UK's Fun Vibes Hip-Hop Electro Trio Heads Stateside
If you haven’t heard of Foreign Beggars, chances are you’re not from the UK, and you have heard of their all-star collaborators Noisia, Skrillex, and Deadmau5. But no, they’re not EDM producers exactly. They just happen to be very timely MCs with a love of beats.
Known as a grime act in some circles, rappers Metropolis and Orifice Vulgatron rose the ranks London’s hip-hop scene together over the last decade, along with their third member, DJ Nonames. It’s only in the last few years that they’ve focused on more electronic production and some of the aforementioned collabs, just in time for the insane EDM wave conquering the states.
Now about to tour the globe and release their first-ever world release and sixth studio album, The Uprising, Foreign Beggars conquering the planet with incredibly prolific releases, and heavy dance beats topped with honest-to-god MC talent. We spoke to Orifice Vulgatron (the one on the floor in the photo above) about Foreign Beggars’ past life in the Dubai party scene (where they met).
Where are you?
In London, in my backyard. Freezing.
So, no clever/pornographic/nerdy album title this time?
Yeah…I don’t know it just felt right. It felt like a good name for the album. The freaky pornographic stuff was more for mixtapes and singles, albums were more serious. Well, I say that. Of course our last album title [United Colours Of Beggattron] was tongue ‘n cheek.
What’s going on in the “Apex” video?
Basically it’s the story of a clone who is working in a factory, who realizes he’s a clone so he tries to escape and get away, and the other clones are trying to get him. It’s a breakaway from being controlled.
Watch “Apex” by Foreign Beggars, produced by Knife Party off their album ‘The Uprising’.”
Anything to do with your journey as a group?
Not really, it was just a really interesting concept that was put together by the director [Ben Soper]. We really liked the director, and wanted to work with him for awhile. It seemed like an interesting video concept, rather than just going with a classic rap video.
What inspired the Deadmau5 collaboration? You a fan of his stuff?
Yeah! We’ve been a fan of the movement as well. He’s a big Noisia fan, through the work that we did with Noisia we were brought to his attention. We met a few times on the road we wanted to release a new EP. He said you might as well turn it into an album!
When you say you’re a fan of the movement, you mean…
Electronic music, and a big fan of the label as well. They’re open to bring in all sorts of sounds — house, techno, dubstep, even throw some underground rap into the mix.
Whether or not you guys consider yourself part of that “scene,” working with Deadmau5 and Skrillex and Knife Party definitely sends a message to all the kids who are new fans of those guys. What have collaborations meant for your group in terms of how you’re being viewed, and how you want to be viewed — and do you give a shit?
I think that we work with people who we like. The fact that we’re two vocalists and we’re very diverse — some people view us the way we like them to, other people might draw our career off one or two tracks. At the end of the day we work with all sorts of people and it’s not so easy to pigeonhole us.
I feel like you guys went for the seriously hard drops and crazy face-melting stuff on this album, right?
Well, we started that before then. There was a point where all the music we released was hip-hop, and then I think it was ’08 when we consciously decided to up the electronic music. I don’t know if we’ve gone extra hard on this particular album. Our collaborations with Trolley Snatcher, Noisia, the stuff with Skrill were all before it — the stuff on this album is a bit more toned down, not all the massive drops. They’re there, but generally it’s kind of a bit of a fusion of electronic and hip-hop.
Do you feel like it’s less weird now to do what you do, than when you started?
Most definitely. When we came out, we were a left-field kind of hip-hop group. Now, producers don’t have to make any one kind of music, whether they’re commercial or underground, all of these scenes are running concurrently.
It’s almost like these conversations are irrelevant now. We’re all one big soup and we should shut up about it.
Yeah, I think there are so many different styles of music and quirky subgenres that come up, and there’s so much history in electronic music. Now different kinds of house and garage are fusing together, and we’re coming up with new sounds that are pastiches of throwbacks from 10 years, 15 years ago.
How do you feel about the grime association, given how much the genre has undergone its own evolution?
Yeah I mean I’m happy with that. I love grime music and representing grime music on its own. We were never classically a grime group, but in the last 5-6 years, the way we approach dubstep tracks, electronic tracks, there’s a very heavy grime influence with the flow and style. Yeah, I rep grime. [laughs]
So what does “Uprising” mean?
Yeah the theme is, I think, general positivity and moving forward. This is the first album that we’ve released worldwide, and the first thing that we’re really properly promoting in the states…It’s summarizing where we’re at, where we’re about to take our career. We’re at a certain point. We need to smash it. We want the “uprising” to be a self-fulfilling prophesy.
I imagine you guys have gotten more recognition in the states with all these collaborations.
It’s really nice to be able to go and tour anytime we want tour. I think working with Sonny [Skrillex] helps a lot. The EDM music culture has been so massively embraced and we were putting out records at the right time, and the right type of records. I’m curious to see how it goes. The album just came out a few days ago. For me personally, I’ve seen rappers from England and they’ve been doing it a long time, but the states never gave a shit about rappers from England. For us, we get a little broad spectrum of the old school hip hop heads to EDM kids. I
You’re going to some boondock places in the states! Have you done that before?
We’ve been to some pretty boondock places all over the world people, and people who come out to our shows tend to like our music and they like the party.
Tell me a story about partying in Dubai.
Oh wow, old school! You’re going back 14, 15 years. I don’t know, there were just crazy house parties. I remember throwing this one party at my house at Dubai, it was a rave in ’97. We couldn’t get into the bars because we were kids…but we went to another side of town and bought a whole bunch of alcohol, we had people pouring Fosters out of the tap. It got really crazy and then at about 60 kids started jumping over the wall into the party and we had 300 people there already.
Do you miss that vibe? Now that dance parties have become really structured?
Yeah seriously! Back then at house parties you had two friends watching the door. Well, I kind of got over that phase a long time ago. There are cases where a lot of my friends are renting a mansion and throwing their own little festival somewhere, which is cool. I do wanna get back into promoting because we did our own shows in the beginning. And, we have a chance to start a new label as well.
Is this your dream project?
Yes, for me anyway. I’ve always wanted to get into hip-hop, since I was 17 years old. Now we’re still traveling, going places, there are new tracks all the time — this a definitely a dream for me. And the fact that we can do whatever we want because all of these scenes are coming together: the rap scene, the drum’n'bass scene, garage scene, any electronic rave culture — we’ve been diversified.
Thanks for everything. Go inside, and get warm.
[laughs] I will, thanks.