Derby Grime artist Eyez is confident he cleaned up during his Lord of the Mics 5 face off with Invasion‘s D2, fans will get to decide for themselves when the DVD is released on December 16th. Meanwhile the self-confessed clash-lover – who’s shown up at four of the main UK clash events – spoke to SB.TV about moving from a small town to the big city and back again – and again…
I must admit that since working at SB.TV I’ve become pretty familiar with the unique plight of a non-London emcee, can you give us a little more insight into that?
Definitely. It’s kinda hard, I’m from Derby – a small city in the Midlands where even the people there look down on it. At first, it’s hard to try to get big in the Midlands. When I conquered that I thought to myself, ‘if I can do this, I can do anything’ because now I’m on their level. I understand what people are saying and that it’s all happening in London but if you’re that dedicated you’ll just go there and so my advice to other people would be just to go to London.
This month I’ve been to London eight times for different things; I met Jamal Edwards the other week and did a warm-up with him, I was at Rinse FM and then I’ve been involved with all of the Lord of the Mics stuff. It’s all good to be honest, what I’m gonna do is move to London for a few months. Coming from a small city is hard, but if you come to London eventually they forget where you came from and just know you as you. I’ve been about, I’ve lived in Brighton, London, Birmingham, Loughborough, Derby…
Yeah everywhere, so I’ve been up and down. I know a lot about how to fit in and be around people, plus I know how it works in different cities. A guy I know called TC Johnston is basically signed by Sony’s Just Jam Records, he’s from Brighton and he’s doing well. I’ve seen people fly like Conor Maynard, I knew him and now he’s a superstar. There’s a guy from Derby called Jack ‘O’ Connor he’s the main actor in Skins and he’s doing films with Angelina Jolie things like that, and he’s a fan of mine – it’s crazy.
So it’s not so much about where you come from – it does start like that and it is hard…but you’ve just got to push and kick. You’ve gotta make sure your face is out there, you don’t even have to talk – just make sure your face is seen three or four times and then the next time they’ll know your face if you’re just there and introduce yourself.
I used to jump trains and things like that just to get to shows, I wasn’t even getting paid but I was jumping trains because I heard that an artist was gonna be there and I had to be there as well so that they’d know who I am. If they didn’t know who I was then I would have failed and so getting to a show would be my goal. When I didn’t have anything I was at shows, I have a daughter as well and so it’s hard to do a lot things but once you get to that level of knowing anything is possible…it works.
The truth is that you’re not exactly a stranger to the capital are you?
I moved ‘nuff times, I was born in Brixton and I moved north when I was three, my little brother was born in Derby. We were there for about a year and then we moved back to London, to Streatham and then Stockwell. I was living around there until I was about nine years old, and then we went back to Derby. I did secondary school and all that, when I got to Year 9 and I was kinda messin’ around in school and things went tits up.
So I moved in with my Aunty and went to school in London. Whilst I was in London with my Aunt, my Mum moved from Derby to Brighton. I was messing around again in London and so for my GSCEs, I was lucky enough to get into a school in Brighton/Worthing. I went back to Derby after to go to college, I did it and I failed. I wanted to go back to Brighton because it was poppin’ and so I did when I was eighteen. I was living there doing foolishness but I was on my own and growing up, and since then I moved back to Derby. In between some of those times, I moved to Loughborough, Nottingham, and Birmingham for short periods. I’ve lived in over thirty houses…
I’ve been here and everywhere. Everywhere I go people remember me, my face and my name…and my f**kin graft and what I’m about – so it’s good.
Tell us a bit about your upcoming WoiOi EP…
It’s out on December 28th, I’m not gonna tell you too much about the features on there yet but basically I just want to show people that I’m still Grime. I’m going to drop something in the middle of 2014, and on that I will have a little changeover in what style of grime that I do. I’m still going to be doing Grime but you’ll hear that it’s like a new 2014 advanced Grime. It’s got a lot of samples and old skool Hip Hop beats but it’s Grime. I’ve been lucky enough to find producers that have found this sound for me, the tracks sound sick enough without lyrics on – so when the lyrics are added it’s just immense.
You’re an emcee whose appeared in all four of the main clash events –
Yeah. Definitely, yeah.
So it’s fair to say you really love to clash…
To be honest, it’s like a guilty pleasure. I’m a musician and I’d rather do that but it’s just the excitement – that’s why I do it. I’ve messed up and that but I just enjoy it you see. I’m the only emcee to have appeared in all four of them; Words Are Weapons, which is Manchester based, Who’s The Boss in the Midlands, Lord of the Mics in London and Don’t Flop…which is just crazy.
I just enjoy it and I like having a bit of fun. Sometimes there is pressure but it’s good to know that I’ve had every kind of experience and it’s another way to get my face and name known. I don’t always perform to my best, but I always get something out which I think people end up liking. Even the competitions I’ve lost people will say ‘you lost but man, when you said that – it was funny!’ You still win fans over from losing and I feel like I won my Lord of the Mics 5 clash against D2…just in case your gonna ask.
[Laugh] OK, out of the other emcees taking part in the DVD this year, who else would you like to clash?
There are a few, I would like to clash Maxsta and Big Shizz because they are big names. I feel like I could eat something off them. I reckon it would be mad because of my style, I’ve been through all of these different cities and so I’m a combination of different styles and ways. My accent is kinda messed up, it sounds like a Northern/London accent and so people don’t know what to make of it. I reckon my style and their style would just work hard.
As a compulsive battler, do you have your eye on anyone outside this year’s competition?
Sox would be funny, only because there is a bit of rivalry. I know that he doesn’t like me because I’m doing what he did, all the freestyles, smashing it and getting the views – so he would be sick. I’d like to clash someone like…a big name, maybe Frisco – that kind of caliber of emcee. I feel like that’s what I could become, I think I could go even further than that to be honest but that level of rapping is what I like to go back to back with. I think it would be sick, I appreciate his movement and he’s one of my favourite emcees.
Find Eyez’s interview at SB.TV here