Interview with Geoff Alan | MC/Rapper – Belfast City Breakers
What has Hip Hop ever done for us?
A four-part tribute to Hip Hop culture in Northern Ireland.
Film: 7.00pm: Bombin’, Beats and B-Boys / 8.30pm: Breakers Showcase / 9.30pm: World Premiere of Hip Hop Comedy Game Show / 10.30pm: DBMC’s and guests.
The event will include a special screening of Chris Eva’s acclaimed documentary about the Hip Hop scene in Belfast, Bombin’, Beats and B-Boys, which shows how Hip Hop and its early proponents were peacemakers in a broken community.
Is there healthy/unhealthy competition among other Hip Hop collectives?
I think there is always going to be some jostling for position, especially amongst rappers, in such an ego-driven art form. But in my experience, in terms of those who put in the work, its always been healthy, everyone has a common respect for what we are trying to build and we support each other but yeah when someone drops a new project that bangs, it definitely spurs us on to make sure what we put out is as good as if not better.
As a collective, how would you describe the dynamics of the group?
Rat Out Records and the DBMC consists of myself, Danny Droppit, Sammy Goodknees, Evol mc, ill Cast and DJ Cut Colum.
Droppit is the nuts and bolts, he does everything in the studio and along with Goodknees they produce all the music. Cut Colum does the scratching and the rest of us (including Danny) ‘do the raps’ but its a group effort in all of our endeavours … most of the time
Is there an originality to the Northern Ireland Hip Hop scene compared to the rest of world? Something unique, organic?
Definitely, the use of our own accents, dialects and colloquialisms gives us a different sound and unique style; in a country where 20 mins up the road – means that you have a different accent and use different vocabulary. I think it makes for a more diverse and original scene. Ireland has long been famed for its poets and storytellers and now in a new form, we are seeing that come to the fore again.
Like Graffiti, Hip Hop has often been described by many, as an art form for the under-represented communities / marginalised social backgrounds (universally). Graffiti, for example, expanded into different art-forms. Out of this, came ‘street-art’ which became its own genre – that have art critics! This ‘new-ish’ art-form has essentially become high-brow. Do you see any aspects of NI Hip Hop scene going in that direction at the moment?
I personally think first and foremost we build it for ourselves, to provide opportunities for artists to come through which weren’t there even when we started just a few years ago, in terms of what we do being accepted by those outside our community that’s not for us to concern ourselves with. Build the product, make the music, play it live and loud to ever-growing audiences and let it grow as it may, Irish Hip Hop deserves to be more than a novelty and the most important thing is to keep our integrity and continue to create something new, original and ultimately unmistakably us, If we attract attention from further afield or from outside our stereotyped demographic it will be because the music is worthy of it.
What is your favourite aspect of NI/home soil?
Our camaraderie, candour and craic.
Everything we do as creatives – is a statement. A stamp, an individual stamp by (and/or) audio-sound/verbally/visually. What is the statement of Hip Hop to you?
I try to stay away from defining whatHip Hop is, or what its statement may be. The genre has evolved many times and in many weird and not always wonderful directions, what sits firmly in the mainstream couldn’t be further removed from the origins of the culture in my opinion. What makes this new wave of Irish hip hop such an exciting and interesting product is the fact that it is being rebuilt from the ground up by people steeped in the right stuff, Hip Hop fans first and artists second.
The work going on behind the scenes from artists, producers, promoters etc is laying the foundations for our brand of Hip Hop to grow in a nice grass fed organic way, rather than being influenced from the outside and by popular culture. Hip Hop in this country has had a hard time of it, mostly ignored by venues and publications and often misunderstood and misrepresented, perhaps it is this which has allowed the development of authentic Irish Hip Hop to gain footing and begin to move forward, supported from within in a ‘for us by us’ kind of way. If pressed for an answer; Hip Hop for me is the ultimate form of self-expression, for a rapper or a b-boy, a DJ, producer or a graffiti artist it provides an opportunity to emote feeling and say what you want to say and trust me, Irish Hip Hop has plenty to say.
A four-part tribute to Hip Hop culture in Northern Ireland will be held at the Sunflower Bar, 65 Union Street, 18 March: 7.00pm – 12.00am (doors 6.30pm) – as Part of Imagine Festival of Politics and Ideas – more info here.
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