Ugly Duckling come from the old skool of hip hop. You remember the days when it was all about the beats and good time. A time before the gangsta rappers came on board and rap music simply became a forum for violence, sexism and macho stereotypes. We caught up with Andy from Ugly Duckling and found out how he was the only white guy in the neighbourhood who hung around with the likes of Snoop Doggy Dogg and drop some lyrical bombs. Get with da flava!!!
Q: How does it feel to be the nice clean boys of hip hop?
A: Well. I'm a pretty laid back clean living Christian boy myself so its not really anything unusual for me. I'm just speaking personally for myself, not really for the other two guys, but for the most part were pretty laid back guys so its cool to just do something different. That's what I've always like about are group is that we've always had a different angle on things and never felt we had to compete with everyone else cos we were so much different.
There are some people who really identify with it. The people who like us like us a lot. Nobody really hates us cos were not really hate able guys. But a lot of people prefer screaming and yelling and talking about slapping girls and stuff cos its more rowdy, fun and rebellious. We just like to be funky and groovy and have a good time - there's a lot of people who can relate to that.
We never ask for everyone in the world to like us, just a couple of people. To try to grab a good 3% of the worlds population.
Q: There a proper old skool vibe going on?
A: We like to look at more like its classic styles rather than just old skool because were hoping that its not just confined to being old. Its something that will be eternal and just on the other side of a cycle. Again its classic style as far as how we approach lyrics. We've tried to do some new stuff on the new record and people really don't give us enough credit, they think all the rhymes are like " 1 2 3 - 3 2 1 were here to have some fun". The lyrics are more support for a track and the funkiness, cos that's what I think rappers are supposed to do.
Q: Was your growing up difficult ghetto life or just normal everyday upbringing?
A: It was pretty laid back. I mostly got into hip hop from going to integrated schools and playing basketball my whole life and being like the only white kid on the black team. So you'd go over to your friends house and they'd be playing the Phat Boyz or something and it just got me interested in it. It was pretty similar with Einstein and Diz just that we all grew up in a very multi-cultural city and got exposed to it. Certainly none of us are from the Projects or the Bronx or anything like that.
Its a real bag and Dustin would probably reflect more with the gangsta lifestyle than would Rodney and I. Actually you wanna know a funny story. You know "Comptons Most Wanted" - well Dizzy is really good friends with one of the guys on that album called Chill and they thank Dizzy on the back of that album - straight checking him, the very first record. We know all those guys too - Snoop Dogg from our school and stuff.
Q: The album "Journey To Anywhere" comments on your time growing up and not being accepted by your family and stuff?
A: That's sort of the thing behind the group. I try not to look at it as not being accepted, more people misunderstanding you and being a little different. I know i've been like that my whole life and its kind of more enjoyable to have a different angle on stuff. Its fun to go up on the stage and have a completely different approach from the 8 groups who just went on.
Q: So you're kind of anti the whole gangsta rap thang?
If I was a gangsta rapper it would stink because you'd have to walk round and live up to that all that time. Us we can act how we want. If I say something stupid so what!!!
Of course the gangsta rappers just put on an act. I saw a special on Jayzee the other day and he's an extremely laid back, eloquent and intelligent and he's not some guy running around shooting people and big pimpin at all. Its just their form of entertainment and they know it sells. In a way its exploitation because all they talk about is violence and misogynistic - its just old and stupid to me like Arnold Schwarnegger movies - yer know shooting a million people is what sells tickets so that's what they do.
We thought Eminem should have performed with all the gay singers like Little Richard and George Michael. Is Barry Mannilow officially gay? I think Eminems whole record is stand-up comedy to a beat. It doesn't have anything to do with music or hip hop to me, but its funny and it rhymes.
Q: Do you think lyrics are important though?
A: I like good music. Hip-hop, bossanova and anything that sounds good and groovy and funky. I don't care what you're talking about really. I'm not interested in what music artists have to say politically cos they are usually so out of touch with normal people that I couldn't care less what Sting things about the Environment. Like he can relate to anyone who's out working a regular job.
The groove and the beat are always first and is it funky and is it going to get people having a good time and getting the vibe. We may throw in an opinion every once in a while. I'd have a nerve preaching to someone cos I'm just an idiot - just other artists refuse to believe they're idiots and they go on believing they're Shakespeare or something.
"Journey To Anywhere" is out soon on XL Recordings