Introducing DJ Graduate, Tasman, Mohawk, Sea Breeze collectively known as Da Fugitivz. Straight out of Gambia they approach hip hop from a totally different angle to the money grabbing b**ch chasing of Nelly and co and you certainly won't find them collaborating with Justin Timberlake or J Lo. Instead they look to the masters of the trade in Tupac and Public Enemy, their live shows have been claimed as "the best live hip hop shows since Run DMC hit these shores" in a recent Designer Magazine review. We caught up with the guys in Manchester for the first ever UK Interview with Da Fugitivz.
Q: Gambia naturally isn't the first place you think
of when you think of a hip-hop legacy. What's the scene like over there?
Task Man: The scene over there right not is just growing up ready to start blazin' it in all four corners of the earth. Were trying to put Gambia on the map because in hip-hop there's no boundaries and every where you go there is hip-hop.
Graduate: Gambia is a small country and not a lot of people know about it so right now there's a series of competitions going on. It's like a battle because you've got MC's from Senegal and MC's from Mali and all the way to Ghana and most groups are getting signed with a lot of French Labels now. We signed a record deal last year with Atoll Music with publishing on Sony and were working with them to drop a new CD by the end of February were expecting it to blow up.
A lot of people don't know the name the Da Fugitivz right
now, but everywhere we go we leave a stamp there. So every time we have
an album or a single out there it clicks in the brains of people because
everywhere we go we play to a maximum.
Q: Just growing up in different cultural surroundings
will influence everything from the production through to the lyrical subjects.
For the average person on the street who has a very one dimension view
of hip-hop and doesn't appreciate the different forms, how would you describe
Da Fugitivz sound?
Mohawk: What I want to say is that our style of hip-hop isn't like the American style of hip-hop. We try to fuse our style with our old traditional language that is Wolof. We blend it with Wolof because hip hop is global and everywhere you go in the world they do their own hip hop - if you go to France they MC in French, if you go to Sweden they'll MC in Swedish - that's how it is in Gambia. And were also fusing the flavour of hip hop with the traditional instruments as well.
Graduate: When you're doing something you have
to do it in your own style in order to get recognition. If there's a line
and in that line everyone is playing hip hop, if you want to stand on that
line then you might be at number 23 or number 43 in that line, but if you're
doing your own style you'll always be first in that line.
Q: What do think of contemporary US hip hop with your
Nelly's and Ja Rule when you consider that back in the day there was Public
Enemy and Run DMC?
Graduate: I don't think Nelly's doing hip hop, I think he's doing flip flop. I don't call what he's doing hip hop.
Mohawk: Where I get my inspiration is Tupac and after that they lost the art of hip hop. Were talking about reality rap and if we compare that to Africa that's what I want to tell my country too.
Graduate: If you listen to Roots he said "Lost Generation, Fast paced nation, the world population confronting frustrations. Instead the principles of true hip hop have been forsaken. It's all contractual and money making" and it's true. Hip hop was the way of life and where we come from life is struggle over there and most of the youts drop out of high school with nothing to do. The unemployment rate is very high and guys just chill around and the government don't do anything. We try and step up the game and tell you "we've got to do everything ourselves" and talk about life. This is what the fugitives are all about.
Da Fugitivz records are available in France on Atoll Music (Sony)
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