GET TO KNOW - RYE SHABBY
"I fell off a speaker, like a 20ft speaker, cos I was so drunk..."
On the eery, mysterious side of hiphop lies a curly haired, Stella drinking man. On February 16th The Shed hosted the Colours of Youth crew and a special guest, Rye Shabby. We caught up with him before the show:
The interview began with Shabby telling me about the hiphop scene in his hometown, Ipswich: “It’s a bit up and down, it comes and goes. But at the moment it’s on a high, there’s loads of people doing shit. All the younger generation come through and they're on it, they’re hungry, it’s going alright man.”
Shabby went on to say how he got into rapping by respecting his cousin: “I started when I was 12, my cousin was a rapper then. So I just wanted to be like him really, you know when you’re a kid and someone’s your hero, don’t know why he’s a dickhead now, but yeah that’s how I got into it and just started writing stupid stuff. Firstly I started rapping other people’s lyrics, just trying to see if I can do it, to see if I could actually flow with it. But then I started writing my own when I was like 13 and yeah just went from there really.”
The thought of him actually making a living from music struck him when he was 18/19: “When I started doing shows and shit, yeah before that it was just, I knew I was good at it but I thought it was unachievable. Cos I’m from a small town, it’s hard to like. At the time I was on grime so everyone was like, it was all London based, so it was long. But now it’s more open, and obviously the scene gets bigger everyday, so there’s more opportunity for everyone really.”
Shabby is on Verb T’s record label, he explained how he linked up with Verb T in the first place: “He did a show in my hometown, and I supported him. I was working in a bar at the time and my boss was like, ‘do you wanna support him?’ and I was like yeah, fuck it. And he liked it, then we just got chatting from there and now I’m signed to his label.”
"People are listening now so I want to appeal to them, I want to appeal to the ear more..."
He then spoke about the difference between making music in a label compared to not: “Before it was just bedroom shit, do you know what I mean. Now it’s like, you’re introduced to some of my favourite rappers in the scene. It’s cool man, everyone’s cool, everyone seems to like it, it’s positive shit.”
His recent EP, Arthur Lager, was released March last year. Shabby talked about how he approaches making a new album: “So the last two have been EPs and I’ve been sort of pressured into them, not pressured into by myself, like I’ve wanted to get stuff out there and that’s where Verbs comes in and helps and he’s like, just take your time. Because I just want to chuck everything out.
“So the EPs I’ve sorta sat down and, this second one has taken me a bit longer, cos I can’t decide what I want for it. Whereas before I knew what I had to do, now the album, I’m sitting down and making an album. I don't know if that’s a good or bad thing pressure wise but at the moment that’s what I’m doing, like sitting down and telling myself right I’m gonna write an album.”
The pressure doesn’t come from being on a label itself, but from the fact Shabby is growing more and more of a fan base: “I don’t know how it is with major labels and shit, me and Verbs are pretty chill mate, he let’s me do what I’m doing. There’s pressure in the sense of like, cos now, people are listening. Whereas before, no one was really listening so it didn’t really matter, I just did what I wanted. Now it’s like shit right, people are listening now so I want to appeal to them, I want to appeal to the ear more, you know what I mean.
“It’s like finding out and going to shows and talking to people as well and finding out what they want, what they want from you, and then taking it back to the lab and trying to make a song out of it, it’s tricky man.”
As I mentioned Sloth, the producer, the man himself sat in the chair next to us: “He’s my boy, one of my little brothers pretty much. I’ve known him about 4 years, just randomly met him at a show. He had some sick Fubu trousers on, and I was like, ‘I like your trousers’, he was like, ‘yeah yeah sick’, then we just got chatting and now yeah. We’ve just started an EP together as well, coming out probably like summer time.”
Doing lives shows must be slightly nerve-racking for any artist, Shabby told me about the first times he performed live: “Well the first one I didn’t really know what to expect, I was nervous and I got so drunk that I don’t really remember it. So it was like the second and third gigs that I was like shit, I don’t wanna make that fool again. The first High Focus gig I had even done, Verb brought me to Brighton, and I was so nervous.
“It was in Brighton, Concorde 2, it was fucking like 2000/3000 people. Mad line up; Lee Scott, Four Owls, everyone. I fell off a speaker, like a 20ft speaker, cos I was so drunk, I carried on rapping though and pulled it together.
Skribblez, aka Reece Pickett, was hosting the event at The Shed for his recent album ‘Thirst For Knowledge’. Shabby explained how he linked up with Reece in the first place: “I met him through Verbs, cos Verbs did the show, I came as well, he booked me and we just met from there innit. We did a couple tracks, I’m doing something with him tomorrow as well with him and Draeko. He’s a cool guy man, he’s going places.”
Rappers all over the UK are progressing faster and faster, Shabby told me his view on the hiphop scene: “It’s sick man, and in the last sort of 3 years it’s kinda popped. Now there’s loads of shit going on, everyone’s doing bits; releasing albums, shows, there’s always something going on. There’s always a new artist doing something and it’s making it fucking hard to release things.
“Cos you’re right, I don’t want to release things on the same date as him. So then everyone keeps it quiet, so then you go to drop something and then four other people with a bigger name than you drop it. Like last time I dropped, think it was Shab City, and then Leaf Dog did one as well, it can’t be helped obviously, and obviously he got all the attention. Shout out Leaf Dog though he's a G.”
On talk of Leaf Dog making nice beats, Shabby talked about his lack of producing: “I used to when I was younger, when I was like 13/14 I used to fuck about. I’ve started fucking about again but just for fun innit, you won’t be seeing me making beat tapes and shit, I’m too lazy for that man.”
All artists differ in their way of writing music, Shabby takes me through his thoughts before he makes music: “It’s life experiences really, I know it sounds cliche but like; doing things, having fun, going through shit, going through the bad stuff, it’s like a therapy session more than an inspirational thing for me. Even if I weren’t making money from this or doing this as a job, I’d still just do it as a therapy, like a release, an escape you know what I mean.”
Shabby said about his previous jobs before full-time music: “Various office jobs, various bar jobs, you name it I've done it all mate; plastering, brick laying, I done all that shit.”
As it is early 2018, I wondered what was in store for Shabby for the rest of the year: “Next EP DiESHABBY comes out March 23rd. Lots of live shows after that, festivals. Looking at Nass and Nozstock at the moment. I did Nass two years ago with these guys as well, it was sick man. It’s fucking missions [away] bruv, it took us like four hours, thought we needed a fucking passport mate.”
In The Balance:
February 20th 2018