the exact same reasons you just stated – ITS FAR TOO FUCKING COLD!!!!!!!!

Hey man peace and respect for doing this interview with us, do you have any last words or shout outs and how can people hook up with you/learn more about apocraphe? 

Yeah, mad respect to all the crew, 0116, ASB, props to Felis at rustysnails.com, all Leicester mans, all Nottingham heads, especially the Out-da-Ville click and all dem Heavy Bronxers, the man like Scalpels, The Colony, all the Dirty Stop Outs repping Rawganics. People can contact me on 07986 316894 (don’t know if ya need international codes before mobile numbers), e-mail me at apocraphe@hotmail.com, or visit my soon-to be completed website, www.apocraphe.com. Big up my family, and everyone who knows me, mad props to you guys, peace to the whole world, and fuck the corporations.

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