WHTVRINNIT – Ep.062: The day I stopped pursuing a career in showbiz

Summary

Many of our journeys either start after a significant macro moment but mine began after getting swindled by an event promoter who DM’d me on MySpace, which was the crescendo of a short lived and often uneventual micro pursuit to become a Grime artist in the early to mid 2000s.

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Transcription

I think I can always track the end of my Grime MC with this one event back in the mid-noughties.

I was crew-less, I weren’t making my own beats that I was spitting on yet, I just had some pretty awesome ideas and a dream to be the best MC.
My MySpace page was semi-popping at the time as I had the iPanema joint that collabbed with Ray Smith to bring to life and a few other ones that we had created.

MySpace was a weird place. I just wanted to be heard. It made a huge difference from pushing cassettes and vinyl around but also it weren’t enough to not have to have CDs pressed to be able to sell because streaming wasn’t a thing back then.
I discovered Lily Allen on Myspace and collabbed with a bunch of others, but MySpace opened my mind to a hellova lot more.

One day I opened my inbox to see a message from this guy called Kyle who was asking me to perform at an event he was putting on at 93 Feet in Brick Lane. I was gassed because technically I had never really done a show or performed live on my own before outside of my band. Also it had been more than a few years since my band had broken up and the one I left the one I created to join didn’t really sit right with me so I left after my “I want to spit bars about real life moment”.
I accepted, I really didn’t know the ins and outs of it as I was still relatively young and naive to the live music world outside of Grime raves which our band didn’t really get booked to perform at anyway. However a family friend did hook us up with a paid gig at some Youth Centre in Croydon but it was always a palaver to get the fee from him. Plus not everyone in the band used to show up to the gigs but felt entitled to the £ which boiled over into another palaver and also that £ had to be split about 5 different ways.

Being in a Grime band was different. No one knew how to play instruments. You either was a DJ or an MC, or you dabbled in both. What opened up a new dynamic is when Music Production became more accessible with the arrival of Music 2000. I think I borrowed a copy from a classmate of mine called Zuby. I started using it but lent it to a few friends I was rolling with in the band to start creating stuff.

LC made a track that Jendor would spit on for an Essentials mixtape he put together and Marcel made Drippos. I don’t know why we didn’t change the name of the track in all honesty but I hooked us up with some free studio time at Firm Handed Studio’s which was run by Jr (may Allah bless his soul).
Jr’s actual studio was based out of his flat on Brookmill Road. He had AKAI drum machines and a G5 Apple Mac, a mixing desk in his bedroom with the mic setup in the hallway.
The night we went to record Drippos, Marcel carried his Playstation and recorded each instrument track by track into Jr’s software. I think Jr was using Logic which at this time hadn’t been acquired by Apple, it was made by e-Magic. This is how long ago it was.

I had been to Jr’s several times previously with Ray Ruck to record, mix and feature but also when me and my old mate Jamel went to record our track one Saturday. I don’t know why but I thought it was a great idea to smoke a spliff in Brookmill Park prior to going in to work. I think that was just a wasted session and perhaps the last session me and Jamel did together surprisingly especially considering we were thick as thieves in them days. But it is what it is I guess.

Anyway I digress… The Music 2000 era also intersected with when Home PCs got more affordable and crack versions of software to create music were doing the rounds. A band member Marlon was the first to have the Home PC setup and to make beats with Fruity Loops and guess what? The next year or so I asked my mother if she could get me one.
The were crazily expensive to a degree. My mum bless her paid about £600 for a Compaq PC that had like some inconceivable amount of RAM and maybe an 80GB hard drive. That was enough for me to start installing Fruity Loops from Jamel’s brother Nayhum who reluctantly gave me the installation disk and my brother loaded up Sony Vegas and Soundforge, both of which I used to start crafting my stuff and doing up CDs to listen to.

I can’t lie my beats were… Aight but trizzash. I was still recovering from that moment where I previewed a Music 2000 beat during a set and the band plus the extended lot laughed at it. They just wasn’t open minded and couldn’t see the vision to be honest. I went back to the drawing board.

Funnily enough when you have your own setup to express yourself you begin to move different. I’d spend a majority of my days responding to my lines, writing bars, recording and making beats and listening back to them. With software like Soundforge I’d add fx to samples and tracks, with Sony Vegas I’d actually start recording tracks. It was here that I started recorded secret mixtapes using a combo of my own ridders and those created on Fruity loops. I guess this was post the mini-disk era where I’d have all buy Music 2000 beats whilst travelling to College in between studying Jay Z, Kanye West and A Tribe Called Quest.

Once I created my first mixtape The Mockumentary, which was basically started life as me reading from my rhyme books and notepads onto instrumentals to remember, to Ray Ruck I think we began working on tracks together. He really wanted me to go the commercial route and re-record one tracks I made in my earliest days as he saw that as a hit but I was no longer that person. We went on to do Stop, brought iPanema to life with his production tenure and expertise, we even did the first draft of Primark Boy after it was on the same idea CD as the Reason draft of iPanema but it wasn’t hard enough.
At some point during the Fruity Loops era I met G-Moan, Fitzroy Lindsay, who went to PMA in Deptford and he gave me a copy of Reason but in the process got rid of Fruity Loops. I don’t know why but hey. Anyway…

My Myspace Page is kinda popping and I’ve collabbed with Asa who’s now an illustrator and her producer from Sweden, I’m listening to vast amounts of sounds which is influencing my outlook and production style, and I’ve accepted to play at this night being promoted by Kyle.

I roll up and it’s empty as fuck. Literally no one but bar staff. I hit the stage and perform to no one. Come off stage and thought Kyle was going to get my £ but man scarpered. I had been scammed by a janky promoter.
I called man the next day in a rage. I was ready to hunt man down and do some bad things but my Dad looked at me after that conversation he had witnessed and said “Just leff it man”.

As someone who was experienced in stage and show business my Dad had probably experienced that in his lifetime or early days and wanted me to save the unnecessary rage. I think I was moreso embarrassed than anything else. I didn’t enjoy being onstage. I still wasn’t as sharp as I’d be a few years later when I began to truly produce and shape my own sounds and concepts from the ground up. I wasn’t too fluid.

This incident was the start of my journey to where I am today. I had to hit the lowest point and build myself up through honing my skills, exploring the boundaries of my own limitations. Investing in myself and assembling the tools I needed to slowly connect the dots. Now I’m at a place where I feel as though anything is possible with the focus and consistency that I lacked back then.

Autobiography of A Nobody is a nod to my emergence from that era however at the time when I had reached my zenith as a Grime MC and producer, I was no longer in the circles I was in to push and promote. The whole project is a culmination of my journey being bandless and wanting to talk about life to actually doing it.

If there’s one lesson to be learned here it is to keep going regardless. Whether you toil away in obscurity, there’ll be a day when the opportunity presents itself to bring your achieved creations to light.

Keep pushing on.

I wish you all Peace, Love and Prosperity.

If you’re new here, check out the other episodes or if you’re a regular let’s reconnect next week. 12am Saturday.

I’m Khalid Omari and you’ve been tuned in to the podcast 0-800-YO-FAM WHTVRINNIT.

Nos vemos el próximo sábado (we’ll meet again next Saturday)

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