Assured of his own legend and having taken an engaging solo aside exploring his rockier routes, socially conscious rapper Scroobius Pip has also spent the last few years turning his hand to running a record label. Pip’s grabbed a few of rap’s lesser known stars, convinced a large chunk of his own fan base of their ability and then – never one to sit on the side lines – headed out on tour with his new protégées to man the decks, the merch stand, and even spit a few rhymes along the way. It all sounds like an idyllic take on the way a modern label should be run: clearly for love.
Occasionally controversial and always wonderfully brash, B.Dolan was a natural fit for any tour led by Scroobius Pip, and has been accompanying the boss as a support act for years. Not that the boss’s roles intimidates the San Fran native. The probably isn’t much that does.
“We throw peanuts at each other while he's driving, and he has a weird habit of leaving the windshield wipers on for hours after he's driven through even the tiniest bit of rain”, Dolan says of Pip. “But it feels odd to apply the term "label boss" to our relationship after all these years. Technically accurate, but it's not like it's hugely changed the dynamic between us or is present in the mix of things when we're together. More than anything, the guy’s one of my best friends and a musical peer I respect. And he's been facilitating, and putting people on to my work for years on this side of the pond. There's a partnership, but it's probably lopsided. We're gonna have to remedy that soon. People keep demanding I 'bring him over' to the U.S. and it's probably high-time I reciprocate some hosting duties.”
He has a weird habit of leaving the windshield wipers on for hours after he's driven through even the tiniest bit of rain
On stage, B. Dolan thrives on whipping up a crowd and getting in faces. “I enjoy making use of the bad guy wrestler schtick”, he admits, “and knowing how to get yourself into and out of those situations with crowds. For a few years I've been covering LL Cool J's "You Can't Dance" and having dance battles with random audience members. That's a planned chaos that happens at a certain part of the set. I have not lost yet.”
It’d take a brave man to take the American on in Dublin, where we suspect he’ll be less than shy about throwing in a few words about our culture. Whilst still in Britain, he finds himself divided but happy, extolling the virtues of Percy Pigs and Scotch eggs before turning the barrel on the ‘wrongness’ of tomatoes in fried breakfast.
Wait until he gets hold of black pudding.
For a few years I've been covering LL Cool J's "You Can't Dance" and having dance battles with random audience members.
The morning after won’t compare to the night before, though. “I’ll be doing some spoken word”, Dolan tells us, “it’s a particular way of speaking the crowd I find helpful to master. Fortunately, “PUT YOUR FUCKING HANDS IN THE AIR" appears to be a universal term.”
When the noise has faded, Dolan will finally put the polish on a four year long recording effort, alongside another of his brash House of Bees Mixtapes. Nothing like keeping the boss busy…
Scroobius Pip on heading over to the dark side of commercial releases, angling towards the light and manning the tour bus…
“I'm loving this!” Pip tells us, a few dates into the Speech Development Records roadshow. “There's a "proud parent" feeling each night as warrenpeace and B Dolan bring the house down. I basically decided to come along to support in every possible way. Driving the van, booking the hotels, just generally using the fact that I've spent the last eight years on the road to help out some acts I'm insanely proud to have on my label. Of course I did this all before, but I have to admit, it has felt particularly tough this time round. And it's a different kind of pressure and motivation when it is for someone else. But I'm excited to see these guys blow people away each night so it's very much worth every bit of stress.”
I'm excited to see these guys blow people away each night so it's very much worth every bit of stress.
It can’t be the easiest transition. Pip’s a born performer, and on top of all the organisation, has been popping up on stage not just the odd time, but multiple times a night (“I'm doing a spoken word set, a DJ set and several guest spots... so I'm pretty much constantly up there. But I've always been very hands on with touring so it's all familiar ground really.”) There’s a certain amount of stage cred to be had in the fast-spreading word that Pip’s witticisms are on the loose, of course, but it’s also a loveable glance at his determination to make this latest project work that sees the label boss work harder than he might on one of his own tours.
For all the hard days and nights, though, the greater stress awaits at home. “If I focused only on the finances then I would stop having a record label right now, genuinely” Pip admits.
“Financially, it's a ridiculous endeavour. But for some reason I choose to put my faith in our fan base. I then try to make sure that everything we release (physically) is worth owning and worth every penny. Whether it's the Sage Francis Gold Vinyl, the warrenpeace die cut CD, my own pop-up book cd or my two disc live DVD (packed with videos and interviews)...the hope is it is all worth spending money on rather than stealing. Time will tell.”
I'm doing a spoken word set, a DJ set and several guest spots...