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The Comedy of Errors

P Brothers

1 December 08 interview: Jesse Keene
photos: Dom Henry

"You have to have a strong reason for putting any kind of music out there, don’t just dash it out for the sake of it!"

They’ve worked alongside a host of Nottingham talent including Mr 45, Cappo and Scorzayzee and crossed the pond to work with the likes of Boss Money and Saddat X of the legendary Brand Nubian. Never allowing themselves to be pressured into releasing stuff for the sake of it, they have decided to pull together a brand new project working with an all-new line up of artists hailing from the East Coast of America. The Album is called The Gas and is out now on general release. LeftLion caught up with them in a old-time watering hole for some politicking science of a musical nature…

This dynamic duo consisting of Paul S and DJ Ivory should not need any real introduction, but for the benefit of those new to the scene we’ll proceed with the pleasantries. If you’re a music head in Notts then just the mention of their names signifies heavy beats and well-crafted dopeness. With links into the Zulu Nation and a notoriety which spans from HoodTown to the far flung US shores, the P Brothers have made a mark on hiphop with their own ethos of making music on their own terms without catering to any trends - except the fact that it can never be wack!

First off I would like to ask how you both got into hip hop and the culture surrounding it?
Paul S: I started out listening to hiphop around 1983. I saw the video Buffalo Gal and things just kind of went from there. I gained more knowledge of the scene, watched videos like Beat Street, Wild Style and Style Wars, and just developed a sense of passion and love for the culture.
Ivory: It was the same for me really. If you were based in Nottingham at the time then you were either into The Smiths, King Kurt or hip hop. I remember meeting Paul around that time. There was a spot in town before Rock City called Hoofers which was just full of breakers and crews, so I would see Paul about there from time to time. The P Brothers did not really form until the late nineties so before then we were kind of rivals within the scene. We have both had similar experiences growing up and we both come from a sort of Nottingham New York-centric point of view.

Tell me about how the whole Nottingham Bronx aspect of your music came about?
Paul S: It came about really from us DJing. We used to DJ at The Bomb in town on Thursday nights. It was around '97-'98 and hiphop at that stage had got really shit! An example of this was when I went into a local record shop and I asked the guy behind the counter 'what’s new?' He handed over this record by Mace and Puff Daddy where they were rapping over the classic tune The Message. That really marked a day for me where I saw hiphop music start to take a downward turn. See, before that you would go and dig through the crates and spend what little money you had on buying classic tunes from the likes of EPMD and Gangstarr - you know all the heavyweights. Then suddenly you're just presented with this complete shit.
Ivory: It got worse because a certain part of hiphop grew massive off the back of that while other heads were turning their back on it and making stuff lyrically that was the complete opposite of the mainstream stuff. Although they had good intentions they were really wack at doing hiphop and once the media got hold of it they started putting people in genre-specific camps and what happened then was all the young heads that were coming onto the scene had a really twisted view of what hiphop was. You got people thinking they know everything about real hiphop, but really their only basis of comparison is groups like Jurassic 5. So while this was all going on Paul and I were growing into these really bitter people who were trying to find the emotion they once had for this beautiful thing. So we got to a point where we were like 'stuff that, lets do our own thing' and as a crew we are kind of black and white, just like hiphop – it’s either good or it’s wack - that’s how we call it! We really needed to put our money where our mouth is and that was the only reason that we started putting out records. I feel that you have to have a strong reason for putting any kind of music out there, don’t just dash it out for the sake of it then you just get a whole bunch of mediocre shit floating about with no real substance. At least have some passion and believe in what your doing and that is what Nottingham Bronx and The P Brothers is all about. We have always had that ethos of be the best at what you do and that has been there since day one.

Looking now at the new album, how did the project come about and what has the response from the public been like?
Paul S: Basically everything we have done has evolved naturally, like when we worked with Saddat X, we just made it happen. We play out a lot in New York and they are really feeling our stuff there. We felt that we have more of a connection with the scene there than here at home. A while back we did a live show for John Peel and for me that was the pinnacle of the scene at the time, we worked with a lot of good MCs from Notts on that show and we smashed it so from there it was just a natural progression to move on.
Ivory: We’ve had hardly any negative feedback about this project you know! People haven’t been on that we’re only working with Americans now etc. I think that people who know our sound and us understand that this is a progression of our sound. We pay for everything off our own back so it has to be the best that we can put out at the time plus we need to be really vibing with the artists that we're using for the project to truly work. It has been an honour for us to go out to NYC and work with these artists and to also get back the level of respect that we get from them in terms of them thinking our music is amazing!

The Gas LP is out now on Heavy Bronx records and features Boss Money, Milano, Roc Marciano, Res Connected & $amhill.

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