There are few MCs in the world who have earned the type of praise and success that Harry Shotta has achieved. Since his double wins in 2009 at the National Drum N Bass Awards and The Drum N Bass Arena Awards he has been on a meteoric rise in the underground drum and bass scene. Fast forward to today, Harry Shotta is one of the most respected MCs in the scene. With millions of views on YouTube and a legion of devote fans, this lyrical master is destroying dance floors everywhere he goes. All You Need is Bass had a chance to catch up with him a few days before his performance at the 403DNBBBQ Weekender in Alberta, Canada.
AYNiB: I understand you’ve been listening to hip-hop since you were pretty young. Do you remember what made you fall in love with it?
Harry Shotta: Yeah, just the fact it was so new and fresh and the fact it didn’t conform to anyone’s ideals of how music should sound. I liked the fact that rappers said what was on their mind and through the lyrics I learnt a lot about different cultures and a whole different world to my own. Later, when I began to write my own bars, Hip Hop gave me a voice and a place to vent everything that I would have bottled up if it wasn’t for the music.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]I had heard Jungle as a really young kid and I liked it but to be honest it was when I heard Skibadee and Shabba on a Telepathy tape that I really got into the scene[/quote] What lead you to the jungle scene?
I had heard Jungle as a really young kid and I liked it but to be honest it was when I heard Skibadee and Shabba on a Telepathy tape that I really got into the scene. I was too young to even get to raves them times but we would go round each other’s houses and get out the mic and the decks and have house parties where the music was 100 percent Drum N Bass. So many of my mates were into the music, by the time we were old enough to go to the parties I was addicted to the scene. I would sometimes go to 3 or 4 raves a weekend, that’s why I say I was a raver and a fan of the music way before I thought of making a living of it.
What does it mean to you to be a junglist?
The junglists are the kids you see at all the club nights, the kids who are in the words of my boy Dreps Team Drumz. They love DNB with all their heart, they go to all the raves, including the small ones, they debate who’s the best DJ or MC on line, they love the music and the lifestyle that comes with it.
What has been the craziest thing you’ve seen on tour?
Seeing DJ Phantasy drunk off Grey Goose singing the bars to Original Nuttah on a set I did with him, that will remain in my memories forever.
What are you listening to on your mp3 player right now?
Yeezus, the J Cole album, Mac Miller is there but I haven’t listened to that yet.
If you couldn’t be an MC what job would you want?
Something in the music industry, I love this music, I’m such a big fan of it and I want to see it represented properly through the right mediums. I also enjoy helping other artists and guiding them so maybe management in the future.
What job wouldn’t you want?
I wouldn’t want to be a dentist because they scare me. At the same time they make a lot of money so maybe I should think twice about this one. I don’t actually drive so a long distance lorry driver would be out of the question I guess!!!
How do you think your sound has matured since winning the breakout MC award back in 2009?
I think the music I make in the studio and the way I approach my bars has got a lot better. I think I’ve really found myself now, one area where I think a lot of artists make mistakes is they follow fashion. If a sound is big they jump on that or they study what’s popular and try and replicate that with their lyrics or production. Therefore they have no identity as they are just trying to copy what’s hot. I have my own sound, I’m comfortable in my own skin and I’m not watching or following anybody. I think the artists who stand the test of time are all unique and all stick to their guns and fully represent themselves through their music. I think the music I’ve made on my Moonlight Hustle mix tape and the bars I came with on my Space Jump mix tape which is DNB is 100 percent me telling my story.
What does your writing process look like?
I used to write on scraps of paper and I’ve got literally 100’s of pad’s at my mums house. I’m more organized these days, I write my bars on the lap top, put em all on my iPad and take them to the studio.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on my next Rap mix tape and I’m so excited about this. The production levels have gone to new levels and I’m spending hours in the studio making sure it’s the best possible product for the people. Night after night I’m up until the early hours pushing the flows and the lyrical content further. My passion for this project is a madness! I’m also working on some exciting DNB projects and featuring on some other styles of music which I can’t wait for people to hear!
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]there is no other genre of music that can compare to the energy in Drum N Bass[/quote] Where do you hope dnb is going in the next few years?
I hope that DNB continues to evolve and grow and that people appreciate all the different styles and everything the scene has to offer. I love Liquid, the dark stuff, the rollers, vocal stuff and of course the classic Jump Up sound! I was saying to someone the other day that there is no other genre of music that can compare to the energy in Drum N Bass and I stand by that.
What producers would you love to work with?
Theres loads but if I had to pick one it would be Kanye West.
What is the ‘Shotta Live’ show?
With the Shotta Show we have tried to encapsulate all the excitement of a DNB set but bring different elements to the table. So we have a hype man Fatal who gets the crowd worked up and acts as my side kick. We have Phantasy on the decks and we have a beat box artist called Jackapella. We perform our own tracks, special versions of classics, we mix in elements of Grime, Rap, Dub Step and Trap and we have a great time doing it. The intensity of the Harry Shotta Show combined with the chemistry within the team makes for a very dynamic and high energy performance that we’ve now taken all over the UK and overseas.
Any big plans for the festival season?
Yep, we’ve got a massive tour in conjunction with the 02 Academy’s and Hyper Events over here in the UK at the end of July. We’ve assembled some of the hottest acts across the DNB and Hip Hop scene; it’s going to be massive. I’m also doing sets at a load of different festivals and nights throughout the festival season. It’s gonna be a good summer!
Where is your favorite place to party?
I work so much it’s very rare I go to a club and actually party. Nearly every weekend I play out on Friday’s and Saturdays so it’s rare that I get the opportunity to go out and hit the club. I haven’t really got a favourite place to go out but I kinda like places that play a bit of everything, Hip Hop, DNB, Drum N Bass, RNB, nice party vibes and a good atmosphere.
Any cautionary tales for young MCs getting into the game?
First of all study the game and all the players within it. Some labels, journalists, artists and promoters have relationships and loyalties to other promoters, labels or producers so they will try to make you work with their people on an exclusive level. This may be good for you so it isn’t always a bad thing but always question people and think why there offering you certain things and don’t take everything on face value. Also, there’s nothing wrong with listening to other MC’s and getting influenced but be mindful that you retain your own identity and don’t start to sound too much like your favourite rappers.
What do you do on tour to kill time?
As you probably know I tweet a lot, I write a lot in the hotel rooms and most importantly I keep up with all the latest mix tapes and albums. You spend so much time on the road, probably more time than you actually do on stage so if you use the time to your advantage it can be a blessing.
Drink of choice?
Traditionally I’m a Brandy man, so you can’t go wrong with Hennessy and Courvoisier and I also like a nice cold beer.
What’s the best thing in your rider?
Probably my dart board.
For more info on Harry Shotta: