Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Bristol Represent! B'Tol Interview

"Maybe if we all got more involved, actually used our votes and our voices, then we wouldn’t have so much to bloody moan about!"

Outspoken, thoughtful and ready to give you a slice of his musings, B'Tol, the Bristolian MC answers a few of my burning questions in what might be one of the most interesting and in depth interviews I've conducted. B'Tol provides a fresh and insightful perspective on Bristol's musical and social heritage. In amongst that he manages to promote his own music and the entire Bristol Hip Hop scene!

Certified Banger: Yo B’Tol! We’ve finally got this thing happening! Start us off with telling us who you are and what you do:

B'Tol: Well – the name is B’Tol, I’m a 25 year old emcee and some time producer hailing from the fair metropolis people like to call Bristol! I started writing and experimenting with verse about ’93/’94 – I was at a real mixed secondary school at the time, and it was a real blessing. I was surrounded by and involved in so many different cultures and sounds and somehow Hip Hop found its way to me. I’d kind of heard the standard chart stuff, but my Jamaican mates were giving me Gangstarr tapes, Redman, Hijack, London Posse and early 3PM and Smith and Mighty TDK’s with the almighty Kellogz on and I just kind of fell in love with it. I started off by simply breaking, as my mates would tell me that white boys couldn’t rap! But I started to write on the sly and practice my little 16 bar verses as much as I could, then one day I was invited to my friends in St Pauls to eat in ‘96. To this day I can remember exactly what went on. The 90’s in Bristol were strange times, there was still some racial tension from the St Pauls riots 16 years prior. Paul’s had this air of danger amongst the white outsiders and it was very much a case of there being racial segregation in accordance to regions in Bristol. Also, there were huge tensions between the Bristol born Jamaicans and those who had found their way to Bristol at a later date. I won’t lie, due to the history and what the white lower and middle class folk would talk about, I wasn’t sure… but the moment I walked into my friends house I was made completely welcome. He had three generations of his family under one roof, and there were about 15 of us crowded around the dinner table and the most incredible spread of food I’ve ever seen. His older brothers were friends of Kelz, Chrissy Chris and Lynx, and so after dinner, the whole family crowded round and we chucked on some James Brown breaks and starting breaking in the front room in front of his grandparents! When my mate and his brothers started to rap, I had this little 16 that I’d been practicing for donkeys, so I swallowed my pride and kicked it… and the family went nuts! From there I started to write more, but I’d say it wasn’t until about 2002/2003 I really thought I could start making proper songs and the like. I joined British Intelligence and the rest is set in CD and MP3 with me working with Jagos and the biggest friend and influence I’ve found in hip hop, DJ Rogue.

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