Last night I had the pleasure of interviewing Ego Trip, one third of the Northern, UK group Poetiks. It was something that we’ve been trying to sort out for a while now, but due to bad time management on my end, it took a bit longer to come to fruition than it should. However the depth and length of the interview have definitely made up for the wait. Ego was extremely honest and open about the group’s progression and plans, as well as his own solo efforts. He even gave me some indie hip-hop scaaaaaandals (I’m a gossip hound yeah, and what?), and didn’t hold anything back when he talked a lot about their old management and their past troubles, but for more you just have to read the interview.
Anyway, thank-you very much to Ego Trip for being so patient, and for always supporting us and generally being an all round good dude. If you weren’t aware of these guys before, then I strongly suggest you become acquainted with them, and fast. Why not read our previous review for their last EP ‘Fun’s Over’ eh? That seems like a good place to start.
For fans of Big Dutty Deeze, Twizzy, Rhyme Asylum.
1) Generic question! Who are you?
I’m a hip hop artist originally from Consett Co. Durham (Near Newcastle) currently living near Chester. I go by the name of Ego Trip and have been rapping for 11 years now. I’m currently with indie Hip Hop label Hi Risk Records. I’m also part of a group called Poetiks which consists of myself, Prospekt and CeeJay. We formed the group last July so we’re still in our debut year.
2) How did you get into hip-hop, and what’s the story of Poetiks formation?
I first got into Hip Hop back in senior school when some girl was playing a mixtape at the back of English class. I asked her if I could borrow it and i was fascinated by the way the rappers would stitch their words together and tell stories. I loved poetry in school so I tried my hand at writing ’16’s’ looking back now though they were disgusting lol.
Poetiks started back in late 2005. I brought Prospekt into the game and taught him the basics of rap song structures. We decided to form as a duo under the name Poetiks. To be honest nothing happened back then so it was thrown on the back burner. It wasn’t until last July that me and Pekt decided to do a joint EP as Poetiks again. That night we recorded the songs ‘War Music’ and ‘Spitting & Rhyming’. It was a few days after that Pekt rang me up, and was like, ‘We need to add CeeJay to this group, trust me it’ll work’. And the rest as they say is history.
3) Was Prospekt not a rapper before you taught him??
Nah he wasn’t, never written a lyric in his life lol!
4) I like that you have CeeJay in the group; it adds a nice dynamic. Is he featured on all your tracks on your new record?
Yeah he will be. On the last 2 albums ‘Retribution’ and ‘Fun’s Over’ Pekt and me have days where we just spaz out and just go in over something. CeeJay doesn’t class himself as a rapper, so he stays off the hardcore stuff sometimes. He’s one hell of a singer though, and for me to see him grow as an artist over the last 4 years is a pleasure… Same with Prospekt, I feel proud!
5) Talking of your last two records, can you give us a few details about Retribution 2? I’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak preview of a few songs, but can you say a bit more about what you’re going for on this album?
Yeah, so if anything leaks Im coming for you lol! Nah seriously, with this album we said we wanted to get the hunger back that we had on Retribution. For me that’s our best release to date. ‘Fun’s Over’ was cool, but it was rushed due to bad management so we weren’t able to execute the whole release like we wanted to, to be honest. Although you lot gave it a sick review and I thank you for that .. Going back to Retribution 2 though we’re just having fun with it. and walking a very thin line in terms of commercial Hip Hop. We were dubbed the perfect cross over group by another site, so we decided to play off that. We’ve got catchy hooks, deep lyrics, punchlines, radio tracks, underground hits – the lot. Trust me you wont be disappointed.
6) See, a lot of people are so quick to get their knickers in a twist if a song has a hook in it. Just because you’re an inde rapper, doesn’t mean mean you can’t have a few hooks. Was this intentional, or was it just how it all came out?
It was something we wanted to do more of especially with CeeJay in the group. We want to get the best out of everyone, that’s why we’re really fussy with beats. We use instrumentals that CeeJay can shine on, but also me and Prospekt can come hard on. With Retribution 2 (so far) it’s just been hit after hit. Not many people know this, but I think it needs saying Prospekt is one hell of a songwriter. He writes 70% of the chorus’.
7) Any chance of a few videos for the new record?
Fingers crossed, yeah. That’s a thing that’s been missing from our arsenal. We have a few tracks in mind about a video though. That’s thanks to Compton and Toni-Marie from ToCo, our new management.
8) Getting into scandal and intrigue, what was the deal with your old management?
Haha!! We were planning ‘Fun’s Over’ last November and we wanted to do a song with Dipset affiliate Cardinal Red. We contacted his manager and showed her our Retribution album. Next thing I know she wanted to manage us, and have us under the Dipset movement- of course we jumped at the chance. She started promising plans and all kinds of things, but never told us anything. With us being keen we wanted a meeting with Dipset asap, so we could show them our Retribution album. She didn’t want us to show anyone our old stuff as it wasn’t copyrighted. It came to the beginning of December, and she wanted us to have ‘Fun’s Over’ out before 2013! That gave us 31 days to drop an album better than Retribution. It was never going to happen! We weren’t happy with the release date either as we wanted to release ‘Fun’s Over’ in January, but she said none of her artists drop projects in 2013 without her say so… She was full of shit, we were the only artists to drop a project in the timeframe! We’d also ask about what the plans were; surely as our manager we should know what direction we were heading in, but she wouldn’t say. In the end we had a big blow out and packed our bags, leaving the Dipset opportunity behind.
9) Was it hard to get out of contract and move to ToCo? How did you move over there anyway?
We had asked for links with the likes of JR Writer, but she just kept putting things off. Fuck her, she’ll regret being a dick once she hears the new album .. As mad as it sounds we didn’t actually sign the contract. We wanted to see what moves she could make for us before we put pen to paper. Sly I know but you have to be so careful in this industry. ToCo are a newly formed management based in Newcastle. Toni Marie is actually an amazing singer herself. I sent them over a few tracks from our last 2 albums. Within a few days Compton and Toni were on the phone saying they were interested in managing us, as we have that unique sound. There were no sticky situations or anything, it was just a case of “we like what we hear, sign us up!”.
ToCo do everything from music to events. They know their stuff. Poetiks are already headlining a night they have going on in Newcastle next month. ToCo along with my old friend Stu, who created Hi Risk Records can take us to the next level.
11) That leads us nicely on to how you guys got signed to Hi Risk?
Hi Risk was formed by Stu and a few of his mates back in 1998. I remember first meeting Stu back in 2002, and he mentioned how Hi Risk was on the back burner. After months of me literally begging him to start it back up, he finally agreed and my first album went out via them – it was awful lol. I was a terrible artist back in the day! As the years went on and I progressed the more, Stu started to take it more seriously again. We made Retribution and Stu literally fell in love with it. The album went out via HR, and it’s become both mine and the label’s main focus. Stu does a hell of a lot of work in the background. He does all the sites, is the founder of rawroots.com and also does all our artwork. I owe that guy a lot.
12) Back to the album! Aside from the musicality of it, what were you influences when writing? What are your influences in writing in general?
When I do my solo stuff I tend to write a lot of personal stuff that’s been bottled up for a while, but that won’t be the case on my next solo EP. People ask why I don’t drop solo tracks in the same style of Poetiks. I promise you the next EP will be crazy, people were asking, so I’ve decided to call the project ‘Speak of the Devil’ . When I’m writing with Poetiks me and Prospekt are very competitive so we’re both thinking of the craziest flows, or the maddest punch lines. Anything goes with the Poetiks stuff like, ‘Developed hearing aids from phone sex, that’s a punch line according to my wife locked out on the doorstep’. Or Prospekt’s, ‘I’m always thinking ahead like, I’m a horny Nostradamus’ lol. It’s mad, it’s like there’s 2 of me, if that makes sense.
13) When’s your solo EP gonna be out?
Once I’ve finished recording for the new Poetiks album, I’ll start on the EP. I don;t like working on too many things at once, because I dont feel like I’ve given the particular project my all. I’m looking at June time as a possible release date.
14) Right! What are your future plans for you and your crew? In the next 6-12 months?
Finish off this Poetiks album, then release Speak Of The Devil. After that it’s guess work really, but expect another Poetiks release before the year is out.
15) Any last words?
Just thanks for all the work your site does for us. You’ve been a site that’s followed me for the last couple of years, so thank-you. Just a huge shout out to the whole Hi Risk movement, things are taking shape. Look out for our stuff with ToCo, and follow us on twitter @OfficialPoetiks @HiRiskRecords www.facebook.com/poetiks www.hiriskrecords.com
Interviewed by Aimee.