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Karizma Interview

March 26, 2011

Karizma - photo by The Elementz

MC Karizma – Nottingham’s own Alex Mighten – is something of a legend on the local hip-hop scene. From his debut with fellow Notts hip-hoppers Out da Ville in the 90s, his mic skills and nice guy persona have seen him firmly cemented into gig schedules. Since LeftLion last caught up with him, Karizma has released his first official mixtape.


Your new mixtape – 10/10 – is a bit of a departure from what people may know from Karizma. Are you more of a grime and dubstep artist now?
Hip-hop is my heart. It isn’t just a 96bpm beat; it’s an expression of yourself. So what I’m doing is still hip-hop because it’s me expressing myself, just with different music underneath. Dubstep at the minute encapsulates that very feeling I got when I was 15, listening to hip-hop. It makes me screw my face up and want to rap. The youngsters are really excited for the genre and have that drive which in turn drives me. I’ve put this mixtape out to show people that I can do dubstep as well, but there is one hip-hop tune on there as well – it’s not like I’m deading it out.
The title is quite a statement. How did that come about?
Originally the mixtape was going to come out in October last year – 10/10/10, which is also my birthday. But I waited, and that gave me the tune Badboy in a Different Way. I didn’t hear the Starkey beat until like November, so waiting was actually a benefit for me. But 10/10 is also the standard everything of mine has to be – the highest quality lyrics, delivery and personality. There’s no point in bringing anything out a 4 or 5 out of 10; I might as well just scrap it and move on.
Do you still see the guys from Out da Ville?
Tempa’s my homegirl and I’ve known her since I was 15, but I don’t get to see the other guys as much as I would like. Everyone’s grown up, got jobs and had kids, but when we do see each other, it’s like nothing’s changed. Seeing Scorzayzee’s gig recently and the love he’s got from a lot of people was emotional. I know he deserves all that love cos he’s a good-hearted and extremely talented person.
People may remember seeing you MCing on Come Dine With Me for Simeon’s dinner party. Would you have played the game differently?
Simeon did very well, but if he hadn’t given away that extra point, he would have had a grand! Silly boy. I keep it real in the kitchen – I even make my own dahl and chappatis, mate. I had a good palate when I was growing up and would eat anything in reach. As long as it doesn’t have cream in it; that’s just cow juice.
Is that an invite?
Of course! I was thinking of having a pancake party, actually. I’m a badboy on the pancakes – a badboy in a pancake way! What you need is self raising flour and a bit of baking powder, mushed up bananas, rum, coconut and a little bit of sugar. Piff, mate.

You’re resident MC at Stealth’s Basslaced. Do you tend to see the same faces month-in, month-out?
Definitely. The night has a consistently good line-up, so you see the same faces because They’re on that scene. There’s always a positive vibe too, I’m not about the negative thing. Life’s too short for that, so when people go out, I want them to have a good time and get home safe. There’s no groupies though. I mean I see the same people every month but I don’t imagine for one minute that they’ve just come to see me. Even if there were groupies, I’d just be embarassed.

Have you ever thought of making your own beats?
I tried it once but it didn’t work out so well for me. That’s why I’ve got these amazing people around me like The Elementz, Nick Stez from Out da Ville and all these producers from around the country. It’s easy to get into hermit mode when you do everything for yourself. Maybe some day down the line I’ll give it a proper go, but for now I want to focus on making sure my lyrics are tight and delivered nicely and they deliver the emotion they’re supposed to.

Is there any one beat that you wish had been produced just for you?
Nas is Like by Nas. If that beat was made for me, I’d be happy as anything. That Premo beat there, man – WOW. Lovely.

What’s coming from Karizma in 2011?
I’m currently working on an EP with producer Kirk Spencer from CRS, and they are like Out da Ville: The Next Generation. He’s a very talented guy and a pleasure to work with. Around August time, I’m going to work on an EP with the Elementz. I’ve worked with them pretty much consistently since 2004 so we’ve got a vibe where we’re like brothers. I’m looking to put something out every quarter and work towards an album for next year. I’ve been doing this for 17 years and this is the first actual thing I’ve put out. I’m 29 now, so if I was working on that average, I wouldn’t be putting anything else out until I’m 46. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

And are there any other artists you’re tipping for greatness?
Kirk Spencer is ridiculously talented. Talented doesn’t even cover it – it’s just running through his genetics. I don’t know what goes on in his head but honestly, just pure bangers. It’s nice to see this wave of artistry come out. With the strikes and everything in the 80s, that’s when all the most creative music came out. We’re currently in that same situation right now, so you’re going to see an explosion of creativity and people doing different things. Watch out for the scene in Nottingham because we’re starting to see bridges being built and before you know it, it’ll be like Venice.

Karizma performs at Basslaced at Stealth on the second Friday of every month. The next event features MJ Cole and D Double E.

You can download 10/10 by Karizma for free from TheElementz.co.uk

Karizma website

Originally published at LeftLion.co.uk, March 2011.

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