Billie Ray Martin’s haunting, soulful voice soothed many a chill…
Hackney born Professor Green was 18 when he started rapping as an MC. While honing his craft, Green proved victorious in over 100 battles. He secured a a title as the world’s 2nd best MC during the Power Summit 50k battle in the Bahamas. For a kid from Hackney, it was quite a feat to spank the world’s most verbose MCs.
Green was the first rapper to win The Jump Off 7 weeks in a row, the weekly MC battle on Monday nights at Sound, Leicester Square. He managed that twice and is still the only participant to have clocked such an impressive record. Initially signed by Mike Skinner (The Streets).
Green’s mother was only 16 when she gave birth to Stephen Paul Manderson and he was mostly raised by his gran due to an absent father. He’s survived being stabbed in the neck with a broken bottle in Shoreditch AND touring with Lily Allen.
When did you last have a really good night out?
Manchester, last month on the Lily Allen tour. Lily invited everyone back to her suite and we all got a tad merry. Good times.
What’s your reaction when people call you the British Eminem?
Thank you for not calling me the British Vanilla Ice.
Who makes you go weak with desire?
What was your favourite gig of the year so far and why?
Prodigy at Brixton Academy. It was at capacity, 4800 people shoulder to shoulder absolutely ‘avin it. There’s some great pics floating around of Plan B, Daz, Felix and myself getting involved…
Why is British hip-hop given less cred on the international stage than US hip hop? Do you think that’s true?
I think it is true. We are in direct competition with the Americans, as we speak the same language. The French, Germans etc. don’t have the same problems. I think it’s also pretty hard for the English to relate to hip-hop especially with the Americanisms a lot of our artists have. Mike Skinner got things right…
MC battles look like stressful, intimidating arenas- how do you overcome that?
By walking around and talking to anyone and everyone about anything but the battle! My mate Jack helped out somewhat in keeping me relaxed too. Jack Daniels.
What’s worse, breaking the law or breaking someone’s heart?
Breaking someone’s heart. Breaking the law can be fun.
You were brought up by your Gran, what did you learn from her and what did she think of your music?
She always taught me that manners don’t cost a penny. She instilled good values and strong morals in me, and made me aware of the amount of shit people there are in this world. She made sure I knew to always live by my prerogative and not get dragged down by others.
And my music? She used to tell me to “turn that bloody talking music down”. Nowadays though it’s more likely I’ll catch her listening to 1xtra through the Sky box. True stories.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Probably Portishead, or Lamb. I love trip hop. I got to see Lamb and Bonobo live this year at the Big Chill festival which was amazing. Lamb were performing Gorecki as the sun was setting behind the main stage. I’m a closet hippy.
In the ‘Upper Clapton Dance’ you sampled the ‘Hungarian Dance #5’- how did that come about?
Alex (Cores) heard the sample at his mum’s. He sent me the beat he made sampling it, titled ‘Upper Clapton Dance #5’. I flipped the concept and the rest as they say, is history.
It’s a pretty intense (and brilliant) video, you worry about glamorising violence?
Nope. I don’t glamorise violence. The music I make reflects what happens, it doesn’t influence it. I think it’s more dangerous that the situation on our streets be ignored than commentated on.
What’s the most embarrassing thing on your iPod?
Time Of Your Life – Greenday. I know… deadout.
Have you ever bumped into Leona Lewis in Hackney?
Yea, she used to jam on Northwold estate with me and my peoples when we were younger, drinking White Lightning and the such. I went halves on a pack of Bensons with her once…I joke.
Did you lose confidence after being stabbed in the neck?
Nah, I got angry though. Having a coward like that nearly take my life didn’t bode well. Having to phone my Nan and Mum to say goodbye while I sat holding my neck together bleeding out in case I didn’t get to see them again wasn’t cool. He deserves to die a thousand deaths.
According to Hackney council’s statistics, ‘In 2008/09, gun crime was reduced by over 37 per cent and knife crime by 17 per cent. Youth crime also fell by 10 per cent. Satisfaction with the Police and the Fire Brigade are six per cent above the London average’. How do you feel about those stats?
Like, perhaps they aren’t quite accurate? I can’t say I’ve seen things get better.
Much is made of youths having absent father figures, do you think schools should be responsible for sex and parenting education?
Some kids are just as screwed up because their fathers are around. Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to have children. Education starts long before school does and if those responsible for your upbringing don’t have morals or values, what chance do you have really?
Many MCs/rappers seem to lose their edge and creativity when they get successful- discuss…
I think there’s two things that can happen to influence this. (1) someone gets successful and gets complacent, therefore not pushing themselves to make better music and (2) someone gets successful and panics. Instead of making the music they normally would, they start over analysing stuff and trying to second guess themselves in an effort to make the music they think people want to hear from them…
If you could be trapped in a lift with any 3 living people – who would they be?
A white supremacist, a black supremacist, and Graham Norton. That wouldn’t be boring.
What have you learned while on tour with Lily Allen?
That she’s a diamond. It’s really nice and it’s encouraging to meet someone with her success who’s still such a decent person.
Do you still wanna be a superstar and super famous despite seeing how it’s proved problematic for Lily and Mike Skinner?
The chorus your referencing was very tongue in cheek and sarcastic. My wants are really just to make good music that people appreciate enough for me to earn a living from. And then to become super famous and marry Jessica Alba.
You missed a lot of school, it seems, would you ever go back into education, and if so, what would you study?
I left secondary in yr 8. I tried to go back but it didn’t really work out. I was always really good at mental arithmetic and with numbers, but I’d probably choose English and History. I’m a geek at heart.
Do you think teens are damaging their mental health with too much skunk?
In a word, yes. Smoke high grade, clean weed if you’re gonna smoke.
You think cannabis should be legalised?
I’m not sure that would benefit us. I don’t think people should get the sentences for it that they do… The reason I say it may not benefit us in our society is because we aren’t best known for doing things in moderation. A lot of the Dutch don’t smoke weed. They leave that to the tourists. Here, I think it may be somewhat different.
In ‘Before I Die’ you want a Number One record and to get your teeth straightened- what’s more important to you?
Well, I just had my 6 dysfunctional teeth out to make room for 6 pearly white implants. It’s quite a procedure having implants fitted, but in a couple of months I’ll be all good on that front. As for the number 1, only time will tell. I can’t buy one of those!
What’s the most ridiculous rumour you’ve heard about yourself?
That I was from Croydon.
First Published: Jan 2010/TheHospitalClub.com