For our first ever interview we had the privilege of catching up with hip hop legend Juice Aleem.
With his latest single, “MoorKaBa LightBikes” out now on Spinning Compass Records, and a new album set for release in the near future, Juice took time out to answer a few questions from the left side.
For those that don’t know, how would describe your music and your rhyming style?
“For those that don’t know my music is way cool, filled with drug shoot-outs and groupie love. Life is my basic influence for writing and musically: it’s a mix of everything I’ve been into over the years from comics and broken hearts to police brutality and the initial hunger for new music and experiences. My style is all the above.”
Personally, right now is a pretty good time for UK hip hop, musically, if not financially. There’s a whole load of artists out there creating their own unique vision of what we call “hip hop”, Strange U, Aspects, label mates HLI etc. You have always seemed to be slightly leftfield of the hip hop community in this country, not relying on the clichés or lazy rap formula’s. Was this a natural thing, or is standing out on your own a deliberate choice you made?
“Any differences I have as a musician are due to other peoples perspectives. Comparisons can be destructive so it’s a good thing most people see me as ‘leftfield’ but it’s not really a thing I aim for. I’m unique by definition and only realised how much so as things in Rap world have become more generic. It’s always been a good time to make music and the only real problem is trying to make a living out of it. Glad there’s sum interesting stuff out there and I hope listeners find me interesting enough to take notice and become a supporter of my music. Like a lot of things, my sound is a mix of nature and nurture”
I know you are a music lover, not only hip hop. I have seen you talking about Bad Brains and other bands, what other music do you enjoy?
“I like and listen to a lot of different musics but I go through phases where I might not even listen to that much for months, especially when I’m writing, to going out of my way to listen to what’s out there. Those journeys take me from Grime to Ethiopian Jazz. I really wished the Testicicles made more music.”
How are you influenced by other forms of music, other than hip hop?
“Into a lot of musics but I came up on Reggae, Soul, Jazz and whatever else my parents played in the house. My own adventures took me to seeing what Hip Hop is and further delving into Funk, Rock, speeches and things like The Specials, The Last Poets, Sun Ra and later on bands such as Suicidal Tendencies, Soundgarden and Rub Ultra. I’m inspired by things like when I first REALLY sat down and listened to Bad Brains at a friends yard and then saw the album cover…It’s things like that, like hearing all those wailing guitars and screaming and seeing the picture with these ital Rastas looking like a lost Sunsplash backing band. That and hearing Public Enemy really changed my perceptions of what a Black artist IS and what Black music was and could be. I’m highly influenced by the struggle for Freedom and Justice, struggle, real life and what it can be. From there it’s just been about finding and redefining self.”
What films/books have influenced you?
“Cliche as it is I’m big on Martial Art films and those have opened me to a totally different world history and moral code. It’s the classics that still get me such as Prodigal Son. Leung Jan is a proud young man who has studied many martial art styles and is respected all over town for his great skill and courage. It’s only when he meets a reluctant master of Wing Chun that he realizes that his skills are basic and his parents have been paying for his enemies to throw the fights.(you can see this a lot with modern music) He slowly learns the real deal with martials as philosophy and as reality. it’s films like this that allow us to be able to humble ourselves.”
You currently have a new single and video out, what can we expect from Juice Aleem in the future?
“MoorKaBa LightBikes is out right now indeed. New label, new direction. It’s a wake up for the album which is due out in a few months and what you can expect from me is more of the unexpected. In the last few years I’ve been touring with Mike Ladd & Damali as The Infesticons, making short films such as The Fitz-Caymen Experiment and voicing characters in Kid Acne’s animated Channel 4 show ZebraFace. i aim to keep this up and tour these songs far and wide.”
Any chance of another New Flesh album?
“More New Flesh is possible. we had a few meetings and made a few tunes. Just waiting for the right time.”
Do you believe in rock n roll?
“It’s funny, as a younger the words Rock & Roll meant Elvis or Bon Jovi, now due to study those words make me think of Chuck Berry or Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Im a Believer, God gave Rock & Roll to ya”
How many MCs must get dissed?
“As many needs be but people gotta understand MC’s aint the best or worst of society, we can’t blame them for all the degradation, sexism and wackness out there… Lil Wayne obviously don’t like Black women as dark as he is but where did he get that from? we diss the MC’s after we hit the higher ups”
What would you eat if you knew it was your last day?
“I’d try sumthing I never had before. Maybe sumthing from another planet.”
Any shout outs or thoughts you’d like to add?
“Keep listening and remember what you can give of yourself to those around you. Peace”
Massive thanks to Juice Aleem for taking time out to answer our questions and to Elai Immortal and all the Spinning Compass crew.
Produced by Roots Manuva, “MoorKaBa LightBikes” is out now, BUY IT!!!!