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Breaking The Code

Interview
Alexander
codebreaker_defence

Heralded by many as one of the true break through MCs of the last few years, we talk to Codebreaker MC about his roots, influences and latest single alongside MC Sense and Billion...

The role of the MC within drum & bass has changed alot since the early days of the rave toaster or host. now in 2012, the expectations and requirements of an MC are higher than ever. So what better time to get an inside perspective on the evolution of the MC from recording artist and lyrical crowd communicator Codebreaker MC...

Who or what first inspired to pick up the mic? Was there a single defining moment or influence?

I can't say there's just one influence. I used to listen to a lot of Public Enemy as far back as the 80's, my Aunt got me into it and I became fascinated with hip hop at a very early age and into the 90's. Then the UK/ London invented hardcore and jungle and the culture around that just dragged me in. I think it was a case of right time, right place. It was like a fire sweeping across London. Also, almost all my mates were 'DJs' so someone had to be an MC! It wasn't like today. Now it seems every kid on ever corner is an MC. Back then barely anybody wanted to pick up the mic, it was a scary thing to do. There was a very high risk of looking like a complete idiot, which as every man knows, is a teenager's worst nightmare.

Growing up, which MCs did you look up to or aspire to emulate?

In hip hop - Chuck D, B-real, Q-tip, Dre, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, Naughty by Nature, De La Soul , etc etc - all the classic acts really...
In Jungle - Stevie Hyper D, Co-gee, Navigator, GQ, Top Cat.

I wouldn't say I strived to emulate any of these guys really (ok, maybe Stevie Hyper in the early days!) but they all had quite an effect on me. It's worth saying that my previously unadulterated love for US hip hop literally disappeared overnight when I found hardcore and jungle. I remember it being quite an epiphany. US rap was 'fairy story' stuff, most of what they were rapping about was pure escapism to a British kid. But the London jungle music was Real. It was here. It was ours. I identified with it massively. Looking back I think that was hugely significant.

What is your favorite ever lyric and why?

It's impossible to say. It really is. I changes daily. I'm currently being slain by anything Aesop Rock. The levels this guy operates at poetically are ridiculous.
The role of the MC within drum & bass has changed alot since the early days of the rave toaster or host. now in 2012, the expectations and requirements of an MC are higher than ever. So what better time to get an inside perspective on the evolution of the MC from recording artist and lyrical crowd communicator Codebreaker MC...

In your opinions, what does it mean to be a drum & bass MC in 2012?

I think the age of the big voiced hype man is coming to an end. If not ending, then it's having to make a bit of room for the more intricate style of MC. Most of the MCs coming through the ranks now are word heavy. Everyone is suddenly writing and spitting more intricately in ways they simply weren't doing five years ago. If i'm brutally honest (and slightly big headed) for a moment, I think thats due in large part to the work Sense/Me/Fathom have done in the last few years. I really do. Many people tell me this, which is wicked. Love to inspire others as those before have inspired me. It's all a bit circular.

I guess there also seems to be a bit of a trend for 'party boy' MCs too right now, which is fair enough, we can all co-exist - but I guess guys like me and Sense are most at home in the poetic, darker side of the game. We'll never be minimal hosts though. We're word slingers. But not 'street' word slingers. It's not about how much of a badman we think we are, or how many girls we get etc etc - It's much broader than that. Historically there wasnt really any room for our kind, but thankfully the music and the scene evolves and here we are flexing our guns with the best of them. But we're not new. The scene just changed and noticed us.

What makes a good MC track?

The same things that make any good vocal track in any genre - context, delivery, interest. However, this is bass music - dance music - so you have to be able to accomodate that. Its not the same as rap music. I would also say one of the reasons why I think a lot of MCs have struggled to make a killer vocal track over the years is down to the fact that recording for a track is a wholly different skill to spraying out the sickness in a live setting. So many fall into this trap, legions of jump up MC's have in my humble opinion. You're not spitting when you record a track, you're song writing. It's a very different thing. What works on a track will generally work in a live setting, but the reverse is very often not the same. I have scores of verses/bars that I wouldn't dream of putting on a track but revel in smashing them out at shows.

What do you listen to to get you in the mood before performing?

I'm bang on Doc Scott's future beats podcasts right now. Absolutely perfect soundtrack for quietly going over the the repertoire or refreshing the memory banks before a show. Either that or something random and non D&B. Maybe something thats killer singalong from the 80's just to get the lungs working!

Billion feat MC Sense & Codebreaker MC - "Defence" / Skeptical Remix is out 26/11/12
http://www.surus.co.uk/alignment-records/