Ill Move Sporadic and Big Toast are already well established and respected entities within the UK hip hop scene, thanks to a number of projects that have emerged from both camps over the past few years. Most recently, IMS joined forces with Tenchoo for the incredible Panic Room EP, while Toast has enjoyed success with his Save Yourself Kill Them All collaboration, alongside Sofa King and also thanks to his part in UK supergroup, Gatecrasherz. Now the three of them have joined forces for You Are Not Special, an album which promises to deliver the best of both their worlds in one tidy and maybe slightly disturbing package. The album is due for release in August, so I had a chat with them to see what we can expect from the album and to find out a little bit more about what makes them tick.
Give us a little bit of the history of Ill Move Sporadic. How did you both first meet and what made you decide to form the crew?
Ben81: We met at school doing graff and smoking hash. Making music was the the only way after hearing Wu Tang, Gang Starr, ATCQ, NWA, OC Nas. Then you hear shit like Blak Twang, Roots Manuva, Task Force, P Brothers and Cappo, Rodney P, Jehst and that was it, mate.
There was the whole Deal real thing also in the 2000s that was really key, I think. We were fucking about with beats for a while, but by 2006, 2007 we had IMS fully formed as two people – 1Boss and myself.
We had the lab set up in South West London, then we moved it all to Deptford and were making shit with Shez and Serial Killer Dean of 2MA, but they were a pair of loons and we fell out. Then they fell out. They both got sent down, so we went looking for a new rapper. 1Boss found Joey Menza on Myspace and we did Alpha Coda, our first physical release.
Prior to forming IMS, had you both had dreams of being producers? Were there any other areas of music you tried before moving into making beats?
B81: Always to make music with breaks in, with samples. We grew up surrounded by breakbeat music in London. At the time there was loads of other stuff, all deeply influenced by what hip hop was doing then, with people like DJ Premier, RZA and Pete Rock. We’ve made other styles of music, but what it all comes back to is hip hop made with samples. We are purists like that.
The album with Big Toast is coming at the end of this month. What can we expect from that?
B81: Firstly it’s completely made without paying attention to trends in hip hop. Made behind closed doors, trying to get the right sound.
1Boss: It’s also the first concept album we’ve done. Usually that shit is dry and we’d bin tracks off that bang on about specific subjects, because it ain’t what we’re about. With this one though, it just felt right.
Toast: The album is different without trying to be different I think. The beats could only be IMS and I can’t imagine another rapper writing any of the bars in it. It won’t be for everyone, but nothing good ever is.
How did you all end up working together?
Toast: I think we first discussed doing a whole project together after they produced the title track off The Wedding Fund. We’ve done a few bits together over the years. Felt like the obvious step to do an album. I think the IMS style really worked with this concept cos I wanted to do some brash, piss-everyone-off kinda music and the beats have a harsh sort of quality that fits it perfectly.
B81: We’ve always talked about doing a record that could be like this, so we started sending Toast loads of beats and he was sending back verses that all had a certain agenda and viewpoint. If you listen to the lyrics on the record that reveals itself.
We have the same out look on a lot of things not just politically but with the fucking state of every other melt you meet and how amazed by themselves they are. Also if you look at our back catalogue there’s only 2 or 3 releases that don’t feature Toast.
Your collaborations have varied quite a lot over the years; Joey Menza, Tenchoo and Toast are all fairly individual artists in their own right, with some obvious common traits. How do you go about choosing who to work with? Do you tend to instigate things, or do more people approach you?
1B: A bit of both. In this game motherfuckers are lazy, so 90% of the time we would instigate. Saying that, heads do approach us quite regularly, but on the whole they ain’t up to par so it don’t go further than an email and a private SoundCloud link. Come back to us when you’re better, bro.
You guys formed your own label, Starch Records, back in 2010. Was that primarily so you would have a platform to release your own music, or is there more of a long-term vision?
1B: We got signed to a number of labels – one of the bigger ones being ****** **** – but we always got dropped because we wouldn’t make throwaway club bangers. In fact we couldn’t make ’em, it wasn’t us, ain’t got a clue how to make that shit. So we started Starch Records to put out music we wanted to make .
B81: We got asked to make music without sampling. That’s people trying save money, not get sued etc. Also we got asked to make reggae.
I know you’re friendly with the Sleaford Mods and Jason made a cameo on Panic Room 9. Any chance of you all working on anything else in the future?
B81: First up Jason is a Don. Them two have got their thing locked, they are doing it big time. Nothing but respect for Jason and Andrew.
1B: We’ve always worked with Jay and hopefully always will. It’s funny because tons of bands beg him for a feature and they must be fucking confused when some unknown underground hip hop crew features him [laughs]. For us its simply that he’s good with the bars, it was a way to broaden our sound and he was feeling the beats which is what it’s all about.
On that same theme, are there any genres outside hip hop that would like to explore from a production point of view?
B81: Id like to work with a singer and record more live instrumentation – which is what every cunt who’s been stuck behind a sampler says, I know, but it would be good. Or a jazz band. Record it all on tape. Spend all day mic’ing up the drum kit. With rugs and fucking candles in the studio. But as long as its not some weak singer, over hip hop lite beats, with some bogus rapper giving it a drab family friendly 16 at the end.
1B: The worst shit is the old, local beatboxer, coupled with some pretend to be poor singer, who breaks into a 16 half way through the track, while accompanied by dick head on the trumpet. That festival type of shit. Garbage, mate.
B81: So much of that crap performing arts/stage school bollocks. Diluting hip hop. Rank.
Toast, I think its fair to say your music has a fairly misanthropic theme running throughout. Do you ever see yourself mellowing out as you get older, or will you just keep on keep on getting more angry at the world?
T: I’m not really that angry. I used to be. I used to stress myself worrying about the world. Now I don’t worry about stuff I can’t control. I just like to point out how shit the world is every now and then. Humanity is like watching England at a World Cup. When you stop caring, you can enjoy the comedy of it all. We’re shit and we know we are.
What would say sets this album apart from say your stuff with TPS, or Gatecrasherz, or even your other solo stuff? Can we expect a similar vibe?
T: I got a bit older and a bit grumpier! I think there’s previously been an element of wanting to please other people. Sometimes I’ve not said certain things cos the UK hip hop scene can be a bit fickle and won’t take too kindly to proposing a kind of eugenics based on your record collection. I think the dry humour remains. The style is maybe slightly more mature. And yet puerile at the same time.
And sort of sticking with that rage, if you could change one thing about UKHH what would it be?
T: I’d like it to stop taking itself so seriously!
Moving away from music for a moment, you’re also very vocal online about politics, so I was wondering if Toast became Prime Minister, what would his top three policies be?
T: I’d fuck off all this Brexit shit. You can’t reverse globalisation. Selling the future for nostalgia is dumb. I’m also quite into the idea of fully automated luxury communism. Google it! Technology made capitalism and socialism obsolete. The means of production is available for free download. Politics seems about 30 years behind the rest of the world. My third policy is to shoot Gary Barlow into the sun.
You’ve been pretty busy over the past few years, with various solo and group projects. What’s next after YNS is released?
T: Me and Jack Diggs have a project called Call it On. All Jack’s beats. The pair of us trying to outdo each other with the most obnoxious bars! That’s finished now so should drop later this year. I’ve also got an album produced by 184 called Prolefeed, which is a reaction to Trump and Brexit and post-truth, but with all the usual drunken humour. Got a load of features and collaborations coming too and hopefully some new Gatecrasherz stuff.
And what about you guys, have you got anything else in the pipeline?
B81: Whatever happens next happens. I’m about to start digging again. I go in phases. Take a week off and go to loads of spots. Stacking up sounds, whether it’s vinyl, or movie sounds, or whatever. We are about to go back in the studio and start something new. See what comes out of the EMU and the MPC when they warm up. We are talking to a few people about doing things though but I don’t want to say yet, as nothing is concrete.
You’re Not Special is due for release on 28 July.