Showing how much I’ve grown up, this week’s column features my one time nemesis the somewhat notorious South London MC-Giggs.
Most folks know of our history but just in case you don’t let me break it down for you.
A couple of years ago when I was at MTV BASE I kept hearing a lot about a new MC who had a questionable criminal background and reputation but was apparently the next big thing.
I asked around the industry and had mixed feedback. ‘’Stay away from him he’s trouble’’, or ‘’give him the same chance Game, DMX and Jay got’’ etc etc.
My mate Harvey-(So Solid) offered to bring him in for a chat .i accepted.
One summer afternoon last year Giggs popped into my office with his then manager and we had a chat. I explained that I had heard great things about him and whilst we would like to support him editorially on MTV BASE shows he would have to meet us halfway and deliver clean videos with clean, non violent visuals and lyrics like any other artist. I had had some heat in the past from viewers and OFCOM for supporting allegedly known criminals and had to explain the companies position so was attempting to cover our backs. I explained to Giggs that if we were to run an interview with him, due to his very public criminal profile-he would have to briefly acknowledge that it was in his past so young viewers and his fans could see he was trying to change his life and be positive. We talked more and parted on friendly terms.
2 weeks later my staff researcher forwarded me a track by Giggs that had just hit the airwaves called ‘’Last straw’’ bad mouthing myself and then head of Radio1Xtra Ray Paul-for apparently black balling him.
Of course I was confused. I shrugged my shoulders and decided he was a nutter and if he couldn’t help himself I couldn’t help him either and for me it was a case of on to the next one.
I wont lie though-I was gutted that I hadn’t worked with this new, fresh artist who might not be the best lyricist ever, but had such a hypnotic, addictive vocal tone and an interesting story to tell with a buzz about him that you couldn’t even pay a marketing company to generate.
A few months down the line Giggs team contacted me via Facebook informing me that he wanted to talk. Of course once- bitten –twice- shy- old- me said thanks but no thanks.
Then I attended a live showcase by artist Bashy where when stood innocently at the bar Giggs appeared and tapped my shoulder holding out his hand for a handshake. Typically stubborn me ignored it. However Giggs came correct and asked for 5 minutes of my time. We talked for about an hour. Me cussing. Him apologizing for being a hot head and getting it twisted. Slowly but surely we came to a mutual understanding. Over the following months I watched him change in front of my eyes.
We began a twitter friendship and next thing you know the guy has fixed up, signed to XL and is making moves.
So recently when he invited me to hear his new album, to show no hard feelings and the fact that I truly believe his journey can work- we met up at his favourite restaurant for lattes, burgers, chips, pancakes covered in maple syrup and milkshakes-yep the guy has a sweeter than sweet tooth. Don’t get it twisted though-I let everyone I know exactly where I would be in case I wasn’t ever spotted again.
I was eager to hear his story though.
Born Nathan Thomas in Peckham, he was a good school attendee and went to a nice catholic school where he loved maths and his maths teacher Miss Newbury.
It was in PE class he had issues with a teacher whom he thought he was down with, but during friendly banter Giggs playfully punched him in the chest and ended up being kicked out. This led to Giggs being relocated to a less well-to-do school where he was ironically known as the boffin that studied!. It was here that he was tempted by the devil and not too long afterwards ended up using his mind for numbers on making paper by selling weed at school.
Having grown up with just his brother and mother and not wanting to put any extra pressure on his single mum for clothes and extras ‘’ there were 3 of us. No food in the house, so I couldn’t ask her for clothes and trainers’’ Giggs turned to robbing people and shops.
He explained that he began traveling into the West End and would see ‘’the main Peckham boys on the bus and they had bare money, garms and more and I thought if I do what they do, there will be no pressure on my mum’’. This led to him getting arrested in town 3 times when he was just 14. His only worry was his mum’s feelings. He then went to College ‘’just to keep mum happy- and studied sound engineering and electronics-I looked for a job everywhere, even cleaning jobs, but no one would hire me –I did manage one week working in the Peckham McDonalds but got sacked for refusing to mop the floor so I went back to selling weed’’.
Giggs also acquired the moniker ‘’Hollowman’’ in jail as he was ‘’never seen or found’’.
It was whilst locked up that Giggs turned to music in 2003 and began writing lyrics.
Giggs crew, friends, homies- (whatever you feel comfortable calling them), go under the name SN1. Meaning ‘’Spare no one’’. Now he’s made the move from the street corner to the music corner Giggs has encouraged his team to work within his music business as opposed to the street pharmaceutical business.
On his release he released mixtapes financed with dirty money-‘’the same way everyone does’’.
When he released “Talkin the hardest” in 2007 it was ‘’an unstoppable street smash and Giggs was ‘’really surprised cos the girls loved it, it was smashing up raves and loads of girls on myspace became interested in me whereas before it was just guys’’.
Next followed university shows, a stint on Tim Westwood’s show, Aiya Napa, and Giggs got his first taste of stardom as girls everywhere would be wearing t shirts with his name on them, requesting photos and all singing alongside him word for word. Overwhelmed by all the attention after being ‘’invisible’’ for so long, Giggs confessed he ‘’didn’t take advantage of any groupie action and always went straight to sleep’’.
We laughed about his diss song about me which he recalls he ‘’Felt really bad about and shouldn’t have done it’’. I laughed cos I admitted that he could’ve called me all sorts of vicious things instead he said the one thing that women are always paranoid about and called me a ‘silly little fat cow” making me diet for at least 3 days.
In the past year Giggs has attempted to perform live on a few occasions but due to his sketchy history the police have always contacted the venues and advised them that the show shouldn’t go on which must be ridiculously frustrating for him although it does get him a lot of press. He admits it is but also grins ‘’”I just wanna thank the police for all this great promo, the Feds want me dead. Trident talk down to me but I might ask the cops if they wanna do my promo full time’’.
Giggs continues to break down why he thinks the police don’t want him to succeed ‘’ If I do this and succeed, others will follow, cos with my change from crime to rhyme I’ve already taken 20 people out of the crime game. If that happens in every hood there’s no crime and no reason for Trident to exist. If they’re concerned about my live shows why don’t they put more cops at my shows? Like they do for acts like Mavado?’’. He has a point. Clearly crime doesn’t pay and there are repercussions for every action but shouldn’t we help people change for the better? He addresses this on his new laid back west coast vibe track “The way it is” on which he also mentions the P3 bus. The hook chants ‘’I’m just telling them the way it is” with sentences punctuated with Giggs trademark now recognizable “Yes!”. He spits ‘’If u grew up around me you’d be rolling with a strap too/ The feds hate me- they hate that I’m slipping away’’.
Giggs is just about to shoot his video for his new single ‘’Look what the cat dragged in” which has a middle eastern backbeat with the memorable line ‘’I’m a breast man but I rate asses’’ and is putting the finishing touches to his next album “Let em ave it” which is out around the end of May. He took me into the studio as his engineer was mixing it and I can tell you it speaks on where he is now, his son, partying and how he switched the drug game into music. The only collaboration I spotted was with the singer Nathan on “All I know”, a track with a Southern beat flow bounce and a very catchy hook, a track that could resonate with The States. (Also-I love the fact that like a singer Giggs adds his own ad libs at the end of his sentences).
Its important not to tag any young UK urban acts with ‘’keeping it real’’ hang ups that their predecessors had. Acts like Chipmunk, Dizzee and Tinchy have collaborated with artists from other genres and Giggs revealed he would jump at a collaboration with ‘’Lilly Allen, cos she’s sick. Her first album was sick. I used to listen to it 24 hours a day’’.
I also liked “The way it is”. Its a message for music industry people, a proper story explaining why Giggs talks about controversial subjects and also ‘’ “Life”
A deep track observing all of life, its injustices in society and trappings of urban life., I can really Imagine this being performed at awards shows. Giggs explained to me that ‘’like a character from the TV show ‘’Heros’’ who draws a picture of the future- ‘’that’s how it is when I write’’.
Giggs is very funny on twitter talking about being a dad to his young son about whom he’s done a lovely track on the new album. His son speaks on the intro and we hear a very emotional sensitive side to Giggs as he reminisces ‘’ the Day you entered my life was the greatest thing’’, ‘’When he got hungry he used to bite my lip’’, ’I missed your 2nd birthday and it tore me up’’. Then his son speaks the hook ‘”What you talkin bout daddy- Is this like the song you talked about nanny”. A really lovely piece of work. Giggs agrees his son is his be all and end all, ‘’ that’s the main reason for everything. I’m not going back to jail. I’m not giving up. He’s my main drive’’. He insists he doesn’t want to ever go back to jail ‘’Jail is over-glamorized’’
Showing he has a great sense of humour, Giggs has often tweeted me about a set of young comics called ‘SHADRACK, AND THE MANDEM’’, whom he thinks should have their own TV show even though they clearly ridicule the type of character that Giggs once was.
As I sat there in Giggs studio surrounded by the aroma ‘’of ….ahem…the west coast and Snoop Dogg’’, we laughed as he explained that initially his engineer put so much treble into the album mix that it sounded like a pop act which is why Giggs sits right by him 24-7 instructing him on the sound he wants to hear.
I thanked him kindly and bid my farewell as I legged it out the door trying to think of reasons I could use to explain to my colleagues back at the office as to why I wafted of weed!.