The Kool Skool's Shucks One Interviews Kashmere "The Iguana Man"
For those who know Kashmere, know he's a hard working master of re-invention. A kool man of many identities and names, but it should come as no mystery that he has been consistantly, representing progressive UK Hip-Hop culture to the fullest. Originally an in house MC & host alongside MC Kope for True School Sound System "Breakin' Bread", he also went on to Host his own show on UK Hip-Hop game changing Pirate Radio Itch FM. For many years he has been touring and releasing fresh and original music with the cream of UK Hip-Hop artists, but he most often builds with Jehst.
Kashmere beemed in to converse with The Kool Skool's own Shucks One the idiot about his most recent album Kasmere - Galaktus, his influences, past and the future of Hip-Hop!
Kashmere (Galaktus) BANG! SPLAT! Video Boot Records
Buy the KASHMERE - GALAKTUS: POWER COSMIC CD
Shucks One: For those out there not really familiar with your roots as an MC, what were your beginnings in Hip-Hop? Were you into other music genres before and did they lead you into the art form?
Kashmere: For me it started with my brother and cousin. My brother z Adibua was a bit of a B-boy back in the day. Well I guess at that time young cats were into it. He kind of showed me certain ways… like how to walk with a limp (ha-ha), showed me what break dancing was etc naaa meaaaan. But it wasn’t till my cousin came from Nigeria. He put me onto De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. Specifically the “3 Feet High and Rising” and People’s Instinctive Travels on the Path of Rhythm” albums.
De La Soul
These two albums sparked my interest in actually participating in music. A lot of people overlook A Tribe Called Quest's first album which I think is a crime cos that shit is beautiful and innovative! I think in hip-hop there is a tendency to overlook the truly beautiful in favour of the obvious bangers. I'd advise heads to just chill out and listen to these albums and try and put themselves in like 89/90 when rap felt like it meant something! Was a cool time in general, but it was also a cool time to be a young and black. You had these cats coming out speaking about unity and blackness and sometimes being straight up silly. It was quite reassuring to hear when you’re already realising that you’re in the minority you know? It was cool. Before I got into hip-hop I was listening to the music that was played around the house. So that was Nigerian music, jazz, some reggae and soul music like Loose Ends, Michael Jackson, Shalamar etc etc. Actually some of the members of Shalamar were family friends. I also have to say those early days there was an electricity in the air. It was global and it was across the board. It was definitely a fantastic time to be experiencing things. Especially music and culture.
Featuring Soul Train Dance Legends Jody Watley (Middle) and Popping Innovator Jeffrey Daniels (Left)
You have many aliases, what are some of them and what do they represent to you?
I have Kashmere which means absolutely nothing hahaha. I was just experimenting with names to use and this one came up. I never intended to keep it. In fact it annoys the crap out of me. But it has to be used cos its been used on other releases and people for some reason feel like they need it on there so it has a better chance of selling. I hate it so that’s why I'm deading that chapter after the album with Jehst. Starting again!
Kashmere The Iquana Man
I also have the Iguana Man, which is going as well. It also means absolutely nothing. Me and my friends were making a track where we assumed alter egos for a laugh. Mine was Dr Iguana. Later down the line Task Force suggested I turn it to Iguana Man. So it would be like ninja man or something. I have others that I'm going to use but I'm not gonna blow that up because the next bunch of things I do I really want to approach fresh. So that there’s no expectation. People get biased to certain ways and it colours how they listen to music. I like the idea of using alter egos, its fun man. You can change shit up according to the vibe you are on, and I like to switch it up so it makes sense!
What is UK Hip-Hop?
U.K. hiphop is a dinosaur egg. With teeth and hair. And if you hold a tuning fork next to it you can hear the golden axe theme music panning left to right and maybe echo chamber.
Is Hip-Hop dead? If not, why not?
Well, the era that it came from has been and gone in all reality. It’s a different thing now. But I wouldn’t go as far as to say its dead. I know what is meant by that comment but really it cant be said cos there’s still many many people that live for this shit! They’re out digging everyday or practicing their breaking styles or perfecting their scratches or researching. I think essentially people are saying that it ain't like times past. Mainly people mean 80s/90s. But I think they need to realise that the world is in a very different place now. You can’t have the 80s and 90s again because it’s already happened! I’ve always thought what’s wrong with looking to the future. Why not create a new golden age? Why can’t we use the knowledge we’ve acquired and make some new ill shit to be into!! New styles of dance, new styles of emceeing, new philosophies, just new shit! In terms of music there’s some interesting cats out there. I’m into this beats movement. People like Dimlite and Dorian Concept, people like that. I think the stuff they are coming with is insane!
Dimlite Live in Paris
Freaking beats in mind-bending ways and with next types of interesting rhythms and ideas. So maybe we need a new sort of movement to match this and some cool music and culture can come out of it. I’m doing a short E.P. made up of little dubs I've done to these kinds of beats. I'm thinking about calling it ‘Diabolical Dub Star’. But only if I can holla at any D.D.S. members and see if I can get permission.
"Drug Dealing Santa" - DDS Diabolical Dubstars
But yeah man I don’t think its dead. Maybe its in some sort of weird limbo while it decides what its next big vibrations are gonna be. I say limbo cos things are still happening but overall its not as cohesive as it maybe once was? There’s more of a divide now because it’s so global. Things change for sure but it doesn’t mean it done for. I mean when I look at your blog I see plenty of stuff happening! It’s far from dead! Its just not the same as it was that’s all. I'd like to see what happens over the next few years.
At The Kool Skool we have been looking at a lot of overt Occult imagery that has found its way into the visual language of modern “Platinum Rap”, is that something you have noticed as well?
People seem to be talking a lot about Kanye, Jay-Z, Rhianna and others being involved in the Illuminati. I mean there’s no real way of knowing this. I dunno man I'm not to clued up on that to be real. I mean on a smaller level when I did my "Chaos" album because of its content people thought I was a Satan worshipper!!! Straight up. I’m obviously not but people take things so literally now. So with that sort of mentality it’s easy to pick out mad things. I’ve seen people say that Afrika Bambaata is on some Freemason tip. I could tell people though that because of the hand sign he makes that looks like horns. People didn’t realise that hand sign was for the Funk. So I dunno… You know what? Ask me this question again in one month. Lemme do some checking up on this…
Many Old School fans I talk to are extremely critical of the New School. Are you happy with the direction that Rap music is taking?
Well I'm into this ‘Odd Future’ movement (Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler). They’re mad young with a new energy and dope music. Hopefully more people from that generation come with some madness. I mean…. Id like to see artists hooking up with these beat cats that I mentioned earlier I really believe some really cool stuff could come out of that. For me personally the elements I gravitate towards aren’t widely abundant in modern rap. It’s a shame really but I'm not knocking it man I mean times change right? I think its cool to let things evolve man not everyone is gonna like it but maybe we will end up somewhere really special if we allow it to do its thing.
Many people get stuck in the “Old” or “New” School, dynamic. I feel Hip-Hop is in a lot of ways more exciting at the moment than any other time. Where do you stand?
I think that when people can finally get over thinking about what’s old and what’s new, some true magic can happen…right now its like everyone’s paranoid about not being relevant. People need to realise that way of thinking is media conditioning so you are constantly buying into a new product. It’s fucked up. Time shouldn’t really matter in that way when it comes to music. Music is music. Its vibrations, old or new. So if we could break those chains then I think we would feel freer, to do whatever feels good you know what I’m saying?
Where do you see Hip-Hop going?
Honestly I'd be lying if I told you I even had the first clue. I don’t think its gonna be the same as it was before. Hey maybe new elements might arise and revolutionise the whole shit! Maybe big companies would have rogered hip-hop culture into oblivion in the eyes of the public leaving it to reside in the hearts and minds of people that know. Maybe hip-hop may turn into something else!! I dunno but one thing is for sure I hope it’s heading somewhere positive.
If you could start again, is there any element you would like to do in Hip-Hop?
If I could start again I’d definitely without a doubt he hard on the wheels of steel! To be honest, as I’ve said to people before, I never actually wanted to be an emcee!! I was always more interested in HOW people where making the sounds I was hearing and I always enjoyed playing tunes to people and peeping their reactions. The only reason I got into rapping was because of money constraints. We didn’t have much money at all but my mum worked extremely hard so like at Christmas it was either a Sega master system or turntables. The Sega master system won. In fact computer stuff won every time! But when I think about it having turntables at that time would have been pointless. We would definitely have problems with the neighbours we had cos of the noise and also we moved a bit. Wouldn’t have been practical. When I was younger I LOVED computer games and wrestling (WWF and WCW) ha-ha!!!
That was my entire universe. I wasn’t thinking about actually being an artist it was just this thing I was into and intrigued by. Funnily enough though I never made the connection with music and computers which I regret cos that still could have set me off down the path I wanted to go down anyway which was production and DJing. But at the same time I didn’t really have much people around me that knew about hip-hop that could have schooled me. After my cousin moved out I was left on my own to really look around and learn about hip-hop, which I must say was a cool adventure.
Can you list 5 songs you love, (the rarer the better, doesn’t have to be Hip-Hop) and a little bit about why?
A Tribe Called Quest – “Rhythm”
I love this tune a great deal. It’s probably my favourite track on the album. Its sounds like the dawning of a new age and the realisation of the broader horizons and self-awareness. You just don’t see this kind of rhythm in hip-hop any more. You can really tell it was a different time. As a kid I just used to lay back on the bed, close my eyes and just listen to this shit. Letting it wash over me. Dope shit. I’m listening to it now!
Wrong Side Of The Tracks single cover
To Read an interview with Tame One of the Artifacts click here
Artifacts – “Wrong Side of the Tracks”
Now this song is obviously a song that a lot of people know and might even say in their lists. But for me its deep because this came out in the times I was out there bombing shit up! Where I first heard it I was like ‘ohm shit’ because I could directly identify with it because that was the shit I was doing! And of course the 9th creation sample! Indescribably dope... the sort of aura it created was so warm and inviting and evocative. Whenever I hear it I immediately get transported back to '94 chillin at ODEA's crib listening to ill rap tapes practicing my little hand styles. I was a bombing guy. I was wack at dubs and pieces. I definitely was not ‘the man’ but I was out there doing it still. My hand styles became cool as time went on but I was never a Slam or Akt. I just loved doing it man.
Raymond Scott – “Lightworks”
I loved this sort of era in music. People like Raymond Scott wrote music for T.V. but the shit they were making was nuts. 60s shit. Messing with tapes and mad Synths. This tune sounds futuristic in an old school way. Love it. It’s like robot music. Makes me feel crazy.
“Delia Derbyshire – Love Without Sound”
Again Delia Derbyshire was killing it in the 60s. She worked for the B.B.C radio phonic workshop. Their history is documented. Legends. So she was also messing with splicing tape of sounds she had created by hand and looping it up, playing keyboard over it. Got dope written all over it. So with this song, it’s got the sound of the late 60s captured on there with all the mad experimentation with tape and guitars etc. The vocals are just sublime:
"Beyond the outside was one left to right
Within ourselves the suns or the night
Just bound by blue ethereality
Drifting onto my dream free"
Beastie Boys – “Ricky’s Theme”
Do I really need to say anything about this?? Man I cant even put into words how I feel about this personally. You just got to chill back close your eyes in just listen! Let in mingle with your senses. That’s it! I’m a MASSIVE Beastie Boy’s fan anyway. Incredible band. Legendary. Maaaaan there’s so much more id like to put man...5 songs?? Come on son!!! Hahaha
Can you name some 3 dream Artists you would like to work with?
The Beastie Boys
Mario Caldato Jr.
Maaan this list could get pretty hench… I know you said 3 but come on fam!!! All those guys make interesting music id love to work with all of them.
Sir Menelik Scaramanga
As an artist you are really diverse, sometimes you bring really funny crazy aspects, then other times really conscious esoteric themes. Is it important for you to be diverse?
Definitely! I think things would be maaad boring if you didn’t try different. There’s so much vibes to try out and experience and so many pockets of the ether that people haven’t explored. Its just lunacy for me to stay the same. I'd be going against my own programming!! I’m an explorer… I’m the type of person that would relish the opportunity to join star fleet!
As a deep thinker, is it important for you to try and communicate complicated concepts in your art? Do you find a lot of MCs are content to not push the envelope, if so why do you think is?
Honestly I don’t think about lyrics in terms of complication. I’m the sort of person that vibes it all out. So even if I’m influenced by a topic that seems complicated, I will just have it in mind while I’m vibing and create like that. Its something I do naturally with concepts. I guess it’s less robotic. Less words, more expression. This Galaktus album could have easily ended up as just pure comic book jargon, which would have been wack. But I’m not that kind of artist.
Especially now. I mean it’s probably worthy to note that the lyrics on this album were made a few years ago. I feel like I’m quite a different sort of artist these days. I’m trying to find different ways to express these days. Don’t wanna be doing the same type of shit I’ve been doing. Not to diss that at all. I just feel like its time to get in a different sort of zone. Still raw just different. I'd definitely agree that MC's don’t push the envelope. I mean most people want mass appeal. And we are not in previous times when interesting music could cross over on a large scale. So you end up with loads of people dumbing their music down to get on. It’s definitely good to experiment as long as at some point you remember that you are making music. But even so everyone has their own vision of what art is. I think it’s all about a healthy balance. I will also say that MC’s are probably scared to try. I mean look at it. Right now regardless of where you’re from or who you are you have to play up to the black stereotype. ‘Ghetto’.
Is Stereotype D-Boy Rap Monopolising on Hip-Hop?
If you don’t play up to that people seemingly aren’t fucking with you. Or at least that’s what people think. The question is who has the cohoonies to actually be themselves or try stuff with no fear?
Tell us about your new album, how do you normally work? (Write rhymes, then find beats or other way round, who does your beats etc)
Well…this album was made under duress. These evil motherfuckas threatened me with violence and I didn’t bring my have my AK-47 at the time. So I was kidnapped but hey at least you can say an album came out of it. But I tell yea if I was packin? Wooooo different story. But seriously…with this album zygote hit me with this beat CD entitled ‘green hornet’ had like 20 + beats on there. All of them HARD. It took me a while to start writing for it. Was like a year before I started writing for it. I guess subconsciously I was waiting to be in the right space creatively for it. We really wanted to do something sci-fi oriented and We’re definitely Kool Keith fans and generally fans of artists that can rock dope space styles.
But we wanted to do it differently. A lot of dudes have wack space styles and we definitely didn’t wanna come off like that! These people, are the kind that have stained the genre. We wanted to convey power and basically flip the bird to radio, clubs etc. Something for the heads. Raw, strong and maybe even sexy for all the shocking females out there. But generally the music always comes first. I don’t normally write without a beat. I do it sometimes if I’m experimenting. But the beats are the main thing for me personally. My process is a little different when I’m rocking to my own beats though. I could start with drums, Then do vocals, and then make the rest of the music around the vocals.
Your imagery is always really crisp, who did your album artwork and new video animation etc?
Yea man I think the artwork is extremely important to the album experience. It adds another dimension. A guy called Stilts did the artwork and another guy names Ed Grace did my “Bang Splat" Animated video.
What's next on the cards for Kashmere?
Plans are that I’ve got another album dropping shortly. In fact probably the last album as Kashmere, time to move on. Its called Kingdom of Fear. Entirely produced by Jehst. Again very organic thing. I didn’t approach the writing like an emcee. It was just vibing in the studio with Jehst. In fact it’s all like that for me. I don’t write thinking like an emcee. It’s all vibes. The emcee side comes out when performing. So gig wise I’ve got a few Europe dates planned and I hope to put together a mini tour for Kingdom of Fear so keep the eyes peeled
Kashmere's recent album Kasmere - Galaktus is out now and Kingdom of Fear is on its way! More details when I get it!!!
More info here: