Foreign Beggars, the London-based dubstep/grime/rap/drum and bass hybrid consisting of MC Orifice Vulgatron, MC Metropolis, DJ Nonames and producer Dag Nabbit, have been around for nearly a decade now. The group has released five full-length albums, many on Dented, the label Foreign Beggars started to release their first album, 2003's 'Asylum.'
The group's sixth album, 'The Uprising,' dropped October 1 on mau5trap, the label founded by electronic music producer-performer deadmau5. It features some big name producers, rappers and artists, like Burns, Starkey, Knife Party, Kidkanevil, Chrome, Donaeo and Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee.
Foreign Beggars are touring Europe and will then hit the States, Australia and New Zealand. Their last trip to the U.S. was with Skrillex's Mothership Tour, and they promise this one will be even bigger. “It's going to be our most well-produced tour yet,” says DJ Nonames. “In the past, we've had more of like a punk mentality, just showing up with the turntables and basic lights. I don't want to say too much, but it's gonna be stunning.”
“It's incredible how much electronic music has blown up recently,” adds Orifice Vulgatron. “I'm happy to see this regeneration of the whole movement, and it's great that the youth have been so inspired. We're taking it to the next level.” Between the frequent sound of exhales and lighter clicks, MC Orifice broke down the new Foreign Beggars album for us track-by-track. So hit play and settle in...
Track 1: Amen
Initially this wasn't going to be on the album, but on an EP for mau5trap. This is a producer mau5trap hooked us up with, but we had free reign to A&R it ourselves for the rest of the album. His name is Burns, and I think he's good friends with Calvin Harris. I think they actually live together. He does a variety of productions, but this beat was the most hip-hop.
We've been making a lot of electronic stuff recently, so we wanted to bring it back to the rap beats. This beat especially is the most Dilla sounding thing on the record, and we're big Dilla fans. The production is ridiculous. It was nice to make a rap track. On the hip-hop side, you can flex a bit more lyrically. With electronic music, the lyrics are a bit more surface, and we wanted to go deep.
It was nice to put some rap shit on this beat. We'd never heard a beat like this before, so it just blew our minds. Burns has some interesting music coming out now. It's like a hybrid between underground rap, house and pop.
Track 2: Apex
It was at the Skrillex show in London where I ran into Rob Swire of Knife Party, and we talked about doing something together. We went into the studio and worked for a whole day running through ideas. We thought we'd make an electronic house track, but then Rob was like, “No, let's do something different.” So we scrapped that and started again from scratch.
We chilled in his studio, in his house, for about eight hours listening to synths and drum sounds. We did it in just one day. The bass crunches just right. It's pretty brutal. It's like a hip-hop track, but with a big drop. It's very dubstep inspired. I think we came out with something unique here.
Track 3: Crep Hype
“Crep” is London slang for shoes. I don't know where that comes from. A lot of London slang is the same as American slang, and a lot is Jamaican inspired. I think crep” might be a Jamaican thing, I don't know. The whole song's about shoes. We both approached the verses very differently. I went through like all the shoes I've had since I was four. My shoe taste is always flipping up, so I'm wearing these weird Brogues and shit recently. But the vintage Blazers will always have a place in my heart because they look good with everything.
Track 4: We Does This
This was actually part of a project we started with Alix Perez about three years ago. We did some tracks in the studio with him, and then we had an idea of putting a group together called Par Excellence to release something on Shogun.
Working with him is crazy, because he'd just come in with a half-made beat and then finish it in two hours. He'll have like two tracks finished each day, and they come out sounding beautiful. So we had an idea to do an EP with this little grime side project. “We Does This” was gonna be the B-Side to 'LDN,' one of the first songs we did with him. But due to other releases and being busy, we made like eight tracks and then the project disbanded.
"When I was a kid in boarding school, when the lights would go out, I'd listen to Mötley Crüe tapes back-to-back... It was a real trip to find out Tommy (Lee) was a fan."
'We Does This' is one of my favorite tracks on the record. It's very succinct, and not clichéd dub or grime production. It's weirdly angular, and shows a serious understanding of underground dance and rap music. When Metropolis' verse kicks in, the flow really works. It's ice cold and merciless.
Track 5: Minds Eye (featuring Tommy Lee)
This was crazy. Tommy Lee's girl Sophie was recording her EP for mau5trap about a year ago, and we met in Australia when she was touring with Skrillex and deadmau5. Skrillex introduced me to Tommy Lee a few years ago -- before the Skrillex stuff, Sonny and I were living in the same house together in Holland -- and he told me Tommy was a fan of our music.
That was mind-blowing to me, because I grew up on rock music. When I was a kid in boarding school, when the lights would go out, I'd listen to Mötley Crüe tapes back-to-back. My mom grew up in San Francisco in the '70s, so she was really into rock music, and got me into it. It was a real trip to find out Tommy was a fan. He sent us a track, and we all loved it. It's a hard drum and bass track, but we thought it called for some deeper lyrics.
Track 6: Flying to Mars (featuring Donaeo)
This is one of the last tracks that we recorded. Donaeo was interested in working with us, and we just went in. He's a madman in the studio. He's super ADD. We'd put a beat on and he'd just start humming and open up his iPhone and sing into it.
We recorded about seven tracks with him that day. I popped out of the room to make a phone call, and Metropolis played him a beat by Alix Perez, another one that we did originally for that Par Excellence project. Donaeo heard it and he was transported to 2006 dubstep, and by the time I got back in the room, he wrote the melody and the lyrics. It was amazing. We made it in about an hour. It hit the spot and turned out perfect.
Track 7: Anywhere (featuring D.Ablo)
We've been wanting to work with D.Ablo for a long time. He was part of a rap group called Terra Firma that came out about the same time as us. We were actually inspired to name ourselves Foreign Beggars after one of their songs.
We had finished the album, we thought, and then we spoke to him and decided to do this track. So D.Ablo popped into the studio and Metropolis was like, “What are you doing right now?” And D.Ablo started telling us his life story and shit. And Metropolis was like, “No, what are you doing right this second?” So we asked him to do the chorus for the track.
It took him about 20 minutes to piece it together, and it all came together in like an hour.
Track 8: Goon Bags
A “goon bag” is like somewhere between a douche-bag and a goon. You know, some kind of enemy. Our lyrics on the track are kinda shady and decadent, and we're kind of embodying goon bags. It's outlandish shit.
I think we were listening to too much trill shit, like A$AP Rocky, Schoolboy-Q and weird trap music. Too much Juicy-J and weird parties.
Blue Daisy produced it. It's inspired by the whole Brainfeeder movement and underground bass music, but it's very different. It's very punky. Most of the flows that we're flipping are inspired by grime flows, patterns and lyrics, but this is more of a hip-hop track. These flows are more of a nod to underground rap shit from the States.
Track 9: Palm of My Hand
This is a swaggy rap track. We wanted to work with Kidkanevil, who's somebody who's been on the scene since around the time we first started. He's been making experimental hip-hop for many years and the beats really bang.
This beat drove me crazy, and I kept pumping it. We recorded this track at the beginning of 2010 for a project we were going to do with him that didn't transpire.
Looking back on it now, we wanted to use one of Metropolis' choruses as a bridge, but we completely forgot about it. We only remembered like two or three weeks ago. I don't mind, though, because it still sounds fresh to me. In one verse, I talk about 2010, but whatever, I've still got that 2010 swag. We would've cut it if we didn't think it sounded fresh still, because we have so much material to work with.
"Back when we started, motherfuckers didn't send emails or have websites or anything. Promotion for us was like wax and stickers. It's completely changed now. We've had a few collaborations through Twitter, actually."
Track 10: Working Angles
This is also produced by Kidkanevil. It's got that 140 grime vibe, but it's much more organic production with these quirky electronic bits. It doesn't sound like dance music, though, but like rap music. We wanted to get musical with this one. Metropolis was inspired to sing the chorus and do some melodic stuff. We're both rappers, so we don't like to bring the singing out too much, but we did it for this one.
Track 11: Never Stop (featuring Chrome)
Starkey, from Philadelphia, produced this one. We've been fans of him for years, and always put his tracks on mixtapes. We met him in Bristol a while ago, and we loved his beats and stayed in touch.
We did this track and another one with the plan of putting out a Starkey and Foreign Beggars EP, which didn't happen. And Chrome is another dude we've wanted to work with for a long time. He hit us up on Twitter one time and was like, “Yo, what's up? You guys are sick. We should work.” I haven't met him in person, though. So we sent this track to Chrome to see what he could do with it, and he killed it.
Back when we started, motherfuckers didn't send emails or have websites or anything. Promotion for us was like wax and stickers. It's completely changed now. We've had a few collaborations through Twitter, actually.
There's another one that hasn't happened yet, but I just Tweeted with Dave Lombardo of Slayer. We just did a remix for this band Meshuggah, so I Tweeted it to him, he followed us back and was like, “This shit's cool. Send me some more music.” What the fuck? It's cool, it's trippy. We've all been Slayer fans for years. Hopefully that will happen.
Track 12: See The Light
I'd never sung on a record before like I do on this one. I wasn't sure what we were gonna do with this beat at first. It's kind of epic, bright major key kinda stuff. It sounds like a big rock song. I threw a funky chorus on it to try to do something different. It's a really uplifting beat, and it puts a positive spin on the track. Just a lot of epic vibes here to close the album.
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