This week on Unsigned & Unplugged - Sighted as one of the UK's freshest rising hip hop acts, 23 yearold rapper Nick Semwogerere aka Smooth Deep; sits down to talk to The 405 about his music, recent tour of Europe, life on the street's of Edmonton, North East London and his latest film projects. What made you decide to become a rapper? I used to write poems from an early age, was writing before I could even speak properly lol, I actually did not get into Hip Hop properly until I started secondary school. What I saw of Hip Hop on MTV was guys holding guns at the screen and talking foolishness. My cousin was big into Hip Hop and gave me a mixtape (literally at tape) that he complied of his favourite songs. I thought most of it was garbage but there was a few tracks on there that were really deep just like poetry. I realised there was more to Hip Hop music that what the mainstream market portrays, Loved Hip Hop every since that day..I thought to myself "I could do this". I was about 12, I started to mess around with rhymes. I was a big sportsman I represented my school in football, basketball, Rugby and athletics but had serious knee problem when I was 14 so pushed all that aside in focused on writing music, was a great avenue for me to express myself along with drama. I music altogether when I left school felt due to alot of personal things that clouded my passion for it but after meeting some guys from my college that were making Hip Hop music I started to go studio sessions with them and got writing again. I was 18 and I thought "fuck it I'm just gonna go for it". I aint looked back since, and I put my firt mixtape "Concealed Anger" together in 2006 while I was living in a youth hostel about 80% of the project was recorded in my bedsit. Who/What influences the lyrics that you write? Well as i mentioned early my cousin's mixtape got me deep into Hip Hop. I fast forwarded most of the tracks. However one partcular track struck out to me called "The Big Pay Back" by Common which's depicts a story of how is grandmother was robbed, I wrote my first verse after listening to the song. Common is still my favourite rapper to this day so its definitely Common that influenced me to write rhymes and is the biggest influence on my writing style. How long have you been making music? I was in my first group when I was 15 so i've making music for 8 years How did you come up with the name "Smooth Deep"? I was sitting in my GSCE music class class and Miss Howard says "Nick had anyone every told you have a smooth deep voice like barry white?". I said "no" and laughed. I did not actually have a and artist name at that point, after hearing that comment I took on Smooth Deep and ran with it. Thank God for the comment too, somehow I think "Nick" is not a catchy name for a rapper haha. Looking back, would you say its been easy in accomplishing what you've set out to do or has it been a struggle? It definitely has not been easy on many levels, but I guess nothing worth while comes easy as the say..while that's how it is most of the time anyway. Firstly I've never had support for what I do from my mother, that includes my film making as well as my music. My father is an actor/script writer but only found spoke to him for the first time last year, believe it or not but he found me via myspace and youtube. But that's another LONG story. Secondly the industry is often less about talent and more about who you know. I not connected with most of the artist and producers in my own area for various reasons let alone the music scene in general so ive had to work twice as hard in that respect and make my own connections and my own movements. And thirdly I feel like there is an narrow minded attitude when it comes to home grown Hip Hop artist in the in the UK. Almost as if people feel throw we are not real or good enough because we're not from the US, so the would rather support US rappers. I don't believe we should be places higher by the UK public just cause we're home grown but I think we should be judge on our skill. Frankly Hip Hop is about Representing life from your personal prospective and experience, part of that is representing where your from which most UK rappers do, you can't get more real than that? Furthermore people who can't see that just don't know a lot about what Hip Hop music actually is. It funny that is often takes people from outside the UK to feel a UK artist from the "Urban" scene in general let alone the Hip Hop scene, before they get any kind of respect in the UK. As for labels I feel like the think that Rappers and Grime MC's are a risk to sign, but people are breaking though so if there is a will there is a way..it's just not easy. to get to the stage I'm at has been a struggle, just gonna keep up my work rate. Do you think its easy for young people like yourself to get exposure, with the likes of Myspace providing unsigned talent with a platform for to launch their music? With Myspace and social networking tools of this nature getting espouser is a lot easier, It's a great avenue. I would recommend any unsigned artist to use tools such as myspace and soundclick. However myspace doe not network itself you still have to put the work in to build up your connections and get people to listen to you music, but it definitely a new lane that did not exsist before and its a more effective one in many ways. The net in general gives an artist the ability to spend their music much faster. What is your opinion, on the on going debate between the links to gun crime/gang culture and rap/hip hop music. Do you think this gives rappers a bad reputation? Overall Rap music is used as a scrape goat for gun crime and gang culture issues. Rap artist are getting bad names for it. Yes there are rappers who glamours it, but there a lot of rappers just speaking bout what they have been though in life, they are holding up an mirror to what's happening. In terms of the rappers who seem to be making it glamours I don't agree with that, and anyone who listens to my music will know that cause of my lyrical content. Nevertheless to blame rap music for the gang culture alone is crazy, yes it may have an influence on the youth but what about movies and films that Hollywood produces constantly, about guns, and gang culture. Why is it Hollywood not blame for influences gun grime and gang culture. More to the point there are plenty of artist like myself who denounce gun crime and gang culture, nevertheless people would rather buy cds that promote it. Conscious rap lyrics are not seen as "cool" as negative lyrics. Blame the major labels I say the set up the market to be like that. To keep it real The link between the government a gang culture is a lot stronger than the link between rap and gang culture, I mean who is bringing in all the guns rappers are writing about it the first place right? You recently toured Europe. What is the scene like over there, compared to the one here in the UK? Yeah I was in East Europe, did a show in Moldova on the 22nd of May the Hip Hop scene over there really Impressed me, they don't have the opportunities we have in the UK even though I complain bout the UK industry, the scene over there was run by artist and people who just love Hip Hop. There is no major labels to get involved with the scene, in any case they would have to look to Moscow in terms of the close major label to Chisinau (capital of Moldova). Artist are hungry over there, also there have a good unity we could learn from in UK. Artist support each other so the whole scene progresses in whole its a good look. In terms of the music consumers, people are much more receptive than over here. As soon as people see someone one stage or get a cd..they'll take the time to listen before pre-judging. I used to think the snobbish attitude in the UK exist because of the fact there is so many rappers here, but in Moldova show would say a good 40% of the crowd were rappers to and they showed me and my boy love on stage. So not I think its more to do with a cultural attitude that as just crossed over into the scene. In both scenes, clearly the cultural attitudes is a lot more positive over there. You've starred in films a few films as well. How does standing infront of a camera feel compared to holding a microphone? In some ways it is very similar as whether your standing in front of a camera or standing stage with a mic or recording in a studio your still giving a performance either way. On the other hand I don't get the same energy i get on stage when I'm acting. Studio sessions can be similar, but the fact that my music material on my three mixtapes is base on my actual personal thoughts and emotions opposed to being character its very different in that respect. It's a different frame of mind I'm in when I act then when I record or get on stage to perform, but the expresses nature of both things draws similarities Finally, where do you see yourself 4 years from now, in regards to your music? In four years...il be 28. So I'll be a household name by then. nuff said. I won't have to take the bus no more, if unless I still aint passed a driving test. It's not all about being rich, but I love making music so I will be making a decent living from it by then which will allow me to just focus on it. Be sure to check out Smooth Deep here