Rodney P. The name has resounded through every stage of rap music in the United Kingdom for over two decades since the release of London Posse‘s Gangster Chronicle in 1990. The album has certainly stood the test of time and is still heralded as one of the standout releases in the timeline of UK rap music. The man also known as the Riddim Killa alongside Bionic MC, Sipho The Human Beatbox and DJ Biznizz came with a sound that was authentic to the sounds of the streets; along with Hijack and Demon Boyz this was the generation of rappers that really made an impact. Post London Posse, Mr Rodney Panton has continued to at the centre of all things rap in the UK including a long stint on BBC Radio 1Xtra alongside longtime partner in crime Skitz, releasing an album in 2004 (The Future), hosting a TV show (Dubplate Drama) and more recently working with Zed Bias and Fallacy as part of the Sleepin’ Giantz. He’s also signed to Tru Thoughts Recordings as a solo artist and this is where we join his journey today, he’s appearing on stage at the forthcoming Tru Thoughts label showcase/15th birthday party so we thought it would be a great time to catch up with him and ask him some question.
Rhyme On Beat: What are your earliest memories of wanting to make music?
Rodney P: I never really thought about making music I just liked Hip Hop and got lucky when Sipho, the founder of London Posse, invited us to go on tour. Making a career out of rapping seemed a million miles away in the early 80’s, we did it because we loved the music and Hip Hop as a culture.
ROB: What was your first step into the music business?
RP: My first taste of the music industry came when I went on tour with Big Audio Dynamite. In a matter of weeks i went from being on a YTS Scheme (Thatcher’s Youth Training for £29 a week) to on tour meeting Mick Jones & Joe Strummer, Schoolly D, Don Letts and sharing an elevator with Bon Jovi.
ROB: What is your most memorable memory in the making of Gangster Chronicle?
RP: There are a lot of good memories from those days, but if I have to name one it would be the use of the Island Records studio where so much amazing music had been made before. Bob Marley, Grace Jones, U2 (I met The Edge in the Island Records canteen) and a whole host of other legendary musicians had blessed the space before we got there and for me it felt special.
ROB: Gangster Chronicle is still heralded as a classic, why do you think it has stood the test of time so well?
RP: It’s hard to say but I think for a lot of people it was the first time they’d ever heard anything like it. I also think we were speaking about a lot of peoples reality at the time which up until that point had never been given a voice in rap music.
ROB: You have been in the UK scene for a long time from London Posse, to your 1xtra show with Skitz and to recording music within Sleepin’ Giantz. Have you ever felt jaded by it all or has it always been a labour of love?
RP: I often hate this sh*t because industry people are shady, fans are fickle, egos are HUGE and it can be hard having a high-profile and a low-income. But I always LOVE it… just because!
ROB: Your last album, The Future, was released in cconjunction with Low Life in 2004 before it went sour for a few of the artists on the label. You clearly have not taken a back seat in that time, can you tell us what you’ve been up to musically?
RP: My hustle is complex and I like to keep it interesting for me. I’ve been recording and touring a lot with Dub Pistols. I’ve also recorded an album with Zed Bias and Fallacy as The Sleepin’ Giantz. Me and Skitz are always on the road performing and DJing and I’m always popping up in strange places so look out for me.
ROB: How did signing to Tru Thoughts come about?
RP: It was Zed Bias that first mentioned it and it seemed like a good idea. I’d always like the label’s output and remembered what they used to do with the Zebra Traffic label. Plus I like the vibes so it was a no brainer for me really. I’ve never chased major labels (or been chased) and try to stay out of all the ‘mix up’. I just wanted to be somewhere I could get back to just making music.
ROB: Are there any releases on the horizon that we should keep an eye out for on Tru Thoughts or otherwise?
RP: I’m working on my album at the moment so listen out for that in 2014. And Tru Thoughts have recently signed an amazing new talent from Nottingham called Harleigh Blu. My mate Joe Buhdha produced the entire album and you should definitely check it out.
ROB: What should those that have never seen you live expect for your live show at the Tru Thoughts birthday party/label showcase in February?
ROB: You famously rhymed “I don’t feel no MC like I feel MCD” on Dedication, is that still the case or has anyone else topped the list? Which rappers do rate highly from our shores and a far?
RP: MCD had a window when he was one of the greatest emcee’s to touch the mic. If you were at the Brand Nubian concert in the Brixton Fridge in the 90’s you already know what I mean! I rate a lot of emcee’s but dislike a lot more!!!!
Many thanks to SoundCrash Music for arranging the above interview.