So we decided that even though we’ve given Manchester-based MC Yoshi Riot love in the past, of recent it’s just not been up to par. He agreed we were probably right, and promised an in-dept, real and non-censored interview with us. Well being the scandal hound I am (scandal hound? Yeah why not) I asked him some pretty open-ended questions to see where he went with the answers. If you’re not a fan of Yoshi Riot by the end of this, then you are an idiot. Sorry.
Thanks again to our man for sitting down and doing this.
For fans of Ruthless, Genisis Elijah, Leddie & Smoggy.
Generic questions out the way, as usual! Who are you and what do you do?
I’m YOSHI RIOT!…as if you even have to ask…haha (I’m joking)
I can’t even explain what I do, I just get a beat and whatever’s going through my head…(or life) at the time…I write it down and chat it in time to the beat haha. I’m a rapper basically but that title is thrown about so frivolously these days I’m beginning to hate the word. And most of the fuckers calling themselves a rapper. It doesn’t define me though…It ain’t all I do…I work with young people in the care system also. I’m also involved with an activist group but I’ll say more about that later.
Why the name change?
It’s evolution. I’m constantly changing, ”YOSHI RIOT” was born out of struggle. He’s my bullet proof vest.
What got you into making hip-hop, and what influenced you?
Ahhhh man I hate telling this story because it makes me sound like a fuckin’ nutter. Basically my childhood was a bit messy and a lot of the things that went down made me really introvert…I couldn’t articulate what I was feeling, so I didn’t try. So my issues spilled out into my behaviour until eventually my school teachers suggested to my mother to take me to a psychiatrist, who suggested trying to write down what I was feeling. Sso I did, and naturally I started to notice certain words rhymed, so then it turned into like…really shit poetry haha. ANYWAY I was chilling at my cousin’s one day and he said ”ere Yosh have you heard this?” I was like 9 or 10 at the time, then he played this track and it was TUPAC – HOLLA IF YA HEAR ME. As soon as I heard the intro like ”tssh tssh ka,tssh tssh tsh ka” and TUPAC’s voice like… raging through the speaker, I just thought ”Yeah this is me”. So I started exploring hip-hop (mostly US) like Wu-Tang, Nas, Biggie, Tupac etc, etc. And started writing my own bars to their tracks. Which eventually evolved into getting L.P’S of other artists but rapping to the instrumental, onto TAPE….yeah TAPE…YOU KIDS DONT KNOW YOU’RE BORN hahah. Anyway…then I got involved in a youth project, that were taking kids in off the streets to teach them music production and recording. And then that was it. I wanna say a massive thanks to those people, because they took us off the streets and kept us out of trouble, and believed in us. When Rochdale Council were just Hell bent on destroying their youth. The workers were there voluntary…I don’t need to say more. That’s how I got into music…Hahah sorry for the essay.
The pace of your new EP ‘The Recycle Bin’ is a bit different from your older stuff; in fact in my humble opinion I’d say it was a departure from ‘Fled The Flock’. You seem a bit more relentless, and well pissed off for want of a better word. Was the change intentional?
I am pissed off…Um raging right, now but in a healthy way. (By the way ”The Recycle Bin E.P” wasn’t supposed to be an E.P, it was a few tracks I didn’t think were good enough so I just chucked ’em out). Going back to what I was saying…Yeah FLED THE FLOCK; I came from a conscious/spiritual angle and it was sort of a wasted effort really, I feel like that album will only make sense in about ten years time. If you’re not looking to ”FREE PALESTINE” in your bars then you get no love, and I have an issue with people (artists) that claim that they’re one thing..(freedom fighter, activist etc) and then you look at their timeline and they’re talking MONEY, or how hardcore they are…IF YOU CLAIM IT, BE IT. There’s too much falseness. That’s why im pulling away from that shit now…People don’t see what I’m involved in my day to day life, my career outside of music. I don’t need a microphone to claim I’m REAL. But yeah I’m taking a new direction with some awesome people who I respect and have a lot of love for and I’m being taught how to do things properly, professionally. I’m grateful.
One thing has always remained a staple within your material, is that you’re not a radio-rapper when it comes to content. For those people who aren’t aware of you, could you explain your mind frame when it comes to writing?
My brain is like a gun with no saftey, I don’t even think when I’m writing, it all comes from my heart. I don’t think ”oh shit I can’t say that” or ”people won’t feel that”. I’m not bothered. Hip-hop to me has always been my therapy, my only place I can go and say whatever I like. Life is hard at the best of times without limiting myself to what I can and can’t say in the one place I feel free. Saying that though…I am trying to be more listenable..I feel sometimes the way I come off, alienates me. But there’s always gonna be something that sparks that side of me. But it’s whatever’s on my mind or however I’m feeling. I could be talking about wanting to burn down Parliament one minute. Then in the next telling my object of desire, and how I wanna touch her hahahah there’s no limits…People need to stop worrying.
Keeping on a similar train of thought; UKHH over the last few years has a real reassurance in realistic and/or for want of a better word, political subject matter (everything is political, but you get what I mean). Even the party tracks have dropped the pseudo-American gangsta vibe, what would you attribute this to? And what are you feelings on UKHH as a whole?
In my opinion U.K hip-hop is growing up. I feel like artists have never been more serious about it. It’s not acceptable anymore to be just jumping on the mic with bullshit. All that ”bang bang”, road man, materialistic stuff is dying, and a lot of intelligence is being applied to the process. I’ve been listening and watching and it really is becoming ART. The use of words, angles, flow, to the production, mixing and mastering. A lot of time and effort and pride is being fed in. I’ve been involved a while and I’m still learning and I’m taking advice and guidance, so that my work is the best it can be. I wanna be a positive contribution to it. Not the reason it’s held back.
Going back to the political thing, British people love to bitch. We complain about everything from the weather to politics. We are an aware nation, so it’s no surprise it leaks into our music.
What’s The Liberation Squad and Anti-Swag Assembly then eh?
If I told you id have to kill you dead….hahahah!
Ahhh man right, have you got a spare week so I can explain? ANTI SWAG ASSEMBLY, basically Jister was working on an E.P called ”Anti Swag” which was basically a statement towards ”swag” and the bullshit that goes with the word. Long story short, ego, materialism etc…(you can go download that from his bandcamp btw.) Then we all started talking about it becoming a team thing like a collective, where we all support one and other, collab etc. And it just grew. Then ALEX BAILEY (boy genius) got involved and it turned into a cool friendship. THE ANTI-SWAG ASSEMBLY = a collective of artists that are anti-fad. That do their own thing regardless of fashions within mainstream hip-hop (Thanks Leddie).
I’d been aware of the Liberation Squad for a while and had crossed paths with the founder BLACK SNOW, he’s also a very talented poet And because of certain things I spoke about and stood for, Black invited me to join. Now this is a deep subject so I’m gonna show you the mission statement and website link so you can check us out.
We originally set up this movement so we could educate the people on what it is they need to know in regards to LAW and our RIGHTS, and not just LAW but to understand the SOCIETY we live in, and what it is we are a part of, all too often do we wave our RIGHTS goodbye, we fail to claim what’s out there (our RIGHTS), and because of this, the police use our lack of knowledge as their advantage. There are so many RIGHTS out there that we haven’t claimed, our RIGHTS to travel, our RIGHTS to privacy, our RIGHTS to protest, and many other aspects of our RIGHTS.
It’s so important that we teach ourselves the language of the system (LEGALESE), to teach ourselves LAW (Common Law), and the difference between LAWFUL and LEGAL, to also learn the way ACTS (Statutes) work, and to also teach others what you learn yourselves, and the best things of all, is to try and act upon what you learn, learn to EMPOWER yourselves, but to always stay RESPECTFUL and HONEST in the process.”
That’s the Liberation Squad and if you’d like to know more : http://www.ngwb.co.uk/
Tell us a bit more about your fourth coming debut album?
Okay, I’m currently writng for my debut which is due for release in summer 2013, all being well. It came about when me and Alex Bailey finished the ”Positives Attract E.P”. He looked at me and said ”We could bang an album together for summer ya know”. I was like, okay let’s do it. But the thing is Alex is a professional, he takes pride in what he does and he and Leddie have encouraged me to make this a proper release…Single…Video…Everything. And it won’t be a free download. So I’m taking my time, being thorough about it. Alex is a dope producer so I’m not worried about the musical side. I just wanna be able to deliver. This album is gonna have a different sound and feel. If you always do what you did, you’ll get what you’ve always got. And I want more outta this now. I’m not gonna name drop but I’m getting some good people involved. But yeah that’s the plan…No album title has been confirmed yet and no release date.
Aside from the album dropping what are your plans for the new year?
My plans? Haha man if you want god to laugh tell Him your plans. I’m just working on myself as a human. I wanna be better. I’m hoping to keep doing positive work in my career with young people and finally finish my diploma (which gets neglected for music). I’m hoping to meet and talk movements with my Liberation Squad family. I’m looking forward to just progressing with Anti-Swag assembly because I believe w’eve got the ingredients to be great.
On a solo thing, Im looking forward to finishing this album shooting the video, and I’m hoping this coming year I step into my own and just be happy. I’ve had a lot of upheaval this year due to my own mistakes you know, we might make music and present ourselves in a certain way, but famous or not…well known or not.. we’re all human and we’ve all got real life to deal with. My plan is to be alive, well and happy.
You and Leddie and Smoggy are pretty tight, and have collaborated before, are there any plans for more of that? Or any other collabs?
I love Leddie, she’s the mother goose of Anti-Swag Assembly haha. I’ve never met Smoggy funnily enough, I hope to though! ‘ve met with Jister, Leddie and Alex. Yeah ”Ain’t No Use” was the track…To be honest it only started doing well after them two rapped on it hahah. But yeah theres A LOT more to come, some really great stuff happening at the moment, but I can’t say too much. But I will say that Leddie and Smoggy’s album is out soon, and if you sleep on it you’re making a massive mistake!! I heard like a 25 second preview and nearly hung my mic up hahah. Nah seriously it’s gonna be sick and I respect their work ethic. It’s rubbing off on me.
Why? Am I gonna die after this interview? Haha. Erm dunno, It’s like when I’m on Twitter. I hate making my last tweet of the day anything profound, just incase I don’t wake up.(I’m weird). I just wanna say thanks to everyone who supports me (us) and all the people that show love because they don’t have to. They choose to. I wanna shout out Leddie and Smoggy, Alex Bailey, Jister. AntiSwagAssembly. I wanna send love out to my Liberation Squad family.
All the young people I work with who inspire me so much, I wanna be a positive role model to them @babbledomia she takes care of my poetry, she’s my Twitter guardian angel ha.
My family. And to people in my life that have supported me,taken care of me and loved me, even though they’re not around anymore I still wanna show love to them. There’s a million people I’d love to shout out but the page ain’t big enough. Don’t be offended! You know who you are.