Wednesday, 5 September 2007

In the studio with 10Shott

Winding country lanes. Surrounding fields recovering from recent downpours. Birds singing sweet refrains. A village hall with a crunchy gravel drive. A quaint old dwelling and coach house. A muffled but pounding bassline. This is the juxtaposition of Aynho, Oxfordshire and Wolverhampton's finest purveyor of original Hip Hop.

Inside the converted building, the beat was no longer muffled and the vocals were loud and clear. Children's games, remnants of snacks, stacks of amps and racks of guitars welcomed us to the 'Creative Recording' studio. The dual glass doors separating the main recording space and the control room opened; 10Shott had just finished in the booth. After friendly greetings we got down to business.

10Shott, so called because of his ability on the Basketball court, was 8 when he penned his first rhymes, he can still recite them now. He has made good use of the last 16 years; his allegiance with Tricksta's Wolftown Records has seen him releasing material on the regular. His most notable release as one half of 'Vicious Circle' (alongside Size8) was the album 'Bagged Out' (it reached number 29 in a recent rundown of the top UK Hip Hop albums in Hip Hop connection). "I did notice that other big albums were behind it, so it did make me feel good, but I don't want people to keep returning to that." 10Shott is proud of his achievement but was keen to point out that those tracks don't represent him now, his mum hated all of them; something he wants to change with the album he is currently recording.

If you are a regular here you will know that 10Shott has recently signed to Zion Records and is now recording a new album. 10Shott's time in this studio has been "amazing" although it hasn't been easy. When we met he had been there everyday for 6 weeks from 9am to 6pm and had completed 12 out of 15/16 tracks for the album. Watching him at work makes it clear that he strives for perfection; his self-discipline means that he will produce the best possible results. He re-recorded one verse for a track (possibly called 'Business' judging by the lyrics and subject matter and featuring Big Wayne, Size8 and Reload) so many times that we walked away rapping it ourselves.

The production credits for the new album entitled 'A Di Real' are split equally between 10shott and'Creative Production' although 10Shott made all the beats himself. 10Shotts manager was keen to play us some tracks; he assured us that he'd heard nothing like it before and that his engineers had never had a project so good on the boards. 'Memory Blank' is a huge, banging track about writers block with an immense hook. 'Tin Soldiers' is cinematic and emotional; 10shott's lyrics brought me into the world of a soldier in Iraq… and left me there, almost unable to speak. 10Shott took over at this point and played me 'Twin Brother', a track about, you guessed it, his twin brother (Conman) who is to have the third verse on it. His Mum, a backing singer for Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant also features.

The reason 10shott caught my ear in the first place was his unique hushed flow and his ability to rap about seemingly anything. The new tracks added to this refreshing feeling; he was covering new ground and new concepts. When asked the question "Are there any areas that you wouldn't touch on?" the answer was a definite "No". 10Shott explained "there's no boundary I wouldn't touch, but I don't want to offend people, I wanna keep it clean".

According to 10Shott his audience is "everyone" and I can well believe it, his music is appealing, his scope means there will be something for "everyone". "Everyone" does not just include everyone in his local area, he's "Done the ghetto celeb thing" and is not interested in that any more. It's also definitely not just everyone in the UK; it's everyone in the world. 10Shott claims "I've had a positive reception in a lot of Europe and Japan" and a trip to Amsterdam was on the cards to arrange distribution to Scandinavia. Once the album is finished they're hitting up America – 10Shott and his management consider it essential to break the US. He could well succeed, the UK artists who get attention in the US are the ones with something special, something different, something unique (see Sway, Wiley, Dizzee and Lady Sov) and 10Shott certainly possesses the skills and talent to show our friends across the pond how it is done.

His take on the 'Hip Hop is Dead' debate reflects his determination and confidence: "Hip Hop needs a kiss of life. 10shott is gonna give it the kiss of life!" How does he intend to do this? " I just wanna be me, I just wanna be 10Shott". He doesn't seem to care how people label him and his music; he's a rapper, songwriter, a producer but overall he's an artist. He forecasts radio play and the resulting haters branding him as pop, but as he quite rightly says "something isn't just pop because it's popular". 10Shott knows that if those same people heard that same track on the streets they'd think it was sick. 10Shott is keeping it as real as it gets; his music is interesting, entertaining, original and emotional and all power to him if he manages to use to get fame and fortune - he deserves it.

Go ahead and support him, check for the release of 'Dis A Di Real', I'll be reviewing it for sure. Download what you can from mixtapes, in his words: "When it comes to mixtapes there's no question, [the internet and mp3 downloads] are great. But for selling records it can't do any good. At the moment, go ahead, download my stuff, but for the big labels, it can't do any good for selling."

Check Hip Hop Connection this month for another praise singing article (if you don't trust me) about the man of the moment. Watch this space for more exciting news possibly including a sneaky peek inside the video shoot for 'Memory Blank'.

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