Henry Lewis spoke to the BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra DJ to get the lowdown on new record the Plug ahead of Sloth hitting the road this autumn.
Last updated: 15th Sep 2017. Originally published: 14th Sep 2017
Image: Charlie Sloth/ Mathias Croft and Mike Brian (credit)
In recent years, the importance of Charlie Sloth to grime and hip hop in the UK can not be underestimated at all. His trademark BBC Radio1 and 1Xtra segment, fire in the booth, has offered a platform for the finest rappers and MCs in the country to get their first big radio break, freestyling over a bed of big beats and basslines with Charlie's unabashed enthusiasm and love for the genre shining throughout, alongside with one of moist recognisable radio soundboards going and a jockeying style that is simply inimitable.
As well as being a respected taste-maker, Slot is also a peerless producer, who has delivered a shedload of mixtapes during his career, however this year he dropped his first full length studio album, The Plug, one that embodies a range of styles from dancehall to straight up grime, with plenty of hip hop goodness in between, and also sees Charlie hooking up with a raft of big name rappers including Giggs, Bugzy Malone, Lady Leshurr and more.
Its with this new record that Charlie Sloth hits the road for a string of dates up and down the country, bringing with him plenty of special guests to help deliver some fierce live shows. Ahead of these dates, we spoke to Charlie about the Plug, Fire In The Booth and plenty more.
Two of my favourite Fire In the Booth sessions are from Akala and AJ Tracey, both a totally different generation of rapper, what do you remember about their individual Fire In The Booths, and how important are they both to the scene as a whole?
Well I just remember being amazed at how talented these two guys were, both of them switching flows and bringing different moods to the different sections of their freestyles, I remember feeling that Akala's was really eye opening, he was incorporating some sick knowledge into his bars and AJ, I just remember thinking to myself he is a different breed of MC, to see that in the new generation of MC’s we have today, I'm really proud.
In regards to their contribution to the scene its safe to say that both these boys have also been able to progress massively to be two of the biggest names in the Uk and have both branched out to different countries with their music and been successful in that move which I love to see.
I get asked for my fave Fire In The Booth 10 times a day, and i can never answer that question. It's like asking a parent to pick their favourite kid. Each one represents something different for me, but the best way to gauge what are the best ones is probably by the views. [laughs]
What makes for a massive fire in the booth session?
Well it ranges from amazing bars, sending for people or taking the mick. It's great for breaking new artists and re-establishing existing artists who people may have forgotten about. It's about the great spitters and the audience appreciate great bars and cadence.
How enjoyable was the recording process for the record, working with so much different talent in the studio must have been a real eye opener?
Recording with all these different artists was one of the most exciting parts of recording this album, but I wouldn't say it was an eye opener, as I've been around this sort of thing for a long time now, nearly a decade so being in the studio recording with artists is nothing new for me.
Was it difficult getting some acts on board to do the album, or was everyone up for it from the start?
Not really, most of the artists were really up for being on the project. Getting them in the studio now that's another story! Remember I'm on radio 6 days a week and doing Dj gigs three or four nights a week, so I have a limited availability window each week, so trying to co-ordinate my availability with theirs proved challenging.
When you were producing the tracks for the record, did you have certain rappers in mind/ Did you manage to acquire the services of everyone you wanted on the record?
Yes, each beat I'd make with an artist in mind and a vision for the whole song, there was a few points where I thought the artist I needed for the track might not be able to do it but fortunately I was able to execute all of what I needed.
Obviously, you’re taking the Plug on the road, are you confident that it will have connected with fans right around the UK? How excited are you to party in all these different cities, with plenty of special guests too…
Usually a Charlie Sloth DJ gig is a roadblock in itself, so combine that with some amazing artists, rap battles and loads of surprises its gonna hit another level.
It must be hard to pick one, but if possible, out of all the newcomers you have featured on your record, who do you expect to go on and achieve the same sort of success as say Skepta or Stormzy?
I think all the newcomers have a great shot.
There’s plenty of genres and musical styles throughout the entire record, is this representative of what you have been listening to yourself, are there any acts or influences in particular that were in your mind throughout the creative process behind The Plug?
I've always been quite a cultured person, I love all different genres so those influences have been with me way before now, its only now that people are seeing this as up until now I've been publicly dedicated to Rap and grime. I had different vibes and thoughts In my mind for each of the tracks but I always knew that I just wanted the album to be different and to seep with surprises.
Similarly to Drake’s ‘More Life’, the Plug is essentially a playlist of different styles, do you think the playlist will start to replace the standard album over the next few years?
That's an interesting comparison. The playlist will never replace the album, which is a body of work that represents an artist at a moment in time. I hope not.