#EXCLUSIVE Frisco Talks ‘Back 2 Da Lab 5’ and more in exclusive interview

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Grime veteran Frisco is someone who should need no introduction to followers of grime and the UK music scene in general. The 35-year-old Tottenham spitter has been a part of grime history and consistently cemented his status with his tenacious rapping style, punchy lyrics and his confident charisma. Frisco is a member of North London grime collective Boy Better Know and has done many great things within the scene. His verses on ‘Private Caller’ and ‘Too Many Man’ serve as reminders of this as do clashes with Wiley and Scorcher, his reputation as a stage show don and more importantly, his ‘Back 2 Da Lab’ series. He has gone on to start his own live events company and record label The Den.

Frisco was nice enough to meet with myself, and one of Link Up TV’s online editors Tevyn J. On a scorching hot Wednesday afternoon in London as we chopped it up over a whole heap of subject matter including his label, red meat, his recent Back To Da Lab Vol. 5 project and more.

S: I just remembered that you met my friend and your doppelganger Kadeem. What was that like?

F: The one that does the drinks? Yeah, when I first met him, I didn’t really see it if I’m being honest with you. Then we took a picture together and then I thought “ah man, this is peak”. I was laughing my head off.

S: When I first saw the picture I was like “yooo”. I couldn’t believe it.

That was scary still.

(laughter)

J (Jadie, Frisco’s PR): What drinks does he make?

S: Sorrel. (I pronounced it like a West African would before Tevyn and Frisco corrected me)

F: Where are you from?

S: I’m Nigerian.

(laughter)

S: Plantain, plantin

F: (explaining to J) It’s like a West Indian drink. It’s red, it’s quite thick but you mix it with water. It’s sweet. His (Kadeem) one is nice still.

J: That sounds nasty.

S: Yeah its proper nice. But yeah it’s been around six years since the last Back To Da Lab. I know you put out two projects after Vol. 4 (British Nights and System Killer). Why was now the right time for Vol. 5?

F: Like you said, its been six years. I promised the B2DL last year in 2017 and I just had to stick to my word. I always had one pending. I was just gonna drop another album last year but I was like “you know what, let me just do it”. I started recording for B2DL in like November or December times and finished recording in like February.

S: It came out very well and I know that it was 18 tracks. Was that always in your head to do 18 tracks?

F: No I wanted to do 15 and then it trickled over to 16 and before I knew it I had 18 tracks that I could not use. Do you get what I mean? I didn’t even wanna do 18 tracks to be totally honest with you. But I just thought let me throw them in.

S: I remember projects like Fully Grown, that was 15 tracks. System Killer that was 15 tracks and British Nights was 10 songs. I know you like to condense so it was a shock to see that you added 18 songs but listening back, it doesn’t sound like a long album. What producers did you work with?

F: I worked with a lot of unknown producers on this project. Like maybe 40% of the whole project is me working with producers that you won’t know. Some of them are from New York, there’s a couple of guys that are from Toronto. There’s a couple of guys that are from Berlin. And then the producers you would know… I mean the guy that made ‘Young Kings’, his name is Ryan Fraser, he’s from the States. The guy that made ‘Cricket’ is called Montana Beats. A lot of people’s favourite tunes are from producers that you wouldn’t know. Producers that you would have known are people like HeavyTrackerz, Show N Prove, SplurgeBoyz.

T: Who produced the track with Skrapz?

F: Wizzy Wow. He produced that one and he produced the one with Chip. ‘Pretty Like Money’ Yeah he produced both of those tracks.

S: That’s a good look still. Going back to the sample used in ‘Cricket’, that’s from ‘Levitate’ from Kendrick Lamar’s album ‘untitled unmastered’. Who’s idea was that?

F: You know the wickedest ting is that I didn’t even know that was the sample. It’s only since I’ve gone back (to listen to it) because I didn’t know that. And even when I listened to it I didn’t catch it straight away because I was listening for the wrong thing. What was the question again?

S: Who’s idea was it to use the sample?

F: Oh yeah, that had nothing to do with me. I think Montana’s manager sent me that beat and some other bits. When he sent me the parts, I just changed it a little bit but for the most part it was done so I can’t take any credit for that.

S: I know you mentioned this on your project a few times but I just wanted to know. When did you stop eating red meat?

F: Since last October.

S: Have you been feeling any effects since?

F: I ain’t felt a major difference like what everyone is saying. A little bit, maybe. Maybe I’m a bit stringer because I’ve started working out more.

S: Yeah I noticed when I first walked in because I know you used to be leaner.

(laughter)

F: What does leaner mean, skinnier?

J: Yeah lean is like slender.

F: That’s what you wanna hear when you’re going gym you know

(laughter)

F: I’m laughing because I can’t see it.

S: Vol. 5 boasts an impressive array of guest features including Skrapz, Chip and Moelogo as well as the BBK family. You stayed true to your sound. Do you find it because of newer artists chasing trends or did you think “nah forget that, let me just do Fris”?

F:  A lot of the stuff that’s going on now… I like it. I didn’t feel any pressure to do it or cross over because I cross over when i want to cross over. I feel that I’m the artist that can do that and have no one look at me funny because that’s the kind of artist that I am. I can do what I want, that’s the way my style is set up. That’s from the music I listen to. If an Afro or Dancehall guy called me to jump on a tune and I like it, I’m gonna rap. It’s still gonna sound like Frisco.

 

S: I liked that there were a range of different sounds and you were still barring on tracks on this project. There was a line that said “everyone sounds like J Hus, everyone sounds like Drake” which let me know that you’ve been paying attention to what’s going on in the scene. Are there any new artists that you’re feeling right now?

F: Yeah I like Suspect, Ambush and Octavian mainly.

S: Do you feel like this is different from your previous releases?

F: Yeah all my releases are different to each other because from the last one I’ve evolved. I’ve got better. My music has become more polished and advanced. It’s still grimey but I know more about music so you can hear an improvement. I always want to make my next project better than my last.

S: Even listening back to System Killer, you sound different. Now it sounds like you have improved your musicality as opposed to selling out. Listening back to ‘Boyfriend’ on Fully Grown, that track was so different to anything on B2DL5. It does show progression in your music and it’s good to see because you’ve been a staple in the scene for ages.

(laughter)

S: Obviously you’re BBK, but you’ve been throwing events as The Den for over three years now. What made you want to turn that into a fully fledged record label?

F: I just felt that it made sense. Basically the platform is there for the new artists to develop and do their ting. And it’s also a platform for established artists to come back and give back to their fans and perform in that intimate setting. It makes sense to take that platform and produce music using it. The label will sign people but we are more concerned with doing projects with people. We see potential in some artists and we approach them to do mixtapes, EP’s and basically do everything that a label does. But we also handle the live events side. we are in and out of the country so those are things we can artists because we want to work with them.

S: Even going back to The Den, I know you went to the BBK Takeover and to Berlin for Levi’s 50th anniversary of the denim trucker jacket. What was that experience like?

F: It was sick because we didn’t go out there for music, we just went there to collab with Levi’s. It was a great experience because we got to customise jackets and to see our product in there with some sick designs. I didn’t go there as an MC but obviously people recognise you for what you do. But at the same time, I didn’t go there to promote Levi’s.

S: Do you have anyone on the roster of The Den currently?

F: At the moment we’re working with different people. Have you heard of a producer called Lewi B? Yeah we’re working with him on a compilation. We’re getting different people to make songs over his beats. So we’re working with him on that. We’re working with a dancehall artist called Newbaan, he done a tune with BBK in around 2014 called ‘Shaky’. At the moment those are the two that we’re mainly working with. Like I said I’m trying to work with the artists and not dictate to them.

T: What do you think of UK Drill?

F: I like it.

S: Have you been following what’s been going on in the news lately with drill?

F: A little bit. All I’ve heard is about what they’re tryna say and what they’re tryna do and it’s typical because with anything that young black yutes are doing, they’re gonna try to shut that down.

S: Yeah they’ve tried it with grime and road rap before as well. Any new genre or sub genre that we monetise, they try to take it out of our hands.

F: But that only makes it bigger and better.

S: Yeah I tell people all the time that if you criminalise something, it’ll only make it more popular. Going back to your project, I’ve listened to it a few times and I really liked it. It genuinely sounds like you’re having fun with it. Do you ever get writers block or fall into a slump?

F: Yeah I’ve had writers block before and it’s horrible, one of the worst things ever. I haven’t had it in a long time and I think that’s because I approach music differently now. I make music when I want to make music, not when I feel like I have to. Especially because I’ve got my own studio so when something comes to me I can just be in the studio.

S: Touching on your background briefly, there’s been a lot of media coverage on the Windrush generation. Do you have any thoughts on that?

F: I don’t even really have anything to say about that because we all know that’s f*cked up. Everyone knows that’s f*cked up, there’s nothing else that can be said. You come over here, you work your whole life. You’ve even got a British passport and they tell you to get out. You can’t even comprehend that.

S: Last question, anything that we can look forward to from you?

F: The Den obviously. We’re gonna be carrying that one around Europe. The next one is in Stuttgart on the 29th of September. My headline show is on the 31st of July at Omeara in London. That’s the next thing to look forward to. Tickets are available on Live Nation and Ticketmaster. Just make sure you get your  ticket and come down there. There’s going to be special guests so make sure you check that out!