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In Conversation: Charlie Sloth

In Conversation: Charlie Sloth

Any fan of grime will know Charlie Sloth’s name, or at the very least his distinctive and dominating voice as the BBC Radio One and Radio 1Xtra host has been gracing the airwaves for years, introducing the most prestigious of rap and grime acts a platform since their humble beginnings. After offering the spotlight to an infinite number of acts, Sloth’s decided to showcase his own talent as his debut release The Plug is his first endeavour into producing an extensive full length album. Borrowing the emceeing talents of huge names in the game such as Stormzy, Giggs, Lady Leshurr and more, The Plug is a versatile mix of genres that not only offers an insight into Sloth’s producing skills, but also his extensive knowledge and passion for all different styles of music. Now, Charlie has decided to tour the UK in support of the album.

Having previously frequently stopped in the Northern city, it seems Sloth still can’t get enough of Leeds, as he returns once again on Thursday 28th September to O2 Academy Leeds with a whole host of acts, including Abra Cadabra, Fekky, Big Tobz, K Koke and more. And it would seem he’s just as excited as we are about performing his debut album live...

For someone with as many friends in the industry as you, how did you go about selecting the collaborators for The Plug?
I based it on artists that I think are sick and that I listen to on a daily basis. Being able to work with artists that I'm a fan of on my own body of work was an incredible feeling for me so the process of selection was based on artists I really mess with.

A lot of the lyrics were written by yourself, for those tracks did you have specific rappers in mind?
No, a lot of the top lines I co-wrote but no, I mean all the records I was involved in co-writing was a situation of being creative with those artists in the studio.

Was there any temptation to include your own vocals on the album?
Nah them days are long gone.

There are a lot of different elements of genres that can be heard on the album, with grime being prominent and other features such as reggae and dancehall seeping through, where have these influences stemmed from?
I’m a music man, obviously my main forte is rap, hip hop, grime, but I don't limit myself to that. I don't just listen to hip hop, rap and grime, growing up in my household there was a heavy reggae influence from my mum that lead me to listen to dancehall and that is how I came to including these sounds on the album.

You were one of the first to give Bugzy Malone a platform on your label Grimey Limey, and you also featured scouse emcee Aystar on the track ‘ Therapy’, do you feel it’s important to include northern artists within a genre that’s very much a London thing?

I just felt it was very London centric, it was like you couldn't even get on in the game unless you were from London. No-one really cared but obviously this scene, the community is much bigger than just London and I feel that Bugzy Malone is one of those artists that’s helped to change that, when you look at what’s happened since, if you look around the amount of artists from outside London that have popped, it’s incredible, and I do feel like Bugzy Malone played a huge part in allowing that to happen. So yes, I think it is super vital not only for the culture and the lifestyle but for the business, so that's why I feel like I go out of my way on a regular basis to try and make sure I include every artist from outside the M25 in as much as I can do as possible.

You were present for the production of each of the 22 tracks - even if the artists were abroad you managed to be there on Skype - where do you find the time to dedicate to this on top of your radio shows and live shows?

It’s like anything in life, if you want to do something if you want to make something happen you'll make it happen so any free moment I had, any opportunity to work on the project I’ll dedicate my time to it. So it’s just about time management. If you want something to happen and you can make it happen, you're gonna make it happen regardless.

What are you most looking forward to performing this album live on the upcoming tour?
I mean there’s so many records and so many great artists, there are a lot of artists that are not on the lineup but are on the records so for me it’s going to be really interesting to see what surprise artists jump out on stage to perform their records from the album.

You’re also at this year’s Warehouse Project supporting friend and collaborator Giggs, what’re you most looking forward to about that?
Anytime I get to perform with Giggs it's just mad energy. He’s just one of the best live performers in the game, in the world, period. So I know there’s going to be a mad energy about that night, and to play at such a prestigious event and bring our sound to Manchester is really exciting.

You’re heading to Leeds on this tour, which is a city you’ve previously performed in, what is it about Leeds as a city that makes you return?

I've been going to Leeds for years now, even when I first started as a DJ they’ve showed me mad love from the beginning and I’m always grateful for that, that’s why I always like to come back and give them a great show. And as there’s no Manchester date on the tour I’m expecting a lot of Mancunians to be coming over. Plus it’s following on from freshers week too, so we're gonna be hitting new levels of hype!!!

What’re you most looking forward to about returning to Leeds this time?
I can’t wait to see the crowd’s initial reaction to the show cos we’ve got some really cool surprises planned, also looking forward to going to my favourite burger joint, MEATliquor.

You’re bringing some of the collaborators along on tour with you, along with some not on the album, how did you choose who would join you live?
A lot of it was down to people’s schedules, a lot of the artists have their own tours and commitments so it was working out who was available and who best fitted each city, and that’s basically how we selected who's posing out on the plug tour.

Do you have a favourite track from the album?
It’s very hard again, I like different tracks for different reasons. Different tracks cater for different emotions, like if I want to get gassed I’d put on Giggs’ “Wake Up”, then we've got the love story with Donae'o and Konshens with “Walk Away” and then there’s the vibe, "Angelina"… so I like different ones for different reasons.

22 tracks is pretty extensive for any project, and I can only imagine that you have many more ideas, can we expect another album from you in the future?
Another album is just around the corner, for this album we cut 56 records only 22 of those made the cut for this album, this is the start of a new exciting journey in the chapter of Charlie Sloth’s career and without a doubt there will be another album soon.

Charlie Sloth brings with him a whole host of stellar grime acts, performing live renditions of his debut album The Plug at Leeds’ O2 Academy on Thursday 28th September. The night promises live rap battles, surprises and in his own words; more of a festival than a gig.

Photo courtesy of Charlie Sloth

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