Graham Reid | | 3 min read
The name might sound menacing and the music can most definitely be, but Scalper -- aka Nadeem Shafi -- is, in Elsewhere's experience, scrupulously poilte and signs off his communications with "Peace".
Born in East London to a Pakistani family, he was a member of London's crossover hip-hop/Asian fusion outfit Fund-da-mental and in that capacity came to New Zealand for a Womad in 1997. A decade later he moved to New Zealand and bases himself on the west coast near Auckland.
His previous album Flesh and Bones was well received at Elsewhere (see here), he opened for Public Enemy in 2011, worked with UniTone Hi-Fi and has shared bills with Che Fu, King Kapisi and other hip-hop luminaries.
The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .
Mmm..hard one. I have memories of watching Indian films with my parents when I was young and I still feel the energies of the soundtracks though I can’t remember the actual songs. The songs from Oliver Twist ‘pick a pocket or two’ and ‘Food Glorious Food’ which we sung at primary school had an effect on me cos i was realizing that some children had no parents to love them and no food to eat.
Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .
I can’t really remember any one person I looked as a musical role model but I did used to wear a t-shirt which I was handed down from my sister when I was 9 years old with a big picture of Donny Osmond's face on it and the t-shirt had stretched in the wash and his face was all fat and stretched too.
Lennon or Jagger, Ramones or Nirvana, Madonna or Gaga, Jacko or Jay-Z?
John Lennon , Ramones, Madonna, Jay-Z
If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .
When I was as school I wanted to be an architect but the careers advisor told me that because my maths and physics was not up to par that I had virtually no chance. I gave up that idea then and there.
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .
Any Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan song, Public Enemy's ‘She Watch Channel Zero’ and any track off the new Scalper album ‘Butchers Bakers’.
Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?
My record collection I would say is the most valuable musical thing to me.
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
Chuck D’s ‘Fight the Power’ and David Toop’s Rap Attack.
If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)
I would love to get on stage with Sepultura and do a vocal on one track with Max and his brothers.
The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
Made in Britain, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Enter The Dragon.
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
I am always looking out for old records for sampling and I found a nice bunch a little while ago . . and I downloaded the new Action Bronson mixtape ‘Blue Chips’ last week..anyone into good lyricism and flow has gotta check out out Action Bronson aka Bronsalini
One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you in that case would be . . .
Man, if one of my songs ended up giving me royalties for life then that would be sweet but I’d still work on my music. I’d have the last song off the new Scalper album ‘Nothing’ or ‘Complacent Certainty’ by 2nd Gen.
The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .
All kinds of posters, album covers in the studio but on the bedroom wall, it would have to be ‘her choice’..haha
You are allowed just one tattoo, and it is of . . .
Don’t like needles.
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?
Spend them really living life, fully immersed in it with family and friends.
And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”
It is another chapter in an ongoing musical journal of a fellow human being trying to figure out his place and purpose on this Earth and Universe.
Musically my production has got technically better and I feel it is my best work as of yet in that sense. Lyrically it covers social issues as Scalper sees them alongside the withins and withouts of the self, emotions and issues we all have to bear and deal with in some form in our day to day lives. . . and in that trying to find a median line to flow on in a balanced state of being.
I hope people who listen to it enjoy it enough so it can also be one of the best albums in their musical libraries too.