In Depth: Lee Scott
The lyrical legacy of Runcorn rap prodigy Lee Scott was always manifested in his mind, cultivating from a young fixation with hip-hop culture. In 2003, Lee created his debut mixtape, ‘Middle Finger Salute’ alongside rapper Salar, together known as the Antiheroes. Way before the days of social media, the Antiheroes attained nationwide acclaim as far as London. After hearing the Antiheroes, an up-and-coming rapper known as Monster Under The Bed became a fan of Lee Scott before he’d even met him. When Lee first met Monster Under The Bed at an Antiheroes headline show down in London, they formed a bond which led to a decision, alongside multiple other north/south rap affiliates, to merge into a collective called Children Of The Damned. Over the following months, the supergroup of 10+ emcees and various beat maker/producers created the cult classic, Tourettes Camp. This album led to the formation of Blah Records, co-founded by Lee Scott, Monster Under The Bed and Molotov in 2006 - although the first official Blah release was Lee Scott’s The Wrong Bootleg Demo EP.
Three years later, Lee and Monster Under The Bed collaborated again as the Mcabre Brothers, dropping their debut Mcabre Brothers album in 2009, followed by two more projects, Merry Crit Mas (2010) & Gonzo Lyricism (2011). Another three years followed, before Lee and Monster Under The Bed [then known as Don Silk] reconnected on a track called Puta for Lee’s solo album, Tin Foil Fronts (2014). This track featured Sumgii, Trellion and Sniff, who each became partly instrumental in Lee’s musical destiny thereafter. In December 2014, Lee Scott, Sumgii, Trellion and Don Silk [now known as Milkavelli], unleashed their new hip-hop quartet to the world with a self-titled, debut EP called Cult Mountain. This project was released by the artists independently, simultaneously leading to the creation of a new brand called 616. Thanks to the spiralling success of Cult Mountain’s music and merchandise, Lee and Milkavelli acquired more world-wide publicity and exposure, which aligned perfectly with the revival of Children Of The Damned - which re-emerged in 2015 with another self-titled, debut EP called Cult Of The Damned. Still featuring original Children Of The Damned members, the reformed collective enlisted additional rap recruits from Manchester and London, i.e. Black Josh and Stinkin Slumrok amongst others. The opening, head-banging visual for the Cult Of The Damned single went viral on YouTube, becoming the most viewed Blah Records video to date.
Whilst working between Cult Mountain and COTD in 2018, Lee and Milkavelli decided it was time to record another Mcabre Brothers album. It had been seven years since the release of Gonzo Lyricism, which was fabled to have been their final project. As two figureheads of Blah Records, news of the impending collaboration caused excitement from the UK hip-hop community to intensify. The resulting Tell A Friend EP (2019) was announced alongside a nationwide UK ‘Bring A Friend Tour’ - the first Mcabre Brothers tour in history. Reaching the UK’s biggest cities, including London, Glasgow and Dublin, the sold-out tour demonstrated Mcabre Brothers long-standing popularity. On May 16th, Mcabre Brothers brought their ‘Bring A Friend Tour’ to Bristol’s Attic Bar. A night to remember, have a read of our Bristol vs London feature to find out how it went down. At roughly 1AM, after performances finished the Mcabre Brothers were still conversing with the crowds alongside their supporting artists for the evening: Salar, Stinkin Slumrok, Bisk & King Grubb. Found at the bar, despite being blatantly intoxicated, Lee Scott agreed to speak in depth on the history of Blah Records, Mcabre Brothers, Cult Mountain and more.
Walking back outside as we searched for a quieter space to record, Milkavelli accompanied us and began opening up about how he came to know Lee Scott. Raised in London, Milkavelli used to work at a Carnaby record store called Deal Real Records - renowned as London’s hip-hop Mecca. “That's a big do your history lesson,” reminisced Milkavelli, providing a context for the first time he spoke to Lee Scott. “It was a great, prolific place for hip-hop music in general. I used to work there and I was rapping - listen, old school shit. We were cyphering, a circle of people rapping at each other. Our friend Bill Shakes, phoned Lee and let him hear it. Lee said, ‘Bring him up.’ These times, I was already an Antiheroes fan.” … “Shakes and Salar went to Deal Real Records,” continued Lee Scott, recalling when he received Bill Shakes phone call with Milkavelli. “Them lot, Milk and Barebase, Sly Moon and that used to do their thing down there. Later on at a party, Milk approached Shakes because Shakes had mad weed on him. Shakes was like, '’I'll sort you out, yeah.' An hour later, Shakes hears him rapping in some living room or some shit. He rings me, puts him on loudspeaker and says "Yo, check this kid out!" Then I was like, "Bring him to Liverpool." Because we just had our little thing there, I was living above The Flathouse Pub on West Derby Road, that was the first Wrong House. They brought him up maybe two weeks later - him, Possessed from Rhyme Asylum, Plasma from Rhyme Asylum."
There is a two year age difference between Lee Scott and Milkavelli. At the time of their first conversation, they were around 18 & 16 years old. Milkavelli was already a fan of Antiheroes, so decided to take up Lee’s offer on visiting him in Liverpool. Upon meeting the emcees clicked, making a lot of music together. By 2006 they had a full length collaboration album ready, Tourettes Camp. All they needed now was a way to put it out, but prior to the era of digital distribution companies this task wasn’t as simple as it is today. “So we said we needed to register a business,” said Lee, revealing how Blah was co-started by breaking into internet hotspots. “Molotov, who now works for High Focus, he'd done a music management course and he knew how to do all these certain things. So me and him, we used to have to break into this... How do I describe it now? Kind of like an internet cafe, but for like students or something. I wasn't registered to it and at this time Molotov was no longer at Uni or something, so we used to sneak in and use the computers and that. Then we set up the business from there. Originally it was me, Molotov and Milkavelli. That's how it started in 2006, literally just to put out Tourettes Camp. But weirdly, the first project we ever put out was my The Wrong Bootleg Demo EP. But that's only because I was always making shit, right from day one I was making loads and loads of music. It's a mental illness, know what I mean? Years later, Reklews took over a lot of the admin side, because if I'm being honest I'm not really some admin type of guy. I've got business ideas, but I need someone else because I'm fucking insane ASD head. So Reklews took over for a while, he done a good job but then some things happened and he couldn't continue. So now Salar does that job, he runs the business. Shout outs Reklews.”
After forming the Blah brand, the make-shift UK hip-hop label quickly caught the nations attention. At the time, few had attempted to form a UK rap supergroup as manned as COTD; to hear 10+ emcees collaborate on an album would have been a rarity until Tourettes Camp, which contributed to the hype. Despite most members still being teenagers, the mischievous lyricism depicting their illicit lifestyles and demented thoughts struck chords across the country. “We just had a load of beats and then we just rapped,” shrugged Lee, looking back to recording Tourettes Camp.’ “It is what it is man. If I'm being honest, it's not like I'm ever going to even listen to the album. We were smashed off our heads, we had our one guy who lived in Waterloo, on the outskirts of Liverpool. He had a studio called Room With A View - shout out to Big Keith. We recorded most of the album in his studio, it was just more of a cypher album than anything. You know what I mean? We have little choruses, themes and whatever. But it was just a bunch of guys who were doing their rapping, who said let's make a thing. Power in numbers, strength in numbers and all that.”
“Weirdly actually,” said Lee, eyes widening as he sank further into recollection. “The Tourettes Camp album. This is a little weird fact, so basically... Originally before Children Of the Damned, me and Milk was doing a little project with Shakes and we made a bunch of tunes. Most of them tunes ended up being on Children Of The Damned, Tourettes Camp. We just switched them up and what have you. But yeah, that was the first album that we were both on. But we were just making a bunch of tunes, know what I'm saying.”
Three years later, despite living in separate parts of the country. The bond between Lee and Milkavelli remained strong, with both their fates tied by Blah. Milkavelli would travel to Lee’s place in Liverpool, where most of their music was written. After practising and rehearsing a compilation of back-to-back tunes between them, they decided to be known as the Mcabre Brothers. It was also set as the name of their self-titled debut, Mcabre Brothers. “It was a quick process laa” says Lee, when asked how long Mcabre Brothers was in the making before release. “Milk would just come up to my crib and we'd just smoke ounces and just drink shitty, cheap ass energy drinks and just eat loads of pro-plus, and fucking make albums and go insane. We would just sit up writing, I had a crib where we could just make noise all day and night. Luckily though, I just happened to land that crib where I was renting. It just had like a top room, which was like an attic conversion and we had no neighbours next to it. We would just make as much noise as we wanted, so we just stayed up all night making albums. When everyone else would be going to sleep, or going to bed. We'd be wide awake making music. So it was natural, you get me? It was like, alright... We've just made four songs. Do we get more people on this shit, or do we just roll with this? We decided to roll with it as we was just working faster than everyone else and had more enthusiasm for it and that."
Considering the closeness between the two emcees, maybe it's surprising that it took until 2009 for them to release a project together. However up to now, Milkavelli had featured on most of Lee’s projects - from The Wrong Bootleg Demo, Tourettes Camp and now Mcabre Brothers. The next release was another Mcabre Brothers project, the Merry Crit Mas EP released on Christmas Day, 2010. “I'll tell you the weirdest thing right,” Lee says seriously, about to reveal an exclusive insight into Merry Crit Mas. “That whole EP... We were trying to make it to have a specific shade of blue to the music. The whole EP man, this one song was just a perfect shade of pastel blue. There's one song on the project that is the wrong colour called Shanghighed which is green and yellow. But the other tracks, they are like a perfect shade of blue. We were like, let's make all the other songs have the same blue colour. That Little Things You Do, there was something that hit that but I can't remember what it was. Oh yeah, it was inspired by Rump Shaker by Wreckx n Effect it's a play on a cadence and lyric they say in that song, a classic. We recorded all that shit in Reklews' crib, Reklews used to live down the road from me. We used to walk to his house in like, 30 seconds in Garston, St. Mary's Road.”
“How did they come about?” Lee replies, when asked about the Merry Crit Mas features from Salar and King Grubb. “They were just about, they happened to be about. Then I made the beat to Drinkspiration, the inspiration for that song was actually listening to Masta Ace Incorporated. I was listening to that all summer and was like, we've got to make one old school tune. Know what I'm saying? I think I even sampled a tune off it, if you listen on the chorus. My memory is a bit shit right now, but the chorus is a sample from a Masta Ace Incorporated album. Maybe Slaughterhouse, or I can't remember. [Shouts] Grubb! You know on Drinkspiration? What's the tune that's sampled, it's a Masta Ace incorporated tune? Yeah, you don't remember... You don't fucking have a clue. [Laughs] But the song was like a whole homage to that shit.”
“We were always saying 'Merry Crit Mass' to each other,” Lee continued, explaining where the title came from and why the EP dropped on Christmas Day. “Because at the time Critical Mass was the weed that we were smoking. We had the Critical Mass Hysteria tune and all that. So that was the weed we were smoking at the time, Milk had this one link down in London. We used to come to London and have to wait outside the end of this one street, then we'd wait there for an hour. Then he would bring us ounces of this Crit Mass, once we'd smoked that at the time, nothing else would do. But that little period in time, everything was Crit Mass. So yeah we made that project, it was free download, a Christmas present - it was the Crit Mass present to the people.”
During this period, Lee Scott was active. On top of two Mcabre Brother projects between 2009-2010, Lee also released two Hock Tu Down projects. Both projects were produced by Reklews, who at the time was “proper blitzed” making the beats, which is a reason why those projects have that “smokey, weird sound.” These projects helped raise the profile of Blah, as well as establish Lee further before focusing on his own material. “Hock Tu Down was specifically Reklews on the beats and me on the rhymes,” said Lee, reiterating the importance of Reklews for both Mcabre Brothers & Hock Tu Down projects. “He is a mad producer, and also it was very important for me because he was a local guy. He moved down the street from me, we were both in Liverpool. We used to call him Mcabre Brother number three, like the honorary Mcabre Brother.”
The third and so-called ‘final’ Mcabre Brothers release - Gonzo Lyricism, was the album which solidified their fan-base for years to come. The album which almost never was, due to internal difficulties the twelve track project wasn’t released properly. Lee ultimately decided to drop it, perhaps out of impatience. For Lee, one thing was always certain; that something had to happen with it. Gonzo Lyricism eventually dropped in 2012, to huge acclaim. “The thing is yeah,” says Lee, partly answering why there was difficulty with releasing Gonzo Lyricism. “I spent so long doing the shit that I was like fuck that, I'm putting it out - I don't give a fuck. So then we put it out, it is what it is. That's it like, it's nothing. Milk was just doing his thing, I was doing my thing. So I put it out."
A heavy collaboration project, Gonzo Lyricism has multiple features from Blah affiliates, including Salar, King Grubb, Bang On! and Bill Shakes. As well as these, Ramson Badbones, Dutch Master J and DJ LSG also featured on the project. “DJ LSG is just one of the G's from Liverpool,” began Lee, explaining how some of the collaborations came about. “Shout out LSG, I ain't seen him for a while but I fucking love that guy. He was just a guy we used to chill with, have a laugh with and that. He was always a sick scratch DJ, he taught me little bits and bobs as well actually. He's the guy man, basically for a little period he was our go to scratch guy, you get me? Dutch Master J, he was Astonishing Jonathon at one point. He was actually featured on a Children Of The Damned collab, on Put On The Glasses - Cold Sag Run. So Dutch Master J's on that, he's not even listed - it's just listed as featuring Children Of The Damned anyway. So he was sort of an honorary member of Children Of The Damned, you know what I mean?”
“I didn't know Ramson or nothing like this,” continued Lee, remembering how he found out about Ramson Badbones. “The only thing I knew about Ramson prior to this, he battled in Liverpool one time. I didn't really know nothing about him, but someone was like 'Oh yeah, you's would sound good with Ramson Badbones' or whatever. I just remember being like, 'Alright well, maybe that will be cool' because we wanted an English collaboration that wasn't in the squad immediately. Back then, someone suggested him. I just remember eventually getting his verse and being like, 'Oh that's hard, OK cool we'll roll with it.' Then you've got Craig G - Master Of Ceremony, Juice Crew legend. That was just through, I don't know man - someone saying something about Craig G, we were trying to get an old school guy to round it off, might have been via Molotov he had a load of connections. “
After the release of Gonzo Lyricism, Lee and Milkavelli stopped speaking for a time, preventing Mcabre Brothers from touring. Milkavelli pursued success with Piff Gang, who were receiving a lot of hype. Lee on the other hand continued building Blah, dropping multiple solo and collaboration projects on an annual basis. A few years later, the two reconnected whilst Lee was recording a solo album.“We started talking around the time I was doing Tin Foil Fronts,” Lee recalled, reminiscing the track which led to the creation of Cult Mountain. “We done the Puta joint, then I got Sumgii to remix it. His remix version, I just thought that personally I liked my vocal on his beat more than I liked the original Puta. So I was like... actually I'll tell you something right. So the Valilujah track yeah, I actually wrote the verse over the Puta Remix beat. So I laced it, and got Sumgii to remix that again.' Then he remixed it with the Valilujah beat, then I done the hook and intro and shit and sent it to Trellion. Me and Trellion had spoke about liking that Sumgii production. Then I said to Sumgii 'when Milk next comes to the studio, play him that tune with me and Trell on it and watch.' He played the tune, then he was like, 'I want to be on that joint.' I was like cool yeah, but if you're on this joint we have to make a whole thing. Then the rest fell into place.”
“To be honest,” says Lee, giving his perspective on Cult Mountain’s success. “On an egotistical tip. You know, we're rappers at the end of the day. We always thought we were the best rappers, we always thought that the other best rapper was Trellion. So we were like, 'What if we had the best guys?' We just come together, it just made sense. That's it, because we're all into that similar... We're all masters of a certain groove that no one else could hit, especially at that time blah blah blah... That's what it was. Me and Trell had started talking a little bit before then anyway, so we were like, 'Let's do this.' That was it. Then it was just like, 'Let's get a different producer - let's get Sumgii, let's bring ourselves into this reality.' But still keep it slow, still keep it funky.”
At this point of the conversation, Sumgii was stood nearby. Lee shouts to Sumgii, “Not even for you but just for my own memory, I didn't know you through Piff Gang init? I just knew who you was I guess, or something. I guess I heard his name via Piff Gang and liked some of his beats and that. I done the album yeah, then I was thinking to meself, I just want to rap on a Sumgii beat but I can't be bothered making any more songs. Then I thought OK, an easy way to do that is to remix this fucking grimy ass rap joint and see what happens.”
Soon after Cult Mountain dropped their self-titled debut, Lee resurrected Children Of The Damned with a new name - Cult Of The Damned. Featuring all original COTD members, the collective also enlisted multiple up-and-coming emcees and established producers into the cult. The UK hip-hop community exploded when Cult Of The Damned dropped the visual for the lead single from the Cult Of The Damned EP, also called Cult Of The Damned. This was the first hard-hitting demonstration of the revived COTD, attaining six-figure views on YouTube within a week and reaching almost a million views to date. “I just think it was a bunch of fucking different guys,” Lee pondered, when asked his opinion on why the Cult Of The Damned single was a success. “And the styles are all different, know what I'm saying? Different senses of rhythm and cadence."
Lee’s voice began drifting, as he noticed two girls stood closeby. One asks if Lee could sign her phone case, before her friend asked if he would sign her tits. Being the humble entertainer he is, Lee kindly obliged before continuing with the interview. The conversation turned to the Tell A Friend EP, the Mcabre Brothers resurrection which dropped eight years after Gonzo Lyricism. “Just because we were doing our own thing,” Lee shrugged, giving a reason for the eight year Mcabre Brothers hiatus. “We had the Cult Mountain shit, then we were just like... You know, it's when the idea comes. The idea came then and that's when we done it, that's all it is. A.H. Fly had sent me some beats, he developed the soundscapes and we rapped to it, know what I mean? He sent me a bunch of beats, I said 'Yo, this one and this one. Make some more of thist,' and he would make like two beats, then we'd rap on them. Then we'd send something back, then he'd make us another one to fit with that. So A.H. Fly, he's the reason the shit sounds so cohesive.”
“So A.H. Fly,” continued Lee, providing insights into the reason why A H Fly produced the entirety of the Tell A Friend EP. “I think it was Kashmere, he just hit me up saying his mate A.H. Fly wants to send me some beats, I wasn't too sure who he was then he schooled me and I did know his work but never knew his name like. He was the producer for a group called Universal Soldiers - an ill rap group from London, I'm not entirely sure on the era. I didn't like much UK rap but Ricochet from Universal Soldiers, this guy was like road as they call it down London, UK gangster rap. I remember hearing Ricochet and being like, 'Oh shit that guy's proper boss' he was on some grimy street shit but kind of techy with it and the beats were dead nice, they are class actually that group. Check them out kids."
A six track EP, Tell A Friend only has two lyrical features, by Black Josh and Salar. “I think we recorded all the project in Milks crib,” says Lee, remembering how the features happened. “In fact, it was around the same time as doing SUPERGANG. Sniff had left, so otherwise Sniff would have probably been on that project? Josh was there - he was living in Milks crib at the time. We needed a verse for that Ring Back and I was like, 'Yo you need to sweg out, init.' So then Salar was on the original 32Bit joint, which was on an older Mcabre Brothers project. Salar was about in the crib and that's rare enough, so we were like, 'Yo smash this laa.' So we wrote our verses on the spot, laced it, bang. Done.”
“We've got loads of music,” Lee grins, when asked if fans can expect a Mcabre Brothers full length to follow the EP. “It'll drop when it drops!"