Skibadee interview – November 2011 (part 2)
In part 2 (of 3) we discuss double time emceeing, pirate radio, the Knowledge Awards in ’99, what it takes to be a number 1 MC and his deal with Relentless (Virgin)
If you are from London or from the UK and are into underground music culture, chances are – you will know the name Skibadee. If you are into jungle and drum and music, you will more than likely know how much of an impact this MC has had not just over the (d&b) scene’s MCs, but over emceeing in this country.
The double time style, pioneered in the UK by MCs such as Stevie Hyper D, Det, Fearless and Skibadee has provided template for many an MC to follow – many of your favourite grime/rap MCs will no doubt, rate the likes of Skiba and Hyper for helping to pioneer this style for the next generation of London spitters. Check the interviews with Durrty Goodz and Sway in my AllHipHop.com – UK week for evidence.
BeatCulture.net caught up with Skiba in South East London, recently to talk his own musical history and much much more.
In part 2 (of 3) we discuss double time emceeing, pirate radio, the Knowledge Awards in ’99, what it takes to be a number 1 MC and his deal with Relentless (Virgin).
Check part 1 here.
BeatCulture.net: The double time thing where did that come into it, was that influence you took from hip-hop or was that more from Stevie Hyper D, Det?
Skibadee: That is the one main trait that I took, or latched onto, or started to do naturally was the double time thing. Looking back – it was the likes of Stevie Hyper D and MC Det that really influenced me into doing that. They were the two that at the time. Maybe even a bit of Fearless. They were the main guys that were doing that at the time. Yeah – Fearless, Det and Stevie Hyper D.
I just wanted to try and put my spin on it – even by then, them guys were so good and so advanced. I had already thought that they had done most things with the double time; I just thought to see what else I could do with it really.
Andy C – Stevie Hyper D, Skibadee and Det (Telepathy ’97)
Beatculture.net: Moving on from that – in terms of platform, MCs that come through now the main platform is social media. Back in your day, it was all about getting yourself on as many raves or on pirate radio. Would you say for you the bigger platform for you was being booked more regularly or pirate radio and rising your way through pirate radio?
Skibadee: It was a bit of both really and truly, thing with me when I started doing the pirate radio thing. I just loved it, it was hard to get me off there, I remember going to Kool FM certain times and easily being up there for eight hours. Just waiting to go on and if anybody didn’t turn up, I would jump on with another DJ.
BeatCulture.net: You got on Kool FM quite quickly?
Skibadee: That’s another thing in my story that I always point out. At that time, there was a hell of a lot of MCs trying to be on Kool FM. You know, Kool FM was the place to be, there was a lot of people in that race trying to do it. People like IC3, CKP, MC Neat – a lot of the garage guys today were trying to be drum and bass/jungle MCs then.
So basically it started – from the first time I was on the first radio station, Ashatak was performing on there and straight away he took a shine to me and looked out for me, he was like; “you’re a good MC, I want you to be my MC”. He started taking me to a few other raves like Thunder & Joy, sometimes I would get to MC with him, sometimes I wouldn’t. Sometimes it would be fucking early and there would be no one there and sometimes it would be alright.
From that, he started putting on his event in the West End – Spirit Of The Jungle, Club 79 and bar, that was every Thursday night and that was on for the best part of the year and that is where I got to meet most of the other artists – DJs/MCs within the scene. Ashatak was fairly big player in the game at that point, had everybody coming down and playing on a Thursday night. One week you would have Ray Keith, Nicky Blackmarket, next week you would have Brockie, next week you would have Doc Scott or whatever.
That’s the place where I started to meet everybody, I was quite fortunate as I had just linked up with Ashatak, he just started doing this night and he had 3 or 4 residents – Stevie Hyper D, Fearless, myself and another guy called Busby. So I was there in there.
BeatCulture.net: Central London venue…
Skibadee: Central London venue, for me a little residency just coming up in the business and that is the place that I met most people and that is the place that I met Wildchild as well.
BeatCulture.net: So that would’ve been about ’96?
Skibadee: Yeah, ’96. Met Wildchild there.
BeatCulture.net: Was that the same year you got onto Telepathy?
Skibadee: ‘96 was the main year, Kool FM and started getting bookings.
BeatCulture.net: That is how I mainly know you, from those ‘96/’97 Telepathy tapes.
Ray Keith – Skibadee and Shabba (Telepathy ’96)
Skibadee: So Wildchild, I played for her once or twice on there and she straight away was like; “hey do you want to be my MC – I’ve got a show on Kool FM, it is not the greatest time 3-5am Saturday morning?”. I submitted a tape to her and she passed it onto Eastman and the guys and hey presto I was on there. So for me it was like “WOW!”. You know nobody gets asked to be on there – you have to really work it to get on there. So that was how that really came about.
Beatculture.net: So fast forwarding, ’96 was the year that it really popped off for you. Telepathy and you took it from there. ’99 was the year that you first won the ‘Best MC’ award. When you won that award, how did it feel to you at the time?
Skibadee: It was amazing man, as you know I have won quite a few since then. But that was one of the best ones.
Beatculture.net: How many have you won since then?
Skibadee: Maybe double figures – 17 or something like that.
BeatCulture.net: Rah – that is a lot of fucking awards.
Skibadee: [Knowledge Awards ‘99] So it was amazing, it was only like 5/6 years of working at it and I was already number 1. It was pretty amazing. It takes sometimes that long to be an established name within the scene or anything. That was fantastic – a really wicked feeling to have that as being the number 1.
BeatCulture.net: This is more of a personal thing for me, I went to a couple of raves around that time and I was just wondering if you remember them – cause they were fucking sick raves. There was one Heat & Fever – think it was just after [Knowledge Awards], around May ’99. There was another one United Dance July ’99 with Zinc & Phantasy. There was 2 sets in there, that the emceeing was next levels. I was just wondering if you remembered them. I mean obviously you have played thousands of raves since then.
Skibadee: I remember the Heat & Fever’s and the United Dance’s, but I couldn’t specifically pin point.
BeatCulture.net: I’ll send you the link man.
Skibadee: Yeah definitely.
Andy C – Skibadee, Det and Spyda (Heat & Fever, May ’99)
BeatCulture.net: Other than Eksman, there hasn’t really been anyone – there has been Fearless. But other than Eksman there hasn’t really been anyone who’s been any major direct competition to your crown. You have brought through Shotta, I know Shabba was there at one point.
Skibadee: I think it takes a certain person to reach that number 1 spot. You’ve got to eat, sleep and shit this thing to be honest. Lyrically – I mean you have got to be thinking of lyrics whilst you are going to sleep. Only if you really and truly love the whole thing, the scene and the art of emceeing, will you be prepared to do that. There’s loads of good emcees out there, that haven’t reached that number one spot. I am not saying that they don’t do that, but from the few people that I have seen reach that spot. Stevie Hyper D, myself, Eksman and maybe Shotta as well, you know these guys, you know it. I mean maybe not myself as much, I don’t write as much as I used to.
There’s a time in your life that it’s constant. Shotta probably does now, he’s got new ‘Rap Round ups’ every week. Eksman for a long time has been constantly on it. Me personally for a long time, for the first 3, 4, 5 years of my career I was constantly writing. A ridiculous level, way too much – but that’s what you do. I mean even if it didn’t work, I gave it a lot of time then.
BeatCulture.net: Around 2002, you were signed to Relentless [arm of Virgin Records, which So Solid were also signed to]. What happened in that situation?
Skibadee: Not much really, I wasn’t being pushed, they weren’t really sure what to do. They was a little bit lost it didn’t really fly. I was meant to do a few things with Shy FX and we did a couple of demos. They just dragged their feet. They was doing a lot of things with So Solid at the time and them people and that was priority. We had 9 months to get something out, that time elapsed and the whole thing was really over before it started.