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2005
The Beatnuts, Foreign Beggars, Imagineers, Solisai & more
The Burlesk dancing girls
The Beatnuts at Atlantic Bar

Anjool Malde spends a day in Oxford with Spanish grafitti artists, Arabic MCs, British beatboxers and American hip hop stars. Random, to say the least.

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By Anjool Malde

10th February 2005 was a fantastic day for Oxford's hip hop scene, with American stars The Beatnuts appearing as part of their three-venue UK tour. Through the day Oxford's clotheswear store Original Urban Imports transformed into an MC battleground as support acts including UK talent the Foreign Beggars showed off their skills, before the night's gig at Atlantic Bar. I caught up with some of the stars of the show...

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Juju (The Beatnuts)
The Beatnuts have worked with the likes of Cypress Hill, Fat Joe and Method Man.

How familiar are you with touring in the UK?
We've been coming to the UK since about 1989, though this might be our first time at Oxford.

You've now repeatedly toured across the globe - do you have any favourite cities to perform in?
I dunno... Europe itself as a whole has been great. England is pretty dope to come out to, but I wouldn't say any one city is better than another. In fact often at the smallest towns we play at, we see the biggest turnouts.

Your discography now boasts nine albums - which would you say is your favourite?
It would have to be either 'Stone Crazy' or 'A Musical Massacre'.

What's the relationship like at the moment with your label, Penalty Records?
You know I think things are cool now, though they've dropped the bomb on our next record. We'll keep doing what we're doing and same with them.

What's the reaction been to your 'Move the Crowd' tour so far?
It's been dope, I met some of the kids who attended our sold-out gig at the Jazz Cafe in London last week and it was kinda like a sentimental echo for what's to come. This is a college town and we've got a big college following, so I'm definitely looking forward to tonight.

Clubbing pictureCheck out the photo gallery from the Beatnuts set at Atlantic Bar - Thurs 10 Feb

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Shlomo & Orifice (Foreign Beggars)
Foreign Beggars won 'Best New Act' at the UK Hip Hop Awards 2004.

Members of Foreign Beggars have roots ranging from United Arab Emirates and Israel to Norway and Ghana. How did you all get together?
Orifice: Myself and Dag Nabbit lived in Dubai where we made hip hop and drum'n'bass material, and then reunited later in London with all the parties that were going on down there. I met Shlomo at a rave in Leeds, and DJ Noname at a university production of Wizard of Oz! So various places at different times.

Shlomo, do you have any influences from the world of beatboxing?
S: Nope, it's all me. I've been a jazz drummer since 10, and played in my dad's jazz quartet. I heard the likes of Rahzel and Killa Kela (see BBC Oxford interview here) before I started professionally, but none of my material's been lifted from them.

If you could pick one highlight in your career to date what would it be?
S: Working with Björk, which meant having 4.5 billion people, around two thirds of the world's population, hearing my beats at the Olympic Games opening ceremony last year.
O: It's difficult to pick just one, but Skinnyman's a childhood idol of mine and I performed with him in front of about 8,000 people. Elsewhere there's Rodney P's show, having our video on MTV, meeting the people we've met, performing in foreign countries, and of course the supermodels.

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SLK (Pornostars)
Spanish grafitti artists Pornostars are touring with the Foreign Beggars, producing live artwork during the daytime shows.

How did you get into the industry?
I started around 12 years ago, self-taught, mainly working in graphic design and canvasses.

Putting grafitti and hip hop together in this way is unique - how did it come about?
A old school friend of Orifice from Foreign Beggars who's based in Seville was into the graffiti scene. He formed Sprays Platinum and from there I founded Pornostars, who've recently been sponsored by spray paint company Montana Colours.

How does it feel to have your work on display at the Picasso Museum in Malaga?
It feels good, it's cool, but it's only one part of the equation, it's one thing out of many to me.

What other projects are you working on right now?
I'm being funded by Spanish government project Junta De Andalucia to work here. I'm also involved in graphic design firm Cloaka Design.

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Rob G (Solisai)
Solisai are a Cowley-based rap and hip hop crew.

 

Where are you originally from?
I'm from New York City. My partner, MC Lolo, is from Chicago, and DJ Rogue's from Basingstoke.

How long have you been in Oxford for?
8 years.

What have the main highlights in your career to date been?
The Reading Festival, plus opening for Klashnekoff and Phi-Life Cypher. In Oxfordshire the Cowley Road Carnival and the Truck festival.


What other projects are you working on right now?
Our next LP is out at the beginning of summer, and our one's available through Avid and Pola Records. I'm looking forward to doing future vinyl stuff... you ain't gonna get rich without dying trying! Also I'm performing at 'Bring The Noise' along with BBC Radio 1's Tim Westwood and Chris Goldfinger at Brunel Rooms on Friday 25th February.

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DJ Snuff, Manage & Precise Da Analyser
The trio are signed by Dented Records.

 

Where are you originally from?
DJ Snuff: Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Manage: Newcross.
Precise Da Analyser: Hackney. We're now all based in London.

What have the main highlights in your career to date been?
M: Supporting the Wu Tang Clan, Chuck D and Rahzel.

What other projects are you working on right now?
DJ S: We've got our own show happening in Brixton called 'Speaker's Corner', a big, free event. We've also got our 2nd release happening.
M: It's just a hip hop thing with us, we don't do the flash venues, we do it for the love of it.

How do you think tonight's gig is going to go?
PDA: Tonight's gonna be heavy.
M: It should be different, I'm eager to see what the Oxford scene's like. I'm seeing hip hop fashion everywhere here.

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Dr Syntax & Enlish (Imagineers)
The Imagineers are a Brighton-based MC crew.

 

Where are you originally from?
Enlish: I'm originally from Cornwall, Dr Syntax is from Banbury, the two others are from Yorkshire, and now we're all rooted in Brighton.
Dr Syntax: We do a lot of gigs in Brighton, and have a local following there. We're also supported by Rarekind graffiti store, who were featured on Channel 4's 'Faking It' show.

What have the main highlights in your career to date been?
DS: Supporting Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan.
E: I've done about 20 gigs in the last 3 months, and my highlight was opening for Guru [one half of Brookleyn duo Gang Starr].

How do you think tonight's gig is going to go?
DS: It's going to be off the chain, people aren't ready for it.
E: I'm new here, I'm the Oxford virgin. I'm looking to meet some Oxford virgins too, Fo' Shizzle!

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Skrein
Skrein is an MC and part of Underground Alliance.

 

What have the main highlights in your career to date been?
Even though I've supported huge people like Rahzel, my favourite show was actually two weeks ago supporting Task Force, at a big club in Newcastle called Foundation. There was the best energy there, the reception was immense.

You're part of Basementality Crew but spend a lot of time touring with Foreign Beggars?
Yeah, I just roll with them, that's my people's. We're all together in this industry.

What other projects are you working on right now?
I've just released my solo 12" on Dented Records called 'Mind Out / Once Upon A Skrein'.

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