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Interview: Bang On!

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In the world of UK hip hop Bang On! is an island - cut off, untouched and “evolving in different way” to the mainstream.

Bang OnFrom a city with no scene, friends with no interest in hip hop and no links to the industry the Liverpudlian MC has been left to forge his own sound. TNS sat down with him last month to discuss his imminent debut album Sic..

Liverpool isn’t exactly synonymous with hip-hop, but somehow the North West port-city has birthed one of the freshest new artists on the UK scene. The fact that the city has nothing to do with hip hop as a whole has seen Bang On! become something a little different.

“I genuinely think that I am really isolated in a sense, and that is a really good thing. On the Galapagos Islands and Madagascar, you get lemurs because millions of years ago it broke off from the continent so things evolve in a different way to the mainland. It’s like that in a sense, I have sort of been untouched and uninfluenced by shit influences, be it money, be it a scene. In other places a music career seems like something that might happen, but round here (Liverpool) it seems like it will never happen so I think it has allowed me to be 100% true instead of having these influences.”

A Liverpudlian MC is definitely a novelty, and one that is getting as much attention in some quarters as the music being made. Does this geographical focus get a bit annoying?

“It’s not annoying, if anyone is asking me questions about myself it’s flattering. To be honest, I haven’t had anyone disrespecting me. I haven’t had anyone say ‘so you’re from Liverpool, do you sign-on and steal things?’ Everyone’s been sound about it. If it is something that gives me oxygen in promo terms then it’s not really harming me is it?”

“Everyone from Liverpool thinks that Liverpool is better than the rest of the world. So it’s like asking someone with a 12-inch knob, ‘Are you embarrassed about your 12-inch penis?’ Why would they be?”

Bang On! revealed himself  to the rest of the world with the dubstep-infused aural kick in the balls of ‘Hand’s High’ – a tune so ‘banging’ that it was picked as the only tune from an unknown artist for the ultimate party-movie Project X. It announced the arrival of an artist who doesn’t play by the rules.

“I’ve never been into any scene. The idea of any scene is a bit cringeworthy, well not cringeworthy as such but I have never really been into that sort of thing really. I have not relied on a community. These people are not even my friends, it’s not like they are saying ‘why aren’t you doing this?’ I don’t even know them, I have always just had my core group of mates. I have never been about being a career musician. Even the people ‘keeping it real’ have still got the thing where they are setting out to be a musician, throwing their shit in everybody’s face. I have just never been on that.”

This desire to please himself and create away from the meddling of scene-players can be heard all over his forthcoming debut album Sic.

“It’s weird, because I don’t have a scene, I don’t have a ‘crew’ or anything, if I do have a crew they all hate rap music. They sort of like my shit because they know me, they do take the piss but only in a nice way really. They hate dubstep even more than they hate rap music. I don’t even know what the words are for the shit they listen to, like house music. I don’t know about any of that shit and I don’t like it.”

With no ‘crew’ to work on the album and then signing to legendary UK hip hop label Big Dada, it must have been tempting to use this new hook-up to bring in some top hip hop talent for the album.

“The album is all made with lads that I knew before, there’s no famous producer or even semi-famous, not even like people down in London who are “cool”, people who might be semi household names known to Rewind or SB:TV. It has all been two lads from Liverpool and one lad from Aberdeen and myself just doing it really.”

And it is this that makes Sic stand-out, it is as REAL an album as you can get -  a true reflection of the artist who made it, who is saying something different to the pack all, spitting with a Scouse drawl.

But what exactly is he trying to say? Does Sic have a message and a purpose?

“I would just like to change people’s perception of things really, it is not going to happen, but you have strive to be the best rather than having limited ambitions for things. I want people to listen to the lyrics, I mean I can still chat bullshit, but I think if people listen to it, it will give them an alternative take on things. Not all of it has a really deep message, it hasn’t, but it will be good for people who usually listen to a certain type of music, who may not be as open-minded as people who are interested in all music. It would be good to pick up those strays. It’s like putting an article in the Sun about philosophy. Giving them something to think about other than a pair of tits on Page 3. Give them the tits and then feed them some philosophy.”

And ‘changing perceptions’ is something Bang On! achieves – his image would confuse the Daily Mail reading masses, with the eloquent, thoughtful words coming from his mouth.

“I’m 21 so I am like any lad finding my feet in the world, so I find what I believed six-months ago has changed. I did politics for A level so I find I had certain beliefs and I just find them changing every day. I think if there is a message it is admitting that there is a massive, fuck-off grey area in life that you can’t have solid beliefs, really. It’s malleable, if you start earning more fuckin’ money, you start to vote Conservative. I could be sitting here a million pound richer and what do I want, I want a 45% tax rate and not a 50% tax rate. Right now I am obviously on the other side of the fence. It is just admitting to that. It is political but I don’t want to come across like some preachy knob-head!”

Bang On!’s debut album [sic] is released on Big Dada on 14th May 2012.

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