Detroit MC Guilty Simpson says Quakers are “Super talented and I’m honoured to work with them”. He’s talking about Sydney based, Katalyst; ‘Fuzzface’ aka Geoff Barrow, formerly Portishead and 7-Stu-7 who is Portishead’s engineer and in-house producer at Invada Records in the UK. With a new album due out early next year via his label Stones Throw Records, Simpson says, “I can see the ending rap wise. I have a couple more projects and then I want to produce. That will allow me to work from home and still be active in music. I would love to start an indie label and put out music. I still have some things to say but I really want to produce now”. Simpson will be down under touring with Grindin’, beginning in Canberra, August 1st and ending in Sydney, with Katalyst at The Basement August 9th.
How did you meet Katalyst?
I met him when me and Phat Kat came to Australia in 2011 I think. We were on tour and we went to his place and recorded “War Drums”. A track on the Quakers album.
Can you describe the kind of Hip Hop you make in your words.
I’d say street music. Not gangster, but street. I don’t make radio songs that’s not my aim. I just make hardcore Hip Hop music for the streets.
What do you like to do to chill out?
Spend time with my family and watch sports. I love American football, basketball, and baseball the most. There’s a very talented Australian basketball player I’ve been watching. Dante Exum. I think he’s going to be a star!
What’s your hood like?
Where I live now it’s pretty quiet. But I grew up on West 7 mile and Lahser area. Rough area. Not the worst in Detroit but it’s no joke.
In an old (2009) Bounce TV interview you said from being in Detroit you see something crazy every day, I was wondering what the last crazy thing you saw happen was?
At that time it was a lot more hectic for me it really seemed like everyday something else was happening. Now I’m not in the bad parts as much. But a couple weeks ago me and my wife were driving and saw a lady beating a kid ( I figure was her son) with a stick in a store parking lot. He was on the ground screaming. We turned around but they were gone. She made him get in the car and drove off. That’s crazy.
Describe Detroit’s current Rap scene from your perspective?
It’s a lot of young talented cats coming up and some of the veteran local MC’s are still making noise. I love Detroit and the various sounds we have. Even the ones that don’t sound like me and my people.
Who would you say people should take note of coming out of Detroit?
I like Quelle Chris and Denmark Vessey. Marvwon and Fatt Killaz, A Minus and VVE. Phat Kat, Elzhi, Black Milk, Bruiser Brigade. Cysion and the Almighty Dreadnaughtz. Some of the people named are new. Some are older and may be familiar to you. All very strong. I could go on.
Does being a MC from Detroit come with a certain expectation in terms of quality, that’s perhaps expected of someone from Motor City, given the rich musical history of the place?
I don’t think so. We have good and bad music like anywhere else. What I will say is when you reach a certain level and have decided your lane, you have to excel. That’s what we expect. Even if it isn’t amongst the top sellers. But we have had success with music I wouldn’t always describe as my cup of tea. I just want that particular audience to approve of it.
Did you expect when you began rapping that eventually you’d be signed to a well-known label like Stones Throw and traveling the world the way you are?
No I didn’t. I just wanted to be a part of something and to stay out of trouble. When I started I had friends already doing it so while I was learning the craft they were dreaming big. I was just trying to catch up. After I felt comfortable being in the studio and learned, is when I started seeing myself making a career of it.
How would you describe the social and political climate of Detroit at the moment?
It’s changing and becoming a lot more diverse. It’s really starting to grow and redevelop. I think we have great days ahead of us. The car plants are doing well and that’s where it starts.
Is it something you want to comment on how it feels to you?
To me it’s home so I will always love Detroit. I have mixed emotions about the new things happening in the city. I love the diversity we have in Downtown, Midtown and Corktown of Detroit that’s become the safest parts of the city. But the neighbourhoods in the city that aren’t close to the downtown are as wild as ever. All the police have been funnelled to the diverse areas to make the “investors” of the new Detroit feel safe. I don’t want to stress race because really it’s about money, not skin colour. But I’d like the cops and ambulances to have rapid response times going to ALL neighbourhoods.
Where would you say you’re at on your artist timeline right now, in light of coming out to Australia and New Zealand next month and working with Katalyst?
I can see the ending Rap wise. I have a couple more projects and then I want to produce. That will allow me to work from home and still be active in music. I would love to start an indie label and put out music. I still have some things to say but I really want to produce now.
Have you been down under (OZ/NZ) before, if so what do you remember or what are you looking forward to about coming?
Yes once. I remember it being nice. It was in January last time. That’s summer for you all I think. The weather was dope I’m just looking forward to rocking with the Hip Hop heads.
What can you tell us about Quakers?
Super talented and I’m honoured to work with them. I love the vibe of the music they create. Ready to share with the world.
What can fans expect or what would you hope they’ll take from it?
Hardcore rhymes over sick beats.
What are some key issues or themes that will feature on your new album with Katalyst?
I dealt with a few topics on my album. Nothing too crazy though. I got some tough stuff on there. Styling, nothing too thought out like that. I definitely have genuine content on there though.
If you weren’t rapping what would you be doing?
Probably coaching kids in sports. Something like that. I played sports and realize how important they are for kids development. It helps with social skills amongst peers.
What are your favourite items to travel with?
Headphones and my iPad. That’s my music and communication back home. If I have those I will be ok.
What’s your drug of choice and how do you like it?
Weed and whiskey. Weed in joint paper. Whiskey straight up.
What country have you smoked the best weed in?
The good old U S of A. California has the best weed, I’m convinced.
What’s the best piece of advice your mother’s ever give you?
Only you can stop you.
What’s your most common reoccurring dream?
Of being a sick ass producer.
Did you like Robo Cop back in the day, and why?
It was cool. What I liked most about it was Detroit.
What were you going through when you wrote the lyrics to “It’s a Man’s World”?
Closing a chapter of my past. It’s strange after I wrote it I was done with it. I understand my father more than ever now.
What question do you least like being asked and why?
What was it like to know Dilla? … Dilla is Dilla. To know him is to know him. If that makes sense. He was a Detroit cat with extraordinary talents in music.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
Mint Condition. On Spotify.
What’s your definition of Grindin’?
Doing what you have to do to provide. It’s doesn’t have to be illegal. It’s the act of achieving your goals and getting it done. No excuses.
Interview by Aleyna Martinez