Wrap Up And Watch Out: Joe Black
With his new mixtape, ‘Realionaire’, currently the soundtrack of the streets, Joe Black is well within his right to label himself as the ‘King Of The Underground’. The Wrap Up’s Tobi Oke caught up with the north London rapper as he airs his views on his own material, as well as the UK rap scene as a whole...
The Wrap Up: It’s been more than two years since your last solo CD. Why the long wait?
Joe Black: I had other matters to deal with: I was in prison, so I had to take a back seat, but I came out last year and went straight to work on this CD.
TWU: Tell us a bit about the creation process of your latest mixtape, ‘Realionaire’?
Joe Black: I started making it at the beginning of the year. I got twenty tracks done and I didn’t like them, so I scrapped it and started again. I probably kept about three tracks. I was listening to it and I didn’t feel like it was good enough to sell at the time. I started again and, halfway through; I just decided to put it out for free.
TWU: What is your personal favourite track from the mixtape?
Joe Black: My favourite is a track called ‘Music Is My Hustle’. I recorded it myself and it didn’t have a chorus. I wasn’t going to put it on the mixtape, but I was watching a Jay-Z interview on YouTube and what he was saying made so much sense – I cut and pasted bits of it and put it in. There are loads of good tracks on there anyway.
TWU: Just to clarify the speculation surrounding your numerous affiliations over the years, what crew, if any, are you in as of now?
Joe Black: I’m a solo artist. Joe Black is a solo artist. Cream Block is something I started, I’ll classify it as a music company, I guess, and local artists can put their music out through the imprint for a bigger promotional push. The Mashtown situation originally came about with me and Margs being in the same class in school – I was working on my first mixtape a long time ago (2004), back then, in school, we didn’t even know that each other rapped, so he told me about his crew, Mashtown, and we decided it made sense to just make music together. When it eventually got down to business, we couldn’t agree on certain things and I went my separate way, but yeah, Margs is still my friend outside of music, there’s always the link there but I’m just doing my own thing.
TWU: You’ve always titled yourself as the ‘King Of North’. Is this regular rap bragging or do you see yourself on top as far as rap in North London is concerned?
Joe Black: Musically, yeah, I feel that I’m the best. I’m not saying no one else is entitled to say that they’re the best, but I’ve got to state how I feel. I feel I’m the ‘King Of North’ and the ‘King Of The Underground’.
TWU: You’re one of the more vocal artists about your opinion on the state of UK rap. What is your opinion on the scene at this current point?
Joe Black: It’s getting there, it’s still moulding itself. It’s a lot better than how it was when I first started. How it’s different? There weren’t as much ways to get yourself out there. When I started out, it was all about trying to get a deal and get yourself on MTV, but you can do a DIY job with YouTube and the Internet around now. You can get to a certain stage by yourself now, so when you do meet up with labels, you’re not selling yourself short. We just need a little more communication and we need more people to do more stuff. We’ve got loads of rappers, but not enough doing behind the scenes and building up the industry.
TWU: Music is getting released for free every single week within the UK music scene. Do you see this as a positive or negative?
Joe Black: Not really. If you look at the American market, you’ve got artists like Rick Ross and Wiz Khalifa, they’re putting out free mixtapes on a regular basis so we’ve got to realise that music is becoming available for free, more or less. We need to use it to promote ourselves and get money other ways, from shows and bookings. Bootlegging is at an all-time high and sales are down, I don’t really see myself making as much money off sales as I can off bookings.
TWU: If you weren’t rapping, what would you be doing?
Joe Black: Football coaching. That’s actually my other occupation when I’m not rapping – I’ve been involved in that since 2007. It’s obviously dependant on how far in go with the music, but I manage a youth team and I’d always like to be involved with them somehow. I’ve seen them grow and I’ve been there from the start, so if I can’t invest in time, then I’ll invest in other ways. Football is definitely my other passion apart from music.
TWU: What’s next up after ‘Realionaire’?
Joe Black: I’m going to work on the next project, which is gonna be a concept EP. We’re still in the early stages, so we haven’t got a title yet. It’s a joint venture with World Records. I’ve got a concept, I’m gonna keep it under wraps for now, but it’s gonna be groundbreaking. ‘The Black Page Part 2’ with Page will definitely happen; it’s just a matter of finding the time because everyone’s working on their own projects at the same time. ‘Best Of Joe Black’ also coming out soon.
Download Joe Black’s mixtape, ‘Realionaire’: H E R E
Stay up to date with Joe Black on Twitter – www.twitter.com/JoeBlackUK
Words: Tobi Oke (@TeflonTobz)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)