In 2008, Giggs aka ‘Hollowman’ burst onto the UK scene with his raw street freestyle, "Talking The Hardest." It was like nothing we had heard before - street commentary with a slow flow similar to those located in the South of the States. That same year, he dropped his debut mixtape/album, Walk In The Park, which reportedly sold out in the first day of release.
Initially airplay for Giggs was limited, and he was banned from touring by UK police forces for ‘fear of violence.’ Giggs, however, continued to push his music forward, and in 2009, he recorded a tune with Mike Skinner (of The Streets) called "Slow Songs," which led to a deal with XL recordings and an album released last year entitled Let Em Ave It. A collaboration with B.o.B on the album proved there was no letting up for the UK’s rawest gangster rapper who continues to make moves globally.
AllHipHop.com caught up with Giggs in his native South East London earlier this year and talked on a number of subjects: his intro into music, his influences, the opening up of the market here in the UK, networking in the States, collaborations with the grime scene, and more.
AllHipHop.com: When and why did you start emceeing?
Giggs: I started rapping in 2002; it was nothing serious - just mucking about with my little brother, just spitting in the house. Then I went to jail. I came out [of jail] and got on in the rap thing properly.
AllHipHop.com: Did you start off as a Hip-Hop MC? Did you always want to be one, or did you come from garage - as a lot of UK MCs come from garage?
Giggs: I used to mix ragga, I used to DJ a lot more and my little brothers, they used to MC on garage and that. I thought “rah lemme give it go.” But I wasn't serious on it. But when I came out of jail, I wanted to get on the rap thing properly.
AllHipHop.com: When was that?
Giggs: 2004. I thought, 'I can make something happen with this.' But obviously I was still on the roads ['hood] at the same time, doing my thing. Like, you have to get money. But then when I started progressing in music, I started going at it full time.
AllHipHop.com: What artists, UK or U.S., have you been mainly influenced by?
Giggs: There's a lot. When I was in school I used to listen to NWA, Ice Cube was my favourite. Boy - they was running it then! Then I started listening to ragga a lot, rap - I used to jump back and forth.
AllHipHop.com: What ragga artists - out of interest?
Giggs: Bounty [Killer] was running it back then - but obviously it's Vybz [Kartel] and Mavado now - but them days, it was all about Bounty and Beenie [Man], Spragga [Benz], them guys. Yeah, but rap-wise, all the way from NWA to No Limit, D-Block, Jeezy. I love the South style of music – the beats.
AllHipHop.com: How much has Peckham been an influence - but also London in general - to your style?
Giggs: Yeah, just a way of life. To be honest, my style is influenced by the music itself, by the beat.
AllHipHop.com: Do you mainly use your own producers?
Giggs: Yeah, mostly.
AllHipHop.com: I suppose that keeps your work rate consistent?
AllHipHop.com: Back to your influences...your style is very much the street style of rap. Do you gravitate more towards a certain area of the States, or is that general style?
Giggs: Yeah, probably more the South - 'cause they mess with man. But I just do my own thing.
AllHipHop.com: Did you have any involvement...did you ever go raving to jungle back in the day?
Giggs: I used to listen to jungle, but I've never really been a raver. If the man dem wanna go out, I'll roll out but...
AllHipHop.com: Your passion really lies with Hip-Hop.
AllHipHop.com: In that sense, would you say that pirate radio has influenced you at all?
Giggs: Yeah, of course. They play the rawest sh*t.
AllHipHop.com: How much do you think U.S. Hip-Hop has influenced the scene, compared to the more UK based sounds like grime? Comparatively, what do you think has been a bigger influence?
Giggs: Everything, man! Everything has been a factor. Obviously, I do the rap thing, and I grew up listening to all of those rappers, but really and truly it was breddas like So Solid that did their thing before. That's what got everyone on it, trying to take it seriously.
AllHipHop.com: How did the Whoo Kid mix tape come about?
Giggs: Whoo Kid reached out to me on Twitter. He said he was feeling "Look What The Cat Dragged In." He just said, "Keep up the good work.” I thought, 'Rah that's, man, like Whoo Kid!” You know them ones. I thought, 'let me build on that.' As I am always networking in America, went over there and shouted him.
AllHipHop.com: How often do you go to the States?
Giggs: All the time.
AllHipHop.com: Mainly in Atlanta or New York?
Giggs: Atlanta, New York, LA. Wherever the music takes you.
AllHipHop.com: The B.o.B thing, "Don't Go There." How did that come about again? By just being out there in the States?
Giggs: Someone said to me [about B.o.B]...an engineer said to B.o.B [about me], he [B.o.B] said to his manager. We went and met him, and we went down to Grand Hustle and got some work going. It's all about being on it.
AllHipHop.com: That was before the last album, yeah?
Giggs: Yeah, I'm always hands on – it’s not gonna happen with me sitting down.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, of course.
Giggs: I think with America, you have to go out there.
AllHipHop.com: This is back to what you mentioned earlier about So Solid and about the evolution of emceeing in this country. How much do you think they have to do with the evolution of emceeing here in the UK?
Giggs: Well, as I said earlier, they were pacesetters; they put in the work. There are a lot of people who are influenced by them, and they don't even know it. When you saw them on TV, you thought, "I can do that.” But obviously, the emceeing thing weren't for me. I more felt the rap thing - then I done that.
AllHipHop.com: Linking into that, did you take any influence from the original UK Hip-Hop artists like London Posse, Demon Boyz, and Skinnyman?
Giggs: I'm not gonna lie, not really. No disrespect to them. I'm aware of them - Rodney P, Karl Hinds, Blak Twang, them man there. I used to hear bits and pieces and be like 'these man are alright' - but I never used to roll to them. But that's as far as it goes.
AllHipHop.com: You have an affiliation with the grime scene; you’ve collaborated with Wiley. How much do you think grime has opened up the market for MCs in this country?
Giggs: Everything that is progressive has opened up the market for MCs in this country. Whether it is grime, rap, and garage. Everyone that has been successful, whatever genre they come from, has helped to open up the market in this country.
AllHipHop.com: What I have noticed now is that different [UK] scenes are helping each other. Like the grime scene has helped the dubstep scene, and the dubstep scene has helped the grime scene, and the grime people have helped artists like yourselves and visa versa.
Giggs: It’s true, man. It all goes hand in hand. You notice it – even when I did a song with Skepta, I noticed a different set of fans, new fans from that. You know everything goes hand in hand – ya get me?
AllHipHop.com: Are there any artists that you are feeling in the UK or globally?
Giggs: The main people that I listen to right now are Wayne, Drake, Ross.
AllHipHop.com: My view is that you, Skepta, Tinie Tempah, and various others are at the forefront of this next wave of [UK] MCs. Where do you see the London/UK MC going from now?
Giggs: Do you mean how far can we take the game?
Giggs: As far as anyone wants to take it.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think the Americans will open up to it eventually?
Giggs: Yeah, of course. Good music is good music – it really does depend on how hard people want to work. I mean, I am looking to take it all the way – f*ck what anyone else is trying to do, and I believe I can.
AllHipHop.com: On a slightly separate note, I have noticed that Canada has always been slightly more accepting of British music. For example, jungle is massive in Toronto, and grime and dubstep are both big in Canada.
Giggs: That is probably because, you know, they are different countries, and obviously Canada is its own country; they are probably slightly more open. Also, America is such a big place. They don’t really need to listen to anything else.
AllHipHop.com: Are you working on another album with XL?
Giggs: Yeah, but that will probably be next year now. I am just enjoying music at the moment.
AllHipHop.com: Any other points you want to get across at all?
Giggs: Get the mixtape out now with me and DJ Whoo Kid, Take Your Hats Off – the hardest shit out on road.
For more information on Giggs, his releases, how to get your hands on his music - check him out on Twitter at @sn1giggs and his website at www.sn1giggs.com, where you can download the free online mixtape with DJ Whoo Kid.
Jamie B-C is a writer and online music marketer, who has been passionately involved in UK underground music since the late 90s. He currently writes a blog which follows UK rave and Hip-Hop culture. Follow Jamie B-C on Twitter at @beatcultureldn or on the Web at www.beatculture.net.