Interview – Redvenom

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Redvenom has been a well respected figure on the Manchester hip hop scene for decades now and is still going as strong as ever in 2017. With a new album coming soon that features such legendary figures as Donald D from Ice Ts Rhyme Syndicate, Queensbridge don Blaq Poet and the Juice Crews Craig G. We caught up with him talk about the new album, his early days as a rapper, Manchesters rap scene and all things hip hop.

How did you get into hip hop initially?

I got in to hip hop at about age 8 back in St Lukes School in Salford when I first heard the old breaks and B boys breaking in the school yard. They were older than me but I soon learnt to B boy and after that l fell in love with graff and use to go to Salford centre and Manchester to hook up with B boys and writers. I wanted to DJ first then found the love of rapping in high school.

What was the hip hop scene like in Manchester when you were coming up?

The hip hop scene in Manchester was amazing. The B boys used to break in the city centre, legends like Broken Glass and Street Machine and all over was graff on the walls and buses. We had great MCs to look up to like MC Buzz B and Prince Kool, DJs like Leaky Fresh and  Sefton Madface who also was a beatboxer as well as records shops like Spin Inn.

Was there healthy competition between yourself and fellow Manchester hip hop artists like Ruthless Rap Assassins and Krispy 3? And how did you become a fixture on the hip hop scene in Manchester?

Yeah there was but on a Phat City night with Mark Rae about 1993, I had a battle with about 8 MCs. It was with me and Eric T they were in a cypher and wouldn’t pass the mic, when they did to Eric T he ripped it, then I smashed it after they laughrd at me for being a white rapper. The club went mad, the rappers were pissed! This this turned to a battle that nearly turned into a fight, peace was made weeks later and I became the local MC people came to battle. Freestyle, I ran it and I still see some of them to this day and they shake my hand!  This was a battle, news that traveled round town and the name Redvenom was out.

Did you get into graffiti/breakdancing/beatboxing as well?

Yeah I was a B-Boy and DJ and wrote loads.

You incorporate your Irish roots into your music as well, was that something you felt was important to you as an artist?

Yes, that was something I felt I had to do and wanted to do as I loved folk music and Irish rock like The Pogues and Thin Lizzy, plus I had a ghetto blaster as I worked in a Irish bar in Manchester called O’Sheas and I heard the fiddles mix with my beats on the ghetto blaster through the door and thought damn that sounds dope!

Is there a good hip hop scene in Ireland?

Back in the days there loads of MCs and there are still some great DJs, MCs and B-Boys.

You’ve worked and continue to work with an impressive of array of talent from Blaq Poet, Lord Jazz and Donald D to Wu Tang affiliates DJ Wiz and Dreddy Kruger. How did you hook up with guys from the US like that to do tracks?

I hooked up with Donald D on Facebook and we started talking, he was a cool guy and knew people I did. I spoke on Skype with him and Silkski from Wu Tang (rest in peace) and Andrea from NY aka Queen Sha, anyway i ended up  booking Donald D for shows round the UK and I was on the support, then we went up in the studio and laid some tracks like The Mics On and he did lot beats on my Redhouse album and the track with himself and and Craig G. The next show we did I got Lord Jazz  on and we linked, he’s a cool guy and a wicked DJ so we got him to do the beats on Redhouse and for the new single Do My Own Thing. I worked live with Jungle Brothers through linking in London when they were over and Mike and Bam got me up in Manchester, I’ll never forget that night, they’re cool people and family like.

Who would you love to do a track with in the future?

Id love to work with DJ Premier and do a rap featuring Big Daddy Kane or Rakim.

Have you been over to the US to perform and work at all?

Yeah back in 1999 when I was signed to Warner Brothers. It was in New York in the studio and for interviews.

What music have you got in the pipeline at the moment?

I’m  working on a new Freakin Inglish project with Eric T and other, also with Mr Crf and I’m working on my new album Redhouse Revisited with Chi MD, Scott F, Lord Jazz, Donald D, Chip Fu, Blaq Poet, Craig G, Mikey D, Imperial Bros, DJ Wiz (Wu Tang), DJ Doom and more.

How do you feel about the rise of social media when it comes to promoting your music?

It’s very good for a lot of  people to link up and work.

Have you got any upcoming live shows?

23rd July at Gorilla in Manchester and I just did the Chip Shop in  London with Donald D and in Manchester too, it’s all good bro.

Live hip hop sometimes gets a bad rep, do you always strive to rock a show no matter what?

Yeah, I always do my best to make people happy at my shows.

What makes a good live hip hop show?

What makes a good show the most is getting the sound right, a good place to play and good people and for the MC to show their skills with a DJ and love it when they freestyle.

What’s the best live hip hop show you’ve ever seen?

The best show was Lords Of The Underground and at the end they got me out of the crowd with Lords, Jeru and the Beatnuts and we did a freestyle cypher with Lord Jazz on the decks. Also seeing Big Daddy Kane and a dope show with Jungle Brothers, Rahzel and DJ JS-One.

What are your thoughts on where hip hop is in 2017?

In 2017 hip hop is everywhere but some of the rap is bad. The real shit is underground and still out there, you’ve just got to look for it. You’ve got dope shows like Lord Jazz, DJ Mike Mercury and Shan on London radio coming through.

What about hip hop in Manchester and the rest of the UK today?

Theres a lot of talent coming through like Smallz MC in Cornwall and also in Manchester, TNC, Black Josh and Seven Spheres with Dr G and also Mr Crf, Children Of Zeus and DJ Pressure as well as loads more.

Do you still get the same feeling when you hear a dope track today as you always did?

Yeah, always!

What are you listening to at the moment?

New Tribe, De La Soul, Run The Jewels, Mikey Ds new album, new Edo G, DJ Supreme, Sons Of Noise, MF Doom, Kool G Rap, Atmosphere, Masta Ace, Four Owls and loads of classic albums too.

What are some of your most memorable experiences in hip hop from back in the day til now?

Getting up onstage with Jungle Brothers and also Donald D and Lords Of The Underground. Meeting Guru on the Jazzmataz tour. Travelling  with DJ Pressure from Rapstation, a great mate and DJ. Talking with Man Parrish and him loving the track we did. Linking with Captain Rock, Mantronix, Davey DMX, Cozmo D and Newcleus, great times. Having Tuff Tim, Twist and Evo on a video we did with Little Tim, all B-Boying on. DJ Meza who got me back out on radio and jams and a long time mate.

Tough question! What are your top five hip hop LPs of all time?

Top 5 ummm tough! Big Daddy KaneLong Live The Kane, Eric B & RakimPaid In Full, Public EnemyYo Bum Rush The Show, Slick RickThe Great Adventures Of, there’s too many to name haha!

What about the greatest MC of all time. Who would you pick and why?

Kane or Rakim for the lyrics and flow tones, I think Kane.

What about the best DJ and producer of all time too?

DJ Premier

What MCs or groups can you recommend to us?

Too many to name but peep the radio shows of DJ Pressure, Mr Crf, DJ Mike Mercury and Mikey D who’s album is also doe. Shans radio show on Tracks and peep Lord Jazzs show too.

Have you got any final words for your fans out there, any shout outs you want to make?

Big shout to all that support and for the love and help. Thanks, peace.