Bristol's own Baileys Brown is back alongside his Split Prophets homie 0079 to form DEDW8. After gaining significant attention in the world of 140, it was only a matter of time before the two rapper/producers crossed paths with Opus. Their new tune 'Indigo' has just dropped here on Potent Funk, complete with crazy visuals courtesy of Max Kelan Pearce.
We sat down with Baileys Brown to discuss 'Indigo' and Wonderworld - his recent album released under the monicker Axel Holy, who we met on Baileys' PF debut Still Fresh. Find out about collaborating with Conway the Machine, the importance of chemistry and why Eddie Murphy is a don...
It's almost been a year since Still Fresh dropped on Potent Funk, how's the year been for you?
"Really good man. The energy created off that release, like the job that Potent did, grew my profile massively in perspective and brought me back to life. It's been really dope. 'Cos I'm an older guy I'm not looking at it from an instant gratification kinda situation, I'm looking at it in terms of impact. Yeah, very pleased with how it came out and how it's moved forward. Obviously I've dropped x amount as Baileys Brown before, whether it be with Datkid or Lee Scott or whoever, and it's not surprising now (more humbling) to find out that some of the bigger British hip-hop platforms hadn't heard of some of my earlier work. Even in terms of Home By 8, that album I'd done with Datkid, some people hadn't heard of that so it was nice... humbly-nice to almost reinvent myself. It was almost like being a new artist last year, that's why I really enjoyed it. Everyone I was meeting was fresh energy. Still Fresh."
For those who are unaware, what is DEDW8?
"DEDW8 is me and my bredrin Kane, who is Blanka from Split Prophets and nowadays he goes by the name Bew Bonik, but he's changed his name again recently to 0079. Me and him linked up one day, probably like four or five years ago now, just to make some beats and smoke some weed basically. We ended up making a beat that day and it was fire so we were like 'Yo should we rap on it?' Rapped on it, then we were like 'Fuck it, let's do a thing with this.' That's basically what it is: two producer/rappers making some genre-splitting music. We were using influences from all over the place and the majority of our bigger releases have been on dubstep labels, so that's pretty cool. Without the DEDW8 stuff coming about, I probably wouldn't even be in the position I'm in now 'cos it led me to explore and learn a lot more, and maybe even gain a lot more confidence as an MC."
How did you come to collaborate with Opus for the new track 'Indigo'?
"You know what it is, our first ever vinyl release came out on Crucial Recordings which is a label run by a DJ and producer called Sleeper, and Opus has released on there before so the link-up came through natural progression. Basically, Sleeper put something out for us and then Opus hit us up. We've done a few things with him, it's not a DEDW8 project but we've got a full LP in the works with me and a few other people rapping on his beats."
You've also just released Wonderworld, a new album as Axel Holy. With both names coming from Beverly Hills Cop, is that your favourite 80s movie?
"Beverly Hills Cop 1 is definitely one my favourite Eddie Murphy films. That’s the whole thing behind Axel Holy in the first place, 'cos the name came about from DEDW8 times and I was kinda paying homage to Eddie specifically. That's one of his most iconic characters and one of the most iconic names so I wanted to do a flip on the name to Axel Holy. But Eddie Murphy yeah, I was born in '83 so I grew up throughout his heyday. For me, Eddie Murphy was like the same was Michael Jackson was a god in that era, Eddie Murphy was one of them people. The person he was back then, especially when he was doing his stand-up like Eddie Murphy Raw, his character then would be the perfect embodiment for a rap alter-ego, you know what I mean? Super swag, super sharp, just everything was on point. Eddie was a don, still is to be honest, legendary, but that 80s-90s period Eddie Murphy was king of the world."
You produce on the album as Baileys Brown and DEDW8, but what does it take for you to choose someone else's instrumental?
"Moretime I'll be hollering at producers that I already fuck with, in terms of I already like their shit and I know that if I holler them for a beat there's gunna be a certain level there anyway. But also the people I've worked with are people that are either aware of my music or fuck with my music, whether it be DEDW8 or Baileys Brown, so they know what to give me as well. The short answer is: I fuck with producers that are ill." [Laughs]
Sick to hear Datkid repping Demorus on 'No Lie'. Is it important for you to keep music close-knit?
"If you look at rap music throughout history, no matter who it is, throughout the decades if a core group has stayed near each other it's rolled for longer, and the legacy lasts longer even if they go off and do their own things. The obvious example is Wu-Tang but a modern day example would be TDE. The core group was Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Kendrick blah blah blah, although they're not so visible these days. Now it's Reason, Sir and the younger parts of the label who are coming through. They've got the features on there but they're off doing their own things and when they come back together it's still normal. I think the chemistry that makes something happen at the beginning, you need to try to incorporate that chemistry in a lot of stuff that you do. Chemistry is so... you can't fake it."
I think they've even got a Black Hippy project this year.
"That's what I'm saying, guaranteed that's gunna be fire. Obviously there are certain levels set by all of the MCs anyway, but the legacy is in the camaraderie. The legacy is in the friendship. The legacy is in the chemistry. I'm excited to hear that, yeah man."
What are your thoughts on the continued demise of Bristol's live venues e.g. Lakota?
[Growls] "Right, I'll keep it 100% honest, back in the day Lakota was a lot more important, not that it's not important now but nowadays it's more about the outside of Lakota, especially in terms of hip-hop nights. When High Focus do an indoors hip-hop night they do it down at SWX, every other platform that's gunna do a hip-hop thing, like if it's a big American act, they're not gunna play at Lakota. The rest of us probably wouldn't put on an event inside Lakota anyway, 'cos it’s one of them ones: it's either a Ram Jam thing or it's not. The gentrification side of things is locking off a few types of venues but the bigger ones are still there, the Motions, the SWXs, so bigger platforms and artists are able to go there. The smaller venues are still there so we can get it rocking for release nights and all the rest of it. The sad thing with the Lakota thing is probably for the High Focus summer party, but yeah, Lakota probably got paid so they're alright." [Laughs]
Who deserves a shout out in the South West?
"Yeah man, first and foremost I'll give a shout out to the whole Split Prophets familia. Give a shout for my guy Wish, Wish Master, he's been putting in mad work these last couple years making moves out there. People to look out for in the future, basically the track on my album called 'Doin Me' was produced by Pea Whitey who's also Lemzly Dale, but he's got another alter-ego that he does with his bredrin called Lemozeen, so look out for them, that shit's fire. When they come out, jheezus."
What's next for Baileys Brown, Axel Holy, DEDW8...?
"Axel, gunna have to finish album two. DEDW8, we've got this Potent single with Opus, that's DEDW8 on the vocals and Opus on the beat. Then hopefully before the end of the summer we've got a single dropping with Conway. We actually paid for the feature a few years ago before he signed to Shady and we've only just got round to dropping the single so that's worked out dope, that's exciting man. I've got an EP with Datkid that Baileys Brown has produced so hopefully I'll get that put out on Potent Funk. There's the album we're working on with Opus, an album I'm working on with Ded Tebiase and an EP I'm working on with DJ Cabel. That's all as a rapper so not a whole heap as Baileys Brown in the pipeline at this second in time, so I'm gunna get busy on that too as I always do."
You seem to have such a good work ethic and creative energy!
"Yeah I upped my workrate in the past couple years man. When I came to London to meet Jed [Sumgii] and to get shit poppin' with Dabbla and all of that, it was just being around them and witnessing and feeling the energy that's needed to make a dent out there. It was really inspiring, yeah man."