SkinnyMan - Interview

21 October 2004


SkinnyMan - Interview


Since the end of September Skinny Man has been touring the UK with the Goldie Looking Chain. When this strange UK hip-hop ship anchored at Leeds University Contactmusic took an hour out on a Saturday afternoon to speak to the man who is on a mission to bring conscious British Hip Hop to a brand new audience.

Already one of the most highly regarded rappers in the UK, Skinny narrates with a burning passion and unwavering honesty, painting a vivid picture of what his own life, and lives of many others, entail within an inner city council estate surrounding and its ensuing ‘estate of mind’. The album and its lyrics document the intimidation,

SkinnyMan - Interview

pressure, violence, poverty, tension and a myriad of other social ‘issues’ that reside, but also celebrate the environment and its people as his home and source of inspiration and motivation. SkinnyMan’s personal and musical history are both highly eventful and inseparably interwoven, all coming together in this brutally sincere and profoundly personal record. Live it is the good old - two turntables and a microphone with DJ flip providing the beats.

Skinny first signed to Talking Loud records on 9/11 2001 – the day of the disaster and just as this historical day will be remembered for other events that deal is something worth forgetting too. Especially as while serving a 9 month sentence for the possession of cannabis the label had their funds withdrawn by the parent company. Skinny used his time inside well and although he didn’t get much inspiration and didn’t do much writing, the little writing he did, which was heavily quality controlled is the lyrical content of the Council Estate of Mind album. He tells me that period for him was a real chance to sit and reflect on his social situation first hand and that is what makes Council Estate of Mind the social commentary it inevitably is.

Leeds born this show brings him back to his birthplace and it seems to me to still be a place he holds close to his heart. Having left for London at the age of 9 we discuss the possibility of him getting his album out had he remained in Leeds. He tells me “it would have been possible but a lot harder due to the mass of media opportunities in the capitol.”

We talk about the importance of London for all areas of the arts and mention a few more MCs who have taken their trade from Leeds to London to further their careers such as Brain Tax, Jehst and Paul Moran.

We asked Skinny Man what his thoughts were on what The GLC is doing and how has he found it being on tour with them. “I love ‘em, they’re a bunch of mad Welsh boys” plus past that, being on a 20 date tour with them is a blessing because it means every night I get to play to a thousand or so people who the majority of will be completely new to my music. I always want to reach new audiences. I feel like I have something to offer to everyone.

I ask Skinny if his album is getting any interest in the states, he tells me Marley Marl has shown interest which is a big thing for him, “if Marley Marl loves my music – what else matters”? Ever since he began rapping at the age of 9 he has had a dream of taking his skills to New York, The South Bronx the Home of Hip Hop - where it all started.

To be able to apply his skills on the street corners of the big apple would be a living dream. Another element of the dream is to follow his American counterparts on their own American dream of Hip Hop stardom “Hip Hop stars in America are seen as stars” for this sharp London kid that would be the ultimate achievement – the realizing of a childhood dream.

All I can say is, “America better watch out” as momentum gathers around the album and more people are tuned in with every performance, this truly talented and down to earth British rapper is our best hope for contributing something real and something amazing to the US Hip Hop scene.

Council Estate of Mind OUT: Was released August 02 2004

Fri, 22 Oct 2004 - London - Astoria
Fri, 22 Oct 2004 - Nottingham - Detonate
Wed, 27 Oct 2004 - London - Charity Event
Sat, 30 Oct 2004 - York - Fibbers
Fri, 5 Nov 2004 - Exeter - The Lemon Grove
Tue, 9 Nov 2004 - Norwich - The Waterfront


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