Here to convince you that the walls of hip hop are not as confining as others may have you believe, UK outfit Foreign Beggars take a sledge hammer approach to genre definition. “At the moment we find ourselves somewhere in between the Hip Hop movement, the Dubstep scene, D’n’B and Grime.” Explains Metropolis real name withheld “We’ve just never been afraid to fuck with something slightly out of our comfort zone to the point where its just kept on expanding. We can approach a bunch of different style tracks and still stamp our mark on it.” Stamp is a good choice of words in defining the high-voltage, in your face beats that Foreign Beggars are known and loved for. Their imprint is deeply embossed into everything they touch.
Like lifelong debt, it all started at University where Metropolis and group members Orifice Vulgatron, Dagnabbit and Nonames, found common ground in their diverse musical tastes. “We all listen to different types of shit.” Says Metropolis “OV grew up listening to a lot of metal and rock, D’n’B, nowadays a lot of grime and electro stuff. I’m into a lot of Boogie Funk, Italo Disco, that post dilla beat movement which is blurring the lines between hip hop and electronica, and we always challenge each other with different styles of shit to flip on.” Nowhere else is this amalgamation of sounds more effective than when performed live. “I think our stage show is a lot more focused on crowd entertainment than most others, so when we’re on stage we go all out and put on a show, rather than just playing our favorite moody tracks, which we love but might not necessarily be something people are gonna move to.” You might think with such high levels of energetic output, fatigue might be an issue, but thankfully not. “Being on stage is like a second gear for me,” claims Metropolis. “People see us before the set and be like ‘You look tired’, but by the time the sets done we’re so hyped we wanna do another few sets! In fact we just came back from playing at the Noisia album launch in Groningen, Holland. We did our set, then hosted on both theirs and 16Bit’s sets. Then did the same thing the next day – jumped on a train after two hours sleep and went and rocked another set in France. It just comes naturally to us, I guess. Otherwise it’s the copious amounts of Red Bull and Vodka!”
To date, Metropolis has been more than happy for the group to operate on their own terms in the underground arena, but having had touches of commercial success, has the pressure for more been mounting? “There’s always been that pressure, just because we all want to live good off the back of our efforts and the years of work we’ve put in. Even after Asylum Speakers everyone was expecting us to cross over, but we put out [LP] Stray Point Agenda as a kind of two-fingered salute to all those expectations! We just wanted to grow and to do things at our own pace. A lot of people come out in the mainstream before they’re ready and just get chewed up and spat out. We’ve built this thing solidly over the past seven years, made all the links we’ve needed to and generally managed ourselves, so we have our own fanbase and are fully capable of being financially successful on an underground scale.
Having said that, I believe if we had the backing of a major label we could do some serious damage. It’s not something we’re necessarily angling for, but if the opportunity came up I think we’d do really well. In some ways it’s almost easier to stay underground but making that transition into the mainstream whilst still putting out credible music is the real challenge. Few guys can really do that.”