Mumzy Stranger is not you’re average rapper, born into a strict Bangladeshi family a career in music wasn’t exactly what was expected of him. But growing up in east London in the late 90’s meant being surrounded by scores of young wannabe MCs trying to make it big on the up-and-coming garage scene.
With a style that can only be described as eclectic Mumzy embraces his roots to bring a sound that has a little something for everyone. As he stands on the cusp of stardom Mumzy Stranger talks to Flavour about trying to make it big in the industry and stand out from the crowd.
You started out battling on the garage scene, which was quite underground at that time, how do you think music back then compares to music today?
Ten years ago music was more separated. There would be an RnB chart; there would be a garage scene. Back then mainstream music was pop, but if you look at the charts now, the number one could be anything. Things are definitely more versatile now.
You featured on former Eastender star Preeya Kalidas’ single, Shimmy, what was that like?
That was different ‘cos obviously I’m used to Preeya being in Eastenders. I knew she was a singer and had been trying to do music for a very long time but I wouldn’t have put us two together. When we met she’s a lot different to the character she plays, she loves music and she’s a really good vocalist. Combining my vibe with her vibe, it’s been a lot of fun.
From bhangra to bashment there seems to be no genre of music you don’t cover, where to you get your inspiration from and who are your favourite artists?
I would have to say Super Cat and Shabba Ranks. Super Cat brings that flavour and Shabba Ranks brings the rhythm. I’ve been inspired by a lot of people but the biggest inspiration in my life, personally has got to be Rishi Rich. He’s been my mentor and if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have carried on with music.
You’ve been working your way up the music industry ladder for some time now, what advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Don’t chase it, grow it. If you chase something too much and you beg for it then sometimes it doesn’t come. So grow that talent, make that talent so good that when people hear it they naturally love it.
There must have been times when you felt different from other MC’s, how did you deal with that?
Ten years ago I looked like the biggest Asian in town. That was difficult rolling with N.A.S.T.Y CREW and going on Deja Vu but even then it wasn’t so bad because I was on radio. When it did come to stepping in front of people and trying to MC they were like what you doing here, this is our music. The truth is not everyone was bad; I wasn’t raised with a lot of Indians I was raised mostly with Jamaicans. My fate was to go through all that stuff and now I appreciate it more.
What difficulties have you faced trying to break into the mainstream?
My main difficulty which I’m also very proud of is being Bangladeshi. People always pick on white and black people but there’s a huge problem with racism in the Asian community so that was the biggest barrier for me.
You’re the ambassador for Newham Council’s anti-violence campaign what does that involves?
Where I come from there are always people fighting and I decided to stand up and fight against that. Newham Council asked me to become an ambassador and I jumped at the chance, I’ve done knife and gun crime campaigns and I try to do as much as I can as often as I can. A lot of people look up to me and if I can change the way they think then that’s all good.
You wrote and produced your new single Fly With Me; can you tell us a little bit about it?
The songs about a female, I’m not trying to impress her or anything all I’m saying is come fly with me. It’s just a happy feel-good song on a great beat.
What can we expect from the album?
The albums gonna be brilliant, it’s got RnB, it got ballads, it got reggae and it’s got hip hop. A mixture of music that’s definitely worth waiting for.
Mumzy Stranger’s single Fly With Me is out now. His album will be released in 2011.
For more information visit www.mumzystranger.com
Interview by Antoinette Powell