MJ here, your favorite Hip Hop Blogger! Tonight we will get to know England’s well-known and established recording artist, Cuban Pete. First and foremost, thank you for connecting with me and taking time out of the studio for this interview. Before we begin, I must share that in terms of travel I live through the artists that I interview. With that being said, tell me what life is really like in England! I want to know similarities, and differences of course with lifestyles and the music scene. I’m also curious what it was like for you growing up in England. Did you fascinate about the states, like most of us here fascinate about other countries?
CP: England’s different. It’s not as extreme as America. There’s always similarities though. I feel things are becoming more “in your face” as people and society changes. A lot of kids are crazy confident now because of this whole, everyone is a celebrity culture we’re in. People aren’t scared to make money by being stupid. They think all press is good press.
I can only talk about myself. I did always look up to America as the birthplace of Hip Hop, even though there is a great respect for the culture over here from most fans. When I started rhyming myself I was already involved long enough to know better than to try and copy the accent of it all. That’s been outlawed in the UK for years now! Although you still get the odd rapper, and more mainstream influenced who you would swear is from Atlanta but is actually from Sunderland. The ones caught up in the “stuntin and frontin” lifestyle.
A word to the US though; don’t listen to Westwood riding the grime wave to stay “relevant”. UK Hip Hop has been strong and unique for years before grime hit. Shouts to Hijack, Blade, Katch 22, Silver Bullet, Gunshot, MC Mello, Icepick, London Posse, Mud Fam, Task Force, and many others for paving the way and carrying on tradition.
MJ: It is refreshing to learn that you are part of the emcee crew, a true Master of Ceremony. You take pride in creating music that gives purpose, and meaning. Why is that key for you? I mean there are endless rappers who simply create music to make a quick, catchy hit. What separates you from that lane?
CP: When I was growing up it was about talent and skills and for most heads those are the real markers MCs are judged by. These “mumblesexuals” today can’t compare. When they decide they are fed up of being wack and try and step up their game lyrically their fans will feel like idiots for liking their wack stuff.
We all like having hits, and getting that recognition. To appeal to the mass public can mean a dilution. I think that’s changed somewhat. It’s not so much a dilution of the music these days, though obviously jumping on the latest trend helps, but it’s also a dilution of yourself. Doing anything and everything to stay “relevant”. It’s about finding a balance and being true to yourself.
MJ: Although you are “Old School” in a sense with your music, you do exude levels of uniqueness and originality so you are not boxed in or labeled as only creating one type of sound or style. So besides capturing the essence of true Hip Hop, what else does your music offer to listeners? What can they expect from you as a recording artist?
CP: I say I’m Old School because I’ve been into this industry for around 30 years. I grew through the Golden Era and I have that inventiveness and originality inside of me. But I’m still fairly new as a serious recording artist. I’m working with several producers on different projects that I want to have different feels. I want to create music that people recognize through the saturation of the market.
MJ: You mention that style is essential! Elaborate on that.
CP: I’m an artist. That translates through the visual and the audio. As an artist, an original artist, you have to have style. Style that people recognize as you. It’s not about fitting in its about standing out.
MJ: Talk about the fans and appreciation for music. I know the Hip Hop scene and culture overseas is incredible and intense!
CP: Any artists from the US who has travelled overseas will tell you how the love for the culture is greater over here. The appreciation is great. The music really brings people together. Most of the backbiting is just between the artists. Obviously there’s people who’ll love a Lady Leshurr but not know who Craig G is but that’s par for the course. Not everyone who raps knows their history but a lot of fans do. Don’t piss off a UK rap fan though (or even a UK rapper) because you’ll be dead to them from that point on.
MJ: Can you tell us what’s hot right now with Cuban Pete? Also what can we look forward to in the new year?
CP: I’m working on my promotion more, to get my work out there. I’ve just started a new website, www.nomadsstreetteam.com, with another talented artist on the FNBG Records roster called Just Write. Were trying to make it the next thisis50! And I’ve still got my www.c75live.com site of course.
I’m going to keep the singles and videos coming as well as my “Renaissance Man” mixtape, followed by my “Capital C Capital P” album, and my collaboration album “When Warriors Come Out to Plaaaaayyy”.
I also have the “Live Test’ ep with OneMike (T.E.S.T Squad), an as yet untitled project with NY producer B.Dvine www.bdvinemusic.com. I have several Gorilla Army projects and a joint album with the head of the army D.Original Mr.Blue www.hoodiswatching.com. Also in the works is an album called “A War Goin On Outside” with DJ WIZ (Wu Coalition DJ). That should keep me busy…
I design clothing and merchandise for Krumbsnatcha’s label Mind Power Entertainment at www.mindpowerwear.bigcartel.com, and Gorilla Army at www.gorillagearshop.bigcartel.com. I’ll be putting together something with OneMike called Kings Ransom. Me and Mike have been working together for a while now. He’s part of my C75 Live Crew and I’m part of his T.E.S.T. Squad.
I also have my hands full with my design work doing art covers, flyers, etc.
MJ: Lyrics or beats? As an artist do you have the opinion that one outweighs the other?
CP: You can use either to make a dope track but the best tracks use both. But I came in the game loving lyrics and wordplay, which is why I emcee instead of making beats I guess. Although I’d love an MPC.
MJ: Let’s talk collaborations. Who is on your list to share the stage or studio time with?
CP: Tragedy Khadafi is a possibility right now. Redman and Method Man would be a dream. I don’t really think about it like that though. Most of my collaborations have come about through talking and vibing, or a trade of skills like artwork for a verse. It’s been a mutual organic thing, as opposed to me pursuing or outright paying someone.
MJ: You have worked with many major artists, some of my top favorites such as Pacewon, Blaq Poet, and Krumbsnatcha! Did they share any words of wisdom, or drop any jewels on becoming successful in the music industry?
CP: Those guys have done it all so yeah I pick up things, like I do from most people I work with. But the main thing I get from collaborations is that feeling of competition. Proving I can hang or be better than who I’m on the track with. My collaboration album will be crazy!
MJ: Let’s play the 3 game so readers can get to know you a little better. Who is in your top 3 personal playlist? What 3 places would you like to tour? Who are 3 influences, personally and musically?
CP: 3? I had an 160GB IPod and filled it! My favorite album ever is “illmatic”. I have a best of M.O.P. I put together, and a best collaboration ever playlist. I can’t get it down to 3 artists, you’re crazy, lol!
Touring would be America, Brazil, and… I’ve heard Germany is live out there with the fans.
Personal influences come and go. Heroes are human and let you down. Musically though I’d say Redman, Wu-Tang as a collective, and the third is probably a D.I.T.C. or B.C.C. type collective. Only three is hard after 30 years.
MJ: As we wrap up, is there anything else you would like the world to know about yourself?
CP: I’m here to cut through the bullsh*t! You might not hear about me every day on these Hip Hop gossip sites but I will still be here in front or behind the scenes making moves. The race is not a sprint, the game is long.
MJ: Thank you again for taking time out for MJ! I wish you much continued success, salute!