VAgrant real estate

Episode 3:

vagrant real estate

The Scottish Hip Hop Show Episode 3 Vagrant Real Estate
About The Episode

In this episode, Vagrant Real Estate talks about his the many genres and styles that influence his production, describes the hip hop community in Aberdeen and what makes Scottish hip hop unique. His selected songs are “Supplication,” “Two And Seven,” and “This Is It.”


{music starts}


Vagrant Real Estate: For me, the main things that hip hop means is authenticity and sort of creating a voice and making yourself heard.


Host: Immaculate Reception presents a showcase of Scotland’s finest hip hop producers, MCs, beatboxers and DJs. This is The Scottish Hip Hop Show. He’s an Aberdeen-based hip hop and grime producer and DJ. Introducing Vagrant Real Estate.


{music ends}


VRE: Hi, I’m Vagrant Real Estate and I’m a producer and DJ based in Aberdeen, Scotland.


So my first introduction to hip hop, I think, like a lot of people from my sort of generation was Eminem. Through his sort of hits on the radio. That was quite a young age. That was my first sort of foray into hip hop and what that sort of sound was like. I remember getting The Eminem Show on CD and just pouring over the lyric book inside it. And it made me have a real sort of interest in not only the sort of lyrical content, but also the fact that a lot of the work was produced by him as well. So it was a kind of bringing the soundtrack to his own storytelling as well. And then my first introduction to grime. It kind of. It came in from again the sort of a bit more commercial aspects of what was happening down in London. So people like Skepta and things as they were having the more, striking out for the pop charts and things while they were still trying to find their feet in their own sort of style. And while that kind of music didn’t really speak to me, it was then going back and finding the sort of radio sets on an early YouTube and the clashes and things. And that kind of rawness I found really interesting as well.


So I think I first tried my hand at producing music in general maybe around 2010, 2011. A friend from school got me a copy of FL Studio, which is a recording programme, and I made some absolutely terrible electronic, sort of house music for a couple months. Playing around with it. And then didn’t really touch it again after that. And it was a little bit later around 2016 that a friend and I started to get interested in the sampling side of hip hop. It was around then that I also got a USB vinyl converter from my grandfather so I could get records from the charity shop and record them onto my laptop. And then play around with them that way. So it was, it was a really basic version of a sampler and an MPC. And it was. That was what sort of kick started it was being able to figure out how a lot of the sort of famous producers had resequenced tracks and made beats from it and then layering of drums and bass and things like that as well.


I think the way that I would describe my music would be primarily melody driven. I dip into a lot of different styles, but it always tends to be the sort of, the sort of sound and the tone that interests me first and foremost. So whether that’s in hip hop using the sort of soulful sampling. Grime, the sort of synth work. And then looking at little bits of sort of dark pop and R&B that I’ve been experimenting with recently, it’s definitely about how that sort of initial feel of the record is. I think I always try and be diverse in what I’m doing so bringing in different elements of styles together. So whether that’s working with the tonal sounds of grime or the percussion elements of UK drill. And also utilising samples that kind of harks back to some of the hip hop work that I’ve been doing as well. I like to try and sort of spread out and try just melding different styles together and seeing what works.


I think the people that I would list as the main sort of influences on my work across all styles probably the foremost would be J Dilla. I think anybody who makes hip hop beats, if they say that they’re not influenced by J Dilla, they haven’t done enough homework. I think his sort of style is just so influential across almost all of the biggest sort of beatmakers that are active today. He kind of fathered that whole style of bringing the natural swing of funk and soul back into hip hop drumming, which was primarily a bit more staccato before. And the way that he approached different samples and would flip things. And treat it just as a real session drummer would rather than just as a programmer I find really, really interesting. And I continue to come across new songs and remixes that he’s done that still blow my mind. I would say as well two of my other main influences from the start were Kanye West and Pharrell Williams. Again, to go back to their sort of approach to melody and the sort of. For Kanye, the sampling aspect of it. One of the first things that sort of got me into the idea of sampling and going back with soul records was listening to The College Dropout. And then also when I sort of started to delve a bit more into hip hop discovering how many hit songs that I loved had been produced by Pharrell and The Neptunes. He had a very distinctive style of melody using major 7th chords. But also with that rattling hip hop drums as well. So definitely I would say those 3 were the biggest influences on me starting out and discovering my own sort of sound.


{music starts}


Voice: This is The Scottish Hip Hop Show.


{music ends}


VRE: This track is called “Supplication” and it was taken from my 2019 instrumental album Sweetheart Grips. It’s the closing track on there. The reason that I’ve picked this one is that it’s one of my favourite instrumentals that I produced. I remember when I was sort of trying to put the album together and make sense of where I was wanting to go with the sound and the tone of the project, “Supplication” was one of those tracks where I felt like it started to fall into place. And it was almost the keystone that kind of allowed me to work out what else I wanted to do with the album and what I needed to do and where I needed to bring it in.


{music, “Supplication”}


VRE: I think for me the main thing that sort of hip hop means is authenticity and sort of creating a voice and making yourself heard. I think it’s always been about being able to speak what you have to say and put that out in front of an audience. And it’s something that I try and kind of approach with sampling within records and the tone, the tonal choices that I’ll use. It’s about sort of being able to rearrange something and create a new narrative or a new story with how you’ve changed the sound of that, that record. But yeah, I would say that hip hop and grime, I suppose as well, it kind of comes from a place that is typically marginalised and people who maybe feel like they don’t have a voice elsewhere. And it’s about just putting down that sort of raw emotion and honest feelings. And I think that’s where any sort of record that really sort of connects or has a moment, that’s what is shining through there, is that people can feel that sort of authenticity and the truth that’s in that record.


I think the main piece of advice I would give myself starting out would probably be. And there’s a quote I really like that kind of covers it that’s basically about art is never completed, it’s just abandoned. And I think when I started out, one of the main things I was always worried about or I was always sort of obsessing over was tweaking things endlessly or thinking it was never ready or complete. And I think with everything, it kind of comes to a point where you have to just let it go and put it out. And when I started out producing, I definitely held a lot of stuff back because I didn’t think it was good enough to put out and push forward. And when I eventually did release an album, it got such a great reaction that I kind of. I was like, “I don’t know why I’ve ever been worrying about putting these things out.” And then you kind of have to get out of your own way a little bit and just push these things out and see how it does. Because sometimes it’s the things you don’t think are necessarily going to land in a certain way resonate the most with people.


So locally, some of the local artists that I’ve worked with have been guys like Ransom FA, Bemz, Oyakhire. And some of the classive guys like Madhat McGore as well. And then more recently Mistah Galactic, who’s a singer from Edinburgh. And then also just on a sort of wider scale in the UK and internationally, I’ve worked with MCs like namesbliss from London, Remtrex, NoLay, Manga St. Hilare from the classic grime crew Roll Deep and also Ten Dixon as well.


I would say some of the highlights of my career so far would definitely be when I  released my last album and I got on the front cover of the Press and Journal in Aberdeen, which was a pretty surreal moment. Also at the start of this year being named as one of Vic Galloway’s Top 25 Artists To Watch on Radio Scotland was mind blowing to be included alongside some really big names. And also another one for me would also be earlier this year where I was able to do a guest mix for Jyoty on Rinse FM. She has a really big platform and I was able to do a 30 minute mix of all Scottish hip hop artists. And a lot of these artists hadn’t necessarily had airtime on that radio station before so being able to utilise that very large platform to shine a light on a lot of the talent we have up here. I felt very sort of proud to have the ability and the option to do that.


{music starts}


Host: You’re listening to The Scottish Hip Hop Show featuring Vagrant Real Estate.


{music ends}


VRE: This track is called “Two And Seven” and it’s from the album that I produced for YNX 716 last year in 2020 called Glass Half Full. I first met YNX through Instagram when I was researching the hip, growing hip hop scene that’s bubbling in the underground of Buffalo, New York. And we immediately bonded over the sounds that we were wanting to create. Obviously, being in 2020, there was a lot of social and political factors that were burning around the sort of creation of the album as we were sending vocal ideas and production back and forth. Namely the George Floyd protests, which were taking place in both New York and in Aberdeen as well. And also the wider discussion around the police brutality. And also the impending re-election where Trump was potentially going to get back into office. And I feel that “Two And Seven” kind of covers a lot of the thematic ideas that we were trying to hit, convey and hit on in Glass Half Full as a whole. And really succinctly wraps them all up. I feel it’s some of YNX’s strongest verses on that song.


{music, “Two And Seven”}


VRE: So the hip hop and grime scene in Aberdeen is definitely going from strength to strength. Ransom FA who was kind of leading the charge for a good while, but him having that success on a national platform was, has definitely brought much more new waves of talent coming through. And he’s also set up a studio space in the city, which again encourages a lot of new sort of talent to come through and allows us to sort of start competing with the larger scenes in Glasgow and Edinburgh. So there is, there’s a number of guys who are working hard to sort of put on events. There was the sort of hip hop Dojo in Aberdeen and the, Jackill putting on his own shows as well leading up to the pandemic. Hopefully, we’ll start to see more of them now as the rules start to relax a bit.


I think what makes Scottish hip hop and grime special is that sort of, there’s a level of hunger that I think comes from Scotland. I think in this country it’s stereotypically almost a bit of an underdog story compared with the sort of the bigger brothers down south. And that we maybe haven’t had the attention that’s been given to others. So I think there’s a level of rawness and hunger that is there that makes the music quite interesting and exciting. Although there’s quite a close knit communities that are quite small, there’s a lot of great talent already that are coming out and artists who have had huge levels of success. I mean people like Chlobocop, for example, has arguably had as much success as if you were based down in London. And having done that as a Glasgow female rapper is really impressive and I think really inspiring.


{music starts}


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


{music ends}


VRE: Yeah I think. So the fact that Scottish hip hop and grime hasn’t had as much mainstream support so far. I think it’s just in part to the smaller crowd of people that are doing it at the moment and that it’s just a little bit, we’re playing catch up behind the bigger scenes in London, Manchester, Birmingham and that sort of thing. And it’s taken. It always takes a couple guys to break through initially on that first sort of level to really start to open the flood gates. So it wasn’t really until you started to see people like Shogun going viral and then shortly after that Ransom FA representing Scotland on The Rap Game UK on the BBC that it really started to open up and all of the sudden there was more people taking notice of what was going on up here. I think for a long time the attitude was just, “Scottish people, you can’t rap.” But for an even longer time, it was that, “Oh English people can’t rap either. In a London accent, it doesn’t make sense” which is now obviously not the case with guys dominating the charts so. I think it’s just a few years behind, but it’s getting there.


I think in order to get Scottish hip hop and grime to a larger platform, larger audience is continuing to build upon the work that’s already being done and putting in more infrastructure and more sort of spaces for new talent to flourish and thrive in. We’ve just recently went to the HANG conference in Glasgow, which showcased some of the amazing talent that’s already there and was covered in the Guardian. Creating these sort of events and spaces that forces the sort of wider media to take notice. I think as well with the return of live music, putting on more sort of gigs and shows, the focus on local talent rather than just booking the big acts to come up from London or even from abroad helps to sort of foster that talent and grow the live skills that these artists need to have as well. So yeah and I think that’s probably one as well that’s more for up north where we need to sort of grow that live industry as well. Because there’s already a lot of fantastic work being put on the likes of the Up2Standard guys down in Glasgow and some of the platforms that are down there. So it’s about, it’s just about building up that infrastructure and creating these events that really make people sort of take note of what’s going on here and proving that it’s a thriving business and industry.


This song is called “This Is It” that I produced for Yung Reno in 2017. This is actually the first track that I produced for an outside MC. Reno hails from Queens and he now goes by Reno K.O.Q. I initially found him via Twitter when I was sort of starting out, sending out instrumentals and putting demos on there. He came across me and reached out. So I sent a pack through to him and he recorded this onto it. And we worked back and forth just sending the files and getting demos down and getting the female hook on there as well. And it was all a bit mind blowing to me as a budding producer from my bedroom in Aberdeen to have this MC from Queens rapping on the track I’d produced. And when I finally got it back through, I couldn’t be happier with how it sounded. How big the production sort of sounded and his vocal performance. And they even had a music video shoot where they had a party, which unfortunately couldn’t make it over for.


{music, “This Is It”}


{music starts}


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.


{music ends}