HST - conducted by Cheryl Santa Maria  

HST Interview

August 2009

British hip hop act HST (Heaven Sent Thugs) held their first live performance in 2006 at the Essex, formerly known as Club Rinse. "The support from the crowd was amazing," the boys recall. "Everybody was feeling the vibe and we smashed it." The group's eclectic and sometimes hard-hitting sounds quickly captured people's attention and their popularity shows no sign of slowing down. With a slew of successful YouTube videos and a fan base that's growing by the day, HST is poising itself to take over the UK rap community.

Following their first performance the boys, comprised of lifelong friends Ras-Daniel, Ace, Playa.Gee, Die-no, Drago and A-Class, have performed at various clubs and raves near their hometown of Rainham, London and have made TV appearances on the Sho Sho Show on Sky channel A.K.A. (formerly Channel U).

HST has also generated some internet hype. Their hit single "Struggling/ Say Your Prayers" has been viewed over 52,000 times on Myspace (http://www.myspace.com/heavensentthugs) and YouTube and their latest single, "Taking Over" is faring just as well - having received close to 40,000 combined views in only four months.

MVRemix was able to take some time out of the boys' busy schedule for a Q&A. HST is currently in the studio, working hard on albums which plan to be released in late 2009 and early 2010. To find out about live shows and other HST events, visit their Myspace.

MVRemix: Do you have any musical influences?

HST: You'd be surprised. We listen to many genres of music, some that go as far back as the 1950s, and we appreciate all forms of music for the powerful way it can reflect the time in which it was made. We have been influenced by many of the legends, like Bob Marley, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, etc., but our main influences are each other.

MVRemix: Any non-musical influences?

HST: We're influenced by humanity, everyday struggles in society, the things we have to go through individually and as a group and we're influenced by what goes on in our area. There are so many important changes going on in the world and we have too much to spit about.

MVRemix: HST's music speaks about struggle and the rewards of hard work. Are there any other messages in your music?

HST: Yes, most definitely. We are a group of mixed races and we're proud of that fact so we promote diversity, love and peace, but that isn't apparent straight away. You have to listen in between the lines to understand our messages, hence our group's name.

MVRemix: What are your long term goals?

HST: Our long term goal is to earn the respect we deserve, for the right reasons, and not 'cos we jumped on a bandwagon. We want to be respected for being solid English rappers who make music that’s real and not regurgitated American hip hop. We don't want to be known as a group that jumped on a beat we wouldn't normally be caught dead on, just to make a few quid. We won't lie: we all want large bank accounts, the chicks and all the trimmings that come with being successful rap artists, but the main thing for us is to enjoy the process, travel, remain entertaining, meet people and, of course, focus on our music.

MVRemix: What have you learned from the artists you have collaborated with?

HST: We've collaborated with some highly talented people, like Ghetto and Shizzle from the grime scene, and we've come to realize that you have to stay on it or, as we say, stay 'warm'. Constant writing is a must. It's like training at the gym. You can train once a week to keep yourself in check but you're never really gonna make substantial gains. If you want to be outstanding you have to work hard at it.

MVRemix: If you could collabo. with anyone, who would it be?

HST: That's a tough one. We favor a lot of the top American artists, like Kanye, Dre, Eminem, 50, Busta, Fabolous and Jadakiss … and the list goes on and on.

It seems that the music industry doesn't want to take UK hip hop seriously. The industry just won't take a chance on it. We've been told that that's because the UK isn't buying hip hop and R&B, but when you look at the British Top 20 each week, 10 of the tracks are hip hop. Apparently, we've been told, that's 'cause they are American artists, and people tend to favour American artists. When an American hip hop/R&B artist scoops up an English artist and gives them their support, like Kanye did with Estelle and Mr. Hudson, or what Akon did with Sway, the music industry praises the great English artists! Were they not great before [they worked with American artists]?

MVRemix: How would you describe your sound?

HST: At the moment it's best described as Electro-Rock-Rap. We're pushing the boundaries as much as we can to reach new heights. Electro is our way of representing our future sound and our way of taking the mind into space, so to speak. Rock demonstrates our respect for the past and we like the gut-wrenching, raw power that the guitar has to offer. Rap represents our present struggle in today's society. We are binding fierce street bars with enlightened ideas and thought-provoking topics.

MVRemix: Are you working on any interesting projects at the moment?

HST: We're currently working on a few different projects. We've just finished the HST album The Awakening, which is due for release in October. The Awakening is an absolute must-have for anyone who enjoys hip hop/R&B and for anyone who has a pulse. We have a plethora of 'choons' to please just about everyone.

Ace has just finished his solo mix tape Steel Spittin. It shows his harder, underground side and it deals with darker issues. It's suitably rated as parental guidance only. There’s another HST mix tape, which is grime-based, called Intravenus Music, which is due for release around September and it promises to be double-hype. We have another two mix tapes that we hope to have finished before Christmas. We're busy-busy.

MVRemix: What have you learned about the recording industry?

HST: We've learned that nothing is guaranteed. There are a lot of ups and even more downs. You have to have a strong faith in what you're doing before you can expect anyone else to, and you must stay positive, no matter what.

MVRemix: Anything else?

HST: Buy our CDs, watch our videos, and study and enjoy them for what they are ... Peace!

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"At the moment it's best described as Electro-Rock-Rap. We're pushing the boundaries as much as we can to reach new heights. Electro is our way of representing our future sound and our way of taking the mind into space, so to speak. Rock demonstrates our respect for the past and we like the gut-wrenching, raw power that the guitar has to offer."