Earlier this week, Facebook played host to a public argument between Sutherland and Ken Masters on Reali-T’s status. The argument came as Reali-T posted a series of status’ about wanting a manager, and Sutherland commented that they didn’t need managers or labels. This came as a surprise to those who had seen Reali-T and Sutherland named in the Northentic Records roster that launched in 2018. As such Northentic’s label head Seek The Northerner and labelmate Ken Masters commented asking for clarification to their position on being apart of Northentic – with Ken particularly expressing concerns as to their seeming public declaration of leaving the label without notifying Seek first. TheRootMusic has since interviewed Reali-T where he discussed his take on the situation, and now we have conducted a Q&A via email with Seek The Northerner. Below you can read the full conversation with the Northentic Records head honcho:
TRM: Can you explain what Northentic Records is all about and how it started?
Seek: I feel that the UK scene is unbelievably cliquey and people are often scared of promoting other people in case they become more popular than themselves. There’s a couple of successful labels out there and I often contacted them to ask for advice and guidance in order to better myself as an artist. I also soon figured that sending them material was often pointless as they never got back to me. This lead to me questioning my own level, but the thing is: I was often in cyphers with people that had big reps and always came away with their sincere respect. In some of those cyphers maybe 1 or 2 were better than me, and in some cyphers I was running the show but in all of them I’ve always walked away with an improved rep and more respect. So this contradicted the ignorance shown by labels who I was humbly asking for advice and guidance – it basically proved I wasn’t crap. I’ve had top artists feature on my albums or tracks – Leafdog, Dr Syntax, Dizzy Dustin, Woody, Scorzayzee, Benny Diction, Ken Masters etc., all people who do not work with bad artists. Whenever someone has contacted me for advice or guidance I feel genuinely humbled, proud and appreciative. It really means a lot, it’s a massive compliment and I always reply.
For all the above reasons I started to think about launching a label but with a difference. I had to ask myself what was important to me. I know it’s not money! My job looking after disabled adults pays enough to run a nice home, and feed my little boy and myself. I don’t need money for anything else. I have all my own equipment already and am up and running. However the one thing I did realise I needed was a support network. The labels I often contacted didn’t even send a message to back even if it was to say my music was crap or something hahaha!
I started B-Boying when I was 6 or 7, Local B-boys taught us as kids. I’ve been a Hip Hop head most of my life and I’m 41 in Feb. I have always been taught that real heads contribute to the culture by showing respect and promoting the things that are good for the health of Hip Hop!
As a B-Boy I danced against some heads who I didn’t like as people, some proper arrogant twats, however, some of those twats were superb dancers and important for the scene. If I’ve ever been asked about them I’ve seen past my view of them on personal level and spoke of how dope they were as dancers. If people fear other artists on the scene then they are definitely insecure with their own output. If they are insecure they should learn to ask for help. As Practitioners of Hip Hop we should all constantly be learning and asking for help. I am not insecure about my output because I trust my abilities, if you step to me in a cypher or even battle of any kind you will either get smoked OR if you win you will walk away with a very very healthy respect for me and that’s good enough for me – a win win! This isn’t directed at people to be discussed later, this is simply about anybody who don’t support talent they perceive as a threat.
TRM: Is Northentic an official record label, set up as a business etc., and roster members signing a contract or is it less formal than that?
Seek: I’m a scrubber from Burnley with little money, so in the traditional sense no it’s not a record label. I’m literally working with what I’ve got and trying to create links. I don’t know if Northentic is a label or a collective…..but whatever it is, the ultimate aim is to get a group of artists up to vinyl release level….and make them see that to survive and be consistent you have to work to the true Hip Hop ethic of promoting what is good for Hip Hop on the whole even if something might be better than yourself. There’s tons of artists I regard as wayyyy better than me, but do I fear them? Why would I fear the only people that could help me improve? Why would I try and not promote them in order to look better? – It makes absolutely no sense at all to do these things!!!
So I wanna talk about Newcastle’s importance to me. Out of all the scenes I’ve connected with in the UK, Newcastle has been the one that has shown no fear of supporting me. It’s only ever shown me massive respect and cyphering with Ken Masters, Rick Fury, Gilly, J-man, Chattabox, The Skruffz etc has been educational and a lot of fun. These dudes are not to be fucked with if you aren’t confidence in your own skills…..they will take you into deep water and drown you….they might even do that if you are confident in yourself hahaha. I hope they have learnt from me too…..because that is what it’s all about.I don’t fear anybody in a cypher as I totally trust my freestyle abilities, pre-wrote game and understanding of battling. However I’m constantly asking Kenny and Chatta for advice. Chatta even got me onboard with Killamari Records which was massive for me…in fact Killamari is much the influence for Northentic but we have slight differences. Whenever I see Rick I learn a lot about performance too, dudes a beast and funny as fuck too…It feels great to know these people on a personal level now.
TRM: There’s recently been a bit of disagreement on social media. Are Reali-T and Sutherland still members of Northentic?
Seek: Ok… Here’s how I feel about it. When I started Northentic I wrote a mission statement to send to anybody I wanted onboard. In that statement it said I wasn’t asking for a percentage of anybody’s money…instead, once artists had made money they could donate whatever they felt correct back to Northentic and it would be used for promoting us all and developing the label/collective.
Now Reali-T said he didn’t realise his and Sutherland’s music would be getting sold on Northentic……but I wouldn’t be asking for donations back, instead of taking a percentage if nothing was being sold. That’s absolute common sense to me….so I question if he read the mission statement.
Sutherland and Reali-T went quiet for a while and I wondered what was up. I eventually asked and they said we haven’t received any money yet! Now I don’t want this to reflect bad on them because in the statement it also said older material from pre- Northentic times could be put on the label, but won’t be promoted to the level of any brand new releases they release fully through us. What I’m trying to say is…. They had made less than a tenner….but you have to understand their tracks hadn’t been promoted yet and so that’s a good sign to me.
I feel they thought they might have thought they had made more money. On a major label they usually get a huge payment at the end of year after money has built up for example….. and we are only a small independent label…so with Northentic holding about 15 artists I was never ever going to be sending people a tenner here and a fiver there….I can be totally trusted and will pay money once it has built to a level.
Anyways…I have made mistakes too…..I always stated that artists on the label could have access to their accounts at anytime and look for themselves what they have made. I do not have the power to tamper with Bandcamp money statements and they can view them whenever they like! However I feel what I could of done better is do monthly statements or something & forwarded the emails showing a track had been sold. I apologise for that but also need them to understand this is a learning curve for me too….and I’ve been extremely busy with the other aspects of building a a label.
My other issue was that Sutherland and Reali-T were not promoting the others to the level they should have been. On speaking to Reali-T not so long ago he said I should have asked him….I feel I did already as it was the WHOLE idea behind Northentic and written in the mission statement….if you want to carve a place out in the cliquiest scene imaginable…support each other!!!! Reali-T also then said that he had put something out on Spotify or iTunes (can’t remember which) and we didn’t support that. I responded that to support that track I’d want to brand it with Northentic and get all the other artists to push it too….a well structured supportive and planned release….not a release and then we are all gonna support…..these things should be planned and discussed. Reali-T saw my point.
Personally I like Reali-T, he is a nice guy and talented. He has a nice way with his lyrics that pays respect to old and new styles and also spits over beats more in line with today’s younger gen….without compromising integrity like some of the shit that’s about these days. I think he could be big on a commercial level. That’s not personally my thing….i’m an underground cypher lyricist and producer and always will be…I believe that’s where the best on the scene hang and I’m more interested in skills and the development of the culture than I am money. That’s not saying Reali-T doesn’t care about skill and development…of course he does….but I think he wants to make a living from this….I don’t!!! I just wanna carry on smoking fools in gritty ciphers and learning from those better than me…I have no interest in personal financial gain.
Sutherland is talented without doubt…a real prospect for the future. I can see the rawness his style holds and he will have an impact without doubt. On an experience level I feel he has a lot to learn about the culture. This isn’t a diss, it’s an age thing…the dudes young and has a lot to learn about how things work. The main thing he needs to learn is the importance of communicating his worries. I feel he shouldn’t have been disrespectful to Kenny. Sometimes you have to reflect on things and say….you know what maybe I could have communicated my feelings better and been more sensitive about what I wrote…… regardless of however it was meant, you have to be aware that saying ‘we don’t need managers or labels’ doesn’t look good on the people running the label you are on! That’s why ken Masters jumped in on my side to defend me because he knows why I am doing this label thing….he felt that doesn’t look good from an outside perspective and wanted to challenge that.
Anyways…. Things have gotten confused. I will still be discussing things with Reali-T as I think there may be a future for our work together on Northentic still. I think things are over between us and Sutherland but I do wish him well and hope he finds his place in Hip Hop….he is a talent….no doubt about that.
TRM: Has all this attention on Northentic been a positive despite the negatives?
Seek: I don’t know…. I’m not experienced enough in running labels/collectives to know the answer to this question…but everybody has to start somewhere right? All I know my intentions are good and honest and I’m just trying to carve a space for all those artists at the mercy of a cliquey scene in which many big labels cannot find the time to reply…..even if it’s just a ‘we’re sorry…we are too busy to deal with you’. I hope it is good…. But if it isn’t I will reflect on why and not make the same mistakes again. I’m only human and there’s going to be mistakes made here and there.
TRM: What is your main goal for Northentic in 2018?
Seek: To continue talent spotting and creating a group of artists that have each others backs 100%, know the importance of supporting each other and destroy motherfuckers in cyphers haha.
TRM: What is your main goal for yourself as a musician in 2018?
Seek: Lyrics wise I’m currently trying to discover more flow techniques. It’s one of the big things that interests me…I try to make my words B-Boy and have great content. I also like putting a lot of thought into battle punchlines….clever double meanings, well thought metaphors, funny, aggressive etc. I always try to improve on all levels though….I have to….I’m a street cypher rapper….I have to be on my A-Game.
TRM: Anything to promote from the label coming in the next month or so?
Seek: Loadsa new stuff coming from all the artists on Northentic!!! …and more new artists coming very soon!!! Thank you for the opportunity to say our side.