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Iron Braydz (Hip-Hop Singer / Producer)
Iron Braydz, aka Abdul Rahman, hails from North West London. He's a recording artist, producer, radio presenter and just recently started a career in playwritting. Helena Rea caught up with Iron Braydz as Devil May Cry was due to be released...
Helena Rea: How did you begin your career in music, I mean, you're an established recording artist, producer and radio presenter, where did it all begin?
Iron Braydz: It started in my last year of school. By that point I was just into Wu-Tang Clan.
A friend and I challenged each other as to who would know more Wu lyrics than the other. And, as we got into it, a big crowd formed around us. It was so bad (in a good way) teachers thought it was a fight and they had to force their way through the crowd to get to us and find out what was happening. At that point I still didn't think much of it until this guy came up to me and asked if i wrote my own material. I had no clue. I was just like... "No."
After that reply, we had a long conversation about what I could achieve if I took it serious. He invited me to his home studio where I met the guy who was gonna be my mentor for the next year.
He gave me a dictionary, I studied that for a long time and then began to write and develop a style which I could call my own, but was trying to sound like Lord Have Mercy (a former member of Busta Rhymes crew, Flipmode Squad).
After eight months of being a rapper my two friends decided to form a group starting with them and myself. That's how it pretty much started.
HR: What major musical influences have been instrumental in the way your career has been shaped?
IB: I like that question. GZA's Liquid Swords album and most of RZA's career. I say them because that's when I became fascinated by the lyrical content.
I could hear the jewels in what they were saying, but my understanding wasn't quite clear yet so it kept my head in certain books looking for the full potential of them jewels (we call'em Jewels, it's a way to describe something a listener would consider precious to themselves, something they're learning from in what the artist/rapper, poet is saying).
Liquid Swords broke down a lot of things about the industry at the time and I find it actually still applies in some areas. Wanting to learn more about life's journey and myself was what I was getting from listening to Wu (and Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth by Killah Priest), seeing and reading about what RZA got up to intrigued me.
He is plain a genius, but not just in one category, his talent didn't keep him in the province of Brooklyn, Brownsville. His music and ideas kept him moving, even the meaning of his name and the way he put it together is very clever. R Z A... it started as rza rza rakeem in his neighbourhood because it had something to do with his graffiti tag Razor, but then he developed it during his spiritual change at the same time as GZA.
RZA said: "in Devin mathematics, the Z stands for Zig-Zag-Zig, which means Knowledge, Wisdom and Understanding-the last letter of the alphabet and the final step of consciousness. So finally, I thought of the names as letters, not words. R Z A. It stands for Ruler-Knowledge-Wisdom and Understanding-ALLAH.
To me that is really inspiring, I've had a couple of sit downs with him and I had some teachings from him also, a while ago now, to make it more clear. He raps, I rap, he produces, I produce and in fact the first thing I ever learned about the MPC2000XL was taught to me by him, he makes music for movies, I make music for short films.
RZA has been very influential and instrumental in the way I've dealt with my career.
HR:I love the sound of your new single 'Golden Legacy', the strings and percussion mixed with your vocals are just great. Where did the inspiration for this come from?
IB: Thank you. Again, like RZA, the inspiration came from the kung-fu flix. I wanted to create something epic - big in a way we've heard before but not for a long time. The amazing thing is that beat didn't take me more than 20 minutes to produce and mix, in fact the whole track took me a little over 40 minutes to record and mix.
As for the lyrical content, I was really frustrated at the time I wrote it and I really felt I didn't know anything and no matter how hard we work or look in this life we will never have all the knowledge, along with how we are constantly being distracted with what the devil puts in our paths every day it gets frustrating.
I also wanted to finally start by giving my finest example of relentless rhythm and poetry.
HR: 'Golden Legacy' is taken from your new project, Devil May Cry which is out in January 2010. How long have you been working on this? What where the highs and lows?
IB: I recorded Devil May Cry in bits, this is because I had left the group I was in to start my own solo career, but i didn't know what to do or where to start. It was a trying time because I had lost a dear friend not long before I left the group.
I knew I was into different flavours, but what to start with was my biggest issue until June when i was like f**k it, I've done 2 other projects that sound nothing like Devil May Cry and they will be released in the right time.
People know me for being hardcore Hip-Hop and I felt that I needed to re-introduce myself as that, a hardcore Hip-Hop MC who is capable of doing other things. So you'll hear that soon I guess.
The greatest high I got from making this project was feeling like my old but refined Hip-Hop self again. The lowest point was when I did the track dedicated to my father. I spent that whole session crying whilst producing, recording and mixing the demo of it. My father means a great deal to me - although it may look like it's RZA.
HR: You are passionate about saying that Devil May Cry is a project. What stands it apart from being an album?
IB: I feel that the title of album holds no weight at this point in time because of my position in the game we call the music industry.
Devil May Cry was always an idea I had and finally got it out. It also includes ideas from a project I wanted to do whilst I was signed to a label called Silent Soundz - it was titled Dimension 13. There is a chance that'll get done in the future. In my opinion, I will have a different approach for my album.
HR: This is your first solo project. How did it feel going solo? Would you do it again?
IB: I'm staying solo. No more groups!
HR: You are working your way up the U.S. underground hip-hop scene. How does the industry differ from that in the UK?
IB: To me it seems like once you've worked with someone who has respect in the underground hip hop scene in the U.S., heads are willing to give you a chance if you have the right approach.
London... well... No comment. Nah f**k it to be real. too much acting up out here in London for some reason. The place is small enough as it is and people are just funny sometimes. I say it doesn't effect me, but it does. This place has been a part of my life for a long time and things out here are just getting more and more negative. Unfortunately the negative outweigh the positive, but I see my positive people out there - I got you!
HR: What's the most recent album you've bought?
IB: Only Built 4 Cuban Links 2. Actually, DJ Bruce Wayne gave me that
HR: I hear that you have recently started a career in play writing. Can you elaborate a little more on this. What should we be expecting in the future?
IB: Sure, I was approached by Anton Philips who directed the play Looking For Obama. Him and I have history. He taught me in performing arts, along with Malcolm Fredericks, for three years.
My character was based on a young man named Akira, who learned about the achievement Obama becoming the first black president. Without looking into the politics behind it, Akira felt that he'd also like to have a go at changing his life and on the train platform (where the scene is set) young Akira has to make the decision of going to a job interview or seek revenge for a crime that was committed on him.
He also expresses his intelligence despite the fact that he looks like a hooligan. The idea behind Akira is to crush stereotypes that are out there holding young Akiras back from achieving their best and true potential. Not all the young brothers out there wearing a hoody wanna rob you!
I'm thankful for the opportunity to co-write in a play and i will definitely be pursuing it in the near future.
HR: If you could no longer follow your love of music and had to leave the industry, what would be your next 'ideal' job?
IB: Teacher. Not sure what subject yet, but I'm on it!
HR: What's the one thing you are most proud of in your life right now?
IB: My children.
Devil May Cry is available from Park Street Promotions from 10 January 2010.
Visit Iron Braydz Myspace page: http://www.myspace.com/ironbraydz