In the week of the ‘Rewd Awakening’ release we caught up with Rewd Adams to talk about everything from the history to the future, Radio 1 to religion and Prison to Plan B……….
For people who don’t know your history can you please tell us where it all started for you in terms of first putting the pen to pad?
I tried a little bit of drum and bass mcing when I was about 20 under the name Creeper. It kind of got semi serious to the stage where I was performing at some up and coming jams in London. I went away for a bit ‘on a holiday’ then when I came back I was less into the drum and bass and more into UK hip hop. Some guys that I was running with put me onto guys like Jehst and Taskforce. From then I thought yeah I want to be doing this. It was about 2004 when it all started.
Im not a fan of labelling MCs into categories. I much prefer to hear where they came up from and let people build their own assumptions. Please tell us your background in music in general?
I don’t really come from a musical background at all. I grew up listening to DnB, jungle UK music and my Dad was banging out a lot of rock and roll like Cream and people like that. I grew up on UK stuff. Right now I listen to a lot of soul and old RnB. Things like Marvin Gaye, The Isley Brothers and Earth Wind And Fire.
Going back ‘Project A' was your first official release and saw you putting your vocals to beats by the already well established producer Chemo. How did this connection come about?
I met Chemo through Manage who was my next door neighbour back in the day. Chemo was engineering for Manage and Wordsmith. From there we started recording. I’d been recording with chemo for about 5 years now. Between Chemo, Beat Butcha and The Last Skeptik they taught me everything I know.
Your first mixtape was called ‘Hunger pains’ seems to be a statement of being hungry for this rap game. Was the process of making ‘Hunger Pains’ a long graft??
Nah not really. That one was relatively quick. We banged out Hunger pains in a year. It was a quick project especially compared to the new one. The new one was a lot more graft, stress in the studio, studio time, money spent on recording. This ones been a lot harder. Hunger pains was more of a quick thing. It was a lot of freestyles. This time around its original music with me trying different styles of song writing and hooks and what not. Hunger pains was relatively easy graft wise.
I remember the newspaper ‘the independent’ featured ‘Skandal’ and gave ‘hunger pains’ the album of the week. This mixtape also went on to receive mentions in RWD Mag, Time out Magazine, DJ Mag, Radio 1, Kiss and a few other outlets. Why after such publicity under the ‘Skandal’ moniker did you decide to change to Rewd Adams? Has it hindered you by gaining the publicity under ‘Skandal’ and then changing your name?
I'll be honest with you I think it has hindered me. Shortee Blitz said ‘its gonna be like pressing the reset button in your career’ and ive kind of seen that. In a mad way its almost like ive been put back to the beginning. But the New project will help push it back and hopefully ill get back on track after that. Its just about keeping on griniding. The reason for the change was cos Skandal is quite a common name bruv. A lot more common than you may realise. Theres a drum and bass Skandal, a dubstep Skandal. There’s another guy called Skandal Da Rukus Man who’s worked with DJ Hi-Tek who’s obviously one of the best producers ever hip hop wise. It’s a really common name and I don’t really like that. I don’t like being bunched up with a load of other people. I wanted something that was a bit more original, a bit more me. Something a bit more like an ‘artist’ than a ‘spitter’ so to speak. REWD is also an anagram or my first name DREW and ADAMS is my second name.
You recently put up a video for the track ‘Spaceship’ which was taken from the hunger pains mixtape. Why after so long and changing your name did you decide to do this? was it perhaps a way of going full circle and relating your new material to the past release?
I think what it was me and global faction, especially global faction, wanted to add some visuals to a track we really liked. The good thing is Hunger pains obviously did really well but a lot people seemed to think ‘Spaceship’ was new. I guess a lot of people didn’t hear it. We got some dope visuals to a dope track and put it out there. Its all good promotion for the new name.
How do you feel things have changed between ‘hunger pains’ and ‘Rewd Awakening’?
No change at all bruva really; Just the name. Im still the same guy, the same artist, the same guy trying to learn. Im just trying to progress mate. I keep learning and getting better and better and progressing. That’s always the main aim.
The new project ‘Rewd Awakening’ is going to be given away as a free download.
How does it feel to make such a solid release and give it away for free? Especially considering ‘hunger pains’ was released as a physical CD and by the looks of it established itself quite well?
Yeah it done well. You know what I actually don’t feel bad about giving this way. I feel quite good about it. Its a little less pressure on the pockets in terms of pressing up a CD and selling them and what not. I mean it will be a bit bad not being able to sell things at shows. But the Free download there to put name out a bit more, get more interest, then we can progress nicely onto the next project. I feel real comfortable about it…… It was good for Radiohead. If they can give it away why cant i?
Do you feel that the current climate of internet promotion this forces artists into that way to release?
In a way Its being pushed that direction but I don’t necessarily think everything should be given away for free. I swear didn’t the record companies just do that thing with Jessie J? As soon as it was on the radio they started selling it straight away. So maybe that will be what starts to happen cos as soon as people hear something and they like it they want to buy it straight away. Everyone wants things now now now. As long as people can capitalise on the want then hopefully people wont have to give away music free all the time.
Is there a plan for a full CD purchasable perhaps for the fans?
Yeah, Id like to. Id like to do a physical disk with some bonus tracks and maybe a T Shirt or something like that but that costs a lot of money to press up and seeing as Im not really making money off it id have to maybe ill have to find someone to invest in that.
On 'Drift Away' you only sing the hook and let Black The Ripper handle the bars. This is also a fairly short tune. Listening back do you ever think about going back and maybe vocalling a verse yourself?
Yeah the plan originally was to get two verses from Blacks on the track but I really wanted to put this thing out and move on and Blacks wasn’t ready for the second verse. When he gets the verse maybe we will put it out again like that. And maybe do a video.
What with you strictly singing the hook?
Yeah. I think blacks sounds good coming in after me and leading me into the hook. We already done a similar structure on the track ‘Everyday’ and I felt that worked well.
Recently ‘Drift Away’ was featured on Radio 1 thanks to the well established blogger JP Patterson. How did that come about and make you feel?
Yeah defiantly man I met JP a While ago. I was with Charlee ( Vision Promotions) in East London outside a launch. I met him briefly and put the hunger pains CD in his hand. I basically bugged him for about a year to listen to ‘Hunger Pains’. He didn’t get round to it but then he heard some new stuff from me and really liked it. We sent him the new stuff and he loved drift away so he put it on. He has a new slot on radio 1 where he is a street correspondent. Its always good to hear ya stuff on radio ya know.
And they said some nice things about the track so….
How does it make you feel to have the song being recognised for your singing rather than rap credentials? Does it encourage you to maybe take that avenue a bit deeper?
Defiantly 100% cos my heart is in singing. It feels like something new to me. Ive been rapping for a while and I feel I get bored easy. I feel like ive been spitting bout pain and complaining a lot so I want to get into the singing a bit more and kind of branch out and learn new things. Its defiantly inspired me to keep doing it.
And it worked for Plan B init?
Yeh but I don’t wanna be like Plan B tho cos obviously im a white guy from London so the comparison will be there. I don’t want to do it like him ya know. I don’t wanna be that guy whos known for copying anyone else.
And you will easily get pigeon holed into that as well init.
Yeh defiantly but Im lucky that Ive got good people to keep me from going down that route cos I probably would anyway ha ha. They will keep me on the right track.
You mention prison in a couple of your songs. Do you feel prison and the means what got you there has taught you anything?
Yeah definatly man I’m a totally different person. I was a wild kid. I caused a lot of trouble. Ive come out of that. It changed me. It doesn’t change a lot of people. It was like a holiday camp bruv. It was like a hotel. I had sky TV in my cell. A playstation. But they do education in there. They pulled us in one time and played us a video. The video was saying 80% of you will come back. Ive got a rebellious thing inside me when im told im gonna do something ill do the opposite so when they said I’d come back it made me want to prove them wrong. That changed me. Now Ive got a lot to live for. My music is a beautiful thing.
After experience this as a means to reform you for your activity do you feel this is a beneficial way to reform people who have strayed from the straight way of life?
I think it does help some people. Some people I don’t think it does. You learn a lot in there. I learned a lot of crafty tricks. Its like if u put a lot of scientists in the same room they are gonna teach each other stuff. Its all human rights as well. But what can you do. It’s a nanny state init.
You mention your married on the track ‘Go’ talking bout the wedding ring and a wifey. Do you find it hard to balance rap and supporting a living for them?
That’s ironic that I got to listen to that everytime. Never rap about a woman bruv.
What did it all go wrong yeah?
Yeah it all went Pete tong bruv. Its ironic. The first time I mention a girl then a couple of months later its all gone kaput.
Was it actually your wife?
Na it was all metaphorical.
Industry snakes and hate is a subject commonly raised by yourself. Also in the tune ‘Rewd Awakening’ you allude to the fact that a PR company has snaked you. Is this something that has affected you in a big way?
A small altercation happened with an individual person. It wasn’t a whole PR company. But yeah I think these things affect me quite badly. When it happened I felt I didn’t want to even come out my house. Im sensitive to those things cos I come from a place where people don’t do that. I come from a place where if theres a problem people go and sort out their issues themselves. Theres none of this talking behind backs. Unfortunately it has affected my music cos I write about what I go through. I wish it didn’t affect me but it did. If it didn’t happen maybe I wouldn’t sound so bitter.
On Struggle You say ‘I don’t need religion / I don’t need to be brainwashed’ but use also metaphors about angels and saying how you will see people u have lost, mentioning purgatory. You also say a prayer on the track promise. Is the statement about not needing religion more an attack on how its affected your brother?
It is a bit of a dig actually. A dig at my brother who is a pastor. We got problems and I write about how I feel. We don’t see eye to eye. We don’t talk anymore. Im not an atheist im agnostic. And when I say about religion I mean more about set rules to follow. I have faith. I do have issues with Cristianity also. Im an opinionated mother fucker. Ive had brushes with religion but for that one is more taking shots.
As a rapper you bring a lot of honesty in your bars especially when it comes to your personal life such as admitting your faults and analysing yourself publicly. How does it make you feel to give away so much of yourself in your music?
Boy you know what for me it’s a therapy init. Ya know. If I didn’t put it out I probably wouldn’t put out anything at all. Unless it would be just random bars. I feel good about it cos it helps me.
As for features you seem to collaborate with some big names. Was artists like P money and Little D people you approached or is there a personal history there?
Little Dee ive known for quite a long time and obviously he is in a crew with P so I met P through Littles. Blacks came about more from me wanting to work with him. Big up Faith SFX and Loudmouth who made that happen. We are working on stuff at the minute as well.
As far as the beats go I noticed a name I have never come across before. A producer called ‘Sivey’. I am more than impressed with his contribution to the album. Please can you tell us about ‘Sivey’. How did you come across him?
You better get to know him. The guy is a monster. He is very very talented. He is little known but has produced for Lowkey, Immortal Technique, Nino Bless. Hopefully people will pay a little more attention to him after this. He is part of the Louis Den beat league. I came across him on myspace and hit him up. He is all round and is very very good. Super talented.
Whats the plan for yourself for the next say year. I guess up till now you have been working hard to get this album finished. Now do you sit back and wait to see what attention you receive? Or do you already have that next move in mind?
We are already onto the next one bruv. This album has dragged on a lot behind the scenes I want to get it out and move onto the next project. Hopefully the free download will help to build a buzz for the next one. Within the next year or so you will hear a proper album from me and that’s wat im really looking forward to.
On the whole over the last 2 years UK music has stepped up a lot. Do you think the attention is healthy?
Defiantly very very healthy and I feel you have got grime to thank for that. A lot of the die hard UK Hip Hop fans might not be happy about that but yeah. The success that grime has achieved has helped shine a light on the whole scene. Its all known as ‘Urban’ so grime. I want everyone to succeed. It’s a beautiful thing. Lets hope it keeps moving and we don’t see a drop. No genre bashing. If you go listen to little Dee feat Wretch there is a track called 'Proper'. I feel that is how UK hip hop sounds now days.
Lastly when established rappers mention artists I feel it sheds light on people that are perhaps under the radar to other people. I have already mentioned and will defiantly be looking out for more by Sivey. Is there anyone else that is off the radar so to speak you feel deserves a mention?
Off the cuff there is Nate and Jimi Jitzu and Kozzie.
Bless for giving us your time.
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