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life. What gives you strength as a person? It’s about feeling good from within. Happiness is so easy to achieve, we can just reach out and grasp it so it’s just mind over matter. Life is too short, so while we’re here in this short speck of time, should we be happy or sad you know? How has Finsbury Park where you grew up changed since you wrote Council Estate of Mind? Some things have changed and some have stayed the same. Te old Victorian properties which were owned by the Council, have now been sold and the area’s become gentrified as far as the houses are concerned. All that’s happened thought is that new landlords have moved in and now rent those houses out to the lower working class, so it hasn’t changed the social demographic at all even though it’s been gentrified. Tere’s been no social improvement in the estates in Finsbury Park since they were built after the second world war. Te Andover estate is known for being the worst estate in Britain. We see all these social problems but we don’t see any solutions. Why do you think you embraced hip hop? From the very beginning hip hop has been made by people who had to take on the fact that no external force was going to come in and help us with our immediate problems. It was up to them to empower themselves to bring about resolution to our problems without looking to external forces to help. If you think about the problems they had on the East side on New York at the time, gang violence, segregation, poverty and everything that was going on. Gang warfare at that time had gone crazy and nobody was helping to bring peace. It took one of the biggest gangs, the Black Spades, who Afrika Bambaataa was leader of, to sort out the gang situation and then channel their competitive nature through art, whether it was music, graffiti, dance, poetry or whatever. So hip hop was born from those elements, and who wouldn’t want to embrace that kind of culture, that has been born within your generation? I grasped it

with both hands. What do you think of the UK hip hop scene now and also how well grime’s doing?

I think hip hop is doing beautifully – I’ve always thought of grime as hip hop’s younger brother who is exceeding his success. So if I would use a football analogy, UK hip hop only ever made it to the Sunday League, whereas his younger brother has made it to the Premier! Do I love my younger brother? Course I do. I’m so happy that my little brother Kano is playing for the Premier and the beautiful thing is he’ll still come and kick a ball around with me on a Sunday! Do you have any plans to bring out some new music? Yes I do! I have plans to start working on my ideas so maybe this time next year I’ll hopefully be presenting a new album. I’ve been gathering my thoughts and checking out the pre production side of things. We’re working on the soul of the music, and I’m halfway there on that.

Music Lessons

You’re playing at Te Owl Sanctuary alongside one of Norwich’s best and crews Music Lessons. I hear it’s the first in a series of projects you have planned with them? I’m so happy that Music Lessons have created a platform for urban music in Norwich and what’s interested me more than anything else is their positive attitude in what they’re doing. Tey want to make it a conscious affair so in the near future they’ll be doing special nights each month to raise awareness for charities in Norwich, like Autism awareness. Just before

Christmas we’ll be working with Music Lessons, Ivan from Boom Bap, and Chester P to do a night which will include a collection of warm clothes, blankets and food which we’ll then distribute to the homeless. Tis is all the brainchild of Music Lessons and they’re hoping to have a different theme each time – they’re also thinking of having an all female line up night for International Women’s Day. I’m so excited to work with them and for everything that they’re doing, it’s really exciting. Tey’re looking to join the different generations of hip hop lovers together too – I’d like to go see Pharoahe Monch, for example, but my son would rather see Chipmunk, but wouldn’t it be great to have a gig where Chipmunk AND Pharoahe Monch played on the bill? I’m also taking part in a special creative writing workshop for young people in Great Yarmouth which you can find out more about at the gig in July. What advice would you give hip hop artists just coming up? My advice would be to exploit and explore the digital avenues to get your music out and get to the listeners. Te market is wide open and really non judgemental and unbiased at the moment. Tere’s so much coming from so many eclectic directions. Hip hop started off by borrowing from other genres and its now in a place where we are world leaders in terms of other genres now borrowing from hip hop. What can we expect from your show at Te Owl Sanctuary? It will be different from seeing me at a club or a festival. It’s around the ten year anniversary of the release of Council Estate Of Mind so for this evening it’s going to be more like an intimate evening with Skinnyman, not me just jumping about. It’s me coming to the end of a decade so I’ll be rounding it up with this gig, playing all my tracks and giving all my heart and soul. I’m even happy to answer questions on the night!

Lizz Page

INFORMATION Skinnyman plays Te Owl Sanctuary on 1st July with Music Lessons, Zarah Jones and Wattz. Tickets available for just £6. / July 2016 / 45

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