Dizzy mix of folk and hip hop
ONE of the most exciting bands set to grace the stage at Looe Festival at the end of September is a seven-piece who play an innovative reinvention of hip hop… and folk music.
Dizraeli and the Small Gods consists of award winning rapper and multi-instrumentalist Dizraeli plus world beatbox champion Bellatrix and an array of eclectic musos who together produced an incredible cacophony at Chagstock and will doubtless do the same in Looe.
The band are festival stalwarts – they played the West Holts stage at Glastonbury after winning a competition – as well as Reading, Leeds and Latitude and seem to garner a cult following wherever they perform.
Drawn to rap as a vibrant form of self expression, Diz is an English Lit graduate from Sussex Uni who started performing as a DJ and MC and has graced spoken word stages as well as music ones at festivals across the UK:
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"A lot of people think they hate hip hop until it comes to their context and reality," he says.
"I like rap because I like the in-yer-face live and direct sensibility, I like shaking things up – it's easy for us to be complacent about how we think and feel, but we need to wake up to what's going on around us and what it really means to be alive in 2013.
"Mine isn't a politically noble mission, it's just about speaking the truth, telling it like it is!"
His biggest buzz is: "to be in a circle and freestyle with mates - when that kicks off we fire off each other…"
Diz's debut album Engurland (City Shanties), showcases this perfect marriage of hip hop and folk music.
"Hip hop talks about roots all the time," he continues, "largely because ancestors of those performers were uprooted, stolen, sold as slaves. I'm always thinking of that Marcus Garvey quote, 'a people without history are like a tree without roots'.
"I've been interested in this import music from the US, plus drum'n'bass, a sprout from West Indian culture and I thought, 'what about my roots, what would my ancestors be listening to?'
"As it happens I know a lot about my own family history; I'm from Bristol and hundreds of years before that my family were fisher-folk in Cornwall, my family are firmly rooted in the West Country."
Hence his debut offering, a solo album on which he played all the acoustic instruments which he says is very unapologetically English, as is his rap voice.
While the band was formed to take this album on the road, Diz says the next album will be a far more collaborative affair. He's also collaborated with award winning folk muso Chris Wood which he says is a career highlight and a "crash course in song-writing - I spent a lot of time learning from him".
As well as a new band album and tour next year there are plenty of plans in the offing, including a performance of a commission to mark 50 years since Martin Luther King made his 'I have a dream' Speech, with a 12-piece chamber choir plus rap and beat-boxing.
Meanwhile don't miss them at Looe, performing on Friday September 27.