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TRCH The Da Vinci Code

Interview: TY Chijioke

14 November 06 interview: Jared Wilson

"I'm not here to make people feel sad or tell people that I'm the best. I'm here to help people to enjoy themselves..."

Please note this interview is from 2006, but image was updated on this page in May 2020.

Despite only making minor dents into the UK charts, Ty has built up a solid reputation on the underground scene of UK hiphop. The London-based rapper, aka 31-year-old Ben Chijioke, made his debut on vinyl came back in 1995 alongside I.G.Culture. Since then he has worked with the likes of MC Mell'O', Jonzi D and DJ Pogo, with whom he hosted the infamous Lyrical Lounge. In the late 90's he hooked up with Shortee Blitz and as a duo they came to prominence on the Bear Mountain label, a US imprint owned and run by Maceo from De La Soul. Despite their success Shortee and Ty eventually split and Ty has since been busily working at home and abroad in an effort to launch himself at the popular music charts. He's recently recorded with heavyweights like Damon Albarn and Roots Manuva. It's definitely hiphop, but perhaps not quite as we know it.....

Your new single just missed out on the UK Top 40. Was this a disappointment?
Ty: "The truth of it is that people have got to buy the single in the first week. If people want me to really blow-up they need to be aggressive about it and buy the record and tell their friends to buy it. I wanna take this much further and you know what's going to happen if I get the chance. If we go on Top of the Pops with a live band, people are going to lose it! If we get on a national TV show people are going to really see what we've got!""

It's all going pretty well for you though.
Ty: "Right now this is the most recognised and honoured period of my career. People are really appreciating the work we've put together for the last project. I just feel revived spiritually and know that I can make certain decisions about what I want to say or do lyrically and musically. I'm not caught up in trying to be the best UK MC, I'm just trying to be the best artist I can be and challenge myself to take as many steps as I can to further what I'm doing."

Watching you jump around onstage just now, you were clearly enjoying yourself. Your dancing style even reminded me a bit of the MC hammer heyday but without the trousers...
Ty: "I'm feeling that. The way we're communicating is about enjoyment and I want everyone off-stage to be enjoying it. I can't be false about it. I'm not here to make people feel sad or tell people that I'm the best. I'm here to help people to enjoy themselves and if you happen to check I've got skills then that's great. If you don't think that then it's still great that you came to the concert and at least you listened."

Where did you meet the rest of the band?
Ty: "A lot of the relationships I have with the musicians have evolved. It wasn't hard to put together a team, but what was hard was to let it grow and develop. Some of the people are on the album and some I've been doing shows with for years. We're all aware of how each other work and there is a vibrant scene of live music. The show feels really comfortable now, it feels like I don't even have to open my eyes to do it any more."

Do you know much about Nottingham artists?
Ty: "I know a couple of people on the Nottingham scene like Lee Ramsay and Trevor Rose. They always tell me about Rock City and the scenes that have gone on there with the breakers and stuff. It's really interesting to come here and see that we're next door to Rock city. I got a little bit of a history lesson today. I also know about Mr 45 and Scorzayzee and stuff like that."

From what I understand, you're well into your spoken word as well. What drew you to that scene?
Ty: "I'm feeling spoken word because it's just people being real. Even rappers are not always being real these days. When someone raps I don't necessarily think they're really telling you what they think. I think they're telling you what they want you to think they think. Sometimes spoken word can just have someone reiterate what they're feeling and do it cleverly and have a lot more freedom because you don't have to follow the rhythm. But I'm a hiphop artist, I think hiphop is still alive and I think that we just need to focus, or shift focus onto those people that are keeping it real."

What was it like working with Roots Manuva?
Ty: "Working with Roots was a blast. He's out and out genius and people need to know that. I think he's got a lot of pressure on his shoulders, not necessarily for the new album, but in general. He moved it around for UK hiphop and made everyone take notice. He handles it well though and just does what he's doing."


Anybody else around that you'd like to record a track with?
Ty: "I'd like to work with people like the Isley Brothers, Stevie Wonder and Talib Kwali. There are plenty of artists in the UK that I want to work with as well, like Omar, Martina Arnold, Soul 2 Soul. I don't like fake collaborations. I always want to make something special that will stand the test of time. I'd like to work with Amy Winehouse. She called me last night and told me she was performing in Nottingham. She was like "I'm at this venue tonight, you're here tomorrow, good luck!" I was like "Wicked!" I like her voice and I respect her music. I'm sure we'll hook it up together at some point. That's definitely one to look out for..."

Ty Music website

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