10 Questions With… Black Borough

10 Questions With… A series that delves into the musical careers of some of our favourite artists, local and afar. With a particular focus on our Melodic Distraction friends and wider community, this lil natter gives us an insight into their musical escapades when they’re in their studio, not ours. 

Three Liverpool heavyweights join forces to create one of the city’s most exciting hip-hop super groups. Meet Black Borough, the new project from MC Nelson, Dayzy and Starkey The Messenger. Praised for their revivalist jazzy sound and positive ethos, Black Borough gained traction supporting KRS One before the release of any music. Their eagerly-anticipated, self-titled debut EP dropped in November, and we’ve had it on repeat since. We find out what else is on the horizon below…

Hey Black Borough, we’re loving your debut self-titled EP! Can you tell us more about the ideas behind it?   

This project occurred naturally from all 3 of us coming together with no expectations to see what we could create. There wasn’t really any racking our brains for ideas, just taking it a step at a time. Although each song on the record has its own clear concept, the EP as whole is simply underlined by collaboration and fun.

How was Black Borough born?   

Although we already knew each other, the project was really born in a session at GoPlay Studio. It wasn’t just that the songs were good, but the session itself was so enjoyable and the chemistry was palpable. From that first session we knew we had to flesh out the project and keep working together. Although there were many false starts to getting this EP done, it’s amazing to finally have it out in the world.

Your debut gig was only going and supporting KRS One – what a way to make an entrance! What can we expect from a Black Borough live set?  

You can expect to see straight unadulterated hip hop. We take cyphering in the park and messing around going back-to-back with your mates to the stage, and we were blown away by the response to the KRS gig. We don’t want to give too much away; the people have got to come and find out for themselves!

Each a talented artist in your own right, does your own music influence the work of Black Borough and if so, how?  

There is a lot of overlap in our solo work, enough to make the transition to collaborating seamless, but not so much overlap that collaborating becomes pointless.

There are areas that each individual has particular strengths in; Starkey is a super producer with a wealth of musical training, Dayzy has an effortless flow and serene tone of voice that is hard to teach, and Nelson has years of emceeing and performing under his belt. All this comes together to make Black Borough greater than the sum of its parts.

What have been the best parts of working together so far? Any challenges?  

Many hands make light work! You’re telling me I only have to write 16 bars and the other two lads will do the rest of the work? Sounds amazing.

In terms of challenges, at times it has been difficult trying to pin down 3 separate movers and shakers. At a certain point this year we were all living in three different cities trying to coordinate, but things are easier now.

Do your surroundings of Liverpool have much of an impact on your sound and if so, how?  

Liverpool plays a big part in our music, and we very nearly ended up being called the Sefton Park Poets! Of course, our song ‘Welcome to my City’ has a few Scouse references in it, and there is some distinctively Liverpudlian tongue-in-cheek humour across our lyrics.

We hope the movement can inspire more collaboration in the Scouse rap scene. We’re hoping to work with more artists from the deep pool of talent this city has to offer.

How have your experiences of the music industry been? Have you faced many challenges and if so how have you overcome them?  

The lack of dedicated funding and opportunities for hip hop in the UK is glaring when you consider how much it contributes to the music industry. However, the fact all 3 of us are driven by a pure passion and love for the culture, means we’ll always find ways to make things happen regardless.

Where do you hope to see the industry in five years’ time?  

Hopefully in 5 years’ time there is more artist development opportunities for up and coming rappers. Also Liverpool to be mentioned alongside the likes Of London, Manchester and Birmingham as a hotbed for black music in the UK.

What tune or album do you currently have on rotation?   

We’re old school front to back album listeners, so gotta shout out some of the albums that have gotten us through the year: Little Simz – ‘No Thank You’, Ari Lennox  – ‘age/sex/location’, Dehd  – ‘Blue Skies’, Steve Lacy  – ‘Gemini Rights’, Ojerime  – ‘Bad Influence’, Souls of Mischief – ’93 till infinity’,  JID – ‘Forever Story’, Bad Brains – ‘I Against I’, Kendrick Lamar – ‘Mister Morale and the Big Steppers’.

What do you have planned for 2023?  

In 2023 our focus is going to be on developing our live show. You can catch us perfuming alongside the absolutely legendary hip hop group Souls of Mischiefs on 2 March at District.

We’ll of course be putting out new music both as solo artists and as a group, but nothing beats the fun and the energy of a live show, and as 3 little hedonists, we plan on chasing the fun.

Black Borough’s self-titled debut EP is out now – check it here and watch the video for ‘Welcome To My City’ below!