Interview: Sleazy F Baby

The Mancunian MC chats about his acclaimed debut LP All Blahk Tracksuit and recent EP Big Mac With Xtra Sleaze

Interview: Sleazy F Baby Manchester MC Sleazy F Baby is making noise at the moment; the Blah Records representative released his debut LP All Blahk Tracksuit a few months back, and has just dropped a new EP with producer Mac Real entitled Big Mac With Xtra Sleaze. We caught up with him just after the ABT album dropped to chat about how he got involved with Blah, his creative process and much more.

'I'm just out here chilling with my lady, smoking' says Sleazy. 'The 'All Blahk Tracksuit' album's out right now, I'm feeling real good man.'

I ask Sleazy about his first introduction to hip-hop. 'The first song I ever made was a hip-hop song, it was called My Don, I recorded it on my street with a group called Cold Heat. I grew up doing grime, but my Mum got me into a lot of soul, so I wouldn't even say I listen to a lot of hip-hop at home. Then as I got older I'd listen to a lot of Jill Scott, Floetry and people like that, and then obviously MTV Base. I was trying to bring back the flashy side, the hip-hop that people have forgotten about. The first hip-hop tape I ever bought was Afroman 'Because I Get High', that's where I came into it. I do listen to hip-hop, but I listen to a lot more trap music. Josh brought me into whole cold sagging kind of rap. I've known Josh my whole life. He used to listen to Lee a lot, he was a fan of Children of the Damned before we joined. That's when I heard that. Before I was doing that I was doing a lot of grime'.

With Manchester exhibiting one of the healthiest local scenes at the moment I wonder if the city has influenced his music. 'Yeah man' Sleazy replies. 'I'm from South Manchester innit, so a lot of the gang stuff comes from there. I'm from where a lot of the grime music started, a lot of the MC's are from South Manchester, but big up the North Manchester gang still. My area, it isn't exactly paradise, but when I was growing up it was a lot worse. I am a product of my environment, but I'm the one that got away init. If I was able to describe the shit, that's what I'd say'.

Were the any MC's from the city that particularly influenced him? 'Not really' replies Sleazy. 'I was always different; when everyone was doing grime I was doing trap, so people were looking at me crazy like 'Why are you doing American music?' When I started doing hip-hop everyone started doing trap, and now I'm doing this kind of stuff, I don't know where everyone else is, but everyone else has always looked at me like what you doing? Everybody's all over the place and my sound's still different. Every single time I've dropped something it's never sounded like what's going on in Manchester. The album more portrays my outlook of Manchester, more my upbringing and where I came from, certain things that shaped me, enjoyable times, highlights, what made Sleazy who Sleazy is'.

You may have heard some of Sleazy's past releases under the alias of Wordz. Why did he want to change his name? 'I wanted people to look at me freshly, and because I was on Blah I wanted it to go out with a bang. I wanted a change, a fresh outlook, I wanted people to look at me fresher, listen to it with fresh ears and look at me with fresh eyes. I feel like 'From The Bits', as Wordz, wouldn't have done as well as 'From The Bits' did as Sleazy F Baby. People know me and know what I do, it was more for marketing; I wanted to make myself a brand, and I didn't feel like I could do that as Wordz. I needed a change, I needed to grow up. When you look at hip-hop today it's about making yourself a brand and making yourself relatable, and making people fuck with the character, and making them want to know more. I just turned up the more ignorant side of myself'.

'It's crazy man' when I ask Sleazy about his recent All Blakh Tracksuit release. 'I started in 2014. I wasn't even recording for it, I think I recorded the title track (video) at the end of 2014. From then', I hear a sharp inhale of a spliff, followed by some powerful coughing. 'Sorry brother' he says, followed by more coughs. 'Shit' he exclaims. 'I just kept working towards it. Lee Scott was getting me beats sent through, a couple of cool people sent me beats. I didn't record for it for a while, I started spending more time with the Blah lot and doing shows and shit like that, I started catching the wave. I recorded most of it in my bedroom, I think me and Josh did a tour, we came back, and I was just ready. I locked myself in my room, get beats sent over, I'd send it back. There's a lot of music that's lost somewhere, lots of vocals that have never made it. I remember sleeping in the studio for four nights straight, me and Reklews going in, finishing off tracks, and there's a couple of features that didn't make it on there, but now I'll still be able to use those tracks because a lot of the verses are coming through now. It was a very good process, I got to live so much before I recorded the album. Originally I was recording for an EP, it's not regular for an artist to do an album straight away, you normally do a mixtape and see whether people take to you. I didn't really look at it like an album, I looked it like a mixtape; I was working through it, I wasn't really particular about the tracks until the end process'.

'I met Blah through Black Josh' says Sleazy. 'He was a fan of them, he used to listen to them. I didn't know what it was at first. I think he did a show with Shakes and them. Shakes was the first member of Blah I met, smoking in Josh's bedroom, recording tunes. There's a song out somewhere with me, Josh and Shakes, maybe. Through that, when I originally went, they were like 'we don't need any new signings' because obviously they'd just had Tommy, Stinkin, Bisk. It's fucking mad; me and Josh got some shows through the Blah thing and fucked the shit up, and one day I came off stage and Reklews was like 'oh yeah, I can't wait to do your and Josh's album'. I was like oh OK, that was the 'welcome to Blah'. I remember I did a show in Stoke with Josh, Lee, Trelli and Sniff, I was in there getting drunk and that, I was never officially welcomed to Blah, I didn't even have a bio, my bio was something crazy like 'I am a master of drugs, getting money and fucking bitches', so yeah, it took time man, but we got there in the end. I tried to pave my own lane inside of Blah as well, I didn't want to do what anybody else is doing'.

The recent album is incredibly energetic and full of attitude. 'I had so much ferociousness and vigorousness in me' says Sleazy about his direction. 'This is the first time I'm getting to let go, and when I let go I really let go. I wanted to paint that picture, I wanted people to see the dark side of stuff. A lot of people talk about the stuff that I talk about, but I talk about it in a different way, I represent for a different kind of kid'.

I wonder who handled the production on the All Blahk Tracksuit LP. 'Me, I'd say' replies Sleazy. 'I picked the beats; Reklews gave me a beat when I recorded in Liverpool. The rest I got myself, Baileys Brown hit me up. Druid did Ballin', and he did Sleazy, but I put down Wayne Ross; you need to put this in the interview too so I can apologise 'cause the shit's already gone to press (laughs)'.

One of the standout guest appearances on the project comes from Stinkin Slumrok. 'Yo, Stinkin's verse is fucked innit' agrees Sleazy. 'That's one of my favourite verses on there' he continues; 'He's got different people inside him init'. Sleazy quotes some of Stinkin's lyrics. 'All I want is a golden mink', it's fucking crazy'.

Black Josh also makes a number of appearances on the LP. 'That's my brother, for real' says the Mancunian MC when I mention the natural chemistry they display on a track together. 'I've known Josh since I was born. It's important for people to understand, because the reason why I was signed to Blah Records was so that they could get a Sleazy F and Black Josh album, that's what Blah ultimately wanted'. Is that still going to happen, I ask. 'Of course man. We've got other projects coming, Josh is out here going crazy. You're going to get the Black Josh that you fell in love with, the reason people gravitate towards us is that it's yin and yang, it goes, it's a complete package. We're just working; there's a lot of old shit that's going on there and there's some new shit that we're doing as well. We've got a lot of shit on the way'.

I wonder if Sleazy has any entertaining stories from the album's recording process. 'I wasn't always in the studio with the guys doing features, but I can tell you a funny story. Josh and I were recording, and Josh must have fallen asleep, it was like seven in the morning or some shit, and a girl hit me up. I went on my Google maps and typed the address in, and I had the car thing on Google maps and it said I was fifteen minutes away. I was like 'Yeah, I'm gonna walk that shit'. I was walking and I was like why is this taking so long, walking on tight roads and shit with bare cars flying past me, I ended up having to buy a bus ticket. I got there, did what I needed to do, and then I finish, the door's burst open and this gay nigga flew in, in some pink thingy, and he was like 'Oh shit, I can smell weed, is that a spliff'. I was like I need to go and get changed in the toilet, and I ran out quick. I never spoke to her again, blocked her, straight up. I even left my bus ticket there so I had to walk back for forty five minutes before I got home. I was on like ten percent battery man, shouts to the Samsung S5. True stories'.

'We've got four' says Sleazy when I ask how many videos he has planned for the project. 'There's one that was shot for a tune that was going to be on the album but didn't go on there in the end, I'm in talks to shoot Trust Me, and I definitely want to shoot a video for Product Of The Damned. I want to do Holywood too. I want to kick out about seven, and I want to keep the quality high. Not in a disrespectful way, but I feel like the only person who is going toe to toe with me with the videos is Ocean Wisdom, hip-hop wise. With the videos, I'm giving people my life on the camera, even though people don't really believe me, people expect me to be like dragons planet on clouds and shit, but fuck that it's get money, fuck bitches and finesse'. Sleazy continues, and speaks on the importance of the visual element to his brand. 'The visual side of it', Sleazy's response is again interrupted by excessive coughing. 'When I realised the visual side was more important was when people were coming up to us expecting us to be all hyped, and people were getting disappointed. Josh was saying it's because we're not the people they see in the videos; it's not everyday you want to turn up, sometimes you just want to chill. People wanted that all the time, so me and Josh decided that it was important that people got that all the time. It's important that we got that across'.

I wonder what he prefers about performing than the recording process. 'With the shows, it's the feeling man. You get to enjoy the fruits of your labour; you get to see it for real. When you're in the studio, or when you're on Soundcloud and that, you don't really know what's going on outside. When you're on a stage, and the music plays, and everything kicks in and everyone starts going crazy, especially when the shit's turned up, me and Josh have done a couple shows and the shit's been crazy, I've chipped my teeth and shit. Shit's crazy. We just try and turn up everywhere. We stopped worrying about performing and just started making the shit a party'.

Vice versa? 'I'm a talkative person, but i'm reclusive in a sort of way that I don't talk about things too much' says Sleazy. 'Music is my way of getting stuff out and talking to people. I put my message in my music, I put my life in my music as well, so it's more a stress-relieving process, but it's fun as well, being able to get drunk and record (laughs)'.

As our conversation draws to a close I ask what's next for Sleazy F. 'I'm working on about six, seven projects at the moment' he replies. 'Most of them are going into mixing and mastering so it's just deciding what I want to give you first. Expect a lot more visuals; I'm going to keep giving you movies. If I do give you a project it'll be an album, I'm not into having my music be under-appreciated, just because of the quality that i'm doing everything at. You'd think I have a marketing team, but it's just me, Lee, Reklews and Josh masterminding, shouts to Luke as well. It's all been made from nothing; the name, the brand, the lyrics, the music, the videos, so yeah man'.

All Blakh Tracksuit is out now through Blah Records available here

Big Mac With Xtra Sleaze EPis available for download here