Foreign Beggars In South Africa

Q&A with the Bazique Festival headliners

Since their formation in 2002, multi-genre UK trio Foreign Beggars' unique trajectory has seen them evolve from underground hip hop heroes to a trailblazing electronic crossover act. 

With six studio albums, a top ten hit, over 80 million YouTube plays and a string of international headline dates ahead of them, things are going from strength to strength for the Beggars. 

Having played stages at Glastonbury, SXSE, Lovebox, Sonar and more, the critically acclaimed group is now coming to South Africa where they'll headline Bazique Festival. The Way of Us caught up withDJ Nonames for a short Q&A interview. 

Foreign Beggars

How did Foreign Beggars begin?

I guess the first seed was planted like 20 years ago when Pav and Dag (who produced the entire first album Asylum Speakers), met in Dubai and started throwing DnB parties. They moved to London and started getting into hip hop, which was getting interesting in London around the tail end of the 90s with Mud Fam, Task Force, Blak Twang, London Posse and Roots Manuva. That's when we all met and then started doing a bunch of shows and it grew from there.

Where did the name come from?

Kyza saw 'Foreign Beggars' on an old Terra Firma record, Pav heard that and liked it and we all thought it was an interesting juxtaposition of words, especially as we all had roots in different parts of the world. 'Foreign Beggars' was a name we felt represented us because we'd all had an international upbringings, having lived in the Middle East, Africa and North America.

You've been creating music, performing, collaborating, touring for over 15 years – finally, you're making it to South Africa! How exciting is the prospect of playing to a South African crowd and meeting local musicians?

Yeah we've been wanting to come out here as Foreign Beggars for the longest! Ebow actually lived in Cape Town around 2000 and I came out to DJ with Illaman at Synergy Festival in Cape Town and Joburg in 2013. I was in Joburg the day Nelson Mandela died and along with thousands of other people went to his house where there was a huge celebration. It was something I'll never forget.

Foreign Beggars

Who has been your biggest musical inspirations?

There's so many. Between us there's The Fat Boys, Pantera, A Tribe Called Quest, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, London Posse, Company Flow… the whole Rawkus Records era... the whole late 90s jungle era... Listen to 'Flashback' off the new album for a more complete list.

Are you familiar with any South African musicians? 

I have to say I actually know little about what's going on at the moment in the world of new rap and electronic music. Obviously everyone has heard of Max Normal and Die Antwood, TTGO, DJ Fuck... We're looking forward to hearing a whole new wave of artists while we're out there. We know you guys know how to party. We remember going to Mzolis the last time we were here and drank a lot of beer and ate a lot of good bbq! I had a girlfriend in London from Joburg (shout out Kimmy!) years ago that put me on to 340ml. We did a joint with Ben Sharpa that was on a track from Beggatron called 'Asylum Bound'. Can't wait to get out there and see whats up, we're gonna stay on to try take it in a bit.

Foreign Beggars

What's been the best place or event you've performed at? 

I dunno, that's a tough one, because there's been a few. Two nights ago we played at a venue called Meow Wolf, a club and interactive art space in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The shit was trippy as hell, the sound was great, crazy crowd. Then there was the time we played with Amy Winehouse in 2005 at a pub in Camden for 150 people. On the large end of the scale last year at Exit was huge and Hip Hop Kemp sticks out from 2011 where we had 11 000 hip hop heads going ham in the middle of a field in the Czech Republic.

What's in the pipeline for Foreign Beggars in 2018 and beyond?

There's the physical album still to come out, there'll be a bonus track on there with a feature I can't wait to announce..

I'll have a solo release on Tru Thoughts in June with a Zed Bias remix, and a bunch of collabs dropping over the course of the year ft. Prez T, Grim Sickerz, Dizmack, Illaman, Killa P, Jammz, Nolay and Shogun. Metropolis has his head down on his solo project and there's a steady stream of Beggar collabs in the pipeline. Plus Pav has his app Brapp, which is popping off. It's a great platform to connect artists and producers where you can upload your beats or rap/sing over other producers' music. That's getting refined to where their built in effects are really dope and the recordings sounds sick. You can get it free from the app store.

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