The Scribes are an alternative hip hop three-piece of lyricist/multi-instrumentalist Ill Literate, rapper Jonny Steele and beatbox maestro Lacey. With the release of their latest single, ‘Righteous’, we caught up with Ill Literate and Jonny to find out more.
Alternatively Unapologetic Hiphop. We create whatever sounds we feel like making, but priority of poignant lyrics above everything else.
First up, tell us bit about yourselves - what led you all to forming The Scribes?
Ill Literate: Myself and Jonny have been best friends since the age of 5, mainly due to lack of other options! We both starting writing at about the same age and from there it seemed only natural that we’d form a group together.
Lacey got added to the mix a few years later after meeting him down in Plymouth. We’re all really close outside of the music, so in the studio it’s like brothers, even if we disagree on something it’s still all love and respect.
Who do your take inspiration from?
Jonny: From the UK, it was artists like Roots Manuva, Demon Boyz, Black Twang, Mark B and Blade etc, but Us Hiphop back in the day would have been more left field artists like the Def Jux label or the classics from Rawkus Records to Jurassic 5 and Stones Throw, but my favourites personally would have to be technical rappers like Pharoahe Monch, Aesop Rock, Gift of Gab, Abdominal, storytellers like Slick Rick and Nas and just for the voice I can listen to Edan, Akil or Chali 2na all day.
Why the name ‘The Scribes’?
Jonny: I’m sure it was something more deep and meaningful when we started, relating to taking a snapshot of history etched throughout the lyrics carved into the pages, but mainly now it’s just that we write stuff well. Oh, how we’ve changed.
How would you describe your musical style?
Jonny: Alternatively Unapologetic Hiphop. We create whatever sounds we feel like making, but priority of poignant lyrics above everything else.
Ill Literate: Totally agree, we make music first and worry about where/how it fits in second!
If you could collaborate with any living artist or band, who would you choose?
Jonny: I’d create some UK/US crossovers I reckon, E.G instrumental from EL-P (Run the Jewels) with Scribes & Foreign Beggars, hook by Roots Manuva, or the Scribes feat. Pharoahe Monch & Amy True, beat by Black Milk.
Ill Literate: I’m definitely down with EL-P. I’d probably have Sonreal and with Twenty One Pilots on the production.
Tell us about your new single ‘Righteous’. What’s it about?
Jonny: Being dope.
Ill Literate: Ha! That’s pretty much it! It’s a realy throwback to golden age hip hop, boom bap breaks, choppy vocal cuts and killer lyricism! Just a chance to get heads nodding!
When did you write ‘Righteous’, and where did you record it?
Jonny: Sheeeeet, this track was a track to freestyle over first of all and the chorus was just for holding down crowd. I think we wrote/the final lyrics towards the end of last year.
Ill Literate: Yeah, we started bringing the beat, produced by Astro Snare, into live sets as a freestyle/cypher type thing but it went down so well it became clear we had to use it for a track.
Leon Rhymes of Too Many T’s features on ‘Righteous’. What did they bring to the single?
Ill Literate: Flat out male model level good looks. You know, to compliment our own. Seriously though, we’ve crossed passed with Too Many T’s many times over the years, both groups are supported by the awesome peeps at THTC clothing, so it’s a collaboration we’ve been talking about for a while. We hugely respect and enjoy what Too Many T’s do, they always kill it and Leon on this track is no exception!
How does ‘Righteous’ represent your style?
Ill Literate: It’s definitely the classic hip hop end of our spectrum, the hands in the air like you just don’t care, cyphers on the street, block party vibe that is the foundation of everything we do, on stage and on record!
Tell us about the new video - what’s it all about?
Ill Literate: The new video really runs with the “Righteous” theme. It shows each of us and Leon in various roles of righteousness, I’m a shamanic medicine man wandering the woods and healing the infirm, Lacey’s a door-todoor preacher espousing the hip hop gospel, Jonny’s a voodoo witch doctoer exorcising demoons and Leon’s a vicar bringing hip hop to a wedding ceremony!
It was great fun making it, and Chris Lucas at Arund Productions has done such a good job with it, we couldn’t be happier!
What are your hopes for ‘Righteous’?
Ill Literate: When are the next grammys?! Maybe not quite that, but it’d be great if the track/video introduces new people to what we’re about and, most importantly, get’s people nodding along. We’ve got some amazing support out there and I think everyone’s going to really enjoy this release!
‘Righteous’ is from your new album Quill Equipped Villainy. How does ‘Righteous’ fit in?
Ill Literate: It gives a pretty solid idea of the new album material. We’re really going back to our roots for this one, going for a classic 90s hip hop vibe that I think carries through the whole release. It’s been an amazingly fun project to create because we’re all such big fans of that sound, plus we got to work with some legends, Akil the MC from Jurassic 5 features on one of the tracks and that’s still a bit mind blowing to me!
How’s 2019 shaping up for you?
Ill Literate: It’s looking great! We’re hitting the road to promote the single/video then the LP’s due to drop a few months later and we’ll be off again then. We’ve even got a couple of top secret projects in the pipeline that might see the light of day before the year is out, so keep ‘em peeled!
Finally, if you could go back in time and give yourselves one piece of advice, when would it be and what would you say?
Ill Literate: I’d tell ten year old me that, though your dreams of being a professional wrestler will not pan out, something even better’s going to come along. I’d also say to never let negativity bring you down, just do what you enjoy doing and it’ll always be it’s own reward.
Watch the video for ‘Righteous’ on YouTube below. For news and tour dates visit The Scribes Facebook page.
Image by Rachael Amos Photography.