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12 stories from 12 years in Scotland...
Recording a track when the opportunity arises , always carrying his book of rhymes, always ready for a jam and to jump on that stage unexpectedly. Not being on the flyer, and then boom, dropping a
freestyle in French , and the next thing you ken, he's gone in a flash...
That was the motto, the trademark of One S.P.
A sparring Mc , a supporting act , the sixth man. Always hitting the big shots when his team needed him. But how do you market yourself when you're a French MC in Edinburgh ?
Not really Scottish put part of the Scottish scene. Went to the final of an epic battle at the liquid rooms in 2003 against respect B.A , who won the title of best Scottish Mc of the year...a French MC cannot qualify for that, and it's perfectly fine. Being French and being compared to Mc Solaar is enough,...let's embrace it , and lets have as many artists who wants to collaborate with me, on their projects or my project, let's make it happen ! I'll take a bus , a train, cycle..anywhere..
And that's what happened : every single time I met a producer, we hung out and end up recording something...Some of these producers became long term friends, some just vanished of the surface of the earth but in the end, we had a great time making music organically.
I was reading (for the second time) the book "bass culture" a deep analysis of the origins of reggae music and ska and how it evolved from a sound system culture to an industry.
And the best music was recorded on the spot , in the record shop , then pressed onto dub plates, then played to the audience straight away, one chance , one take ...That became my approach for a while , until I decided to move on to make an album with my good friend Oras , a.k.a DJ swiss cheese. We worked together on the tracks from scratch, the productions were heavy and my harmonies and raps more touched up. Still, some of my favourite tracks of mine are the one recorded in a daze, those who were not supposed to happen...and the memory of making them is still so vivid although they were recorded years ago. That's the beauty of art, it gives you a moment in time, a little slice of what was going on that day when the track was made..
So here it is, 12 years in Scotland, my experience as a French Mc in Edinburgh:
1) Track 2 (naked circle jam), Track 3 (mythomane), track 7 (froggylicous skit)
were all recorded the same day, after an epic gig at the bongo club (El segundo) ,
hosted by my good friend DJ red 6.
Start of a long journey :
I was at the time (may 2000) still doing my national service in an helicopter base in
Southern France. I was not supposed to take a leave outside of France but i couldn't resist when Red 6 offered to pay for my ticket ! I brought my great friend DJ PH from Marseilles – who is now a prominent DJ and producer – for his first ever gig abroad. We did a French hip-hop special and at the end of my set , the crowd went ballistic when I said "to all the gadgis" which is a gypsy noun used in Provence to describe a non gypsy woman (and the term became part of the slang in this region). I was wondering what I had said to upset them..but they were not upset, just happy that i was bigging them up : "gadje" in scotland is a popular slang term referring to a specific group of guys from a rough background , and the term has romani origin -gadje meaning ,non romani – what an insane coincidence (in my eyes it was not a coincidence , more a sign that I was meant to be in Scotland).
Here, we see another brilliant example on how language can unite people.
Not only we had the best gig ever (Toastie Taylor from Newflesh and Jed 104 from The naked circle came along to perform) then the next day we end up going to that guy home studio , and spent the day recording on red 6 beats. On the way there, I almost got run over by a bus as i was looking the wrong way while crossing (red 6 just pulled me by the neck at the last second) . You can feel hat sensation of being alive while listening to those tracks.
Another thing about being in that studio....we had a bit of free time and red 6 just says "Onesp, do you have any rhymes you wanna drop acapella and I'll make to beat later ?"
so I just rap some old lyrics in one take and forget about it...Then, 6 months later, after my national service is done and dusted, Move to Galway in Ireland for a bit of working holidays...and I call red 6 to say hi...he goes , listen to this ! - that's the track finished -
I liked it so much that I promised red 6 to move to Edinburgh to do more ...which i did 6 months later .... then i end up staying. Hip-hop was a vessel for me, helped me integrate into a different culture.
In the space of one week , not only we did a gig , record three tracks but we also went on a road trip to york then Brighton where Newflesh were playing a big festival with a big line up : Flavor flav, the whole of D.I.T.C (apart from Big L), Rahzel, Kila kela (the organiser), Schooly – D and others. I had a backstage pass. We just arrived late , Toastie was driving, he just parked the car near the backstage entrance, and everyone stormed out straight to the stage. I met Juice Aleem briefly ....he was holding of bottle of orange juice...of course, i went "oh , i see why they call you juice aleem !" Then, not only i hung out backstage fr the rest of show, but i got to meet O.C, Rahzel – we had a chat about music and some collab he did with a French crew called Alliance ethnique...and he was ignoring all his groupies just to talk with me! - and Schooly D Dj was mad nice too..
Take a look at "El Segundo" Flyers
The following day...i had to leave for a long journey straight to my military base...I flew to Nice then I hopped into a train that got me straight to my army job (got changed into my military uniform in the train) and as you do, i couldn't wait to tell my comrades about my adventures...When I played "them "naked circle jam" ..no one believed it was me and that i was an Mc doing a gig in Scotland...they called me "mythomane" (compulsive liar) which is the name of that track i did acapella...and of course the subject matter was turned against me my oh my, this is a "triple entendre" !!! I thought to myself that day...no one is prophet in his own country...
2) Track 4 (Electricity), sur ma planete (track 11), track 5 (Indiscipliné), 6 (Perseverance),
Those tunes were all recorded between 2001 and 2002 when I was attempting to break out in the Edinburgh underground scene. Electricity was my first collab outside my confident zone. I took it seriously and I was in this frame of mind of the outcast coming to Scotland...looking for a new identity. My verse was an explosion. You can feel it when you hear it...The collab went about naturally as i started to hook up with Sam Odell (Carolyn Odell was a featured singer in the naked circle and Sam was a common friend of red 6, and they have another brother who sings on the track) and Tom, a very soulful producer , influenced by African rhythms and melodies. Sam and I used to freestyle together at any given chance. Tom and Sam did an album under the name glo and genius (unreleased).
An anecdote I remember as I'm writing this is one night at the end of a gig at the bongo club, Sam and I are freestyling in the main room, and this dude throws copper at us, like a lot of 20 pence s...we must have been really bad that night..lol, we just kept going...Respect !
Indiscipliné and Perseverance were both recorded at my good friend's Show'nProve.
He was a prominent DJ and producer in the early 2000's although very young, he had the most amazing taste in music, and the kind of professionalism that would encourages Mc's like me to want to excel. He was living with his mom still and Leslie always treated us with a nice cuppa and toasts. We recorded everything on a 4 tracks cassette recorder and i used to copy the separate takes onto my mini disc. That's how I was able to use some of the tracks we did on my first album. We recorded all the vocals in Show and prove cupboard. One day
he locked me in the cupboard and switch off the light...i was still rapping for ages..
we were all involved in running a DJ night at the Medina club (the realness) and we had the like of G 4cee (today known as Ronin Cherry) , D-mas (from Switzerland), Illerics (from Florida, Sundip and sunny (two brothers from Edinburgh, the first rapper the latter producer)
all getting involved.
Show and prove and Ronan Cherry are today big grime producer in London and produce big shows on the BBC such as "The Big Narstie".
Indiscipliné and Perseverance were produced by the Seal brothers (Ben Seal did Indiscipline and Joe seal, perseverance), we just left the beats untouched, did the vocals and added some cuts. Joe and Ben are talented musicians and producers and Joe is an Mc as well. They were part of the live sciences collective, an acoustic hip-hop band, led
by DJ red 6.
Fact: The day we recorded Perseverance, the PC crashed, we lost all the files. So we decided to start again , to persevere – as it says in the lyrics – I was so happy it worked out that i started singing a bit ...show N prove recorded the take and that became later on the chorus of the song ...
Sur ma planète, is one of this track that just happened organically. Sam Odell had a friend who was studying sound engineering. One day he introduced me to John (can't remember is artist name) a Drum and bass producer. John liked French rap , so he invited me to his crib for a session. He made that superb piano loop and that was it , i took some lyrics from my bag and we did a take. Took that home and never saw the guy again. I edited the track myself even if i only had a wav format. I was able to cut the bit i didn't like just when a drum kick hit, same drum kit is at the start of the second verse..my luck ! The luck of the French Mc !
3) Planète pas nette (track 8) was recorded in 2004 at Red 6's place.
Interesting track. Red 6 wanted me to whisper the lyrics – which i never did before..i normally bark the lyrics !- and it worked perfectly.. The track is about climate change and the impact of humans on the planet. Familiar theme today ! I edited the song myself, as there was a bit of spoken words in the middle I didn't like.
4) Contrast (track 14)
I met Jatin purin in through my friend Praxis, a drum and bass DJ and producer who used to live and study in Edinburgh in the early 2000's. Praxis and I used to hang out a lot and i ended up using one his beat for my album refugie poetique. Praxis has a strong link with India and went to live in Mumbai for a year to study politics (if i remember well) where he started a very successful crew of DJ's called : the Bass foundation. He now still between the UK and India. Jatin was part of that movement and he came down to Edinburgh to perform during the festival (can't remember exactly what year, but definitely mid to late 2000's). He then moved to Edinburgh – he has a cousin here- for a year. We ended up good friends and on his very last night in Edinburgh , we decided to record a track. He cam to my flat, we set up his laptop with my sound card and i had a great multi pattern condenser Mic and a reflection filter. I had chosen one of his beats a few days earlier and i was ready to record. We had a special guest that day – Vanessa Alia – an Australian artist who has Lebanese roots. She layed a nice little hook in Arabic – just for us ...
5) Sitting in the park -remix- (track 13), Lindy hip-hop Freestyle (track 10)
Sitting in the park is a tune i did with my good pals -Salamanders, Mr Tickle and DJ Symatic. Recorded in 2011 under the collective Burning Bright (released on Black Lantern).
Those 3 artists and I had a few months run gigging around Edinburgh, doing a really fun set, alternating our songs from our respective albums and finishing the set with this collab track.
Since we had an acapella, Asthmatic Astronaut and I decided it would be good to do a little remix for this project. The track talks about the joy of walking he middle meadow walk in the Edinburgh summer...and hanging about all the delirious hippies and crusties (a young person who is homeless or travels constantly, has a shabby appearance, and rejects conventional values).
Lindy hip-hop Freestyle was recorded in Salamanders studio a short while after the recording of Sitting in the park. I was hanging around in the studio while Mr Tickle was recording one of his song. When he left, Salamanders played a beat and then improvised a very catchy bassline on his double bass.. We recorded straight away a beautiful improv. In which i describe how to freestyle properly. It was a very fun session, i just followed the bassline and even did a little hook. I even got Salamanders to rap , which he had never done before..
6) Vibration terrorists Jam (Track 17)
Vibration terrorist is a collective of beat makers – mpc and other electronic toys live performers – that consists of Asthmatic Astronaut, Krowne and kung fu pigeon style.
The day we recorded this freestyle, Those three guys were just jamming , making music as it comes, together in a grotesque cacophonie, perfect for me and Lifeshows, a Scottish Mc part of the Underling group , another prominent live hip-hop band created by asthmatic astronaut in the mid 2000's.
I wanted to have this freestyle on the project because it shows you that a freestyle is just a moment in time..you can tell I'm struggling a bit at first , then i find a nice pattern , a nice f low..it's just nice to hear, reminds me of who I am...
7) Rien a foutre. (Track 16)
This one is one of my favourite track. Raw and powerful. I choose the cuts (from French vinyls) and the lyrics came originally from "Electricity", i just added a verse and we were good to go. The track was released on piramida records, DJ pryzmat label. Originally from Poland, Pryzmat has been in Edinburgh for a long time like myself, and he's a successful DJ and producer, part of the collective Immigracie. I have done a few cameos on different projects, and i have to say , Przmat is a real mpc boom bap producer that understands how to record an MC. 10 years ago i gave him his first mpc, an ancient akai mpc 60..that was faulty...he fixed it and fell in love with it...in return he gave me some beats that i still haven't used...I will at some point..I promise !
8) Style libre -live- (Track 15)
Another massive tune that has played an important part in my underground career.
The original track is on my first album. It was recorded at Burning dog 's home studio in the mid 2000's. Burning dog has been a long term friend and he is a multi talented musician ans song writer who owned red dog music (a famous music shop in Grassmarket that sold any possible instrument and electronic music equipment, there is still a shop in London and online shopping). Red dog is married to a French woman, Marie Anne, and he always had a soft spot for French rap (i think he wishes he could rap in French..it's never too late...)
That day when we recorded the track, i knew nothing about it, Red dog just handed the headphones to me and just said : "rap now, it's recording" . I shut my eyes and let the beautiful melody do the work..it was magical...we liked that take so much that we kept it. The track feature a solo on the marimba from Asazi , from south Africa – a multi talented energetic singer, songwriter ,sax , percussion , and marimba player- who now lives in Italy.
Burning dog started a band with Asazi called Asazi space funk explosion ! And over the years, whenever i went to see them play, they will shout my name , Onespeeeee !! and I will hop on stage and start a duet with Asazi, with different lyrics every time, and a different set up..with jazz musicians or just A trio , sometimes there will be a funk drummer, some other t times just asazi on the djembe or darbuka. That's the essence of that track, style libre, freestyle, music from our guts. This version was taken from a video filmed at a private gig on a cottage in the Scottish borders, literally in the middle of nowhere. You can feel the positive vibes when you listen to it..
9) Check one voice freestyle. (track 18)
Taken from a documentary "check one voice"about the Scottish hip-hop scene in the early 2000's made by my great friend Nix soldan...film maker and sound man and musician.
He followed me around everywhere, and we did a lot of fun freestyles. This one is used as an outro for the doc. I wanted t use it because i explain in that freestyle why we do what we do...
Fun fact: part of the documentary was recorded in the basement room i used to rent near Leith. There is a scene where I show my turntables , some photos and two guys from gambia are here beatboxing and doing an interview. (that's probably around 2004).
A few years later, DJ Symatic invites me to his home studio for a practice alongside Mr tickle. He lives in the same street i used to live at in that basement flat. I turned up , and to my astonishment, it's the same flat and he has the same room in the basement, and his turntables are in the same spot. Now that's some spooky stuff...so I immediately show them the footage of the doc. On you tube and we filmed it..A quantum mechanics moment..you can me a few years back in that room Djeing, while in real time, DJ symatic is Djeing ....incredible !
10) The other skits (track 9 and 12) were recorded from a voicemail and in the club after a gig.
(I love skits by the way)
11) Hope you guys enjoyed the stories and now you can listen to 12 years in Scotland again...and feel the vibe..
12) Next projects : the lost freestyle tapes from the UK and France...then an album..
A big thanks to all the artists that i have collaborated with over the years, you made me who I am today. Big thanks to Asthmatic Astronaut, Bram and Miff morris for the promotion , radio show, and putting this project together.
Peace. One S.P. www.mc1sp.com
Includes unlimited streaming of 12 years in Scotland
via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
Hear the story of One S.P , a French Rapper who left his country in the new millennium to escape the cultural void of his native southern France .
He was hatred by his peers who labelled him as a “Poet” . In this macho Mceing culture, there was no place for One S.P (a simple poet) so he made a name for himself in Scotland, and claimed back his identity.
He stills vows to come back to his native France to reclaim his roots and rock the parties once again, but for now he remains an artist with no boundaries and no master, apart from the Almighty Music.
Have a listen to 12 years in Scotland, a collection of precious recordings crafted in home studios , on the run.... and let your soul be free!
released June 28, 2020
Album mastered by Asthmatic Astronaut.
This is not pop , March 2020.
Concept : One S.P
Photos taken by : Peter Važan
location : Springvalley gardens, Edinburgh.