» Rupert interview and ‘Just Woke Up’ album

RupertEver since Rup stepped on the scene about 3 years ago with the triumphant, approved trumpet touting track ‘King Cnut’ and his work with 27 Beats, the MC with a mountain of metaphors has always provoked interest and excitement around his music. Now he’s back with a new album – ‘Just Woke Up’ and a name change to straight up ‘Rupert’.

We catch up with him to discuss the recording of the new album, track by track, offer up a download of ther track Night Night and we take a unique approach to an interview with the man who will put out music whether he likes it or not…


Part One: The recording of “Just Woke Up”

1. Make Moves
This was originally going to be a “concept” tune about trying to get into a club or into a girls mind/pants but then Steve Clear told me that would be a shit idea and I should write a life affirming song about me, my mates and the moves we were attempting to make at the time.

2. Leave Me Out
I got a message on MySpace from these guys called Diaclectic, a production team consisting of UK producer jackhigh and German producer Berghem, asking if I wanted to jump on a beat. They sent me a few beats which were all amazing but this was the most obvious one for rapping purposes. The song was pretty much written in a day or so but it took a while to get it right in regards to recording. Steve Clear got sound engineer and general top boy Simon Morris involved and he really made the whole thing come together.
Just Woke Up album cover
3. Something that you like
Me and Naim have been making music together for ages. The best thing about his beats these days is the fact you get a hook thrown in and the hook usually dictates the theme of the song. This makes things simple for me which is always good. I grabbed this off him the last time I was in Copenhagen, came home and got my verses written and recorded, sent it back out to Denmark where Naim recorded his verse and got it all sounding shiny with his boy Mikkel.

4. Grey Light
This was going to be an intro to a pretentious album about the borders between the city and the countryside fully produced by The Evil Sun. Luckily it fitted into the album that ended up being made. Manipulate is the go-to guy for really musical and interesting scratching. I wanted a kind of chopped and screwed feel and Manipulate delivered that and then some.

5. South of the River
I was born in South London, lived most of my life there and just wanted to do a tune celebrating it. I thought the best way to do this would be to gather up some of my favourite MC’s from all over the South and get them to drop some bars over an insane beat. The Evil Sun provided the beat and although he’s not from South London he gets a bly for being a big producer. Getting Kope on it was one of the main aims as he’s one of the people that got me into rapping and he’s obviously a legend, Compound was doing tunes with Steve Clear at the time so he jumped on it, King Kaiow is one of the most charismatic guys on the scene, Oliver Sudden hosts Croydon’s premier open mic night Bangers and Manage has been doing this thing from day. It took a while to get all the verses together but in the end it was well worth it.

6. Zone Out
Naim emailed me this beat ages ago and it got a bit forgotten about. One day I was going through beats trying to find something to write to and I found it again. Once again the hook gave me a good idea of what to write about and at the time I’d pretty much given up smoking greens. Weed is such a standard subject for rap music that it’s become a cliché so I wanted to switch it up a bit and give it a personal spin. Steve Clear did some secret extra production on this tune.

7. Feel You
This tune is actually built from samples of a song by Moocha, the vocalist on Night Night, called All I Need from her album The Electrician’s Unicorn. During the making of the album I was out raving a lot and this is basically a story of boy meets girl, boy meets pills, boy dances with girl, boy gets off with girl, boy doesn’t know whether it’s the pills or the girl making him feel like he does. Steve did a lot of work to this beat after I recorded the vocals and you can even hear him in the background on the chorus.

8. The Fox
There are lots of foxes in the streets of London. They are by far the most “roadish” of all urban animals. I wanted to write a tune about them for a while. This was the darkest, most menacing, beat I got for the album and the bars came pretty quickly once I started writing. Once again we got Manipulate involved and he came through with some crazy shit including cutting up the sound of a fox. (No foxes were harmed in the making of this song.)

9. Night Night
I really should say that Steve Clear had a lot of input in the making of the whole album, from recording, to song writing help, to lending me money, to the release of the album itself. This tune started off as a four bar idea around the words “night night”.

Steve got me to approach the song as if I was writing a lullaby, he also got Moocha involved who came up with some amazing lyrics and vocals for her part, plus he made The Evil Sun keep the beat really stripped down and asked him to resist the temptation to elaborate on the basic melody. Steve and I had some pretty heated discussions about this song, and life in general, but it’s ended up as one of my favourites on the album.

10. Geography
Bonobo is easily one of the most talented producers in the country and he’s certainly built up a big profile on the back of his talent. He approached me a while ago to jump on a remix of one of his tunes but it never happened so I thought I’d try and get him on my album instead. I went down to his studio and grabbed a really basic loop of what became the beat.

I had a couple of ideas for it, Steve reckoned I should go really personal with it, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with that but thought “fuck it I’ll give it a go” and somehow I wrote some stuff that was important to me but didn’t make me cringe too much. I had another verse for it but Steve made an executive decision to cut it which was the correct decision.

I recorded the vocals at Steve’s place in Hackney and we sent them to Si Bonobo, also in Hackney, and he did so much stuff to the beat. It became something much bigger sounding and, along with Night Night, it’s the song that means the most to me on the album and was a definite album closer the minute I heard the finished version.

Download / listen to ‘Night Night’ ft. Moocha

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Download ‘Night Night’ mp3 (3.7mb)

Part Two: Questions

(Extracted from Hip Hop Connecton magazines June 1995 – January 1998)

1. What kind of topics are you dealing with in your new record?
(orignally asked to Shabazz the Disiple, January 1998)

Drugs, love, sex, foxes, family, comedy, tragedy and some other stuff.

2. Is the entire album meant to be taken as autobiographical?
(originally asked to Lauren Hill, May 1995)

On some levels there’s a lot of stuff from my life on this album but some of it is observations of other peoples lives and some of it is just straight up fiction. The only fully autobiographical tune is The Fox because I am actually a Werefox and go rampaging through the streets and bins of South London every time there’s a full moon.

3. What’s the most common comment you receive about your rhyme style?
(orginally asked to Sir Melenik, January 1997)

I haven’t done a live show of my own in so long that I can’t even remember. It’s usually along the lines of “you look like you’re going to be shit but you’re actually quite good.”

4. What’s the best gig you’ve ever played?
(originally asked to Africa Bambatta, January 1998)

A gig in Belgrade I did with the TM Juke Band in 2004 times I think, we went out to do one gig and got to stay for the whole weekend. We were staying in this crazy hotel in the centre of town with a 24 hour bar where you could drink beer that cost about 40p a bottle, the entire city was amazing and the actual gig was incredible, I’ve never seen people react quite as wildly to laid back jazz funk with a hip-hop edge before or since. One person said “we have had Radiohead and U2 play here but you guys are the best band I’ve ever seen” which was nice of him.

I tried to explain to him that we were just an average jazz-funk outfit in the grand scheme of things but he was having none of it. Not many bands reach Belgrade but I’d recommend it to anyone. The streets of Belgrade were also paved with some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.

Rupert

5. Can you remember the first hip-hop song you heard? What first attracted you to it?
(originally asked to White Child Rix, Gunshot DJ, April 1995)

I’m pretty sure it was Derek B’s “Bad Young Brother” and what attracted me to it was the fact that I thought it was about being a bad younger brother as I was the baby of the family. I also remember being scared of the Beastie Boys at around the same time.

6. What new music inspires you?
(originally asked to Africa Bambatta, January 1998)

Anything that I like. At the moment I really like a lot the percussive house coming out of the UK specifically UK Funky producers like Apple, Lil Silva and Emvee. There’s still a lot of good stuff coming from the dubstep and grime scenes as well, people like Joker, Gemmy, Ikonika and Zomby.

In fact I find the whole cross pollination of musical styles happening in the UK at the moment pretty inspiring, people like Hudson Mohawke, Rustie, Mount Kimbie and Burial are getting world wide love from a massive variety of people. That’s some inspirational shit right there.

The Newham Generals becoming a vaguely well known name is also a great thing, more people need D Double E in their lives. Giggs putting out an album that had more buzz on road in London than any other UK hip-hop album I can remember. I could write an essay to answer this so I will stop now.

7. What kind of books do you read?
(originally asked to RZA, April 1995)

Pretentious ones, the A-Z and Lonely Planet guides to places I’m never going to.

(8-12 originally asked to Luke, June 1994)
8. Which song do you wish you had written?

The Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen in Love? It’s pretty much perfect.

9. What are you like when you’re drunk?

Worried, happy, loud, sexy, confident, better looking, angry, quiet, sad, tired, asleep. Usually in that order.

10. What do you never leave home without?
A shank, a dongle and my passport. I’m 26 and get ID’d for snouts and booze. It’s not fair.

11. Who are your sporting idols and why?
Tony Adams. He never looked like a footballer, sometimes he didn’t play like a footballer, but by the end of his career he was recognized as one of the best centre backs in the game. I’ll never forget the goal he scored against Everton in his last game. I suggest everyone reads his autobiography.

12. Who would you like to play you in the film of your life?
Chris Farley. He’s dead but still…

——

The biggest of big ups to Rupert for taking the time out – be sure to check out:

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