Recently, I’ve had a couple of interesting emails around a track that I’ve got, up on my Soundcloud page, called Figure It Out. It surprised me a bit, as it was recorded, a long time ago and has just sat there on my page, with barley any listens. The track, was part of an EP I recorded, back in 2007, called Just A Name Vol 1 and was the first, solo project I’d ever done. These emails got me thinking about it all, so I thought I’d pen a bit about the background of it, as it was an interesting time and a lot has changed since.
I’d moved down to a Brighton, in 2004 (something which I wrote about in my A Tale From The Bedsit show.) There was a few reasons why I left: one, I just felt like I wasn’t going anywhere, generally and felt this urgency to do, well, something with my life and two, to try and push the music that I was involved in, which, aside from putting on local gigs, was MCing; mainly over Drum and Bass, with a bit of hip hop, garage and the whole grime thing, which had recently emerged.
As ever, I had no idea what I was doing and it didn’t quite go as planned, well, there wasn’t really a plan, more like a vague idea, hope and a prayer and a giant belly-flop into the deep-end. Regardless, life-wise it was good in the long-run (though difficult at times) as I got dealt a few harsh lessons down there, which toughened me up bit. Whilst I didn’t do as much live-MCing as I’d liked, I did fall in to a little crew with some mates, Mit and Dean and learnt a lot about making tracks, spending a good deal of time in Mit’s bedroom studio. We were making hip hop and grime, at first, just as a bit of laugh but it quickly got serious and we put together a whole project: website, EP and mixtape, it was fun and a big learning curve. (It also featured, one of the only occasions where I ever pulled a sickie from work, as we were recording some tracks for this competition, we found out about, with only a day to do it in.)
As time moved on, the other guys wanted to focus more on house music and less on the stuff that involved rapping, ie: me. It was nothing personal, we were still mates and still are, it’s just how the tide went, so the project I was involved in slowed up. It was around that time, that I also seemed to suffer a big loss in confidence, with what i was doing; not that I ever had it in abundance but life was a bit tough, then. I was constantly skint, living in this horrible little one-room bedsit, I hated my job and probably wasn’t in the best of health, mentally or physically. All I wanted to do, was sit and write lyrics (nothing’s changed there) instead of working on what I needed to; practising and then nailing song-parts, for when it came to recording. I was becoming increasingly introverted and what I was writing, was probably reflecting that; it just didn’t fit with what they were doing.
I remember feeling pretty down about everything, to the point where I almost jacked in the whole rapping thing. I could no longer see the point in it, as I wasn’t getting anywhere and seemingly wasn’t very good at the whole recording side of things. It was only after meeting up with my dad and my brother, Will, one night up in London, where I told them how I felt and they managed to talk me out of it, with a few pearls of much needed wisdom.They pointed out, unironically, that sometimes, you shouldn’t need a point to do something and instead, just do it, if it makes you happy – and of course, I loved rapping and writing raps, why should I need any more point than that? The best things in life are abstract after all. (Hold tight my mate, Micky T, he done the same for me back in the early days, clearly, I’m quite needy…) So whilst my mates cracked on with the house thing, I continued writing, to no real-end but I’d amassed a whole shoe-box full of lyrics and ideas.
My time in Brighton came to an abrupt end, when we got evicted from the house I was living in. Typically, we had a faceless landlord, who lived in some tax-haven and deicded all-of-a-sudden that he wanted to sell the gaff. We got the notice through the letter box one day, followed by several instrusive visits from cocky estate agents, utill we had to leave. I’d planned on moving up to London that summer, not entirely sure why, think I’d had enough of Brighton and a mate of mine, had got me a job up there in an office, knowing that’s where I wanted to head next; just not quite as early as I thought.
I temporarily moved back to my mum and dads, in Horley, a bit dejected, with how things had tunred out. Then one day, just sorting through some of my stuff, I came across all the lyrics I’d written whilst in Brighton, got a bit excited, spat a few of them and decided, right there and then, that I was gonna’ put a little mixtape togethor. There was a bunch of instrumentals, that I used to practise rapping over but it never occurred to me to record my own stuff over them. I felt a presssure that the music had to be original and rapping on someone else’s beats was somehow not legit, more importantly though, I also didn’t have either the means, nor the knowhow, to record anything.
Here was the thing, all the MCing gigs had dried up ages ago and I’d lost interest in that side of things (Drum and Bass went in to some big-room phase, Sub Focus, Pendulum, Fresh and that, just weren’t really feeling it anymore) the little crew I was part of, had moved on to making house, so for the first time, since I’d started doing music at seventeen, I no longer knew anyone I could work and did’nt have any projects going on. Musically, I was doing nothing, apart from writing lyrics and rapping in my room. Some of those lyrics, I thought, when going through them that day, were alright, so maybe, putting a tape together, aside from actually doing something for myself and seeing it all the way through, for once, might be a good way to get out there and meet some other music heads?
So I put a call in to my brother, Will, over in Bristol, who was doing alright in the Dubstep thing, under his Gatekeeper alias and he gave me some much needed advice on what I’d need to do. I saved up some money and with the help of Mit, who’s studio I use to go to, I bought a laptop, interface, mike stand and pop shield, to go with SM58. By now, I was living up in London, Streatham I think, so I jumped on a bus to Bristol, got a crash course in Logic, came back, spent a week at mum and dads and recorded most of the tracks for Just A Name Vol 1; with the final track and mixdown, recorded back in Bristol, at Will’s, place. (Had a little magic moment, there too, when the only track that I did’nt have a beat for, was Trails and Tribulations. Will happened to play a beat that he’d made and the whole verse fitted, like it was meant to be.)
All in all, from idea to finished thing, I think it was about a year. For probably the first time ever, I said I was going to do something and accomplished it (with a lot of help of course.) At least, proving to myself, that I could see things through, also, surprising a few people in the process, who maybe didn’t realise how serious I was about music, rapping and writitng.
Just A Name Vol 1 never went that far, I think I gave out maybe 150 copies, printed up and hand drew the sleeves myself but it was worth it; it was a little milestone, which I’m proud of. Some of the tracks aren’t up on the Soundcloud, because of copyright infringement, which is a shame, as one of those was the best one, in my opinion (Story - that one). However, all eight tracks reflected the different styles I was into and though it’s embarrassing, hearing it all back (I’ve certainly moved on) I think I gave a good account of myself.
P.S - My MC name back then, was Kase One, or latterly, Kase 1ne. I came up with it, when I was seventeen, I just liked the sound of it, that was it, hence the name of the EP