Mike McGrath-Bryan speaks with Cork hip-hop’s busiest man, Chris Power, on tunes, including his new beat tape and upcoming full-length releases.
Prodigiously gifted and massively prolific, Cork beatmaker Chris Power has spent the past few years honing his craft live and in-studio, focusing on solo material and production for several collaborative projects. New mixtape WhytFaux: The Conman and Slim came out this past month via Cuttin’ Heads Collective, the Leeside confab of DJs, beatmakers, and promoters, as they expand their reach into the label end of things.“I’d been telling people that I actually had a lot of music made, and that a huge amount of it would probably never see the light of day. The Cuttin’ Heads were good enough to let me get some of it out. I’d also been watching an unhealthy amount of documentaries about mobsters/gangsters from way back in the day, and I took a particular shining to Iceberg Slim. Through him, I came across this guy Whitefolks, who was a serious character himself. It just kinda went from there, I guess, when I found an interview with IBS talking about Whitefolks. There could be a series of these tapes on gangsters, Lucky Luciano could be up next. Or Chinatown Larry maybe. Who knows.”
The record is littered with various soul samples. Explain for us the process of crate-digging and finding the right few seconds to base a beat on. “Ah, I just listen to a lot of that soul stuff anyway, at this stage. Especially the late ’60s and ’70s stuff. Lots of the soul/jazz type stuff as well. Gene Harris & The 3 Sounds, Michael Franks. It reminds me of sunshine.There was a lot of music played at home when I was younger, especially on the weekends. Dusty Springfield made good cash off my old folks, like. When it comes to finding the right parts, I’ll just play the song a few times while I’m doing something else, and by the time I have it in Ableton, I’ll know where I wanna chop up.”
This is getting a release via Cuttin’ Heads Collective. As mentioned earlier, the lads have already been active throughout the city’s hip-hop and electronic scenes, but the label is the next stage of this collaborative multimedia foray. What’s the plan for the label? “Yeah, the lads have a couple of things in the pipeline. Next up is an E.P. from (producer Andrew) Gunkel, and then after that, a MANMAID (Power & Gunkel) tape. Particularly excited for Gunkel’s release. He’s got some pretty cool stuff on the way, as well as a project with Atari (Jones, rapper) too.”
Speaking of Atari Jones, Power’s collaboration with the much-fancied Cleveland wordsmith with a guest spot on the mixtape, how do you see this continuing? “I’ve never actually met Atari in real life, but we speak almost daily. We’ve a lot of stuff on the way. Two E.P.s coming out in quick succession over the next few months. A video drops this month too. Once I finally get out to the States, we’ll do an album. One of the tracks with (hip-hop royalty) Illa J is on the GreenTalk E.P., there’s a video for that being made as I write this too.”
Alongside all of this is a rake of other collaborative projects. Listening to Power break down his projected schedule alone is exhausting. “Right now I have two E.P.s with Atari, and another full length done. There’s a couple of other bits I’m working on too, with some other Stateside rappers, but for now my main focus is on getting the Atari E.P.s and my own proper full length out before the end of the year if possible.”
Cork hip-hop is coming into its own to say the least, with Power & others making a transatlantic journey via online working relationships, and the like of talismanic orator Young Phantom and silk-smooth beat-builder Nxstalgic doing big things at home. What does Power make of it all, and how it’s been growing? “I’ve actually put two beats away for Young Phantom that I’d intended to send him last week, but I forgot. I should probably do that now (laughs). But yeah I think Cork’s starting to bubble a bit. Myself, Nxstalgic, and (Cork’s) JAR JAR JR have something on the way too.”
From the reception the mixtape has received, things are looking promising. When talk comes to chance of any physical releases in the near future, Power is optimistic. “Yeah, a physical release is something that we’re looking to do from here on out really. Putting this mixtape out was kinda just a good way for me to clear out the vault, and get focused on putting the other projects out. In terms of a physical release for my own full length, I’m trying to take my time with it, and try to find the label that suits me best.
When probed further on big plans for the year ahead, including a previously-announced departure for sunnier climes in LA, Power is quick to provide an update, and a succinct, matter-of-fact note to finish the chats on. “That’s the plan in the long term, anyway. I’m working as a software developer at the moment and I’m actually really enjoying it, so I plan to stick around until the end of the year!”
WhytFaux: The Conman and Slim is available now on Bandcamp.