Friday, 1 July 2011

Here Come The Sunz

Furious, foul-mouthed and frequently hilarious, The Bastard Sunz are one of the most exciting rap crews around. DJ Rogue and producer Rola Rok take care of the beats. B'Tol and Milestone – aka Tilla and Mylo – do the talking. They spark off each other like overgrown schoolboys, so it’s surprising to learn they’ve only known each other for a few years. Tilla “grew up in Easton mostly”, while Mylo started out in Plymouth. “Bastard Sunz came about from us both being the loudest and most upfront guys at a lot of the shows,” says Tilla. “We’re kindred spirits.”

Their 2010 album ‘Le Discoteque Martyrdom’ is a thrillingly fierce statement of independence from MCs who’ve paid their dues but aren’t afraid to highlight the scene’s failings. “It’s put a few noses out of joint,” says Tilla, “which is a thing of beauty in itself.” The most obviously controversial track is ‘Coup’ – a broadside against rappers who mistake political platitudes for insight. “It’s the tokenism of ‘conscious’ rap,” explains Tilla. “If folks are labelled as such, they tend to slide toward cliché.” It highlights “rappers who are on the dole who write about sticking it to the man, the lack of humour and self-awareness, and the ideological elitism that comes with it.” There’s a punkish irreverence towards hip-hop convention throughout the album, and they seem largely indifferent to rap’s big hitters. Tilla cites his influences as “Fat Club, 3PM, Wildbunch, Aspects and Numskullz” – Bristol crews to a man – while on ‘Top Rank’ Mylo baldly states “Pioneers can fuck off, my heroes are unknown.” It’s not hard to see why they’ve ruffled a few feathers.

Then there’s the bad taste. Bastard Sunz revel in it, and when they let rip – as on ‘Murder Factory’ – there’s enough body horror and violence to make a sadist blush. They find the ‘horrorcore’ tag hilarious, though. “Just look at the album artwork,” says Tilla. “Painting your face and wearing a wrestling mask shouldn’t be seen as mildly intimidating.” The album’s opener samples the theme from horror sitcom ‘Psychoville’: “an intentional nod to how we wanted the album to play out. We’re both pretty morbid in our sense of humour, but it’s a sample from a comedy, however dark.”

When B’Tol and Milestone get going, it isn’t always easy to tell where the joke ends and their opinions start, which makes their less guarded moments all the more potent. Tilla fires a warning shot against greed and self-corruption on 'The Shades', while the raw confessional of Mylo's 'Crescendo' deals with attempted suicide. There is a serious side to the group, then, albeit one that plays second fiddle to profanity, sick jokes and surreal juxtapositions. “I can’t believe some of these so-called conscious rappers are that virtuous 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Tilla. “If this is the ‘real’ that you are putting out, then you must be one of the most boring, self-righteous, indignant turd-burgers known to man. Do you ever laugh if someone isn’t blowing smoke up your back passage and telling you your 768-bar tirade on the ills of mortgage rates changed their life?”

The group’s next release is ‘Le Discotheque Remixicon’. It sees Sunz cuts re-armed for the dancefloor in a variety of styles, from the slamming electro-flavoured hip-hop of Awkward to the dubstep/drum & bass crossover filth of Maldini. “Superisk has given us what could be deemed a straight hip-hop beat with his unique, bass music tinged twist,” adds Tilla. “And Terry Hooligan has made some crazy, carnival-steeped breaks hybrid. Everyone stepped out of their comfort zone.” What we’ve heard of it so far is seriously impressive, and they’re already in the studio working on their second album proper with Rola, their “silent mastermind”. What exactly is a discotheque martyrdom, then? “It’s what British rap has become,” says Tilla. “People who should know better, myopically lamenting their woes to an audience of their peers. We want to re-engage the dangerous element, whilst also making it a bit of fun.” Mission accomplished.

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