Interview: Doc Brown

It has been years since Doc Brown left the rap world, since then he has gone on to have massive success in comedy, television and cinema. From humble beginnings to a role model for the people his story is one that personally inspires me. 

whilst was scrolling through Facebook and came across a post from the man himself announcing his return to rap, well thank fuck. After reading the post I went through Youtube and Spotify listening to Doc’s old songs and SBTV appearances and all I can say is this man is seriously underrated.

I believe the reason he is so underrated is because he Doesn’t pander to what the mainstream wants, in his own words He is, “unashamedly old school”. This probably adds to the many reasons why I rate this guy so highly. Being able to stay true to what you believe in is a hard thing to achieve and he has managed to do it time and time again.

So I contacted Doc through his website to ask a few questions about his comeback and below is his reply.

In November 2013 you did an amazing F64 for SBTV in which you said “you tell me to come back to rap but what for, so I can be broke more go to MOBO awards” what’s changed since then?
That’s a great question. On a personal level I fell upon some pretty hard times soon after that F64 dropped. 2014 was one of the biggest low points in my life, although professionally my work in film and television was better than ever. I ended up battling depression for well over 18 months. When I came out the other side, I found talking about it really helped, but I couldn’t express it through comedy or acting and suddenly I found myself writing songs again, because I basically needed an outlet that could deal intelligently with the way I was feeling. Rap music is great for that kind of soul searching expression.

What is your overall aim with this comeback? Is it a work of passion or a comeback to dominate the scene?
It’s a bit of both. I’ve never been satisfied with my output as a rapper- three releases behind me- I love each of them but none of them made the impact I hoped they would, and I left the rap scene feeling like I just had to live with that failure. But it’s always bugged me so I’m trying to find some closure on that. But in terms of the scene, I also saw a gap in the market- I don’t think many artists in the scene want to be rap artists, because people now see hip hop as a bit of a dirty word. Grime is where it’s at. But I can’t pretend to be a grime artist- I can’t do what they do- they are amazing and I get a lot of inspiration from the likes of Skepta, Wiley and Stormzy, but I am a rapper- there’s no denying that- and in terms of Hip Hop Rappers in the UK, I don’t think there’s anyone fucking with me. At all. And it just feels like it’s time to prove that.

Are there any artists you have lined up to work with for your come back? Maybe Tony D?
I’m not trying to feature too many artists on the album because it’s a deeply personal piece of work so it’s hard to get someone to jump on a track talking about how sick they are or whatever, know what I mean? It features a lot more singers than rappers, but my brother Luc Skyz is on it, and Example. I’m also hunting down Mikill Pane for a feature- watch this space on that one! I’ll also do a side project where I can feature more other guys, it’s just this album is a different beast.

Will you be staying with your previous type of style or will you be try out anything new?
Both. There’ll be moments when you get that wave of boom bap nostalgia, but I’ve also pushed my own boundaries musically. I’ve always been good at writing melodies, hooks and pieces for singers, but I’m way more mature now in musical terms and I think what I’ve written on this album is kinda next level, so there will be moments of stuff that you hear and think- okay I’ve never heard a rapper do that before…

 Who are your biggest influences or people you admire?
Well ironically I like anyone who doesn’t seem overly influenced by what has come before, so from when I was young it’s always been the real innovators. Like when I was a kid it was Big Daddy Kane, Ice Cube, Kool G Rap, Snoop and Nas who I thought were all inventing new styles. Then it was Wu, Big L, Pun, Em- who all had Witty Unpredictable Talent And Natural Game, shall we say. Then it was all about the London scene- that really inspired me to do my own thing: Blak Twang, Taskforce, Mud Fam, Klashnekoff, Skeme, Rodney P, Dupa Styles. They were all huge inspirations for me, but the biggest was probably a group from Hackney called 12 Stone. They were incredible.

 What’s your opinion on the current UK rap scene?
I think it just needs a little more self-confidence. Obviously Grime has come up and done its thing which has been amazing and inspiring to watch, but I guess it left a lot of hip hop guys feeling like their time was over. But rap music will never die, it just needs reinvigorating every now and then, which I plan to do single handedly.

You have appeared on the popular YouTube channel Don’t Flop, with this come back would there be any chance of you trying your hand at battle rap?
Not a chance in hell. My last battle was maybe 2003/4, something like that. These guys today are so much more advanced, so clever and so on point I could never be on that level- battle rap is exactly like boxing- you can’t just jump in the ring, you gotta train and focus every day. I have a career outside of rap that I still need to take care of. If I was ever to battle again, I’d need to put all my other work on hold just to get myself in shape and battle ready again. That aint gonna happen. But I love Don’t Flop and will always support it coz the kids who run it are family for real.

To date what tracks are you most proud of?
There was a song on Citizen Smith called Decisions Decisions which I’ve always loved, produced by Nutty P. I love listening back to my old songs sometimes because it’s like a diary entry, detailing what you were doing and feeling, when you might normally just forget. On the Document there was a song I wrote with Reveal called Alone where Reveal plays the reflection in my mirror, the paranoia to my confidence. I still feel that was a very mature song considering we were so young.

What do your family think of your comeback to music?
Everyone’s surprised but supportive. All my nearest and dearest know how much I love the music so it’s basically excitement, just looking forward to seeing what happens.

Where does your stage name Doc Brown come from?
School. I was always a geeky kid and a know it all, and would always rabbit on about Back to the Future so people started calling me Doc and it just stuck. When I first started battling it was just the nickname I went with.

You have been vocal of many issues through your career sexism and mental health being big ones. Have you already or do you have any plans to write a song along these subjects?
Yes, and yes.

If you could start over from day one knowing what you know now would you go straight towards comedy or would you have suck with music?
Great question and impossible to answer directly. I love both so much and both have taught me tons, plus one informs the other so it’s impossible to say I wouldn’t just do it all again. I don’t think I’d go straight towards comedy because it was rap that gave me the material to become a comedian in the first place. Now I’m in my thirties I just look back an say, you know what? You’re an entertainer. I just leave it at that. Let other people pigeonhole me.

What would be your advice to any young people who want to get into rapping?
Get up in front of as many people as you can. The world needs to know how good you are, so don’t keep it to yourself or expect someone to hand you success and acknowledgement! Show and prove!!

Why do you think the US dominates the mainstream more than the UK in regards to rap?
Why are there no big international Country Music artists from the UK? Because it’s an American art form. Simple as that. They invented it. But there’s still opportunities for rappers from all over the world to get big. When you think about it, the biggest rapper in the world is a middle class Canadian. That’s crazy.

Are there any artists or songs you like fans might be surprised of?
Tons. I grew up as much on Indie music as I did on Rap, but not many people know that. So the same time I was listening to Illmatic I was listening to It’s a Shame About Ray by the Lemonheads. Same time I was listening to Mobb Deep Hell On Earth I was listening to Parklife by Blur. I’ve always loved indie and punk music. The Strokes are my number one guitar band, I have every single song they’ve ever released, but I also love Elbow and people who walk that line between genres really well like Jamie T, who’s up there with the Strokes as one of my favourite non rap artists. I guess I always had that duality of black and white, and the cultural/musical differences therein. My dad was all Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and my mum was Reggae, rare groove and 70s/80s soul. But they both had crossovers with stuff like the Specials and jazz stuff like Miles Davis and John Coltrane, plus they both loved Paul Simon, Quincy Jones and Motown. So in short I had an amazing musical upbringing. It was never just one thing.

Well there you have it, probably everything you could want to know about Doc Browns return to rap. The man is on a mission and to all the youth of the UK sit up, listen and take notes to how it should be done.Here is Docs Youtube , Twitter and Instagram give him a follow and keep and eye. 

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