Livvy interviews the origianl jungle mc and owner of 9 lives records - Top Cat
Renegade: When and where did you start DJing / producing?
Topcat: I started to MC when I was still at secondary school. My cousins in Jamaica started me off when I went to Jamaica on vacation and I have been doing it ever since. I started to produce when I formed my label 9 Lives Records in April 1994.
Renegade: How did you get your dj name?
Topcat: My initials are TC and while at primary school in Manchester one of the teachers pointed out that I had the same initials as Top Cat the cartoon. When I started to MC I first used TC but then moved back to the original nickname Top Cat
Renegade: How did you originaly get into the scene and who got you into it?
Topcat: Well I got into the jungle scene thru Congo Natty when it comes to recordings but my first few jungle tunes were sampled from the accapellas of some of my reggae tunes (Push Up U Lighter, Roughest Gun ark, Bunn the Sensi, Gallist/Special Dedication).
Renegade: What and who were your influences?
Topcat: I was influenced by the old skool reggae MCs from Jamaica. Brigadier Jerry, Josie Whales, Charlie Chaplin and U Roy were my big influences, then in the UK I lived in South East London at the time when Saxon sound were the biggest sound in the UK so Papa Levi and Tipper Irie were massive influences too.
Renegade: Darkside or uplifting tunes?
Topcat: Uplifting tunes everytime.
Renegade: How serious were you when you started DJing & producing and how serious are you now?
Topcat: I always wanted to be the best that I could be and strived to be the best from a young age. Those who are old enough to remember me as a young teenager at school who used to MC on the big peoples sounds and also the youth sound will tell you I was rated as the best youth MC in South East London when I was at school.
Renegade: What and when were your first events as a raver?
Topcat: Lord knows. I been going Leeds Carnival since I was a kid,I used to go to King Sturgav and Jah Love sound raves when I was Jamaica as a teenager at school and when I used to MC on Sledge Hamma sound (my first sound that was run by big people) the selector would come to my mothers home and get permission to bring me to the sounds raves so I could MC on the sound.
Renegade: Who were your favorate DJs Back in the day & now?
Topcat: Jumpin Jack Frost and Dj Ron a mi two djs from back in the days, Ray Keith, Nicky Blackmarket, Brian G, Grooverider, Fabio, Hype, DJ Rap, and for reggae it was Sir Coxsone and Saxon sound.
Renegade: What is & was your fave club to go out raving / play at?
Topcat: That is a hard one as there were quite a few. All Nations was my favourite back in the day and Shenolas/Bel Aire as well. Now a days it is hard to say as I rave and perform alot abroad.
Renegade: Who do you rate as the best producers & labels from 1988-present day?
Topcat: Congo Natty obviously for jungle. Gussie P, Fashion Records and Joe G records for reggae.
Renegade: What is your prefered genre to listen to / make / play now?
Topcat: I don't have one anymore I like alot of different styles.
Renegade: Whats the best night raving you have ever had?
Topcat: It wasn't a night it was 3 weeks touring Japan with the top UK/USA/JA artists in the world performing on Japan Splash.
Renegade: Vinyl / cd / mp3? - what do you use?
Topcat: All 3
Renegade: Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Topcat: 5 years older and wiser ;-)
Renegade: What are your aims and goals now?
Topcat: To continue in the music business until the Creator is ready for me.
Renegade: What Djs would you love to B2B with?
Topcat: Hot sexy women DJs innit. lol.
Renegade: What producers would you love to work with?
Topcat: Tony Kelly and Sting International on the reggae scene. Freestylers on the break beat scene
Renegade: What advise would you give to young DJs & Producers?
Topcat: Study and practice all the skills you will require.
Renegade: What do you think of female DJs & Producers?
Topcat: Love em ;-)
Renegade: Whats your fondest memory in the scene?
Topcat: all of it
Renegade: Whats your fave food & drink?
Topcat: Curry goat and rice
Renegade: Where would you take someone on a 1st date?
Topcat: Now that would be tellin ;-)
Renegade: What do you do when your chilling out?
Renegade: Whats your day job?
Topcat: MC, producer, author, tutor, label owner, music full time.
Renegade: What do you think of the new genres? (hardcore breaks / nu rave / dub step / uk hardcore)
Topcat: I embrace all the new genres.
Renegade: Nike or Addidas?
Topcat: Mi no partial as I wear both
Renegade: Whats your greatest fear?
Topcat: Jah Rastafari
Renegade: Where can we expect to see you in the near future?
Topcat: Stockholm this weekend, Poland next weekend, Sofia Bulgaria and Rennes in France next month and Victoria and Brixton on NYE. All you junglist make sure you check out the Jamm in Brixton. A the Trinity of Tenor Fly, Top Cat and Congo Natty toppin the bill that night.
Renegade: CHEERS FOR THAT - BIG UP AND NUFF RESPECT FOR YOUR TIME.
Livvy- A couple more questions for you from a forum member.
who were some of his reggae influences when first formulating his technique...then which, if any, of the jungle mcs influenced his technique once he integrated into the scene?
how did his relationship with fashion records come about?
does he have any interesting stories about his experiences with general levy?
what is his take on people who use sample snippets of his vocals today? and what's his take on people who use the acapellas from his fashion reggae records?
Bwoy you diggin Livvy, lol.
Well the first question I already answered in the first lot of questions. Those MC's were my influence alongside Super Cat, Lieutenant Stichie, Papa San, Professor Nuts, Shabba Ranks and Buju. My style probably encorporates all these MC's styles plus the MC's I told you about when I first started. When you also consider the old Jamaican proverb "Show me your company and I will tell you who you are" then I would also have to list Ricky Tuffy, Tenor Fly, Prento Youth and Daddy Freddy as my influences too as we all used to spar together on Sir Coxsone sound too. My style includes bits of all these MC's. If you are wondering how to blend so many MCs into one style check out my book "How To MC" whick explains the fundamentals of how I break down the skills of an MC and how to utilise those skills. Check me out at www.myspace.com/topcat and enquire about the book and it is available directly from me.
As for Fashion Records I originally went to them when I was a fresh 16 year old and they were the top label for releasing music with UK artists. I was actually rejected because aside from my area of SE London my reputation wasn't big all over the country at that time. Once I had a hit with Love Mi Sess a few years later they took me more serious but still made it hard for me to get in. I was still sent back home to do homework until I finally got in. Then the hits just came one after the other.
While I was at Fashion Records I was the no 2 MC on their books. General Levy was the no 1 as he was there before me and Fashion had just done a major deal with him and receive a good advance to re-work his album. Me and Tenor Fly were new projects that they were working on and probably there to keep General on his toes and make sure he looked over his shoulder as to under estimate either of us is a foolish thing to do ;-)
On the whole having all 3 of us at the label at the same time was a blessing as you had the 3 best UK MC's on the same label and on the same riddims, so we each inspired each other not to get lazy and be on your toes. We all benefited from this and I feel we still benefit from it to this day as if you really look at the old skool MC's who are still working hard to this day all 3 of us are still big names.
My take on the people who use my samples without permission is that they are thieves. When I was a youth I would go after them, but as I am alot older now I have more mellowed so I prefer prevention instead of cure. I no longer voice dubplates at any other studio except my own at present and after this December next month I will no longer voice dubplates anymore. If you are a sound and you have dubs with me they will now be even more of a collectors item as once 2008 is over there will no longer be new Top Cat dubplates. Like Super Cat I will no longer be doing them. This is due to people sampling my accapellas and cutting them up. My vocals seem to be more popular than anyone else as very few artists have been bootleg as much as I have, and that even includes the mega stars.
I have been a professional MC now for 20 years, I have 11 no 1 singles to my name, I have been MC of the Year 4 times consecutively (at a time when all styles were not seperated) and have had Record of the Year 4 times (3 times reggae, 1 time Jungle) so I must know what I am doing. I have written a book called How To MC where I pass on my knowledge and experience and any MC whatever and where ever they are in their career can benefit from the advice and techniques that I explain in this book.
Well I hope these answers were satisfactory ;-)
Stay Blessed and Beautiful
Top Cat x
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