Aye, it’s candyfloss. No food for thought. You take it and put it on your tongue and it dissolves, and you’re left with candyfloss. I’d rather a meal, mate. I’d rather sit down and have something to digest
That’s Joe Heron, also known as Shogun, the fast-flowing rapper from Paisley. In a heartfelt exchange with Darren McGarvey, also known as Loki the Scottish rapper from Pollok, he discusses the importance of lyrics in rap. The lasting quality of well wrought words. There’s no sonic substance to commercial concoctions, he says. “Take the lights away, take the beat away, take the cool clothes away, take it all away and….it’s shite.”
No candyfloss, then, in a pacey 30 minute podcast which delves into Glasgow’s underground with raw humour, self-deprecating honesty and – as iTunes feels obliged to warn listeners – explicit language.
Welcome to Talking Feet, Episode 2 featuring two hiphop performers who have made their names in a city more usually known for dance and techno. Whatever your favoured genre, this is a conversation full of insight into the highs and lows of success; the competition and camaraderie of street culture; the way you know you’re making it by the venues that book you. Perhaps – without ever denying the hard work and determination it takes to succeed – it offers realistic hope and advice for aspiring young artists.
The two rappers hadn’t met in person before but an irreverent mutual respect is evident from the opening shots. In his brief introduction Darren mentions he has a book coming out.
“Boom” says Joe. He hasn’t. “So I’m the weak link in the room here.”
Not exactly. Admittedly, Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain’s Underclass has been hitting the headlines since the book was launched in early November. But Shogun has made a fair few headlines himself. His YouTube video Vulcan has clocked up 3.4 million views at the last count. Which gives rise to some entertaining multiplication.
As a college drop-out aged 16/17, Joe was happy when he got a thousand YouTube views in a year. “I’m bangin’…YASS.” Then the Vulcan Vid reaches five thousand in three days:
“I went from happy for a thousand views to happy for five thousand views to, woke up the next day it was at fuckin’ ninety thousand and I’m on the phone to the guy who filmed it, ‘have you paid for this shit, like what the fuck is going on?”’
Now there are fans in Australia wearing his t shirt, and at Glasgow gigs he can hear people “‘screaming the lyrics back at me.”
Life after rap?
There’s very much more to hear …not least the secrets of successful stagediving (hear the Wee Rab story and wince!). But perhaps the most poignant exchange comes towards the end. On growing up…or older. Among thirty something listeners there may well be whimsical twinges when Darren says he’s getting older. At the age of 33, with a young son, he acknowledges he’s in a different generation of club goers. “Do people still go out?” he asks 20-year-old Joe.
Sharing admiration for Shogun’s recent rapid success, Loki expresses some regret for his own earlier lost opportunities.
“I get mixed feelings hearing you,’ he says, “because on one hand I’m happy for you and happy for other folk and on the other hand I’ve got regrets where I had similar opportunities and I was just being too cocky or steamin…
“Anyone that drinks too much…the pubs in the city are like a map of where they live.” This touches on personal experience vividly explored in the book now racing up the list of top sellers in good time for Christmas. The seasoned rapper is performing to whole new audiences in bookstores and on radio chat shows.
“I’m getting older, It’s your time now…but then in this other world I’m moving in, I’m young again.”
To which young Joe replies, “It shows there’s life after rap.”
Even so, there’s no forgetting where Darren started honing his words. In the emphatic closing lines of the podcast he pays tribute to the creative camaraderie of hiphop, the mates he misses reading to on Saturday nights. Everything the writer does, “it all comes from hiphop, it all comes from Glasgow music venues.”
Or, to quote Loki’s quick fire response when we tweet the link to the podcast with Joe’s “life after rap.”
“After? Am no finished yet.”
Download the Talking Feet podcast for 37 minutes well spent. Without a trace of candyfloss.
Darren McGarvey promoting Poverty Safari on YouTube – in hiphop style
Talking Feet Episode 1 gets off to a great start with Dougal Perman and Jim Gellatly