London rapper ItsNate is taking his Slocal sound global…
Why ItsNate and not Nathan?
Because you have to let them know what it is and ItsNate.
You’re from London. Do you think that breaking into the rap industry from here is a handicap?
It’s a strange one because I don’t think there is a rap industry here; there’s a pop and dance industry that rappers tend to dip in and out of.
Your sound is definitely influenced by grime too. Growing up, did you ever consider recording to grime rather than hip hop?
I definitely did rhyme on grime beats before, but I feel that grime is our appropriation of hip hop. Now I just see music as music, plus I can dance on any beat.
Which British MCs inspired you growing up?
Kano, Wiley, Dizzee. In that order.
Being from Islington, there weren’t many local rappers to look up to in the scenes you were into. Which borough did you look to instead?
There was Joe Black who was one of the first to come out of Izzy, talking that pedal bike trapping ish. I looked to people like Wretch and The Movement who were from Dagenham, Tottenham, Edmonton and Bow. They were a big deal to me, tunes like ‘Hero’ were ridiculous.
Your latest release ‘So Slocal’ came in October 2013, what are the standout tracks for you?
‘Savage’ is one that rings out in clubs and has kinda got up there with ‘WSLTA’ in terms of crowd favourites. Personally I really like what I’m saying on ‘Still About’, ‘Got A Plan’, I love the beat from Klimeks and ‘Deep End’ is a real personal one. That one was like a studio soul cleanse.
You’ve released four mixtapes in a couple of years, any plans to release an EP or album?
I’ve got EP’s in the work as well, album.. thats the aim. But in this day and age, who determines what an actual album is anyway? If I sold ‘So Slocal’ on BandCamp, would that make it an album? I might release a 15 track EP, what then?
One of your mixtapes was under the alias, “Suede Jones.” Can we expect to hear more of that sound from you in future?
Yeah, thats one of the EP’s that I was talking about. That’s all getting worked on at the moment, the Suede shall return.
What does “Slocal” mean?
Slocal. The official meaning is a constant pursuit of progress, dedication to a cause hard graft and ingenuity… basically work hard and work smart. You can also use it to say you’re about or close, like “I’m Slocal.”
Your live music night Slocal showcases the best British talent. The UK hasn’t had a proper “scene” in a minute, do you think we’re getting close to one?
For a hot minute. Hopefully, I’m using Slocal to promote what I like and what I think needs to have a bit of light shone on it. There are things in motion for sure, it’s just for people to take up proper positions and create a scene or movement for themselves or ourselves.
How do you feel about the UK’s hip hop scene now, as opposed to when you were growing up?
When I was growing up it was really fragmented, as it is now. I think everyone should just hold hands, unify and make good songs, as corny as it sounds. But all this mad division due to what type of “rap” someone makes is dead out. If it’s good, it’s good and I’ll roll with it.
Photo by Tom Spellman