Interview: LDNYC: More than music.

‘We had only talked on the phone once prior to me going out there the first time and that was the night before my flight.’

It’s difficult to choose a suitable introduction to something as unique as the collaboration between West London MC Samuel Taylor AKA SamueL and Long Island based New York producer Michael McManus AKA Don Miguel. Labelled LDNYC, the album is described by SamueL as ‘the epitome of collaboration’. SamueL’s catchy and clever lyricism coupled with Miguel’s vintage New York vibe make for a unique sound that is like nothing I’ve ever really heard before.

 While this project is only the beginning for both the London MC and the NY producer, the story that goes with it is one that will last a lifetime. ‘Me and Miguel first got in contact via Soundcloud, I was looking into music by a rapper from Alabama called ST 2 Lettaz from the group G-Side, who is an amazing up and coming emcee that I was listening to a hell of a lot at the time, I saw that Miguel had made a song with him called ‘Crop Circles’, which was extremely dope. At that time I only had a few rough drafts on my Soundcloud and no project released but decided to holla at him and see if he’s been down to let me jump on any beats of his. Thankfully he was feeling my track ‘Coming Up’, which became a favourite of people’s from my debut tape ‘Pleasant Surprise’ when it dropped. He asked me to jump on a beat that he was preparing to use for his debut project ‘Waiting For Carmine’, which I did asap. I eventually ended up on the title track for that LP alongside 2 Lettaz, the rapper I was originally searching on Soundcloud, which isn’t much to other people but a huge achievement for me. 2 Lettaz then also featured on ‘Oh My Dayz’ off LDNYC, which was even more dope for me.’

It’s truly incredible to think that two people from different continents managed to collaborate together with no contact prior to the actual making of music produced such a high quality tape.

new_york_vs_london_1024.png
Parallels are often drawn between LDN and NYC, however their respective Hip-Hop styles have always seemed worlds apart, until now.

‘I’ve been going to New York annually in the summer for the last 3 years, the first time I stayed there for almost a month at Miguel’s family home on Long Island, spending every waking moment with him and building a great bond, working on the project and constantly getting things done. He’s like a brother to me now and I miss him a lot.’ The pair bonded quickly once SamueL decided to fly over to the Big Apple. ‘I basically had a life partner’ says Miguel, but it was this forced-companionship that forged both the basis for a strong friendship and a unique link between their differing styles. ‘Miguel’s production inspired me to write and my writing inspired Miguel to produce more, so the cycle worked well for us. If I’m digging a beat I’ll start writing to it instantly and if Miguel knows he’s working with someone with that drive he’ll keep churning out bangers.’

There is an awful lot of poor quality music floating around Soundcloud and this has hampered the exposure of devoted artists such as the pair in question ‘It’s been hard getting as much exposure as we feel the music warrants however from the people that have taken the time to give it a proper listen the reaction has been tremendous.’ It’s frustrating to see true artists not getting the recognition they deserve such as DM and SamueL, however the UK MC told me that staying true to himself isn’t important, it’s something he can’t change. ‘It’s not that it’s important to me it’s just that I couldn’t do it any other way, I’d struggle to be fake and plastic in my day to day life and so couldn’t do that with my music either. I guess that it is important however to me it’s just the way it is and that’s what Miguel loves about me, just being a normal dude that can still spit dope shit without any fabrication or falsities. I’m not even quite sure what commercial is, I guess today that would mean trying to sound like I’m from Atlanta and make some Trap shit but that’s just not me. I just like good music whether it’s popular or not, catchy or not. I’m sure a few tracks from LDNYC could do well in the commercial world given the exposure and I definitely wouldn’t be mad at that. I just try to make songs that me as a fan would enjoy listening to. I only attempt to cater to myself, that’s it.’ At the same time, with the enormous ‘commercial’ success of rappers such as Kendrick Lamar and J.Cole, who’s style is much more orientated around telling REAL stories and making good music, a successful career projection for rappers like SamueL doesn’t require them to start producing meaningless music.j-cole-kendrick-roc4life ‘Both of them make amazing music and it comes from the heart. Not to mention that they can rhyme their arses off. Both of those guys have everything it takes to be legendary rappers and they are cementing themselves as so. Seeing ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ and ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’ do so well commercially has given me hope that all is not lost when it comes to the culture commercially. There’s way too much materialistic sinful music about money and hoes getting airplay, but these two guys are everything I want to hear in a rapper, I am very very happy to see them being so successful.’ 

The city of New York was an obvious theme throughout the music in both the sound and as an inspiration for the lyrics that are so potent and catchy throughout. ‘Whenever I make a track I always draw influence from NY, given that it is the birthplace of the culture. However, I definitely did it more so on LDNYC seeing that I spent more time than ever in the city in the process of making the album. I did a fair bit of writing to the beats whilst walking around Manhattan and in the Irish pub ‘McManus Cafe’ that Miguel was waiting in at the time, which happens to be run by his family. ‘Second Home’ is directly influenced by New York and really shows how I now feel about the city, being an emcee and now feeling at home and comfortable there from all the time I spent.’ IMG_6365An inherent love for an eclectic mix of Hip-Hop also spurred on the rhymes and rhythms of the vibrant 15 track album. ‘I’ve been into Hip-Hop for a long time now and have listened to artists from all the sub-genres of Hip-Hop that you can think of, UK and US. I couldn’t really say any particular rappers because there’s way too many to mention and I’m sure all of them have had their influence on me in some way, whether it be lyrics, flow or cadence.’

While all of this is taken into account it’s difficult to fathom that SamueL put all of this together with a job, a girlfriend, an active family life and a keen interest in movies. ‘I’m into my family and friends, but with work and music it’s getting harder to give them my time, even so I do my best to keep those relationships strong. I’m very into movies also, no particular genre, just whatever captures me, there’s so many great films out there. I enjoy artistic and thought-provoking cinema most but also straight up entertainment. I do like a lot of other things, such as clothes, traveling, eating, driving and a bunch of other stuff but money comes into play there and I always have to prioritise and sacrifice. Spending time with my chick however is on par with everything, she’s an angel and if I’m honest I feel my truest form of happiness when we’re simply hanging out.’ Having been rapping seriously for 4 years with two albums now under his belt SameuL is now currently working on a project with his collective London Tongue. ‘My next project is called Lost Time and I plan to push that very hard. Its finished completely but I’m just preparing for the roll out and release. There will be a bunch of videos accompanying it, along with a release party and whatever else I can get done by the time it drops. The features on there are even bigger and better but I won’t mention who just yet, there’s some underground rappers from the US who I’m very proud to have on the project. I plan to start performing as much as possible too, even though I know I should I haven’t put much importance into that as yet and have concentrated on creating new music rather than performing the same stuff over and over. I also have a rap group called London’s Tongue with my boys Phaze and Lue Young and I plan to do my best to get us to release our debut project this year, I know it will be insane but it’s just harder to make happen with more of us involved, taking our day to day lives into consideration.’

Getting in contact with SamueL and learning about the whole story has really been a humbling experience and I’ve been thoroughly impressed with his passion for music and the professionalism in both his music and his own manner. You can find him and Don Miguel on soundcloud and twitter, and be sure to let them know what you think of their work.

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