On October 22, veteran London, England Hip Hop dup The Planets released their first project in five years in Planet Roc. Playing off of the Soulsonic Force classic single, the project partially takes its name from being fully-produced by Long Island, New York’s Roc Marciano.
Nomadic Poet (a/k/a Nomad) and Ayman Raze formed a group in the 1990s that upheld Hip Hop’s traditions at a time where the local urban music scene began expanding into Grime and less conventional sounds. With deep love of Hip Hop, the self-described “no frills” approach has made them a mainstay in the underground music scene. A chance reunion song led to this album, and with Marciano’s Marcberg being a popular Year-End album in American Hip Hop circles, Planet Roc might strike at the right time to push The Planets over the top.
HipHopDX: Tell me about this EP, and how you guys mapped it out?
Ayman Raze: The EP is crazy, it’s no frills Hip Hop just straight raw beats and rhymes. We have a joint on there also called “Soundclash,” which features Roc [Marciano and] also extended crew member Ikwon is on the EP as well as respected UK MC Scorzayzee. To tell you how the crew reformed well we have to go back to the middle of 2009 and gENSu dEAn was working on his solo LP. At that time the crew hadn’t made any new music for about five years. We had basically split the group as we both had other commitments. We have always talked about doing something again together but never got round to it. Then gENSu approached us with an offer to record together. Kind of a comeback/farewell track. We did it and the track came out banging! I hadn’t written anything in like five years and it felt good, that process of creation was something I had been missing. Anyway, we went on to record more tracks with gENSu and we have that album lined up for early next year. So really it was dEAn who bought us back. We kept this project as concept-free as possible. I think we’re known for having concept-driven tracks so we just wanted to keep this as free and loose as possible, just hot beats and hot rhymes. If anything, the concept is in the title, the planets just rocking.
DX: North American rappers have worked with UK producers before, aswell as from Netherlands and Japan. Tell me about your decision to do the opposite.
Nomad: I think the way the game is now its all about uniting with people that are on a similar tip. Over the years we have worked with producers from all over the world. We love Roc’s production-style it’s straight to the point and seems to suit our styles well, I also think it’s a great way to tap into different fan-bases. His beats remind me of Wu-Tang [Clan‘s] [Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)] vibe, real grimy and raw. Skill recognize skill and we know that Roc is definetly talented. I can see him doing a lot of production work for more mainstream acts and getting those platinum sales.
DX: Roc Marciano is having a wake-up call year, when many new fans are hearing about his gifts. How did you first cross paths?
Nomad: Actually, I first crossed paths with Roc a couple years back when I was working on a solo project called The Blessing with my main man gENSu dEAn on production. I only wanted to get one feature on the project and make it special. So I reached out to Roc as I was a big fan of his work. We recorded a track called “12 Jewels” which came out bananas. Roc really liked my vibes and said he would like to continue working with me in the future. Later on, he sent me some beats which I rocked over solo round about the time when the crew decided to reform. I had the idea to rework the tracks and have the crew jump on board, the result is the Planet Roc EP. The solo project will see the light of day in the not too distant future. I have to also add Roc has shown nothing but love and respect for what we do, he’s also a very humble brother.
DX: Tell me about the inspiration behind the song “Somewhere Else” andwriting it.
Ayman Raze: Contrary to popular misconception, parts of London have high gun-crime issues. I grew up in a area called Hackney right next to the murder-mile which is notorious for shootings and criminal activity. That track’s aimed at the youngsters who are coming up and not really knowing what they’re doing. I’m talking about emcees who haven’t studied their craft and need to go back to the drawing board and those who want to get into that street life but don’t know what its really about. I’m an older head, I’ve been around. If you want to get into all that mess in the streets then you better be prepared because there’s more volatile heads out there who have been there and done that. It’s better you go back, turn around and not get involved. This tracks a carry on from my verse on “Soundclash,” which was a true story. Basically it’s a reality-check for anyone who wants to step up and emcee and anyone who wants to get involved in street business.
DX: What do you think this album will do to your Stateside fan-base?Does that even matter when you guys are so established in Europe?
Nomad: We have always received a lot of love and support from Stateside heads ever since we have been putting out music. This EP is a appetiser for the full-length album Deenology, entirely produced by gENSu dEAn, due early 2011. This is to let heads know we are back and that we mean business. If you check our resume we have rhymed alongside Hip Hop legends and held it down over the years.
The bottom line is dope music is dope music no matter where its from people just need to open their minds a little. The industry isn’t as developed over here as it is in the UK and things just happen quicker over there. We definitely want to get out there and show them what the UK can do.
DX: Lastly, Jay-Z has mentioned signing Tinie Tempah now. Do you think we’re headed in a direction where the global walls of Hip Hop are coming down, as seen in a project like this?
Ayman Raze: With all respect to people like Tinie [Tempah], that’s not Hip Hop, he makes Grime music and that’s his thing and that has made him successful. [Jay-Z] is a businessman and he’s only interested in sales. That’s what he does and he does it well, so when he sees something that could sell then of course he’ll jump on it. Grime is definitely new, it’s definitely UK and it’s definitely what the kids are into. But how does it stand against some straight boom bap? The emcees talk about different things, the beats are more electronic and it’s made for the clubs. We make music that you can chill and zone out to. It’s a different feel but there’s space for both. I think what these Grime artists are doing is definitely helping the straight Hip Hop scene over here as its getting us exposure but we’ve been putting out vinyl since 1999 and UK rhymers have been doing it since the early ’80s. We have both been involved in Hip Hop culture since the ’80s. Grime artists need to recognise their history and how they got here. There are so many forms of music that constantly take from Hip Hop music and culture and never give props.