I was fortunate enough to catch up with UK rapper Iron Braydz and conduct this cool interview with him where we talk about his forthcoming EP 'Verbal sWARdz, his feelings on the state of the UK hip hop scene and a whole lot more.
For anybody not familiar with Iron Braydz, can you provide us with a little background information, when, where & how you started out, artists who have influenced the kind of music you produce and previous releases ?
I started just before left school and it was actually by accident, but it was because I was known for being a Wu Tang Clan fanatic knowing most of the lyrics to released and unreleased material. I was put to to challenge in school and came out victorious.
During that same day I was approached by the man (Oliver) who then presented the idea of me writing my own material and both him and another Emcee (Guyver) helped me get started.
In the early years, it was more of Lord Have Mercy (former member of Flipmode Squad) who had a major influence on me when it came to the tone/voice and for lyrics it was Method Man (Wu Tang Clan). It wasn't until I heard M.S.I & Asylum's member Ranx I thought about changing all of that. He had dat vibe on lock and it made no sense to me carrying on trying to do that, so I flipped it and got mad serious about expanding my Vocabulary especially after I met another rapper at the club formally known as WKD then known as Fury (a former associate of Ace @ 1Xtra/ Social Misfits) who inspired me to get into the rapid fire bars, but I had to get my vocabulary on lock. I then looked at Ras Kass, Killa Priest, Nas, Prodigy, Inspectah Deck, GZA, RZA, Company Flow, Guru, Ghostface Killah, Shabaam Sahdeeq, Redman, Kool G Rap and studied as best as I could. From delivery to technique to vocal arrange... everything.
Can you remember any moment in your life where you got that 'Eureka' moment and realized that music was what you wanted to do?
The moment I got real with myself and realized I was actually s**t just after the first year I got into what I was doing as far as writing was concerned. Hearing the other guys who joined the group made me ponder on how serious did I want to be taken at the time and I really wasn't down for being known as the "s**t rapper" of the group (Kardinal Sin).
Your new EP is titled Verbal sWARdz, what is the reasoning behind the title and its unique spelling?
Verbal sWARdz is a play on words especially the word sWARdz it occurred to me years ago around the time I released Devil May Cry when I caught myself explaining what D.M.C was all about. and I recall saying to a curious supporter; "it's a Verbal warfare where I'm swinging swords at my opposing force, aiming for the most vital blows. There's a saying that the tongue is mightier than the sword. Others believe the tongue is the sword, because of the simple fact that it can have the same impact as a sword except on a mental capacity". After giving that explanation to the young man I discovered the name for my next project whether it had been a track, album or EP.
Verbal sWARdz features a pretty impressive array of guest features, notably a few appearances from some American rappers such as Sean Price and Prince Po . How did these collaborations come about and are there any tracks you're particularly pleased with?
Thank you, I met Sean P at Fabric back in '05. He was there with Buckshot, Smiff N Wessun and Rockness Monster (Helta Skelta). Seeing him in the smoking area talking to Lewis Parker, I took a few steps towards them and before saying anything Lewis introduced us and I seized the opportunity. The following day him and I linked up and I took him to Chemo's studio in Brixton and we recorded a few tracks, Firey Red is one of them. We're good peoples till this day.
Prince Po I must say was a connection made via Facebook, but I must say he's the most humble gentleman I know in this whole situation we call HipHop. We always catch up and he was very supportive when I dropped the single "Millennium" which he features on.
Love to the Big Brothers.
You also produced much of the EP. What's the writing process, do you write beats with a subject matter in mind, or particular guest features in mind?
After going through a thought process of curating a beat inspired by a song I then set for a sample that emulates the same vibe for me. Take Scorpion Sting featuring Kyza, that song is totally inspired by Raekwon's "House of Flying Daggers" produced by Jay Dilla (R.I.P).
It took me roughly 35 minuets to locate the Sample/Drums and produce the beat. I recall pondering for a few days on my delivery and would I take the conscious route of potentially adopting Deck's technique for the verses. I remember really liking his and Raekwon's delivery on that track. With Kyza already in mind for the hook I made my decision and started writing. The second verse was harder to write due to a few distractions at the time, but on one trip to a gig I remember having the beat on my phone and within 10/15 minutes I had my track done.
So to answer your question with a summarized answer, I usually make the beat, make the decision on whether it needs a guest feature or not and then write my verses.
What are some of the key messages you're looking to convey in Verbal sWARdz?
I am socially aware of what's going on and the aim is to share that with some intelligent people. Also my lack of patience and intolerance to racism, being a person who doesn't mince his words I'd made the decision to make it clear on the project and there's a few things that will offend people as far as it's being the truth that's highlighted. Truth hurts and that in itself is the Sword... the Verbal sWARdz.
Will there be any further music videos released to promote the record after "Dredd", and do you take a hand in the creative process when making videos?
Yes of course! As much as I love Dredd and thankful to my good friend Jason Lannaman (also responsible for Golden Legacy) for the visuals it doesn't end there.
I humbly call upon the talents of Global Faction for my next video "Rambo" featuring Kyza and Skriblah. Expect some interesting cameos in that one to.
I would also like to take this opportunity to big up my bros Ibrahim Ahmed (Devil Death Day & Braydz in Paris video) and Paul Gwecks @ Bloodline Vision (Hang and Devils Death Day video) for being some of the most helpful, supportive and amazingly talented people I know GOD bless you guys.
Do you have any live performances lined up to help promote the release?
None at the moment, time will tell by GOD's grace.
Looking more generally, how do you think the UK hip hop scene compares to the U.S. scene?
Not much difference except America is much bigger than the UK. In recent history I've performed at places where 90% of the crowd are rappers and that's often left me thinking or asking myself why am I performing to performers??
That's an example of how small the UK is.
Do you have any music influences from outside the world of Hip Hop?
Definitely. Bjork, Tricky, Goldie, Portished, Squarepusher, Radiohead, Al Green the list goes on man. I can go on for a week, the way to narrow it down to answer your question is by explaining why I chose these people. To me they all have one main thing in common... They absolutely live what they do and love what they live to do.
If you had a time machine and could travel back to any moment in time, where would you go?
I would go back to the moment my Mother and Father (R.I.P) met.
I will finish with some random multiple choice questions
Day or Night?
Dre or Snoop?
Comedy movies or Horror movies?
Coke or Sprite?
Meat or Veg?
Stallone or Schwarzenegger?
Thanks a lot for your time, is there anything else you would like to add?
Triple Darkness album is in the making and expect to see more of us in the near future.
And a Big Shout out to Triple Darkness (U.S)
Interviewed by Matt Watkins