Published on July 31st, 2020 | by Guest Editor0
Carpetface Talks Activism, Lock Down and the Context of His New Music
The UK rapper, producer and activist Carpetface has recently released his hard hitting new hip hop video ‘Def Definition’ (No One Can Breathe), which raises money for an anti-racism charity Stop Hate UK.
In the single he covers some pretty serious subject matter and speaks about in this new interview with The Hype Magazine. Check out the video here and read the interview below!
WHAT WERE THE REASONS BEHIND THIS RELEASE?
Recent events have sickened saddened and enraged us both and we felt we just had to say something. This is such a vital moment for all creative artists regardless of discipline to use their skills, platform and reach to reflect and accelerate the wave of overstanding sweeping global society. The mission, cultural and moral values of international Hip Hop community may now be regarded as universal, but stem directly from the roots of the US Civil Rights movement so resisting oppression to bring about peace unity and equality and is at the very heart of what we’ve always about. We’re duty-bound by a strong collective moral code to create and release soundtracks and anthems to reflect the times and act as a catalyst to change, in support of the battle against authority figures seeking to suppress and oppress the human family.
Institutional racism is real and disgusting. Fascism is real and disgusting. Police and State brutality is real and disgusting. Trump is fucking disgusting and he’s got to go. US domestic and foreign policy is disgusting. The British aristocracy and ruling elite are disgusting. China’s treatment of Hong Kong, Tibetans, the Uighurs and it’s own people on the mainland is disgusting. Indonesia’s occupation of West Papua is disgusting. Israel’s treatment of Palestinians is disgusting. The corruption of the mainstream media is disgusting. The whole fucking scene is disgusting, moral justification for treason / revolution / regime change is screaming at the 99.9% which ever way we look.
DO YOU WORRY SOME MAY TAKE OFFENSE?
No I understand and expect it. In my line of work, touching a nerve is not a new consideration for me as a writer by any stretch. In fact it’s an indicator I’m doing my job properly. With such painful subject matter, many will doubtless take offense to various elements in this release which can easily be taken out of context at face value, whether it’s the title, lyrics or associated images. That’s just unavoidable.
It’s taken a horrific level of grief and rage to resonate recently on a global scale that enough is enough as we all start to force the real changes we’ve needed to overpower the evil oppressors running the world for centuries and anyone supporting their agenda, by force if necessary, – which much of the time i truly believe it is. Anyone who thinks otherwise can’t have been attacked (yet) by a bunch of cowardly racist bullies dressed in law enforcement costumes, especially militarized Riot Police at peaceful protests. Lucky them. I fucking have. For someone with Satchmo’s “ONLY LOVE” tattooed on their own hands I hate to say it but in my own experience with violent racists on the street, “the hugs don’t work”
Taking into consideration the global chokehold on society, represented not just by the physical and mental effects of Covid 19 and the subsequent Lockdown measures, but also by this new algorithm-powered worldwide censorship of those who dare to speak out against injustice, corruption and rights-abuses – while whistleblowers and journalists exposing major crimes against humanity are being systematically hunted down and locked up, disappeared or suicided – the analogy in the song-title sadly becomes all too fitting.
We haven’t created a monster but we’re certainly reflecting one, and this is a deadly serious matter which effects us all. Kids all over, mine included, know they’ve been betrayed by most of our role-models and authority figures – and now hate and fear them. Our designated, paid leaders and protectors have had our blood on their hands since day one and now there’s simply no ignoring it anymore, no matter who or where you are or what your views may be.
This release and the EP it’s from will doubtless also cause a tonne of offense to a bunch of people but the most disgusting and offensive words in it are easily those of Trump himself, and we feel our message is clear and genuine enough here to be received as intended. All we can really hope for is not to be censored or misquoted, and that all the people we offend are the right ones. Anyone who’d ban such hard-hitting material would also ban a song like Nina’s “Strange Fruit” or a group like PE or Bodycount because of upsetting content that mirrors society – and can fuck off. Don’t burn books, Fucking READ in CONTEXT and LEARN. Or round and round we go, where it stops nobody knows..
None of this feels nice or easy to create or promote. I’ve got a heart, a brain and a child over here for fuck’s sake. We know what we stand for and we know what we’re doing. If I just wanted to stir the pot of cultural division and cash in on racial tension and bigotry I’d have for example released some sort of horribly catchy house tune called “Burkha Twerker” in the style of a “#BarbaraStreisand” knock-off with accompanying no-brainer viral video fucking years ago.
TELL US ABOUT THE CREATIVE PROCESS BEHIND THE CABIN FEVER EP ?
This release wasn’t even part of the bloody plan! I’m smackbang in the middle of a lovely crossover album project with Reggae artist JIMI LYONS, due for a 2021 release, called “#SoundsystemSoul” taking up most of my writing and production time over the rest of this year. I’d much rather be working on finishing that – trust. It’s such a lovely project to work on, full of uplifting unity vibes, love and hope for Humanity etc – but in light of recent events I just felt a burning compulsion to urgently express how I feel about all the fuckery i’m seeing in this way via the Hip Hop medium. It’s how Ive always complained.
I’m a lucky boy in that i’m privileged to work with so many like minded Hip Hop and Reggae artists and producers that i’m spoilt for choice when it comes to guests vocalists and 3rd party beats – but it’s rare for me to feel comfortable as main vocalist and songwriter with someone else on the production duties, it’s the exact same vibe I feel as a Dad leaving my kid with babysitters.
It’s great working with Djar One and being able to just concentrate on the rap shit – he’s a fucking animal with the wax and MPC, knocks out more dope beats per week than anyone I know. I said mate it’s going tits up I’ve got a tonne of nasty shit to get of my chest, got anything slinky for me and the fucker gets back with like 60 sick jazzy instrumentals to choose from, the man is nuts, trust. It’s great also how he’s not too precious about arrangements and often allows me to rearrange and restructure various parts and add my own sounds, drops, FX and skits to the mix along with the vocal parts. I think that’s the key with morphing beats ideas sounds and words from more than one soul into an actual record.
HOW HAS LOCKDOWN EFFECTED YOU?
Jimi Lyons and I were lucky we got the video to our last single #HUMANS shot just before lockdown, and I’m super proud of our team for managing to nail it all under such conditions and pressures. But secretly on May 1st I was numb with grief and heading towards a very bad place which I thank the universe I have managed to pull myself out from. Not only was the Humans video produced in memory of one very close friend + crewmember who passed in December, but the release date also ended up coinciding with another very close friend’s funeral which lockdown also prevented me from attending.
I properly lost it for a minute in May and I don’t mind admitting it. All this shit is enough to send ANYONE nuts. It’s an unprecedented combination of stresses for this generation. I’m only fucking human after all as the song goes…I lost 4 friends in 5 months and due to Lockdown I suddenly found myself unable to travel to physically support an elderly loved-one who’d had a fall.
Add to that lot the imbalance that grips certain performers like me, who self-regulate by venting pent-up rage in regular aggressive live shows, when they find all the usual outlets for shouting at crowds suddenly closed en masse, with a heavy financial impact too – and then attempt to deal with it all in isolation, and you have a recipe for something dark and fucking explosive.
I wrote and recorded this project to dig myself out of the hole I was in, because I was dealing with it totally alone. Attempts to numb myself to it all through self-medication did the opposite and led me to some cliff-edge realisations that my situation was in no way unique, and that my own catharsis would only come about via my art. That was before the murder of George Floyd RIP – and everything that has followed since. I don’t know what else I can do other than use this platform to broadcast my reactions.
This EP is my honest and raw expression of those feelings and hopefully an example of self-healing through creativity, which is something i’ve been preaching way more than practicing until now, especially with some of the young people i’ve worked with through Headskillz and the other NEWBIAS CIC projects.
Channeling such negative fearful angry energy into a demand for change leading to peace for our kids felt impossible for a while, but as it progressed the process became the buzz and now i’m high on life again and back in the room. Of all my adventures and travels, outside single fatherhood, Lockdown in 2020 has definitely been my biggest journey so far. All I can say to anyone hurting like I have been is one way or another tell someone you need help with dealing with it – and if you don’t feel you have that someone, write it down sing or scream it, just get it out however the fuck you can, don’t bottle up all your poison. That shit’ll kill you. Word is born.
WHY IS ACTIVISM and PROTEST SO EMBEDDED IN YOUR WORK?
As someone HEAVILY influenced by the late great Nina Simone and Adam Yauch, I’m conscious on a constant basis of our duty to reflect the times and that (algorithms willing) our songs words and actions far outlast our flesh, archived long after we’ve passed for future scrutiny by our kids and their kids after them. When they look back to learn about this point in history, some of us will be remembered by our kids for what we did and said. Even if it turns out to be a losing battle, as a Hip Hop artist and activist I’m making damn sure my own kid knows I didn’t just witness this shit like some ten-a-penny dumbed down punter. I want him to remember that I at least stood up and said something, that at least in my own twisted and damaged way I shouted “STOP”. I want him to know I fucking tried.
So many artists, especially Hip Hop and Reggae artists are struggling to say something about what’s going on in the right way right now, releases are getting cancelled, postponed, adapted left right and centre and rightly so. Now is not the time for fun or celebration. Now is not the time for smiles. Hopes of change and peace,while still attainable, remain a far off light at the end of a tunnel filled with vicious rats who only know hate and brutal violence. These rats will not go down without a fight. We need to hammer our message and demands for equality and justice home In every way possible via the airwaves and social media and blast it out on the streets. Maximum Love to all our people, stay strong we will prevail, stay sane, stay safe, and above all don’t let the bastards grind you down. Sooncome.Tweet