Charlie Sloth: Charlie said...
“The majority of the records that I put on there are songs that have been huge over the last 12 months. So records that I have been both playing in the clubs on my 1Xtra and Radio 1 shows, then there’s records that I put on there I feel are going to be strong records moving into the first quarter of 2016" Charlie Sloth says of his latest compilation, "Hood Heat Vol II", a collection of the year's hottest tunes along with some very special offerings produced by Sloth himself.
It's been even busier than usual for UK hip hop's favourite self-admitted workaholic. With his love of the genre beginning at an early age, Charlie got his start in pirate radio, eventually he began producing his own music and went on to develop his own satirical yet informative web series about the up and downs of the music industry, entitled "Being Charlie Sloth". Consistently grinding at his craft with an unwavering self-belief and passion, in 2011, Sloth secured the weekday drive time slot on BBC 1Xtra. Three years later, he achieved his long held ambition of holding down presenting duties on Saturday’s legendary Rap Show on BBC Radio 1.
"The records on “Hood Heat II” that are produced by me, it was me picking the artist I wanted to work with and getting in the studio with them. I’ve gone to the studio, produced the record, the artist I’m working with has come through and done their bit" Charlie says explaining the creative process behind the self-produced tracks included in the selection. "Over the past year I’ve been having studio sessions with pretty much every artist, loads of UK and American (artists). I’m working on another album that I’ll be putting out next year, which is all original records" he continues "I’ve been producing for years which is something a lot of people don’t know. There’s loads of records over the years in the UK hip hop world, if you look on I’ve got credits on. Producing is just something that over the last 18 months that I wanted to put a lot more time back into".
One of those songs produced by Charlie, "Wen Dem Ni**az" featuring Potter Payper and Giggs, caused a bit of stir recently when fans questioned whether his involvement in the track was appropriate given its lyrical content. "For me, when I’m in the studio, I will be creative on my side of what I want to do with the production. When I invite the artists in it’s up to them to have creative control. I’m never going to turn around to an artist that I’m working with and say “you can’t say that”- never, not in a million years. It’s not my position to. If an artist feels they want to express themselves in a certain way, they’re going to do what they’re going to do. When we made the record we were all in there together, we were there till 7 the next morning. It was a very natural thing, I laid the beat down, Potter went in and done his verse, Giggs done his verse and I said “what do you want to do for the hook?” Giggs went in, one take and that was the hook. It was like “everyone cool? Sick, let’s move on to the next record” I’m not a big fan of the word personally, I’m just not but I’m not going to stop an artist from expressing themselves”.
As Social media continues to revolutionise the music industry, it is now easier than ever for aspiring DJ's to create a platform for their skills but with so much at our fingers tips, is it actually more difficult for them to carve out a defined niche? "I was fortunate enough (to start) and to do my stuff on a pirate radio that had a few 100 people listening and I wouldn’t be judged by the masses as I was developing. I think a lot of people now even in that development phase, it’s all eyes on them and it’s hard to make a mistake. I think it’s a lot harder than it was for me, but I think it’s a positive. I think it’s a gift and a curse. I think every platform is saturated because everyone feels they can now be a DJ or an artist which makes filtering through the stuff a lot harder than it was maybe five years ago.
At the same time, it offers a platform for people to do this stuff. It gives them time to hone in on their skills and get more practiced and confident at what they’re doing. For me, it’s more of a positive than a negative. Everyone needs somewhere to become that person they want to become”.
Long before Charlie knew "the person he wanted to become" he accidentally came across a musical treasure that would ultimately change his life. "I’d been sent home from school, my mum was a cleaner, and I had to go to work with my mum. She used to clean the rich folks houses in Primrose Hill, I grew up in Camden. She said “don’t touch anything”. I was 8 years old and had a snoop around…I came across this cassette with big red bold font and these guys peering into the camera, it was...
Find out what album Charlie found and how it was pivotal in the genre he would go on to champion, plus more of what Charlie said in our exclusive interview in our latest print issue, including; Fire In The Booth freestylers, his 1Xtra show, what he thinks of some of hip hops finest, where it all started and why he doesn't mind the tag, 'control freak'.
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Words Karen Lawler