Yo, Sick Boy Simon, with our great pleasure, you came back in great style with a super fire single featuring the legendary Onyx, produced obviously by Dirty Dagoes…
Later we’re goin to ask you something about this, but before we would like to take a step back: We heard about you years ago, listening the Dirty Dagoes mixtape and we consumed your “G Morrison” project along with Lil Pin, another dope Cagliari’s MC, (entirely produced by Dom Kennedy ). Since that moment we didn’t hear from you anymore, till now… Can you introduce yourself to those who may not know you and tell us what you have done in recent years?
Hi to everyone and thanks to Throw Up Magazine for being interested in the italian underground scene and doing its part. It’s a pleasure to see projects like yours getting busy with updates, it’s really needed in a moment like this one! Back to your question, You are correct: “G Morrison” was the last time I spit something solid on the mic, since then I’ve only made some feats and beats here and there in other artists’ projects.
You can simply call the cause I’ve stopped, LIFE. I was born in Cagliari in ‘87, raised in in the province of San Sperate, at 21 I moved to Barcelona, at 25 I founded Dirty Dagoes in Germany, in 2012 I “partially” got back to Italy and started practicing in Sardinia what I learned at BCN from 2008 onwards. I pushed the potential of my imprint to the maximum, until 2015. That year I had to stop for personal reasons… My lifestyle was the opposite of an healthy one: bad habits and bad behavior, while I was sustaining myself with my music, between shows, DJ sets, promoting American groups, merch sales, working in studio for third parties and organizing events every week, all in a fairly hostile environment and without the right infrastructure.
I have always done everything by myself, from productions, sound design, graphics, booking, videos to management and publishing and planning strategies and objectives. I was exhausted. I was almost thirty years old and I really wanted a plan B.
I still couldn’t imagine myself at 3 am arguing with the manager of the club to bargain the price of a performance, or haggling with amateur rappers for the studio recording hours. I was without a manager, without a booking agency, and without valid and professional collaborators, I was pulling alone a bandwagon in which many stayed just to give themselves a tone in the eyes of others, as always happens, between proclamations on social networks and personal argument. Fortunately, in 2015 I received a serious proposal. It changed my life.
Talking about the second part of your question, concerning those who still do not know me, let’s say, if I have to summarize my major “crimes” in a few lines, from a rap stand point, in addition to the record you mentioned with Lil Pin, I would certainly mention the Dirty Dagoes Mixtape Volume 1 and 2 and Radio Bastardo my solo mini album.
With those projects we shook many hands and played many concerts, we gathered hundreds of Rappers and DJs, the beats were entirely produced by us, the samples used are incalculable, the editions were macros with 33 tracks per release and everything was available on free download and free streaming.
We invaded the internet for a couple of years and we were transversal for the number of features, the car was in motion for quite a while. We did 50 dates a year and monetized that aspect, but we were savages from a social and editorial point of view:
I’m trying to pick up the pieces of those disasters now, we had a lot of potential but we didn’t know how to use it, the world was different, Spotify was still a “rumor”.
Talking about the live shows I would mention the Italian tour of Psycho Realm in 2012 with Rome (Forte Prenestino), Palermo, Cagliari and Milan, the show with Noyz Narcos and Psycho Realm in Barcelona at the Apollo room, the Violent Voices Tour in Barcelona with Slaine from La Coka Nostra, Sick Jacken and Danny Diablo, ILL BILL in Milan, Onyx and M.O.P Cagliari, Mr Criminal and Salmo Barcelona and many smaller initiatives around Italy, those who are really interested can Google them for more info.
Returning to “Bullsh **” your last single with Onyx, : how did this incredible collaboration between you, Dirty Dagoes and Fredro Starr and Sticky Fingaz come about?
The collaboration with Fredro and Sticky was born during the day offs of their date in Cagliari: Me, being friend of Dj Illegal of the Snowgoons for years and as we shared many stages around Italy and Europe we have built a relationship of mutual esteem for their respective musical paths, the management asked me to host the team during their 6 days of day off in Sardinia.
You have to understand that Onyx is one of the most important Hip Hop groups of my childhood, how could I not accept? We ate, smoked and drank together for a week, Sticky was punching me on the shoulder like a friend, they introduced me to their wives and children via Facetime. They are incredible characters, like all the real international superstars I have met in recent years, they are much more humble and pleasant than the last of the Italian wannabes who do not count a shit in the real world music scene, the real stars do not need to pose as a star. They live in Hollywood, Sticky is Bruce Willis’ neighbor… Do you understand the level?
The day before taking them to the airport, after eating in the most rotten and old school Chinese restaurant in Cagliari, I took them to a colleague’s studio. The hook of the track was born on the stairs, we were very drunk, it was incredible.
A dope thing is also that all of this stuff happened in my “hometown” so I had some of my true childhood friends with me in all those moments, with whom I shared the experience.
Then again, because we were lacking a “real” team , that studio session was not video documented, when they came back home, the everyday life swallowed me again in its vortex and the song remained parked in my computer for three years.
When they put us in lockdown all the alternative works I created in these years and kept me away from rap, wavered for a few months. I decided that I would go back to release something as I never stopped writing and producing, actually. I simply did not find the right motivation for all the causes that I have already explained and I didn’t want to make holes in the water or put myself in the hands of unreliable people, who say they do something and then don’t do it, like pseudo-label and weirdos of all sorts.
I decided that I would self-produce a “Devin Flynn style” cartoon to honor the track and the Onyx gift. Stefano Cirina accompanied me on this journey and he did an incredible job of illustration, he was a soldier, he completed the job with determination, even if the working conditions were not the best. I tried to create a team to support them but there have been defections and he has undertaken practically all the illustration work himself, in order to meet the delivery. The Onyx have fully co-signed the operation, honestly their feedback went beyond my expectations, for 4 weeks they reposted the stories every day, they included me in the official playlists of the 100Mads crew with people like Snak the Ripper, RA the Rugged Man, Dope DOD and many others, even in the virtual show on December 12th Beatnuts’ PsychoLes played “Bullsh**” during the warm up DJ set.
Tell us about your relation with Dirty Dagoes:
As what concerns my relationship with Dirty Dagoes, it is somelike a father with his son, I founded this brand with a strictly hardcore identity and a Hip-Hop attitude, just as dubstep exploded in Italy and there was no talk of anything else ( 2011-12). Even the hardest and purest were making clumsy attempts on that genre, trying to emulate the success of Salmo, but we were totally against the trend, for this reason we were able to carve out our space in the scene.
We explored genres that have now blown, shit like Phonk and Lofi Trap. I discovered years later that our instrumentals ended up in sampling packs dedicated to those genres and are available on Russian specialized sites. I found cuts of our instrumental productions inside Ryan Celsius mixes such as “Trapping in Japan” and “High at Work”, one of the mixes had 8 million views, I jumped from the chair.
And if we should mention the much talked about “drum-less” beats, that are now so fashionable because of Griselda, a stuff that everyone is riding at right now, trying to sell it as a novelty, if you go and listen to our mixtapes from 2014-15, they were full of productions designed in that way: we were inspired by Roc Marciano, Ka, Dj Muggs, and Alchemist who are the true originators of that genre, before of Daringer.
Between 2012 and 2015 we released more than 200 contents: our mixtapes tried to bring together all the realities similar to ours, scattered around Italy and wherever there was cool and hard-core material, including some stuff from the US. In my opinion we took the latest wave of creative vibe possible, working with remote artists.
Actually, we functioned as an international collective having a core of people who collaborated remotely between Barcelona, Cagliari, Munich and Basel.
Today it would be impossible, none of the artists I know have too much desire to collaborate from distance, myself first. Currently, exceptions are made only for friends or for projects that are really more interesting than the average, the point is that we all want to recover human contact, make sessions in presence in the studio together with the people with whom we must collaborate, producers, sound engineers and especially other rappers or musicians.Today many things have changed and some of the people with whom I started this project are no longer part of it, life is a continuous crossroads and everyone is master of their own choices, everyone has their own priorities, mine are to take the things seriously because this stuff as well as the greatest passion of my life is also a job, not my Sunday hobby, despite being underground and out of the mainstream market.
Being underground is not an excuse to be wack or to do your stuff without a plan. It is a choice about your life, and not only, so it must be able to self-sustain itself and build its circular economy to feed all the figures involved in the productive chain. There are so many “I wish but I can’t” in the back of the music world, they are the haters of other people’s successes, the weirdos, the bad ones: these people do much more harm to the underground scene than an eventual joint album between Fedez and Gigi d’Alessio, but they, like all fools, do not know they are, and indeed proclaim themselves “real”, without actually contributing anything to their local scene.
Dirty Dagoes has been also very active in the world of live shows, rap battles, contests and international events: we have given the opportunity of emerging to a lot of artists who at the time only knew the stage from afar, some it seems that they quickly forgot about it after doing a few views on youtube and a few followers on IG, but it’s a classic.
Bringing the Onyx, the M.O.P and the Psycho Realm to reality like Cagliari was a real breakthrough moment for the Sardinian scene. Net of all the chatter, we gave our region the opportunity to experience events worthy of other European destinations, without the need for buy a plane ticket, spitting blood and sweat to do it: we know that gratitude is not a prerogative of this environment, and above all no one is a prophet at home.
A few years ago, there was a moment in the history of this genre in Italy, where the Sardinian underground scene was in great shape: there were Mentispesse, Lil Pin, Kennedy, You, Uzi … Then, maybe we’re wrong, it got a little out of sight … Why? Tell us something more about the scene in Cagliari now and the hottest names of the moment.
From a Rap point of view, the Sardinian scene in my opinion has always been steps ahead of many other regions. Unfortunately we never understood a shit about marketing and publishing! Then the Sardinian has a very bad individualistic and envious nature, which causes virtually all collectives to fail sooner or later. However, all the names you mentioned, as well as important artists are also my friends personally.
Wanting to make an exclusive preview for your magazine I can announce that Kennedy has been officially welcomed into the Dirty Dagoes family and is part of the crew. He is helping me a lot for everything related to a project that is still top secret and of which I have no permission to talk now.
At the venerable age of 33 I can tell you that I think I have understood that every 5 years the world and life questions everything, we need to be able to anticipate the transition periods and act accordingly, sitting on your own results is harmful to evolution. The trick is to educate young people, I personally have made it a profession.
I manage a social association that deals with teaching Rap to the youth, among other things even in contexts at risk, early school leaving, family hardships, groups of poverty etc, we are also starting a dialogue with the juvenile prison of our province, to bring rap as a therapeutic means . Together with Sacra Zona we have recently finalized a Rap Therapy project between Sant’Elia, Tuvumannu, Mulinu Becciu and San Michele, which are some of the toughest neighborhoods and at risk of crime for young Cagliari residents.
Among the new generation, speaking of very young people, I recently noticed Baby Rich, he does not belong to my school of rap, but what he does does well and I think he will be talked about in the future.
Does the single “Bullsh **” anticipate any of your projects? Should we expect anything soon?
As for future projects, there are many, but I don’t want to make the mistake of making proclamations or having to take my word back. A large chunk of my small fan base is still waiting for Radio Bastardo 2.
There are those who have threatened me to put bombs at my home if I won’t release it, because now it’s worse than “Detox” (Dr. Dre’s record that the whole Hip Hop scene has been waiting for for 20 years … ed’s note), I finished and threw the record twice: I think I’ll start from there. I’m trying to make a plan and stick to it. I don’t want to disappoint anyone, myself first of all, so every single step I take will be calculated.
PART 2: INTERVIEW WITH STEFANO CIRINA (author of the video-animation of Bullsh ** with Onyx)
Instead, we would like to ask these questions to the author of the incredible “BullSh**” video animation with Onyx, Stefano Cirina: tell us what you do and where do your talent and your passion for drawing and animation come from. What is your link with the Hip Hop scene?
Yo man! What to say? Let’s say that I was born with a passion for drawing! I drew at school, at home, going around the way, I used it as a vent and a solution to boredom. I never undertook artistic studies until a few years ago when I decided to try to make off drawing my livelihood and I enrolled in the academy; I filled my gaps and met some of my loved ones who enriched me so much! Animation has always been a dream and this bombastic return to 2D has been a blessing!
Usually, I work on graphics and logos for small businesses, then there is what I do for passion, supporting my friends of the AreaVastaKarasauVandalz of which I take care of graphics and video content. Hip Hop teaches you to be in the world in the most correct way, it teaches you not to give up and to do things well (if not, you can also go stay home). The crews I belong to are my family and I owe this achievement to them, I think this is enough. Thanks to 9 and AVKV!
© Stefano Cirina – Storyboard from the video “Bullsh **” by Sickboy Simon & Dirty Dagoes feat. Onyx
How was the concept of the video born? What was the reaction of the Onyx when they saw it?
The concept comes from two heads that have reunited, mine and Sick’s one! We got caught talking about the storyboard and from there we realized that our imagery matches: Devin Flinn, Adult Swim, bullshittin, beers and joints and I ended up drawing the whole graphic of this dope shit! Despite some difficulties and misunderstandings given by the distance due to this situation, we succeeded in this enterprise altough!! Onyx have dealt with Sick but from the updates he sent me they seemed quite satisfied !!
What other jobs have you done related to the Hip Hop sphere? Or is there any other project you would like to tell us about?
This has been the biggest job I’ve ever done, but for a year already we’ve been churning out pretty rough and grimey products from music to graphics with AVKV! For now there are some projects on the way but we will reveal them at the right time! Thanks for the questions and thanks to Sick Boy Simon for the occasion. This track is fire and if y’all haven’t heard it, do it now!