Brighton rapper Gi3mo is one of the leaders of hip hop collective Rum Committee, the group which played a part in the rise of both Ocean Wisdom and Rag n Bone Man! A certified emcee with a distinct style of delivery and lyricism, Gi3mo has been a notable name in the UK hip hop scene for a good number of years, with fans welcoming the release of ‘Big Gizzy is Boss‘, his first in 4 years!
We spoke to Gi3mo recently, to discuss the creative process, performing at Glastonbury with Rag n Bone Man, and being from Brighton! Check the interview while you stream the mixtape here –
Blatantly Blunt: How long did it take to put the whole project together and how did you approach this one compared to previous projects?
Gi3MO: So I gave DJ Choice a folder of tracks recorded over the last 3 years, odds and ends… he made an old school DJ mixtape out of it, which was about 20 tracks. I then picked a handful from the folder to put on a single project for streaming sites etc.
And how about the mixtape title?
We always used the “Is Boss” title for Rum Com mixtapes, so I wanted to pick up the baton and do that.
BB: The record – like most things the Rum Committee does – is a real family affair. What’s it like having so many producers (6, including you) on the team?
G: Well… you never have to worry if your hardware goes kapoot! Everyone’s pretty good and has their own thing. We all mug each other off about beats and stuff but I think that’s healthy and it makes you better.
I’m pretty known in my circle for being brutally honest so I appreciate having people that can give it back. It’s been amazing watching the gang’s progression over the last couple years; not a lot of music has been released but everyone’s learning new skills, picking up instruments and branching out.
I can sit with any of them guys and make stuff happen, it’s almost always better when we work together.
BB: How do all the collabs (with producers and other MCs) come about? Do you reach out and produce the songs sequentially or does it all just progress naturally?
G: A lot of these collabs have come about from the simple desire to make music. Not for a project, not for an end goal, but for the act itself.
So for a lot of the collabs someone might come over, crack a couple cans, record something and we’ll forget about it for a year. Works the other way too – for some I’d travel to whoever’s house and at 1am we’re suddenly setting the mic up to record.
I have done a couple over the internet with producers, which not everyone is into but if someone sends me something and I like the vibe of it that usually sets off a spark and I’ll try write and record it as quickly as I possibly can to keep that little ember burning.
BB: What’s your musical background? Has it always been about hip-hop or do you have a secret black metal past? Who are your biggest influences?
G: I grew up with a lot of musical influences around me. When my mother was pregnant with me she lived in the nightclub where my father DJ’d. He’s a lot older than my mum. He was a mod, he used to be a bit of a thing back in the day, he worked in a record store and DJ’d music like Motown, soul and disco.
I’d been in the club and sat in the booth with him and watched him play out when I was kid. He’d jump on mic and swear at people for not dancing and shit like that. Everyone loved him. When I was about 10 he used to have a jazz radio show. It was quite funny tuning in and hearing him try his hardest not to swear between songs “This one is a fuuu ff, urm a really good record.” He didn’t last too long haha.
My mum on the other hand was a bit of a young raver so I used to listen to The Prodigy and stuff like that in her car, when I was real young my auntie used to look after me a lot and she had a madhouse too. Her fella used to have all kinds of people round to smoke hash and fuck about making beats on the Amiga, people like Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim, who was in The Housemartins at the time I think) and a guy called DJ who raps the hook on ‘Dub be good to me ya know’ – “Tank fly boss walk jam nitty-gritty”. I still see him about now – shout DJ. I remember a lot of rap stuff being around and hearing Cypress Hill and thinking yeah this is nuts.
Having all these rich influences I think is why I’m drawn to hip hop cos it’s like the bastard child of everything else that came before, but by definition; contemporary. I’m into that, I think these influences help me move forward and not get too lost or stagnant in being nostalgic the way others can.
G: Ragz’ success has been amazing for us in many ways and the experiences we’ve had since are irreplaceable and priceless. Conversely from what some would expect, that level of fame and success has a different cost.
Rory, for one, is probably working harder than he ever has at any regular job; it’s very full on. For us though, well, we’ve always been used to doing things our own way and sometimes we’ve had to bend or break the rules to make things happen. Nowadays I have to sit back and think of the repercussions of my actions. Don’t get me wrong, we still do whatever the fuck we want but we have to be a bit more clever in terms of what we can get away with.
At the end of it all; We are just ten guys and having one member at the dizzying heights Rory has reached, whilst another member is in the throes of drug addiction and all the evil shit that comes with it is difficult; it’s a paradox. It has been really hard for all of us in different ways but at the same time it’s very grounding and I feel like I have greater perspective because of it. While we’re on the subject I wanna shout out my boy on his continuing recovery. Stepping out of that lifestyle isn’t easy but he’s smashing it right now and that won’t be the last you hear about that, I’m sure… that’s a whole other story to be told.
All the while this is going on we’re out on stage playing to over 40 thousand people ya know? But yeah… Glastonbury was crazy, such a great day to share with those guys.
Going out was like queueing up to go on a rollercoaster, you’re waiting to go on and you look around at all this steel – the rigs are MASSIVE – you can hear people screaming and crying, you go out, do your thing and it’s over quick as that.
BB: How does being based in Brighton – as opposed to somewhere like London or Manchester – affect your music?
G: I love Brighton. It is my birthplace and truly my home. I don’t mind not being in London, it just feels claustrophobic to me, you can get from Brighton to Victoria in about the same time it takes from Barnet, so I never felt the need to leave. My upbringing is unique and Brighton is a mix of everything. It’s a big part of me and an influence on everything I do.
I found it hard when I was younger because a lot of the rappers that were getting pushed from round here just moved here to go to Uni. I always felt like NO I’M A FUCKING COUNCIL KID FROM BRIGHTON. MY STORY, MY TURN.
BB: I have 24 hours to spend in Brighton – what should I do?
G: Come mine, I’ll get a bottle of Rum in.