Published: 29/11/2012 10:55 - Updated: 29/11/2012 09:35

North meets south at Inverness hip hop gig

Written byby Margaret Chrystall

Inverness Underground. Picture: Scott Baxter
Inverness Underground. Picture: Scott Baxter

THERE'S a big night for hip hop fans on Saturday when Mad Hatters becomes a mecca for some of the most intriguing names on the Scottish DJ and MCing front, from the Highlands and centre of Scotland.

From the Highlands are Inverness Underground - from left - KD, Sherbit, Paul Scott and Brude - and DJ Butterscotch who will be working with Hector Bizerk's Louie.

And with his Fort William connections, Beejay Jamieson aka Damaged Goodz is not only on the bill with regulars Tank and Zini, but brings North some of his friends and heroes.

Heading up from the centre of Scotland for the Inverness night are hip hop pioneer and DJ Big Div, Shadow People regular Nity Gritz who appears with DJ Toni Smoke, then Louie - an MC who is part of progressive live act Hector Bizerk - with DJ Butterscotch.

Nity Gritz
Nity Gritz

Beejay said: "Last time there was a hip hop event, I was talking to venue booker Steve Robertson about expanding on it.

"I have a lot of friends on the hip hop scene and everyone I got in contact with to do this all have the same authentic passion for hip hop."

He is also looking forward to seeing local outfit Inverness Underground.

Beejay said: "Inverness Underground came from Spit-Dis and I was a big fan of that. Sherbit sent me a lot of links to his music and I have been getting right into it."

The format of the night, which starts at 9.30pm is set to be DJ sets, live acts, freestyling from Louie, NityGritz, Damaged Goodz and possibly others, before the night ends with the final DJ sets.

Though other local artists Mgoff or Andi can appear as Inverness Underground, the core is the three guys in IntelliGents - Brude, KD and Sherbit plus Paul Scott or Scotti when performing live.

Sherbit explained: "We started working together under the name Semi-Decade around the end of 2002. Once we had a basic grasp of the skills needed and ability to compose tracks we amended the name to Spit-Dis and recorded and performed around Scotland.

"While we were working under these names we were a four-member group with Preach.

But, due to creative differences, we stopped working as a four-piece around four years ago."

Since then, Sherbit, Brude and KD have been spending their time honing lyric and studio-based skills without much performing live, apart from recent outings at the Ironworks, Ig:lu and Mad Hatters.

Sherbit explained: "Our styles and passion are based around recorded music rather than freestyling or battle rapping - which, though valid hip-hop skills, are not really what we're about."

From left - Tank, Big Div, Beejay and DJ Zeeny.
From left - Tank, Big Div, Beejay and DJ Zeeny.

With tracks recorded at one of several home studio set-ups and released via YouTube, ReverbNation, Soundcloud and also on CD, they have featured on numerous mixtapes around the Scottish scene including the Scotland Stand Up and Scant Squad releases.

Paul Scott and KD also had a track on the (italic)Unsigned Hype Vol 3 released in the US with the track It's Evident.

Both Sherbit and Paul have released solo mixtapes in the past two years which have used a mix of originally-produced beats and "jacked" beats.

Now there is set to be an IntelliGents album out next summer with exclusively-produced beats made by Scottish producers such as Evil Beats, Josh Rice, Scant Squad, Konchis & Physiks and Verse1.

"All of our material is written by us, regardless of the source of the beat," said Sherbit.

When Hector Bizerk's main man Louie first appeared in Inverness, it was with a production giving a hip hop take on opera La Boheme.

Since then, he's played Mad Hatters with live act Hector Bizerk (tagline "Drums. Rap. Yes"), though he also has a great reputation as a solo MC behind him - and a YouTube presence as a skilled battler with 11 wins now behind him.

But the battle is not what it's all about for Louie.

"I love it and hate it," he said.

Referring to his 11-time winning streak, he laughed.

"It just means there's more pressure every time!"

Louie offered an insight into the world of the battle - where one MC takes on another in a witty battle of words and clever insults to each other.

"I suppose we all kind of know one another and the battles are part of that, they are unifying Edinburgh and the central belt and some people come through from Perth and Dundee. Although some of the stuff that is said is not the nicest, it's all in good sport.

"Sometimes there is a cash prize for the battles so that always instensifies it a bit.

"It's a good thing to do I feel - I have never lost a battle yet.

"I've won 11 in a row over a guy from Ireland and quite a number of English boys and some Edinburgh and Glasgow guys as well, so it's good."

Louie laughed: "But I kind of feel more and more pressure every time now. In some respects I wish I didn't had that streak, then I could go in and enjoy it! But you get that with any kind of sport."

Appearing on his own at Mad Hatters on Sunday, teamed with local DJ Butterscotch, Louie reveals a bit about his start on the hip hop scene.

"I was releasing records with just a DJ or just a producer or just myself - all sample-based, since I was 14.

"So by the time I was 21 or 22 - when we started Hector Bizerk - I was ready for a new challenge.

"Your standard hip hop would be 88 or 90 beats a minute whereas I saw an opportunity when I started working with Audrey Tait - the drummer in Hector Bizerk - to really push myself.

"I wanted to try and take my talents to a different dimension with more experimental rhythms and call and response with the drums rather than just a guy rapping over the drums.

"We just tried to push one another.

"I think it has worked out well because we have played some quite major festivals over the summer and we have built up quite a decent following from that.

Louie from Hector Bizerk.
Louie from Hector Bizerk.

"Probably one of the main reasons we got Hector Bizerk together - rather than just getting the creative juices flowing - was I noticed that when I first started putting on hip hop events, established promoters weren't interested.

"We had to put on DIY events because a lot of venues wouldn't have us, there is a stigma there.

"I don't know why.

"Maybe before the venues couldn't make money on hip hop, so we started putting our own events on.

"Partly, when we started up Hector Bizerk, it was to try and fill the gap for a marginalised, underground hip hop community.

"We've had really big nights in Glasgow and Edinburgh with 250 to 300 there for hip hop specifically.

"But in Glasgow there is such a diverse range of live music available that I felt all the good work I was doing and other guys were doing in the hip hop community was going down pretty much unnoticed.

"So I took it upon myself to try and bridge that gap and get into the ears of all the indie kids and the punk rockers and people who are genuinely interested in different types of music."

Louie agreed that possibly people more used to a band gig format are a bit wrong-footed by the set-up for hip hop.

"Some people are used to going to a gig where you've might have your standard bass-player, guitarist, frontman or woman and drummer and it's a safe idea of a band.

"But if you've got a guy with an MP3 with a set of turntables and maybe a DJ, for some people there's not enough going on to hold their attention. So it can be quite challenging in that respect. Some people, even if they are not into the music, enjoy just watching people playing physical instruments.

"With the battle, I think I have a Jekyll and Hyde relationship with it," he laughed.

"You adopt a persona - maybe of an aggressor or a comedian, or you can go in and be a nice guy - it's an act.

"But the battles, in some respects, as much as I hate them - and love them as well - have done wonders for the hip hop community because they draw in big crowds.

"We've recently moved into the ABC in Glasgow which is quite a big venue and it has always been really busy.

"I think the promoters are now seeing this and making a start to want to get involved."

And Louie even feels some of the stigma once attached to hip hop might be fading for more people.

"There's been a bit of a feeling in the mainstream that the default setting to the average punter for hip hop is all about bling and bitches and gangsters. that was an early stereotype of the early 90s."

But Louie points out that when hip hop began, the likes of LL Cool J and Grandmaster Flash had something to say and rap was all about protest and what he calls "social consciousness lyricisim".

"The labels started to make demands and artists were encourage to trivialise the social aspects that were such an important part of the early emergence of hip hop.

"But there has always been a healthy underground scene and that's a huge positive."

Louie's modest when you throw at him the "future of hip hop" tag that follows him around.

"I don't know about that - it's quite a responsibility!" he laughed. "Before I played in Hector Bizerk, I worked with a beatboxer called Big Taj and a DJ as well and it is nice to go back to that. So I'm really looking forward to it."

The hip hop night is at Mad Hatters, Inverness, on Saturday, starting at 9.30pm.

Hear Nity Gritz at: soundcloud.com/nity-gritz

Find out more about Big Div at: www.bigdiv.com

Hear Beejay Jamieson in his Damaged Goodz guise at: soundcloud.com/damaged-goodz-2

Hear Hector Bizerk at hectorbizerk.bandcamp.com/

Links for Inverness Underground are:

Paul Scott links: Mixtape Album: The Resurrection Of... free download from this link

http://vibedeck.com/paulscott-i/the-resurrection-of and at www.reverbnation.com/paulscotti

Sherbit links: http://www.facebook.com/SHERBIT and Intelligents links: http://www.facebook.com/intelligentsmusic

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