Interview with Frisco ‘I wanted to step up the levels because I’m getting older and I can’t be speaking about the same stuff’
In September 2006 Logan Sama’s Kiss FM grime show played host to a series of dubs from two of the scene’s biggest crews, The Movement and Boy Better Know, these dubs went on to be released as a compilation CD called The War Report.
It included some vicious sends from some of grime’s biggest names including Ghetto, Wiley, Jammer, Devlin and Wretch 32 (in the days before he sampled the Stone Roses and made pop music). After a few back-and-forths, Frisco entered the fray with Scorcher’s Funeral, a brutal send which is still to this day remembered as one of grime’s best diss tracks.
While reminiscing about The War Report, Frisco insists that there are no resentments harboured from anything said in any of the tracks despite how close to the bone some of the content was. “Obviously at the time I took it personally, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t get over,” he tells me. “It was competition, we were all coming up at that stage and we were all young and it was competitive.”
Recently Frisco took to Twitter to bemoan the standard of current MCs, stating that his generation has still not been surpassed, he claims, “in that era the level of competition was very, very high and it’s not like that now.” Frisco believes the difference in the scene’s politics and how the grime scene works could be responsible for this, as the genre is becoming increasingly online-based, with less emphasis on radio and live sets. It means that MCs don’t need to write fresh material as often.
“Back in the day I would have had a bag of throwaway bars that aren’t on songs that I wrote just to have them,” he tells me, “you had to be on point. You couldn’t go somewhere without a bag of new 16s lined up because guys would get SPUN AROUND, it wasn’t a joke and you’d leave feeling like s**t”. This competitive element in live grime shows has certainly faded, particularly in the London scene. Rather than spontaneous clashing at an event like Sidewinder or Eskimo Dance, MCs are more likely to air their grievances via YouTube freestyles or, even worse, over social media.
Frisco first gained major recognition in the scene after a famous clash in Ayia Napa. After hearing a thinly veiled swipe aimed at his crew, Roll Deep, Wiley flew over to clash Frisco live on stage. To this day Frisco is one of the few MCs, along with perhaps Durrty Goodz and Kano, who have come out of a clash with the King of Grime with an improved reputation. “After that I got a bit of recognition,” he tells me. “I didn’t actually like grime before that, but people like Terror Danjah and Skepta started making beats that I thought I could work with.”
Since those early days Frisco’s sound has changed a great deal, and his most recent release What Do We Do is perhaps his most significant departure yet from his old-skool grime roots. What Do We Do is the sound of an MC maturing, not just in ability and style, but also in personality and character.
The track is pensive, intelligent and more reflective than your average grime release, Frisco claims. “I’ve got a fanbase who know me for my style and my content so I wanted to step up the levels because I’m getting older and I can’t be speaking about the same stuff.” There is even a brief allusion to politics in the lyrics, where Frisco claims he does not respect Prime Minister David Cameron, however the reference is fleeting and Frisco is keen to make it clear that he isn’t turning into Lowkey or Akala overnight. “Grime is not anything to do with politics and politicians don’t understand grime,” he tells me. “I didn’t want it to come across as preachy. I wanted to say what I felt and I don’t feel that David Cameron is out there for the working class. They cater for people who are rich already.”
The track has had a great reception from fans and Frisco is taking this as a sign that his change in direction was the right idea, but he still has a few treats in store for fans of his more typical grime material. As part of Dexplicit’s EP project, Frisco broke out his old, skippy flow to vocal Dirt with My Gloves On, a classic hard-edged grime track. “That song there is on the other end of the spectrum to what I’m doing now,” he tells me. “I’m not saying you won’t get grime from me, it’s just going to be a different sound, it’s going to be more grown, put it that way.”
Grime fans will also be pleased to hear that Boy Better Know, the crew which includes Frisco, Skepta, JME, Jammer and others will be releasing an album soon. “People always ask this and they probably think we’re just putting it off because we always say the same thing” he jokes. “But we have definitely sat down and spoke about the album and when we want to put it out and what kind of tracks we want to use, we’ve got it all planned out.”
As a crew Boy Better Know polarize opinion among grime fans, but there is no denying that they are one of the most influential groups in the history of the genre. Frisco shrugs off any negativity in typically blunt fashion, “There’s always going to be d**kheads who want to be d**kheads […] overall I think people respect us because we ain’t just been doing this for a year or so we’ve been putting in work, going Napa every year, doing raves up and down the UK for years.”
Frisco’s singles What Do We Do and Radio (featuring Rapid) are available on itunes nowTagged in: Boy Better Know, devlin, Ghetto, grime, Jammer, Logan Sama, roll deep, The Movement, The War Report, wiley, Wretch 32
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