[MAGAZINE] NEW PHAZE: A PIFF GANG ODYSSEY
Meet the London rapper who is flying from his Piff Gang nest to launch his solo career.
Ever since dropping their debut, ‘Piff Breaks and 808s’ back in 2011, Piff Gang have continued in their own lane. Or rather, they’ve continued orbiting around inside their smoked out spaceship. The green-thumbed MCs talk Grey Goose, girls, and ganjah over heavy-bass and slow-rolling instrumentals that are sure to melt listeners into couches and rocking chairs. In a city famous for grime and jungle, the London rap crew continue to smooth out their city with an endless supply of lifted flows.
After dropping their sixth mixtape, ‘Pizzy’, late last year, Piff Gang’s seven MCs are turning their attention to solo work. Much like Wu-Tang Clan and even A$AP Mob (who are fans of PG), solo projects are essential to differentiate between the personalities in the crew. Calling from Chicago via Skype, we chat about his upcoming projects, London’s perception of weed rap and his favourite wrestlers.
But, as is human nature, we begin talking about the weather. The snow has finally disappeared in Chicago, Phaze states he doesn’t know how he would handle the snow. “Yeah, but London has that fog.” I say. “We call it the Sahara Sand here. It’s crazy. Probably full of government chemicals and shit.” Phaze responds.
He reflects on the developments of the past year, which he says have been, “Mad busy, recording constantly. I’ve recorded like 80 tracks.”
“18?” I ask.
“No. Eighty. Eight. Zero.” It’s very loud in Phaze’s crib and arms constantly appear, making Skype cameos as they pass the rapper monster doobies. Phaze tells me he’s been recording non-stop these past two to three weeks. “I’m working on a little EP before the full tape. Three or four tracks called ‘Groupie Idol’. I’m turning it into a short film trilogy, three songs on some old school Sticky Fingaz shit.”
While the EP is around the corner, the full tape, which should be out in “six or seven months,” will include a combination of home studio sessions with producers as well as recordings from various locations throughout London. “It’s all angles,” he says. “I’m trying lots of different methods. I’ll have a period where I’m in the studio every day for weeks, then I’ll take a break and just listen. The whole point of recording so many songs is to get in the right spirit. So there’s shit no one’s gonna hear and shit you will definitely hear.”
Phaze and his crew have just returned from a show in Paris, performing with Araabmuzik. “He turned that club into a zoo.” A few days later they open for Yung Lean on his European tour. Although they still perform together, the group members are currently recording independent solo projects.
“It’s just that time,” Phaze explains. “It’s happening naturally.” The independent tip is showing promise: Phaze has a vault of tracks, Young Skout is recording in the States, Queens rap collective, World’s Fair have reached out as fans and in-house producer Budgie collaborated with The Alchemist on an instrumental gospel project called, ‘The Good Book’. Naturally Phaze is proud, “That shit was crazy,” Phaze says. “Budgie’s on his job. And that deluxe edition comes with a G-Pen too!”
I ask him if it’s been hard to gain attention in the States. “I don’t think we ever set out intentionally to do it,” Phaze admits, “but the support has grown organically. We mirror a certain lane in the US that didn’t exist before we came up. Now we’re makin’ waves.”
Words by Benjamin Niespodziany
Photographs by Eddy Leonardo