I recently talked to a Flicksandbits favorite Idris Elba about his musical alter ego Driis, through which he is releasing his 5-track EP, High Class Problems Vol 1 Febuary 8th. The EP includes the Pete Rock-produced single “Please Be True,” leaked track “Best I Can” and the new single `Private Garden` (produced by 9th Wonder), preparing music fans for his album due in late 2010 on Hevlar Recordings.
2010 is set to be another huge year for Idris, who made his name starring as the infamous Stringer Bell in HBO’s The Wire. Also look out for him in major blockbusters including Takers, The Losers, and his feature Legacy (in which he is also the executive producer), but Driis will also be performing at a series of lives dates across the UK, Europe and the US, as well as several DJ guest spots.
The EP wasn`t what I was expecting I thought it would be more of a straight Hip Hop vibe to it but it`s very very musical, you`ve got the reggae and soul elements on there as well. It`s very grown.
Idris Elba: I wanted to just experiment you know what I mean, there`s certain things I wanted to express, I`m not a singer, but there were certain ideas I needed to express in that way. Moving in the future I think I`ll be more of a hybrid with the rap stuff and the spoken word stuff and what I`m doing with this, I wanted people not to expect anything, it is a grown album, it`s an easy listening type album, you can listen to it back and get your romance on.
Seeing as your a DJ as well, does what you play as a DJ influence the EP and the sound?
Idris Elba: Yeah in a weird sense, songs like Best I Can & Please Be True come from when I was growing up Djing, that mid tempo sound, the Soul 2 Soul stuff, your Mica Paris`s you could have played them in a dance, it was deemed more of a grown thing and I definitely miss that. Djing in the states I play a lot more House and more up-tempo pop stuff.
What was it like working with someone like Pete Rock? He must have been someone as a kid growing up you listened too.
Idris Elba: It was weird because he`s a legend, his process is not that dissimilar to mine, he works by himself in a isolated environment, he sent me the idea, I sent it back to him, he tweaked it, he`s a really cool nice guy, I love it when you meet someone who`s genuinely nice but successful and 9th Wonder he`s a legend of beat making that broken beat stuff he practically invented that stuff, he sent me that beat ages ago and I just wrote on it and he couldn`t believe it, he said he wasn`t expecting that.
Who are you gonna be working on with the album?
Idris Elba: We haven`t gotten a list of producers yet you know, honestly I wanna do a bit more production myself, I think I work better myself, I co-produced a couple tracks on the EP. When I work by myself I`m a little bit more adventurous. When you get a producer in, the idea is the fusion, to get both ideas together, but I still think I haven`t reached my potential as an artist so I wanna go and produce a lot of stuff myself, I want to do a lot more live music stuff. It`s hard to get my ideas across so I wanna do it myself.
You seem to like alter egos you`ve got this one Driis, Mr Me Innit and acting in general, is that something you enjoy getting into – another mind frame?
Idris Elba: Yeah I think because I`m always fighting the your just an actor your just an actor, I like to be like yes I`m an actor so let me reinvent this character, his name is Driis, his names Mr Me Innit which were fun songs that I`d never get away with going out there as Idris Elba. It`s a character, Driis is another persona, I just feel with music you can be a lot more honest, with acting you have to be politically correct, with being a musician you say what you want.
How do relax and spend you free time? You`ve got so much on, a number of movies next year, two ep`s, an album.
Idris Elba: Like Nas said sleep is the cousin of death, I feel like if you`ve got a dream you`ve got to work at it to make it right, you`ve got to check out a book called the Outliers, a good book by Malcolm Gladwell, in it he says geniuses spend at least 20,000 hours on what they`re a genius at, that`s all they do focus. Talking about Jay Z for example he WORKS, your can`t even talk to him, their whole existence is work, they may be geniuses but they`ve worked at it. But me my ambitions are really out there so I have to work at it.
What sort of music keeps you inspired? What have you been listening to lately?
Idris Elba: Here`s the thing bruv, I tend to listen to outside of the genre I`m trying to make, I just got into Kasabian`s new album, just because it`s completely different, I like their song writing, their production, the way they do things. I listen to a lot of old stuff, right now I`m listening to old bands, you know the ones who used to play everything live and record it all in one room, one shot, listening to each instrument and the resonance of each instrument is great. Salaam Remi and I have been talking a lot lately and that`s what he does, he produced Amy Wineshouse Back To Black album, he said Amy came to him and told him that`s the sound she wants, so they thought how`s best to get that sound, do it how they used to, use the same instruments, same recorder, everything.
You`ve got Thor filming in a couple months, that`s gonna a big film
Idris Elba: Yeah man I`m filming that in Febuary, that`s gonna be excellent, I can`t say too much about it though, they`ve signed me to silence, it`s a big Marval comic, it`s exciting, I`ve got a big sword, a real big sword!
Have you got any last words, anything else we should look forward to in 2010?
Idris Elba: High Class Problems Vol 1 is definitely an introduction to what I`m doing as a musician, what I`m gonna be doing more as a musician is releasing lots of one off singles, freestyles a lot more, I`m gonna be a lot more involved, I`m gonna do it more over here than in the states for now, because I want my people to support me, but definitely look out for me, I`m gonna try and experiment.
For more check out
I recently spoke to the Ben Drew aka Plan B (for the music heads) to talk on his role in Harry Brown, working with Michael Caine and his highly anticipated second album. Ben Drew is brilliant as Noel – one of the reckless youths from Harry Browns`s (Sir Michael Caine) estate, Harry Brown is a retired Marine and a widower who lives alone on a depressed housing estate. His only company is his best friend Leonard (David Bradley). When Leonard is murdered by a gang of thugs, Harry feels compelled to act and is forced to dispense his own brand of justice. As he bids to clean up the run-down estate where he lives, his actions bring him into conflict with the police, led by investigating officer DCI Frampton (Emily Mortimer) and Charlie Creed-Miles.
Your character in the film is evil! How did you get into that mode?
Ben Drew: Come on, you know me bruv, I was a little bit like that when I was younger, not that bad, but I used to get up to a lot of madness so it wasn`t hard at all, a lot of the youngers act like that in my manor still so I took a bit of how they act and move with my character. To be honest without being big headed at all it wasn`t that hard you know, there were times when we didn`t completely go with the script so I used words that I would use in my manor or I`d hear the youngers use
There`s one scene in the film when your in the police station getting interrogated was one that one of them moments? Your character went off on one.
Ben Drew: (laughs) Yeah exactly, with that scene I had noticed Charlie (Creed-Miles) who plays the copper, he wasn`t going by the script and I hadn`t heard cut, so I went off on that as well and thought what could be the filthiest and nastiest things I could say. We just bounced of each other it was great. The experience was great you know I loved it, I learnt a lot.
How did you actually get involved with the film?
Ben Drew: The casting director of Adulthood, Adulthood got me the part really. The character is quite similar to him, he`s much more cockney though.
What was it like working with Michael Caine?
Ben Drew: The Mad thing is we never actually spoke to each other in the film, there`s no scene where we`re speaking. Every scene we`re either shooting at each other, running away or he`s chasing me. We don`t actually speak one to one in the film, we don`t actually exchange words, even at the end when we`re in the same room he doesn`t speak to me directly, he`s speaking to Sid (Liam Cunningham). We never say anything to each other, I guess because of that there wasn`t as much pressure, I didn`t have to shine if you know what I mean, it was quite good because I didn`t feel that pressure on me, if that makes sense
I hear that, with your music when can people expect a second album from you? You done the theme song to this with Chase & Status.
Ben Drew: That`s coming out early next year man, by the time this interviews up Zane Lowe should have played the single from that (Stay Too Long), it`s a concept album about a Motown singer who gets sent to jail for a crime he didn`t commit, it`s got Hip Hop in it, it`s got rapping in it but it`s a lot more singing, it`s all live, live band, strings, brass, it`s just a little project I`m doing next, it doesn`t mean I`ve turned my back on hip hop, it`s just another project, just like my film stuff, right now I`m doing this. Next year it`ll be something else
What else have you got lined up?
Ben Drew: I`ve got a brief cameo in Noel Clarke`s next film 4,3,2,1 I`ve only got a very small part in that, I done that really as a thank you for Adulthood. I haven`t got any other film parts lined up at the moment, just the album, it`s a big deal, I need to focus on it. I`m gonna be directing my own film I`ve written though, I`m just trying to get the finance for that really, the script was written two years ago, I shot a short film for it almost three years ago, I`ve been trying to get the film of the ground for a long time
The Clipse upcoming album Til The Casket Drops is one of my most anticipated album’s of this year. Their last two albums Hell Hath No Fury and Lord Willin are two of my favorite Hip Hop albums of the last decade. For me Pusha T is the most underated rapper out right now.
Check out the latest track to be leaked from Til The Casket Drops featuring Camron – tracks SERIOUS!
Til The Casket Drops Tracklist
1. Speak of Freedom (Produced By Sean C & LV)
2. Popular Demand (Popeyes) feat. Cam’ron (Produced By The Neptunes)
3. Kinda Like a Big Deal feat. Kanye West (Produced By DJ Khalil)
4. Showin’ Out feat. Yo Gotti Produced By The Neptunes)
5. I’m Good feat. Pharrell (Produced By The Neptunes)
6. There Was A Murder (Produced By DJ Khalil)
7. Door Man (Produced By The Neptunes)
8. Never Will It Stop feat. Ab-Liva (Produced By Sean C & LV)
9. Eyes On Me feat. Keri Hilson (Produced By The Neptunes)
10. Counseling (Produced By The Neptunes)
11. Champion (Produced By The Neptunes)
12. Footsteps (Produced By DJ Khalil)
13. Life Change (Produced By The Neptunes)
*BONUS* I’m Good (Remix) feat. Rick Ross
Til The Casket Drops is released December 8, 2009
AVclub have done a really good interview with RZA, mastermind behind my favorite Hip Hop group of all time – Wu Tang, Producer, Rapper, Actor, Author and soon to be Director check it out
AVC: What’s your upcoming film The Man With The Iron Fist like?
RZA: I’m just going to say that I’m looking to make a real good movie for us, yo. I want to make something that… They said the album, 36 Chambers, by Wu-Tang, was new, different, and they said it helped propel the hip-hop community. I would love to do that somehow on film. I would love to make the same mark or impact, and I’m striving to do it with this film as my first serious directorial debut. And I’m going to tell you that we put a lot of time into the script, a lot of energy into it, a lot of people were supporting me on it, and if the energy comes out right, it should be a classic film to have in your library.
AVC: When did you start working on it?
RZA: I started writing it a few years ago. Right before Quentin did Grindhouse, I started writing it. And I was talking to Eli Roth about it. We all took a vacation to Iceland for New Year’s and shit. That’s some boys-being-boys shit. So we’re on our way to Iceland, and I just start talking about the film and shit, about the idea of it before it was fully written, and everybody kind of dug it, thought it was fun, thought it’d be real nice and shit. And I wrote a few scripts since then, but then Eli Roth came back to me after I had a few films under my belt, to say “I graduated from the school and I’m going to make my own movie now.” Eli came to me and was like, “Yo, I would love to help you make this Iron Fist movie. I just love it, I think the story is unique. I think it’ll be great for the genre.” So he re-inspired me to go back to it, and then I rewrote it again and showed it to a few people, other partners, and they all loved it, and they said, “Let’s polish it a little bit.” Then Eli personally helped me polish it up, which really helped me a lot, because he’s a smart guy, smart writer, and boom, there we are. We got it done, complete, circulating through the system, and it should be all cracking up pretty soon.
You looked like you had a lot of fun performing at the Mobo`s.
Mr Hudson: Yeah man it was funny, I remember I spoke to Kimberley from the Pussycat Dolls after and she said I didn’t look nervous and why and I kind of shoulda been, there was 10,000 people there, all the industry, live on TV and there was a moment before the performance where the lights where coming on and I thought I should be nervous, that made me nervous that I wasn’t nervous. So I had the mic in my hand and thought just don’t stiffen up, then when the track started I just went in. The rest of the night I’m Mr humble, thrilled to be here blah blah blah, but for those two minutes I’m not gonna waste your time as a viewer and an audience member by doing things half measures, so for those 2 and a half minutes that’s my stage and my microphone, my PA system. I was just like COME ON!!! (laughs). It just went like that (clicks fingers), it was like karaoke.
Is that one of the best things with what you do getting the audience vibing?
Mr Hudson: Definitely that moment where 5,000 people are standing up and I can see the likes of N Dubz and Sway clapping away, you cant take it in, your so in the moment, I’m just glad I hit the high notes cos I’ve been ill. Adrenaline is a good drug.
What was it like listening to yourself on the Jay Z track ‘Forever Young’? That’s a lot of peoples favourite tracks on Blueprint 3.
Mr Hudson: I heard the track when me and Kanye was working on the beat, but I had never heard his bars until it leaked, I was in New York, everyone was playing it, talking about it, it was the last track on the album, people were hitting me up and that was a massive buzz.
I’ve had a year of really privileged moments. Coming back to North London and performing at the Roundhouse, Kid Cudi comes on, then Kanye comes on, I used to live opposite the Roundhouse above that pub in Chalk Farm and I made a lot of this new album above that pub, that was sick. To be back in North London seeing kids queuing up at 5pm round the corner just trying to get spare tickets. Then when Kanye came on and we done an extended version of Supernova, we did Heartless and he turned round to my drummer and shouted this sounds amazing, in the UK it’s different because we don’t care so much if it’s all perfectly in time and in tune we just go at it, it’s funny I was on the doll 3 years ago.
And now you got your own Louis Vuitton shoes.
Mr Hudson: (Laughs) And I’ve got my own Louis Vuitton shoes named after me that I can’t afford. I should ring up the store and be like hello have you got a pair of Hudson’s in a size 10, can you put them to one side for me, what’s the name, Mr Hudson then I hang up the phone (laughs). I’ve gotta do that.
How has working with the G.O.O.D Music team (Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Common….) helped you as an artist?
Mr Hudson: It’s really prepared me to come back to London and do my record, it gave me a new head space and tools and techniques, motivation, they saw me differently to how people see me over here, because when you just know someone regular you just accept that’s what he does, Kid Cudi and Kanye were like homie you are this pop singer and you don’t even realise it, I thought ok let me give it a shot. Even though I’m in my little room writing the album I tried to stay in that headspace I had flying around with them and touring around Europe and seeing how they roll, taking a bit of their swagger but still keeping it very English
What do you miss most about London when your away?
Mr Hudson: A decent beer (laughs), I miss my friends, I may have all these new friends but you can’t beat those people you go way back with, school friends, family, the people you can completely say what you want and do what you want, you can walk around in your tracksuit and lounge with.
The new single ‘White Lies’ when did you write that? In that flat as well?
Mr Hudson: Yeah in the flat, I had the idea nocking around for a while then when I was committed to it I had to bang it out.
One of the tracks I’ve heard from the album that I really enjoyed was ‘Anyone But Him’ (featuring Kanye West). How did that come about? Was it about a particular person?
Mr Hudson: Sometimes I take two situations, it might be partly my experiences and then someone else’s experience, then I glue them together, there’s a little element to fantasy with music. But yeah I know that feeling, I definitely know that feeling, the angriest of the three verses is the first one. ‘I’d rather hear you had the whole football team, than have to watch his filthy lips on your skin, anyone but him’ jealousy is a strong emotion and when it captures you, it’s almost like you become someone else, luckily Kanye brings in a really light hearted verse, I’m completely stush and he’s giving it the whole comedy rout
It was funny because when I played him that song originally, he said stop stop stop the cd, I thought huh, he said I’m gonna pay you the biggest compliment I can, that’s the kind of shit I write (laughs). I’m glad you like that it’s one of my favourites of the album. It’s almost like you’ve got an Atlanta Hip Hop sort of beat to it, I definitely had my ghost riding Lil Wayne hat on with that song.
So who else have you got on the album? You’ve got Kanye and Kid Cudi on there.
Mr Hudson: Just those two you know I stopped it at that, there’s loads of people I would have wanted to be on it, I could have hit up Common, people in the UK, but I didn’t want it to sound like a mixtape how ever amazing a mixtape it would have been. I wanted to be confident in what I was doing I didn’t want people to think I was using other peoples shine that’s why with the next single ‘White Lies’ in the video it’s just me, no video girls, no cameos just me and a camera.
What keeps you inspired?
Mr Hudson: For songs just life, it could be the guy selling the Big Issue outside Woolworths rest in peace, it could be being at a blinged out party that’s rubbish, the champagne is warm and no ones having a meaningful conversation. That ‘Supernova’ verse ‘Out on the lawn let’s pretend where’re having tonnes of fun as the warm champagne pours, in this world we don’t belong’ I dunno though I’ve got different sides to me, I can do that, then on the other hand I wanna go back to Camden and have a pint of Guinness. I remember N Dubz said to there’s a road half to me (laughs). I can have tea with the queen or talk to the Big Issue seller, I think it’s good to move between the different worlds. And musically I’ve spent a lot of time in the singer songwriter indie scene, then I’ve spent time in the Hip Hop scene making beats and working with Sway, Lethal B, Dizzee Rascal, Newham Generals, going to Lyric Pad and Jumpoff, Deal Real is my family, Shortee Blitz. Estelle, I met Reggie Yates down there all the man dem (laughs)
So what else have you got in store for 2009?
Mr Hudson: The album’s out October 19th, I’m touring with Calvin Harris, shooting a video with N Dubz next week, they’re from near where I was living, they was surprised I knew that I know the estates their from. Doing a track with Estelle, just pushing the album I wanna kick them in the nuts with it, then keep working with other people I’ve set up my own studio, I’ll be making lots of beats, a lot of people have been calling me up to make them beats, back in the day I couldn’t give them away.
I’m happy, it’s been a great year, it just gives me more fuel to work even harder.
On twitter I see you’re a big fan of cars.
Mr Hudson: I just love em, I’ll just go and rent stupid cars, I saw this stretch Merc outside a club yesterday (shows me a picture of it on his Blackberry) look at the alloys on that, I just like funny cars, I’m not just gonna buy one and commit to it. Those pics will just go straight to twitter. I saw this car in Chicago a big old Dodge Charger I love them, the new one looks sick, I’d love to drive that in the UK, Westwood behaviour (laughs)
Any last words any shout outs?
Mr Hudson: I suppose after the Mobos I’m proud of the UK scene doing so well, everyone’s been working so hard Sway, N Dubz, Chipmunk, Tinchy. People are collaborating like they weren’t in 2004/2005, I thought why isn’t everybody jumping on each others track, everyone is just doing their own thing, now everyone is collaborating, people like Mike Skinner opened things up, he always wanted loads of people jumping on stuff, if I’ve been apart of that I’m really happy with the Newham Generals track I done, Sway, Lethal B, if I’ve been apart of breaking down that barrier between urban and indie I’m really happy, I’m honoured to have helped out.
I can sum it up in this analogy, there was a studio that we all recorded in and I’ll be in one room with my acoustic guitar and in the other rooms was Estelle and So Solid Crew, this was back in 2003 and I thought why is there a wall between the studios, lets knock this wall down and make some records people give a shit about, instead of putting the indie boys in one room, then all the guys making beats on MPC’s in the other room. Now it’s happening it feels like everyone is on each others album now. Statik has a lot to thank for it with the Grindie stuff, you ever hear the track I did with Dj Wonder, he’s a beast, that half time stupidly moody shit, one of my favourite Dizzee Rascal tracks was made by him ‘Respect Me’ I love that track. Wonder is a beast I don’t think he gets enough props.
Mr Hudson`s album `Straight No Chaser` is out October 19th, his new single `White Lies` is out 12th October
The album is SERIOUS look out for my interview with Royce coming very soon! If you love hiphop you’ll love this album. Probably my favorite Hip Hop album this year along with Raekwon’s Only Built For Cuban Linx 2 – Out 20th Oct
1. Gun Harmonizing (Produced by Emile)
2. Count For Nothing (Produced by Streetrunner)
3. Soldier (Feat. Kid Vishis)
4. Something 2 Ride (Feat. Phonte)
5. Dinner Time (Feat. Busta Rhymes)
6. Far Away
7. The Warriors (Feat. Slaughterhouse) (Produced by Streetrunner)
8. A Brief Intermission (Skit)
9. Gimme Money (Produced by DJ Premier)
10. Gangsta (Feat. Trick Trick)
11. Shake This (Produced by DJ Premier)
12. Mine In Thiz
13. Street Hop (Produced by Six July)
14. Thing For Your Girlfriend (Hoe Jack) (Feat. Kay Young)
15. Bad Boy (Feat. Jungle Rock Jr.)
16. Take You There (Feat. Melanie Rutherford)
17. Part Of Me (Produced by Carlos Broady)
18. Love From The Hood (Feat. Bun B & Joell Ortiz) (Produced by DJ Premier)