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Once Upon A Grime Meets Rival [Interview]

(Photography by Kids of Grime)
2010 saw Rival amongst the likes of Marger, Merky Ace and Kozzie really establish their names within the Grime scene. They constantly hit raves and radio sets to promote their names and spit their latest lyrics. I recently caught up with Rival this week to talk about the sucess of Return of the Rivz, the Rastamouse EP and his thoughts on free downloads.

2010 was a big year for yourself and various other newer names in Grime such as Kozzie, Marger and Merky ACE. What do you think influenced the Grime fans to turn towards the newer names in Grime and accept them so quickly compared to other names what’ve been in the game for longer?

It’s not a matter of certain people being over certain people. In 2010 the older guys werent releasing tunes, and it was a case of we’re hungry for it, so we put our faces everywhere. I think in ‘010 there wasn’t a place that us lot weren’t at. Raves, radio sets, we were all over the place. It may have been the case that they (the fans) had listened to us before, but it got a bit out of control. There wasn’t many videos or freestyles at the time, and all us up-and-comers just came at a good time in Grime.

So when it got a bit quiet in Grime, the fans must of thought “we’ll listen to these guys over others in Grime”?

Yeah it must have been, plus the work rate as well at the time. We put in enough work last year to get to where we are now.

Who can you see making an impact in 2011 MC wise and producer wise?

I’m saying Kwam, D-Bo, Defstar and Danny D on the MC front. There’s more I’m forgetting, but off the top of my head they’re the ones I’ll recon will have a good year. Merky ACE as well. When Merky drops his mixtape Blue Battlefield that’s gonna be a lot. There’s loads of MC’s who can have a good year, it’s down to whoever puts in work.

Producers? I’ve got one I’m working with called Pacman, I recon he’ll have a good year.  Nu Klear ‘cos he’s doing a madness. Darq E Freaker will have a good year as well. I recon Rude Kid will come back and reign. G.Tank as well, G.Tank’s got a couple of hits already.

Return of the Rivz is what really cemented your name within the Grime scene last year. In comparison with how well you think it would do compared to how well it done, were you a bit shocked? Or were you expecting such a high amount of praise for it?

Return of the Rivz it was always a project I was working on (throughout the year). I was meant to do a mixtape from early, but when I had it ready it just didn’t feel like a mixtape. As time was going on and as I was progressing as an MC I was learning more stuff about music. When I was recording it that was around the time people started paying attention to my music.  So when I dropped it, it felt like the right time to release it. I thought it would create a little buzz, but I didn’t think it would do what it done though. I didn’t know people from Australia, Sweden and the Czech Republic would listen to it. These are people who you wouldn’t think would listen to your music.

You were recently nominated at the Official Mixtape Awards for Best Newcomer to Mixtapes of 2010 (vote here). Other than your own mixtape, who else’s did you rate last year? Who’s stood out the most Grime wise?

I’d say Kwam – Truth Hurts, I like that. Me and Kwam dropped our around October time. But before that I was listening to Ghetts’ quite a bit. But in terms of powerful releases, I don’t think 2010 was the year for that. There weren’t many that stood out that made people really think “yeah” until JME’s album Blam! came out.

Do you think you have a realist chance of winning the award yourself?

No, not with the people they put me in the category with! (Laughs) I thought I could, then I started thinking in terms of promotion wise, if I push it I maybe I could. But in terms of Best Newcomer, I deserve that. They didn’t even put me in the Best Grime Mixtapes of 2010! And Return of the Rivz was f*cked! They should have put me in that at least. Best Newcomer I deserve to win, but I don’t want to get too excited in case when I’m sitting there and they call out someone else’s name. If I win, I win. If I don’t, it is what it is. I’ve got a little fanbase, so I hope they’ve voted for me. It’ll be nice to say I’ve won it.

At Christmas time you put out the Murder EP which was meant to be released under the Murder Edition of Return of the Rivz. Why’d you give it out for free?

You see in music, sometimes management take the piss. If anyone wants to know why, it says on the back of the cover why. If you want to do something you’ve got to do it yourself. I had the CD ready, they (management) took time with the digital download, and it took so long to get on iTunes I ended up putting it on BandCamp first (Return of the Rivz). It was coming towards ‘011, I was in a good mood on Christmas Day, and so I thought “you know what? I work hard and at the end of the day I don’t need to sit on music or make people wait for something when I don’t even know when it’s going to come out myself”.  You can’t let down your fans. If you let down your fans, you’re going to lose fans; I’m trying to gain fans. I already had new projects anyway, and those ten tunes were just sitting there anyway, I’ll just put it out. Now I’m in the position now to do physical copies of Return of the Rivz. If I see a big enough demand I’ll put it out whenever the people want it.

Do you think free downloads are valued as much as they use to be? A few years back they were rare, now even the tops MCs are giving away tracks. Is this good for the scene? Or do you think its de-valuing music?

It’s all good for the scene, if it wasn’t I don’t think I’d be having this interview right now. I see people talking about “free downloads aren’t any good” plus this, that and the other. I just think it’s bullsh*t. The whole reason a lot of people listen to me isn’t because I put out a mixtape and release it on iTunes, it’s because of what I’ve done. If I didn’t get myself about and done all these freestyle and that, the Jus Rival's and Dirty Date's then how would people know about Rival from the beginning?

So all the time Grimes been around we’ve been buying music? Free downloads have helped build the scene. Free downloads are needed just as much as someone’s mixtape is needed. People are hitting the point now where they’re looking at it from a business side. But as a fan, of course free downloads are needed. Why wouldn’t you want to hear an MC spit a freestyle? We’re not always going to pay for a freestyle track. I’m always one for downloads and I’m one for selling music too. I think you need both to make the scene big. One thing I’ve realised is you have to keep a balance and you should be fine.

You’ve got the Rastamouse EP out soon, what’s happening with that? You’re Mike Lowery freestyle was taken down from YouTube due to claims from the owners of Rastamouse themselves for using an image of the cartoon character. Will you be able to sell the EP then?

That’s a free download. I’ve also got a free download coming out with Nytz too. Those are two free downloads I’m giving to the people. I’ve had loads of people telling me I shouldn’t keep giving my music away for free. But you see me with my music? I just do what I want. If I get an idea I’ll stick by it and I’ll do it. I’m going to have to give away the EP for free anyway now. I’m not looking to get sued by Rastamouse or whoever made it. Why am I going to try and change the cover and all that stuff to sell it?  I don’t care; I’ll just give it out for free and let people hear what I’m saying. It’s the beginning of the year now so I’ve got plenty of time to sell music. It should be done in the next few weeks. I’m calling a couple of people to just put the finishing touches on it then it’s done.

Can you name drop any names of artists or producers you’ve worked with recently?

I don’t really want to say too much, but I’ve got a couple of features I’ve been working on. I’ve been working with Dexplicit, Dimples; I’ve got a tune with Dot Rotten coming too. Mainly myself this year to show people as much as you’ve heard me with this and that person, I can do this on my own. I don’t want to be known as a feature artist. I don’t want to be known as Grimes Flo Rida and just do loads of features. Sometimes I’ve got to separate myself and do my own music. Sometimes I don’t want to really work with someone on a track, sometimes I want to be anti-social and do my own thing. There’s a couple of features, but mainly me this year.

Will you be featuring on their mixtape? Or will the track be on your forthcoming release?

There will be a couple of features on Rastamouse. I’m on Dimples mixtape. Dexplicit and myself have got an EP coming out with P-Jam and the rest of the Beat Camp. I’m not too sure about Dot Rotten, I’ll have to speak to him about that. I’ve also got a few surprise features coming up too…

What about bookings? Where can the fans come to see you perform?

Next booking is at the Official Mixtape Awards on 12th March. Then Pitch Controller on 18th March at the Macbeth. A couple of other people are down there too, I’m not too sure who though.

How can promoters contact you to book you for a rave then?

They can get at me on Twitter, @JusRival, or via my email