Seeing as FatKidOnFire HQ is back in action we thought we’d drop another feature for you guys. When we say we’re stoked on this next interview is an understatement, we’ve been waiting on launching this for months. And we mean months! This next feature is for all you old school hip-hop heads, more specifically all you 2Pac fans. Having released a 2Pac remix album in September that has been lauded both sides of the Atlantic, this producer/ Dj is seriously on point…
Find out more after the jump
Newcastle’s Configa has been producing hip-hop for over a decade, and it’s not your average UK hip-hop either. His production is so tight it’s like listening to original ’80s-’90s golden era hip-hop. It is truly awesome stuff! As we said, Configa’s latest masterpiece is a full length remix album of the legend that is 2Pac (put aside your differences if you’re a Biggie fan and just listen to the production) and trust us when we say it is truly a masterpiece that demands your full attention. We sat down with Configa to find out more…
Who is Configa? Configa is the boom behind the bap, whatever that means haha! I’m just a producer who apparently makes music that people feel! I’m known for making that classic sounding quote real hip-hop unquote, inspired by the mid ‘90’s era. You know, no gimmicks; just a variety of dope samples, bass lines and drum patterns that you’ll nod your head to. I’m also known as someone who has a pretty decent grasp of the knowledge of the culture, and often get referred to as Dr. Beats or Dr. Fig etc or just Doc… I was recently awarded my PhD on a thesis based on the social implications/ dynamics surrounding hip-hop culture. I won’t get too heavy into all of that though but I believe I know my sh!t pretty much!
What got you into producing beats? Well, I started off as an MC and it was a real natural progression to go from rapping over someone else’s creations to rapping over my own. I started writing rhymes when I was around 16 and recorded that sh!t using a double cassette recorder! I then used to make mixtapes using the cassette recorder and got them out into the local area… And further afield actually; I used to have hip-hop pen pals just before the ‘Net well and truly hit! I remember us posting each other tapes and everything, how innocent it all seems now!
I literally started producing when I got my first proper PC when I was around 17/18. Nobody sat down and taught me, I just started experimenting with different software, and found I had a feel for making the music too. I then put out my first proper album all the way back in 2000.
What does or will make your music stand out and distinguish itself from the rest of the UK hip-hop being dropped these days? Well, in truth I think that I involve myself with the American scene a LOT more than others from the UK hip hop scene do. I always have in the last 10 years that I’ve been releasing albums, including via an American Independent label in the early 2000’s, which had secured US-wide distribution. We then got European distribution on top of that.
I mean, when I first put out my new remix album “Configa Presents…Pac To The Essence Vol. 1” in September (bearing in mind that this was my first release for 4 years), by checking the amazon.com (so this is for American consumers) sales rankings it was ahead of all the “big names” in the UK when I looked… Even artists who had recently released stuff. It was ahead of pretty much everybody I could think of aside from Funky DL who is also embraced more overseas than he is in his own backyard. All I have is myself! No launch party, no management, no publicist, my own label, no dick riders, no easy access to mainstream media (ok I got played on 1Xtra a few times but that was because of the joint I did with Scorzayzee, big up Scorz). So for a relative small fish like me to play with the big sharks of the UK urban scene and do better than them overseas (according to America’s biggest online retailer) really meant something to me. And this sh!t is just a hobby to me!
Who or what influences/ inspires you in your work? Oh man, what doesn’t? First and foremost people’s positive reaction to my music is the biggest source of inspiration I can think of. There’s nothing better than someone giving you props for you doing something that you love.
Aside from that, other producers putting dope sh!t out there which makes me think I better step my own game up definitely keeps me on my toes. Listening to classic sh!t from the late ’80s to the mid ’90s and being inspired by what people before me have done is another way for me to get inspired. Just hearing a sample that I need to use when I’m digging in the crates, or just laying in the bath and having a “Eureka!” moment when a great idea pops into my head – it all inspires me! You often find you get great ideas at the most odd times. I used to find that a lot especially when I was rapping, a sick punch line would pop into my head when I would be on the train or some sh!t haha.
I would say that my two favourite producers of all time DJ Premier and Pete Rock, alongside people like Large Pro and Lord Finesse also definitely influence and inspire me, as they set the blueprint for what I do now.
What’s your take on the UK music scene at the moment? The music scene as a whole? Well let’s say for argument’s sake that “breaking America” is considered the basis of success right? I would say generally that it’s in good health. We have a lot of people doing well in the States. Look at Jay Sean, I’m certainly no fan at all, but I remember him from Channel U, which at the time was totally obscure from the UK mainstream. And he went on to top the US singles chart!
Coldplay and Leona Lewis are massive there too, but again they’re not acts that I personally like, but big them up anyway I suppose. Someone I do like is Estelle – she’s out there doing her thing, winning a Grammy last year, and funnily enough I remember meeting her backstage at some random nightclub in like 2002! She was quiet but cool, she’s certainly came a long way since. Amy Winehouse, who I also like (when she gets her act together), can dominate again. Duffy and Adele have made it there too, and they’re ok enough. So I have to say the UK music scene is successful and deservedly so, there’s some quality sh!t coming from this here island, perhaps not the quality sh!t that I PERSONALLY think should be making it big, but you can’t have everything.
Anyway, on the flip side, I know I mentioned Leona Lewis, and congrats to her for her continued success and for flying the flag and whatever, but I can’t stand that whole Pop Idol/X Factor monopoly that Simon Cowell has on pop music. It’s corny, it’s contrived and I hate it. I don’t listen to the radio any more, in fact I think I pretty much stopped when Tim Westwood finally disappeared up his own arse in around 2000. Now it’s like the Tim Westwood “kiddies grime show”, with this 50 odd year old man screaming, talking more than the artists, and playing that bloody bomb noise every 5 seconds. I tuned in a few months ago, and tuned out after 20 minutes thinking “where’s the hip-hop!?” The only things I listen to are the online stations that play that quality hip-hop and soulful sh!t, with no payola or hidden agenda, and who have supported what I do to the fullest. Shouts to the Beltdriven Radio Show, and Spy da Man in particular.
My take on UK hip-hop is different to the above, if we’re talking specifics; I just think that it’s just its own worst enemy sometimes. Too many people are defined by the “UK” tag instead of the “hip-hop” tag basically. I’m NOT saying be ashamed of where you come from, but you need to represent AND make it accessible to other hip-hoppers – it’s a big world out there. Me personally, I’ve found my niche and I’m happy to remain inside it. I don’t need to chase demographics that I have absolutely no connection with, I do what I do. But my niche isn’t based on geography, it’s based on taste, that people from the UK/ US/ France/ Germany/ Japan wherever can all appreciate. That boom bap sh!t. I’m not defined by a post code, I make hip-hop, not UK hip-hop, there’s a big difference.
I think the UK hip-hop scene is too inward looking as a whole, which is why none of the artists that I mentioned that are big in America do hip-hop music. Estelle DID, but you can’t say she does anymore. I’m still one of its biggest supporters though – you can’t ever forget where you come from, I’m proud to be British and I’ll keep pushing UK hip-hop names out there that I feel deserve to be heard.
Where do you see you and your music being in 5 years time? Hmmm… To be honest, I just want to keep cranking out the music! I’d also love my existing supporters (I never say fans… Sounds like an ego trip haha!), to keep on supporting whilst collecting as many new supporters along the way as I can. I certainly feel embraced after such a long absence and I think I’ve built upon where I left off.
I expect to keep on continually building over the next 5 years, I’ve recently set up my own record label (Configaration Records) that I’ve been putting my own stuff out through so I hope to have a small rosta of dope artists at some stage on that. I don’t have unrealistic aims, I’m aware that I cater for a certain demographic, so I’ll never go platinum, but I give less than a sh!t haha. Me personally? Hopefully just living comfortably man, and that my LONG education will pay off for me haha!
Top 5 favourite albums? Wow… That’s like asking an arsonist what his favourite match is! This is by no means definitive… And is likely to change on a daily basis. In NO particular order:
- Nas – Illmatic
- Pete Rock & CL Smooth – The Main Ingredient
- Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
- The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready To Die
- Makaveli – The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory
I want more than 5 though! Dre’s ”The Chronic” needs to be in there, Raekwon’s “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…”needs to be listed, A Tribe Called Quest’s “The Low End Theory” has to be mentioned… I could go on forever!
Shoutouts To everybody who has bought the new album and those that aided me in making it happen. Props to my artist JR for his continued incredible work, Taina, Taisha (Fatale), Madhandz and FDot1 for their musical contributions and to Capital R for the dope job he did with the mastering.
Also big up for the interview opportunity FKOF! Peace! [Big up bro, appreciate the shoutout!]
Configa is another example of the stupendous amount talent we have here in the UK. Someone so passionate about hip-hop that he has a PhD in it! I had a great time chatting to Configa and it’s very clear to see how immersed he is in the world of classic hip-hop. He’s definitely a talent worthy of your support! Hit Configa’s website to cop the album, catch him on Myspace, drop him an email if you’ve felt what he’s had to say and hit him up on Facebook and Twitter if you’re on a social media flex.
If you have any thoughts on what Configa has had to say, or thoughts on anything else you’ve read let us know either via the comments section below or through one of the other forms of contact (email, Twitter and Facebook).