“Potential voice of a generation” — The Guardian
“Spine tingling” — Jo Whiley, BBC Radio 1
“MC’s either do crunk or clever, Riz is one of the few who can do both” – Touch
Crosstown Rebels is proud to present the smash single ‘Radar’ from Riz MC.
Riz Ahmed, is a seriously versatile UK talent, winning plaudits by word of mouth across a diverse range of audiences. The reasons for this are simple - he’s a fantastic performer (Riz is also a hotly tipped actor – more about that later), he has a distinctive voice with something to say, and he says it over a fresh and bold musical palette.
His recent and upcoming gig listing is a testament to his rare ability to win a following across such diverse crowds. In the next few weeks he is supporting Jazzy B (Soul II Soul) at Wembley Arena, playing The Warehouse Project with Dizzee Rascal, and a prison with Billy Bragg.
After collaborating and performing with him, Nitin Sawhney put Riz forward to become an Emerging Artist in Residence at London’s prestigious Southbank Centre. He played with Revd. and the Makers at Glastonbury this year, and accompanied Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, Laura Marling, and Pigeon Detectives on a US tour this Spring taking in SXSW festival and winning rave reviews from trendy bloggers to the Daily Telegraph. He was hand picked by Massive Attack to support them at this year’s Meltdown Festival, for their opening show at the austere Royal Festival Hall. A few weeks later he smashed a gig at Fabric.
He continues to defy categorization with his new single ‘Radar’ - a dagger of a tune, built from an infectious riff that immediately gets under your skin. Simultaneously ballsy and classy, it’s a bold musical creation with an intense sound; biting lyrics cut through banging hypnotic beats to devastating effect, pitching somewhere between Mos Def and the Prodigy. Recorded in a tiny, non-professional studio, the claustrophobic feel of Radar compliments the lyrics. “It’s about drowning in information, advertising, and labeling - and how that makes you pigeonhole everything you see… You should listen to it LOUD to get the full impact – I’m not great at making background music. “
‘People like People’, reissued here as a B-side, was previously released independently and hammered by Huw Stephens, Zane Lowe, and Jo Whiley. It’s another flurry of jabs at modern life over more minimal, edgey, and addictive beats. With its restless forward momentum, it speaks of the pressure to conform to the cult of cool. “People like rock stars who do smack, singers that get trashed, and models that might snap…” . Says Riz, “It’s not a matter of wagging my finger – if my lyrics are cutting, I don’t stop short of pointing the finger at myself in them.”
The package comes complete with a remix from leader of the electronic underground, LOCODICE with his ‘Loco In A Box’ mix of Radar. Stripping back the original into a twisted, sexy groove of a techno monster, this track has been exciting the talents of leading DJs from Sasha through to Groove Armada.
Riz’s caustic and concise lyrics pick apart the kind of topics most MC’s don’t touch without ever straying into clichéd, self-righteous ‘conscious MC’ territory. Influenced by Bjork, 4Hero and Radiohead, Riz creates bold and innovative tunes without resorting to kitsch, trashy or retro elements. “I want to make 21st century music that has something to say. I want to explode the current scene with something more substantive and original.”
‘Radar’ and its B-side ‘People Like People’ are the early glimpses of a genre bending album. Both are produced by the hotly tipped tech-breaks talent Lazersonic (Air Recordings), and exemplify Riz’s desire to cultivate his eclectic influeces and fan base by working with a wide range of producers. The result will be a distinct and unique sound scape, a million miles away from your average MC – from hard-to-place club bangers, to jazz electronica, to orchestral strings with no beats at all.
An Oxford graduate with a London pirate radio background, he can boast the honour of having his debut single (Post 9/11 Blues) banned from the airwaves, and being detained by Special Branch after acting in Michael Winterbottom’s multi award winning ‘Road to Guantanamo’. When the track debut got banned and jumped on by the media, he resisted major deal offers in favour of building things from a genuinely grass roots level.
He gave the mp3 away for free, shot and uploaded a video for it on a shoe string budget, and it became an internet cult classic. Off the back of this and his self-released follow-up ‘People Like People’, MTV and RWD Magazine pronounced him “About to Blow”, and Radio 1 chose Riz as a key BBC Introducing Artist – handpicked in 2007/2008 to play Glastonbury, the BBC Electric Proms, and a special Maida Vale Session with the Ting Tings. He has earned his stripes, gone the long way round, and impressed at every opportunity.
The forthcoming video for ‘Radar’ is being directed by up and coming film maker Lily Smith (Colonel Blimp), and there’s also a Riz MC / Rebel Rave film in the making (consisting of exclusive footage from his recent Fabric show) to support the release. People Like People, the B-side to Radar, has a stunning and ambitious video already online, featuring 5,000 pics in 3mins sent in by fans, friends of friends, and randoms – with a few Arctic Monkeys thrown in for good measure.
Riz also has a burgeoning acting career. After his screen debut in the multi-award winning ‘Road to Guantanamo’, he recently played the lead role in Peter Kosminsky’s BAFTA-winning and hotly-debated ‘Britz’, due to be aired on US screens on BBC America to coincide with this release. Forthcoming screen appearances include Sally Potter’s next feature alongside Jude Law and Judy Dench, and the title role in soon to be released ‘Shifty’ opposite Jason Flemyng and Daniel Mays. With his trajectory in both the musical and acting worlds progressing atsuch an incredible pace, and with each release building credibility and winning new supporters, Riz looks set to be an indomitable force for the future.
Published: 11th November 2008