Shotty Horroh: the world class battle rapper on his new film ‘VS’

Widely recognised as one of the world’s best and most successful battle rappers, Mancunian maestro Shotty Horroh is soon to occupy cinemas, making his acting debut in British battle rap film VS.

He has also just recently dropped his indie-inflected second album Salt of the Earth. Speaking ahead of the release of VS, Horroh had a lot to get off his chest. ‘Rock and roll rears its head when the voiceless need a voice. The council estates are always ignored. Especially up north’, the rapper told NME. We speak to Shotty about his film debut, and also exclusively premiere the music video for his latest tune ‘Frank & Stein’.

Prior to VS., did you have any acting experience?

“Only the performance parts in the battle game that I created myself. They were the only things. Ed (Lilly – director) pointed out to me that that was acting.”

How did you originally become involved in battle rap?

“I was selling mixtapes on the streets. I thought it would be a way of promoting my music. I had a conversation with this guy about Dizaster – who was the greatest battler in the world at the time – and the guy said, ‘you could never battle Dizaster’. Although I’d never battled in my life, I booked Dizaster out of my own pocket and flew him over to Manchester. I won 3-0.”

Check out the new video for Shotty Horroh’s latest tune ‘Frank & Stein’ exclusively on NME below:

So what is the secret to a good putdown?

“Battle rap isn’t so much about the putdown, it’s about how good you are at rapping, (but) you need to be able to take a lot of pressure and (have) no respect. Be brutal. I never really did personals. One of the reasons I left the game was that I’m just not a negative person. I was in it when I thought skill was the reason that you were going to prevail. It’s not really like that now.”

Your new material certainly seems to have more of a rock influence.

“I’m Mancunian born and bred. Raised on Oasis, Joy Division, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, New Order and all of that. I’ve always been an indie rocker. But it’s just something that I never brought to the table.”

The VS. soundtrack has the likes of Stormzy, Skepta and Loyle Carner. How do you feel about the current music scene?

“Stormzy’s a legend. The ‘voice of the people’, no matter who you are. I also really like Paigey Cakey, Izzie Gibbs, Scouse Trappin Tremz and Children of Zeus. There are some great British acts (around).”

You’d put yourself away from that crowd now though?

“100%. If there was a torch I’m going to carry, it would be Ian Brown and Liam Gallagher. But the 2018 version. And with rap lyrics. I’m talking council estate stories.”

Are people from the poorer ends of society inadequately represented?

“Definitely. Especially with the government that we now have in. Rock and roll rears its head when the voiceless need a voice. The council estates are always ignored. Especially up north, man. This album is the most natural, heart-on-the-sleeve thing that I’ve ever done. Definitely politically conscious.”

We need some charisma too. Where have all the frontmen gone?

“This is it. There’s no rock and roll, man. Everyone’s scared and got their noses up each other arse because no one wants to piss off another guy in the industry because he might the guy that helps me. Bollocks. If I don’t like your music, I’m going to tell you straight: I don’t like your music.”

Too many careerists?

 “Definitely. Put your art out there, and if it’s mint, it’s mint. If it’s not, it’s not, but don’t try and cut corners. And there’s a lot of corner-cutting at the minute. Too many fookin’ people thinking that schmoozing, rubbing shoulders and posing is the industry. Expect me to be in trouble a few times. I told the label: put a budget aside for the legals. I want rock n’ roll back as much as anyone else, man. And it’s coming back. You can’t kill rock and roll. We just had a little bit of a break. We let the posers in.”

VS. is out now, Shotty’s album ’Salt Of The Earth’ is out now via Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc.