Metropolis of Foreign Beggars tells us about British hip-hop and dubstep, their upcoming show at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, Bangalore, and about working with Skrillex and Noisia.
Right now, as the world is running at blink-or-you’ll-miss-it levels of fads, fashions and genres of music, there are small pockets of people who are just naturally progressing with the times. Foreign Beggars are a British hip-hop group that represent exactly this. They took to underground hip-hop, but experimented with other genres as well. Ever the enthusiastic collaborators, this British group has worked with artists from bass scenes such as Shiva Soundsystem and Engine EarZ Experiment.
After years of meeting and collaborating with each other (often in different countries), Foreign Beggars were finally formed in London when Orifice Vulgatron and DJ Nonames decided to launch the first Foreign Beggars album on their own imprint, which they christened Dented Records. London was already a breeding ground for underground music when the Foreign Beggars were taking their first steps, but they arrived at a time when British hip-hop really took off. At least that’s how one of the MCs of the group, Metropolis sees it. “The only thing that can be said for sure is that this (1999, 2000 and 2001) was the the time of the underground hip-hop movement. There were lots of new sounds all over the place and as a group we just got together and absorbed and adapted to it till we became a part of it,” explains Metropolis.
Check out the video for Foreign Beggars’ big hit ‘Contact’ (it also features Noisia).
The MC spoke to me over the phone from his hotel room in Melbourne, engaging me as he talked about the growth of British hip-hop. It was in London and Bristol that genres such as drum ‘n’ bass and dubstep first made their presence felt in music, and the Foreign Beggars came into contact with this pretty early on. They took the time out to collaborate with some of the best in the business before they got really big. Metropolis felt that working with artists such as Noisia and Skrillex had an impact on them. “They’re both quite different artists but its great to work with different people. Working with Skrillex and Noisia, well… it’s about how you connect with each others vision and work towards it and make it click. They, especially Noisia, fell perfectly into that bracket of artists where things happened and it clicked. Noisia invited us to work on a demo which they were going to include on their album Split The Atom, but even though it didn’t work out so well on that track, we made some more amazing music with them. Working with Skrillex came about because of Noisia. (Orifice) Vulgatron was staying with Noisia for a short while when Skrillex came by to record some music with them. Vulgatron and Skrillex really hit it off. So we got working with him organically, not through some record company.”
Here’s the video of Foreign Beggars’ collaboration with Skrillex – ‘Still Getting It’.
Foreign Beggars might be touring internationally quite a lot, but they still have their ears close to the ground at home. Metropolis plays cheerful advocate for what’s going on back home almost as if he’s an artist about to put out his debut record, let alone an industry veteran with more than a decade of experience in the business. He was more than happy to tell me about his favourite new British hip-hop artists and producers. “I really like Piff Gang. They’re a pretty cool underground group and I really like the way they rap. There are a few guys like Darq E Freaker and Hudson Mohawk, who are doing some great work too,” says Metropolis. Indeed, it’s not just in hip-hop that he’s seen a lot of over the last decade, it’s dubstep as well. I asked him if he still identifies with the new generation of dubstep artists and dubstep in general and he was quite certain of his answer. “We’ve been a part of it for a long time right now, but we’re still opening for artists who have been around before us. The thing with dubstep is just how quickly it grew. In no time it got from over here to the United States. It got oversaturated and with the new generation of YouTube fans getting into it, and it’s blown up in America. What is really amazing about dubstep is that it’s got so far to go and there’s so much for musicians to do. Just the other day I was listening to a dubstep album that Gilles Peterson and Mala released (here’s what we found on Gilles Peterson’s website), and it’s interesting because of its inclusion of Cuban music. It’s the most musical dubstep I have ever heard. I would really like to see how the younger generation of dubstep fans adapt to music like this in the future.”
Metropolis wanted to convey Foreign Beggars’ enthusiasm for their upcoming performance at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender 2012, Bangalore and he said that it would be a full-on Foreign Beggars set. “There will be new rap stuff and new dubstep as well. The show will be like a hardcore rave and have the intensity of a heavy metal concert!” he exclaims. I thought I’d ask Metropolis how I would describe Foreign Beggars to a friend of mine who’s never heard of them before, and he laughed before he left me with these words. “Tell him we’re a collective from the UK and we’re an electronic rap group and we do dubstep as well. Tell him we have a collective lifestyle that will blow his mind and that we’re totally up for doing just that.”
Foreign Beggars will play at the Eristoff Wolves Den at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender 2012, Bangalore. Get your tickets here.