INTERVIEW: Rapper, hip-hop theatre performer and Poetry Slam Champion Dizraeli

We hook up with Rapper, writer, poet and singer Dizraeli as he returns from rocking Glasto with his rhymes of politics, love, England (or ‘middle finger-land’ as he calls it) n all sorts. We like the track ‘Bomb Tesco’, in particular – the video is one big guerrilla gig in the monster supermarket. Diz is also the BBC Radio 4 Poetry Slam winner, the 2006/7 Farrago UK Slam Poetry Champion.

LB: So, what’s happening at present?
I’ve got a new band, they’re called The Small Gods and it’s my attempt to create a fusion of Folk and Hip Hop.  We’ve got a serious beat boxer, a scratch DJ, some harmony singing and just properly fusing Hip Hop and folk. We also just done a gig at Glastonbury on the World Jazz stage which went really well.

LB: Do you have a manger or is it a DIY effort?
Yeah pretty much DIY... I spend a lot of my time doing mail-outs and that kind of thing. But that’s the nature of hip hop really, there are a lot of artists who have really big profiles on the scene and a lot of respect who are not able to make a living out of their craft. You know, the majority of rappers who are really well known on the scene will be 9-5ing in a call centre.  I see people bring out the most incredible albums, Chester Peas, Task Force, ‘From the Ashes’ who you have probably never even heard of. It’s one of the best albums in Hip Hop, it’s like cockney musical choruses mixed with dark Street to storytelling. it’s amazing. And no one knows it exists.

But it’s difficult, you know, you can’t just send a record to EMI and hope for an advance, you gotta build yourself a following first. I’m lucky because I can do a broad range of stuff, I do some theatre, spoken word poetry and I can actually make a living out of what I do.

LB: What do you think defines you act from others on the UK hip hop circuit?
I’m the best rapper in the world man!(laughing) I dunno, I’m respectful to the art form but I think mainly what defines me is that I’m a musician and so I write and play my own music. I also have an obsession with honesty and there’s only a handful of artists who are honest and don’t hide behind their b-boy stance. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable and say ‘look, I don’t come from where you’d expect me to in this scene but I can still rap and I’ve got something to say’.

How did you go about organising your Tesco Party for the ‘Bomb Tesco’ video?
Well, (laughs) I was in Edinburgh Festival last year doing my theatre show and I said to the audience who wants to go and have a party in Tesco? So about 40 of us went and grabbed something off the shelf to play and we also plugged in our instruments. But the staff weren’t too happy so we went off to Lidyl n then Sainsburys and it ended up being a bit of a supermarket crawl.

And what do dislike about Tesco, as opposed to other companies?
Well, what I dislike about them as opposed to other supermarkets is that I think that they are a bigger supermarket so they are a bigger problem. They have very aggressive policies when it comes to land acquisition; they drive prices down and disregard the needs of small businesses.

A lot of this issue is exploring how the Hip Hop movement was hijacked by corporations and how they have let a lot of hip hop with ugly messages float to the top.. What do you think about this?
Well, I know that violence sells; pain sells and that if there’s a car crash people will slow down to see it. I think more people are talking about it then doing it. I don’t think it’s a corporate conspiracy, I don’t believe that there is a boardroom full of men in suits making decisions about how the world is run. Jay-Z is very intelligent and a good businessman and if you listen to his lyrics on ‘American Gangsta’ he raps ‘This is the ignorant shit you like’.

What’s next for you?
Well, I’m working on my play ‘Rebel Cell’, and it’s set 5 years in the future and Glastonbury has become a giant prison camp and I play a revolutionary leader. I’m touring with my band… We’re going to Palestine and Cairo… The only problem is that I refuse to take planes or drive. I just take public transport so it’s going to be interesting… LB!

Buy Dizraeili’s debut solo albulm ‘Engurland’, well worth checking out!!


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