Becca Starr

Episode 2:


The Scottish Hip Hop Show Episode 2 Becca Starr
About The Episode

In this episode, Becca Starr chats about how she got involved in hip hop, how she takes inspiration from many styles of music and the potential of Scottish hip hop artists. Her selected songs are “First Step,” “I Forgot,” and “It Just Feels So Sad.”


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Becca Starr: There is no one way to make hip hop. There is no one way to be a hip hop artist.


Host: Immaculate Reception presents a showcase of Scotland’s finest hip hop producers, MCs, beatboxers and DJs. This is The Scottish Hip Hop Show. She’s an MC, singer, songwriter, producer and engineer. Introducing Becca Starr.


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BS: Hello, my name is Becca Starr. I’m a Scottish rapper, singer, lyricist, producer and videographer currently based in Paisley. Around 2001 or 2002, my mum idiotically discarded a Portishead album kindly gifted to her by one of her work mates. It was a classic early 2000s rip with a printed out version of the cover on the inside of the CD case. And just the look of the cover alone attracted me to it. It was such an influential album to me. And I remember it so clearly because I rinsed it so fervently for that first couple of weeks that my mum kept coming in and complaining, “What’s this dreary racket you’re listening to?” And just being so deeply offended in rinsing her for discarding it in the first place when it was literally one of the most amazing pieces of music I’d ever heard. It was the Dummy album. It still is one of the most influential pieces of music I’d ever encountered in my life and I still rinse it to this day. Extra loud if my mum’s around, obviously.


So around 2008 I moved back to Glasgow. I had lived there a couple years previous working with labels and stuff as a session musician, which like a lot of young people working in the mainstream industry, ended up running away with my tail between my legs back to my mom and dad’s for a couple of years. But in this second attempt, I had a bit of a thicker skin and I ended up luckily bumping into a fantastic producer known very well in the Scottish hip hop community as Tank, who was a member of RazorKings more recently, and back in the day Black Heart, which was a very influential group in the Scottish hip hop community. And he had a lot of tracks that he really wanted a vocalist for. I just so happened to work in TopShop at the time with a fella called RC Junior, who’s an MC who’s still out there making music to this day, and he introduced me to Tank because he knew he was looking for a singer and that I sang. And the rest is history, as they say. After working with Tank and us releasing music, I was just really lucky that a lot of people wanted to work with me. I think I was lucky. The time frame that I was introduced to the hip hop community in Glasgow especially because working with Tank opened so many doors for me. Just because he had such a great reputation and the music we were making was, wasn’t like what everyone else was making. We were funkier. It wasn’t rap-forward hip hop. So I think it’s always bled into everything else I’ve done that I get offered all sorts of variations of hip hop and funk and soul and things like that to sing on because of the diversity I started out with The Agents with Tank.


I suppose one of the best local collabs I’ve done, a real highlight, was the “Sinister” track and music video with Zambian Astronaut, Loki and MOG back in 2011. Oh my gosh! That’s 10 years ago! Oh my goodness. That just hit me. Right. Ahahahah! I feel like in a lot of ways that put me on the map to a lot of other producers. It was a really nice collab as well because Zambian Astronaut were primarily based in Edinburgh and all of the voices on the track were primarily based over in Glasgow so that was quite a nice crossover. I don’t think many people particularly picked up on it at the time, but it felt really nice to take a day trip through to Edinburgh specifically to to this.


I think my music is very alternative and I don’t think that just stems from me being quite an alternative person myself. I think that a lot of that stems from being exposed to such a great variety of music as a young person, which I will be eternally grateful to my mum and dad for. They had massive vinyl and CD collections so I feel like that, that will always colour the fact that my music is almost undefinable in a lot of ways. Because it has so many colours to it of so many genres and I want to keep that up. I feel quite proud of that. That it sort of confuses people. That there are poppy elements to a lot of what I do, but then there are also heavy rock elements to a lot of what I do. And there’s a lot of soul elements to what I do. Especially with my voice. I think that all stems from just having a mass of amazing influences growing up. So well done to Linda and Andrew Bird for breeding all the good stuff into me because I do think it’s ultimately what makes my music so diverse.


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Voice: This is The Scottish Hip Hop Show.


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BS: This track is called “First Step,” which appears on my soon to be released album called Speak No Evil. It was the first single released from the album after I’d signed my record and publishing deal with In Black Records, which is a bangin Scottish label. You can find the music video on YouTube, if you go and check out the In Black records YouTube channel. Which was a video I made with Andrew MacKenzie. It was really, really fun. And we did it in The Bungalow Paisley, which is a great venue that holds a very special place in my heart. So I hope you really like this track and get ready to head bang at the end if you know what’s good for ya.


{music, “First Step”}


BS: So hip hop is one of those genres that has been a constant throughout my life. I was lucky enough to grow up in the 90s when acts like the Beastie Boys were all over the television. And really learning about lyricism. Listening to people who at face value, there should be absolutely nothing for a wee, skinny, white Scottish lassie to relate to and yet finding such truth and empathy and understanding and gratitude from listening to so many artists that at face value, a lot of people could argue, there shouldn’t be that connection. And I think that’s what’s so unique about hip hop and why it is such a massive, massive cultural influence on pretty much everything at this point. The urban field in general can be condensed and, you know, not really given the chops it’s due with media. The way controversies are covered. The kind of stereotypes that are perpetuated in some parts of the world. And also from my personal standpoint, the oppression of women in some parts of the world and how that affects creativity and just growth and development and, you know. I think that hip hop has a way to break down any social boundaries or any, you know, cultural boundaries and that it is evolved to a point where it’s so multifaceted even within its genre. That there is no one way to make hip hop. There is no one way to be a hip hop artist. There is a multitude of ways to embody what hip hop is all about and be a hip hop artist without being a stereotype. And by breaking the archetypes that exist and that is very important to me as a female artist. That I’m trying to break every archetype that there is and do it in a way that I’m comfortable with. I’m not following any guidebooks. I’m not following any trends. It makes me really uncomfortable. I’m just trying to be as authentic as I can with my music and myself as an individual. And I think at the core of it, that is exactly what hip hop’s all about. So if you’re doing that, then you’re probably doing hip hop right.


Scottish hip hop has the potential to break through into the mainstream. I’ve always believed it and I feel like it’s entirely possible. The reason why I think it maybe hasn’t up until this point is a combination of things that are happening politically and also things that are happening in Scotland with our own perceptions of ourselves and the things that we do that hold us back from seeking opportunities that perhaps we should. And I think that there are certain barriers for Scottish artists or Scottish accents, maybe? Should I say? In general? And it’s a very interesting time for Scotland. Ever since the Independence Referendum, that has certainly broadened some of the narratives of people who are critical of Scotland. Or perpetuate ideas in the press about Scottish attitudes and things like this. It’s absolutely possible to break through into the mainstream and that it only takes one. That’s always been my opinion on it and when it’s ever come up in conversations, I’ve always tried to pull it back to the same idea that it literally only takes one person breaking through to change that perception.


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Host: You’re listening to The Scottish Hip Hop Show featuring Becca Starr.


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BS: I think that more coverage of the Scottish hip hop scene would only serve everybody culturally well because some of the best lyricists and vocalists and music makers are working in the hip hop community in Scotland today. I think that any coverage of anything that is under gr, considered underground it’s often done sparingly. Almost as a sort of Vice-esque, “Oh, did you know this exists?” kinda piece. Where I feel like if it was covered in a manner more befitting and I think that it, again, is down to perception, that it could, it could really take off. There have been some fantastic, fantastic outlets though over the years. There was a BBC Social series where rappers would go and rap in a car. More things like that that just show raw, unbridled talent. Not relying on flashing lights and big music video productions and things and just taking it back to showing raw, unbridled talent. And passion because the Scottish hip hop community in my experience is filled with some of the most passionate and like these guys and girls really care about what they do. And they deserve better representation and that. It’s happening though. It is happening. I mean The Rap Game. I don’t watch normal TV stuff so I’m a bit behind, but I know through the grapevine that The Rap Game TV show, things like this that are happening and they’re getting Scottish rappers on it. It’s great like. It’s all steps in the right direction if we can keep that going and also, you know, really celebrate people who are out there representing us as vocally and as proudly Scottish as possible, then we would do much better. All of us. And so the more representation and support just from people like yourselves, the better that every artist can do generally. So let’s get it. Ahaha.


This track is called “I Forgot.” It’s the second release that came out for my new album Speak No Evil that’s coming out with In Black Records. The music video was released a few months ago, which you can find on the In Black Records YouTube channel. It’s a very personal track and video that I made in my own house and edited over the course of while we were still in lockdown. It’s a really, really personal track and I hope you really enjoy it and it catches your ears and keeps you hummin throughout the day.


{music, “I Forgot”}


Voice: You’re listening to The Scottish Hip Hop Show.


BS: I think Scottish hip hop is particularly unique because of the Scottish sense of humour in particular. I also think that the Scottish turn of phrase plays a big part with certain creators in Scottish hip hop of what makes them so special because they so succinctly know themselves and have that natural ability and humor and turn of phrase that is so incredibly Scottish. And I’m not talking about your, you know, your bog sort of standard Billy Connolly quotes and stuff. It’s something way deeper and way more unique and sort of undefinable. I think that humour plays a big part in a lot of Scottish hip hop and a lot of the way Scottish hip hop artists write and present themselves. There’s a great deal of self-deprecation and, “Well, I’m going to take the mick out of myself because I’m from a scheme and it disnae matter because I’m from a scheme. And I’m proud and WHIT.” You know? And this kind of like preemptive defence almost and use of humour in that. A lot of rappers I feel use humour. A lot of rappers use the natural sort of poetic flow that happens in speech a lot in Scotland. I myself did a lot of my growing up down in Dumfries where it’s commented that people sing where they, while they speak. Just the way their voice moves about. So things like that I feel even influence because that sort of trait is echoed a lot in Scottish dialects. The way our voices move even as we talk. And I feel like that is very evident in a lot of the sort of. The more lyrically-forward people, I would say. Where they’re not relying on humour. I think that all of those things play a part in what makes it so interesting and special. I don’t use a lot of humour in this album, but I have used a lot of humour in a lot of what I’ve written because it’s a natural thing that comes to me. I look forward to kind of using that humour more to make people think and sort of reflect. I always like to have a wee flip of the coin when using humour of, “Ha ha it’s funny! But should I laugh?” You know that way? So I feel like Scottish people are really good at that. And it’s a very unique sort of thing to Scotland, I think. That, the way we’re. We’re poets. We’re all a bunch of poets. We’re bread fae poets. It’s a very. Some of the finest writers and poets in the world are from Scotland.


“It Just Feels Sad’ is a track that I made with Orry Carren who is my better half in life and one of my favourite halves to work with in music. This was a track that we co-produced together. He did the initial beat and then I sat with it for a month humming and hawing about the hook that I wanted to make. Eventually, I went back to him and I asked, “Would you mind if I maybe sampled something classic and build on it?” Without any idea of what that might be. After much experimentation, I fell upon The Turtles sample. I ended up having to pitch shift it and do so much messing around with it to make it fit the beat. But it was one of the most satisfying production experiences of my life as an engineer. And then laying the vocals on top was so much fun. It’s a real head knocker. And if you’ve not got yourself familiar with Orry Carren and his other work, you should have a look on Facebook, YouTube and SoundCloud to hear more from him.


{music, “It Just Feels Sad” featuring Orry Carren}


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Host: The Scottish Hip Hop Show is an Immaculate Reception production and is generously funded by Creative Scotland and Audio Content Fund. The Series Producer is Delaina Sepko. Original music and production by Dunt. Graphic design by Kirsty Maclauchlan and marketing by Colleen Reid. Thank you to Sunny G Radio, shmu, K107 and 3TFM for their broadcasting support. Visit www.thescottishhiphopshow.co.uk.


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