We caught up with the London rapper, Alex Dutty, to talk new music, Grime, and his recent work in Independent Arab Cinema. You can check out his song ‘Proud To Be White’ which was selected by our curators for the Salute Top 100.
- SALUTE: How’s the summer been for you preparing for the Knock Down Ginger release?
Yeah going well, bit behind schedule, but been busy getting the final tracks mixed and mastered so we pretty much set to drop. Just a couple more visuals to shoot and we should be set for a release shortly. Probably not as soon as I would like or have expected, but unforeseen circumstances and all that….
- SALUTE: Did you grow up in London?
Yeah born and raised. I’m really lucky and proud to be apart of such a culturally diverse society here in London and it has definitely played a part in who I am today, especially my musical influences.
Growing up I was listening to Spandau Ballet, Blondie, Boyz To Men, NWA, Snoop, Dre, Pac, Nas, Jay Z. UK rap was a bit sparse at that time, Grime wasn’t invented, we had Rodney P and London Posse doing there ting, but they were like the only rappers that rapped in an English accent at that time. As the scene progressed I listened and followed, taking inspiration from acts like Klashnekoff, Task Force, Skinny Man and Roots Manuva. It wasn’t until the beginning of Grime before I started making music myself. I just loved the cultural diversity of the Grime scene. I felt like the energy was more resonate with where I was coming from, plus I was living just down the road from Bow E3 when Dizzee blew.
Watching an entire scene form and rise in the area around me was probably the single most inspiring thing that led me to taking my music seriously.
- SALUTE: How did you get started making music? When did you write your first song?
Yeah, as I was saying music was just buzzing around me with Grime music being birthed in the heart of where I was living. So I got with a studio, just worked for free, made teas, started learning the ropes, got some money, bought some equipment and started recording myself. I just went out there and got in people’s faces and made people listen to my songs. Seven mixtapes, a film, and an album later, here I am.
- SALUTE: How did you find out about SALUTE and what do you think of the initiative and competition?
I think I came across it on a Google search for something. I remember thinking the second I read the synopsis that it described my songs to a T. I dunno if it was an Omen or Fate or my calling I dunno. But what I do know is I really appreciate the Salute Team for giving me this opportunity. The marketing budget for my album could definitely use a little injection, so winning this would really mean a lot and make a big difference in the projects’ outcome.
- SALUTE: Did you do a lot of your own production on the tracks for the mixtapes or have you been working with producers? Anyone long term that you’d like to big up?
I do produce myself also and produce at least 20% of every project myself and even the album, as well as oversee all mixing and mastering. Over the years I’ve probably worked with too many to mention but shout out to Dot Rotten aka Zeph Ellis!
Working with Dot was definitely a huge inspiration for me back in my early mixtape years. We were in the studio twice together but what he showed me in those two sessions stayed with me to this day. About 60% of my new album is produced by Kieran Skye, definitely a huge reason why the album as a whole sounds the way it does, he’s a G.
Oh and I definitely can’t forget to mention John Robinson! He’s really the genius behind 75% of the bad ass post-production on the album.
- SALUTE: I’ve noticed that you’ve got support from man like Bushkin. Did the Garage scene inspire you musically?
I did listen to Heartless Crew and Garage back in the day, when I started making teas in the studio DJ Luck and MC Neat frequently visited. I was no stranger to that whole era, but I didn’t try to emulate Garage when I made music but I remember the radio sets were lit and even helped inspire the founders of Grime who inspired me. Touring with MC Bushkin and Fonte, seeing them man perform made me realise how much more to this music there is than just studio! The live ting is another ball game and them man are experts in that field! Watching them live would inspire any artist to do better on stage no matter what genre – period. You can see why people consider them to be legends in this game and it was an honor to be around to see it for myself.
- SALUTE: Can you talk more about the film project you mentioned? Is it similar to the ‘Proud To Be White’ project?
Nah, the film is called (ironically) Misunderstood, it’s a film by an Independent Islamic Director from Saudi Arabia, it’s basically about Islam being misunderstood. I play a Jewish rapper in the film but I get to show off my acting and rapping ability throughout having landed the second lead. My face was plastered across a skyscraper in Saudi in the lead up to its premiere, sadly it’s yet to be officially released here. But you never know, if enough people get onto the producer, Souhoud Al Sahoud, maybe she will make that happen lol. As for the “Proud To Be White” project, I felt it fitted the synopsis of your competition more the other tracks I have in terms of its deep message. I was making art with a message of anti-fascism with that project. People wanna pick holes in the title and what not but with art you have to grab people’s attention otherwise they won’t get it. And yeah I did get trolled hard when it came out but yeah moving forward I’m more confident having now learned not to even attempt to reason with sociopaths, sadly they exist in all walks of life, religions and political ideologies, even the so-called liberal ones.