I’m good, fam. I’m out in my hometown Ayia Napa, Cyprus. For those who don’t know, it’s Europe’s hip-hop summer resort. I haven’t been home in almost two years and it feels good to be here amongst family, friends and all my hardcore clubbers that are having a ball. Those who came out here know what I mean. I’m fresh off the Medfest2007 concert and I’m getting ready for a few more shows before getting back on my Euro hustle.
What was it like for you growing up in England?
To be more specific, I grew up between Ayia Napa, Cyprus and South London, England but Ayia Napa was were I spent most of my time growing up. This is where my family was based, where my character was built and where I gained most of my knowledge as a artist and a businessman. See, my family was in the nightlife. We started the first hip-hop club, the Black and White Club, on this side in 1985. I literally grew up in the club. At 7 I was walking around with a cup, getting my weekly earn from the night spot customers. When I was 9 I started my own radio show. At 12 I started hosting nights as a MC. When I was 14 I started DJing. When I was 16 I was a promoter and producer, so my childhood was one big club night! It’s funny how when I first got on my hip-hop tip it was a strange sound to everyone this side, but now it’s a trend and everybody wants to get down with it. That’s ideal for the whole hip-hop movement worldwide, but what’s even better is to make the trend a lifestyle because trends come and go and I’m a lifestyle when it comes to hip-hop out here, not a trend. You feel me, mado?
How do you incorporate Greek influences into your music to create a sound called “Greko Beat”?
Hip-hop is about originality and this is one of my many styles to come. So picture this –you walk in a Greek night club, you listen to Greek instruments, take them, add them to the pot, you go on vacation to Cyprus or Greece and you hear the locals yelling slang words that by the time you leave the place you caught on to them, take them, add to them to the pot, then take a Sniper hip-hop beat, add it to the pot, mix it up with rap and you got Greko Beat. It’s a fusion between hip-hop and my Greek culture. I wanted to launch myself like this so people can remember that when I first dropped I brought my own sound and culture through, despite all the odds. Plus to all those who remember the first Beef DVD that came out, there was a reference to how ancient Greeks battled with words.
In general, it’s a good time for Europeans and Greeks right now. I mean, our ball team beat the Dream Team, we are the current European soccer champions, we hosted the Olympics, plus we got a dope-ass movie out about our culture in 300! (laughs) On the real, I’m repping for Europe. The continent needs to show what it has, so it’s bigger than my ‘hood. And with cats like DJ Green Lantern and my partner Bleek hailing me as “The Prince of Europe,” you do understand that there is some sort of pressure, but never mind that. As I say in one of my joints, “I can-press (compress) pressure to speed up movement”
You’re about to release your single, “Around the World,” featuring Memphis Bleek. How did that song come about?
It’s out August 27 on digital release. It was recorded on the Jay-Z tour in Athens last year. We were in my studio vibing and this joint was meant for Bleek’s mixtape with Green, which never happened in time, so I snatched it since my mixtape with Green was done. At the end of the day, Bleek is my dog so it was never a problem. Anything I need, his side he always comes through. The track had a positive reaction and although it was for a mixtape, since it was original, I decided to single it through my own label. And we just shot a crazy video.
What inspired “Around the World”?
Well, we always hit the stu. We even got the portable one. You always have to be ready to put your ideas down, so we were in the studio and Bleek wanted to do a joint in each country that the Jay tour took place and there I was, playing some bangers that I produced and Green was like, ‘Yeah, this shit is hot for albums and shit out in the states, but play us some of that Greko stuff you had in the car.’ And that’s when I let my Greko beats out and it was a done deal. We laced it. I even got a version with one of my Greek artists on it, Phyrosun.
What are your goals for the “Around the World”?
My goals for the song are to show the people that Sniper is here. I mean, how many cats put singles out off a mixtape, let alone shoot a crazy video to it? This is my debut as an artist. All of these years I’ve been producing and this is my first-ever track. This is my jumpoff, with an added boost. I always try to outdo myself and outdo the standards. The first step is to let my own territory get with this and the more people I reach out to, the better. Man, I mean my record has most of the major European DJs like Masterstepz, Shortee Blitz and Westwood supporting it. It’s played on Hot 97 by DJ Green Lantern. That’s the other side of the globe from where I’m at. And that’s what I want my track to do, just to go “Around The World.” I’m giving this side a voice. That alone is a huge goal that’s been reached.
DJ Green Lantern also hosted your first mixtape. What does his cosign mean to you?
DJ Green Lantern heard my joints off my album that I am working on and he was like, ‘You got some good shit. You should put a mixtape out. It helps promote your name.’ See, out here the mixtape game ain’t big like that. However, Green gave me the angle that in the States, mixtapes are what keeps you going. “You need to feed the streets,” he said. So on that tour we banged the tape out in three days. We did 14 tracks. I was grinding nonstop. I mean, Green gave me an opportunity and I had to snatch it. You can hear my voice break up as you approach the end of the tape. This is my first-ever material, my jumpoff, with one of the biggest DJs in the game. The fact that I am hailed by him as “The Prince of Europe” is a real honor and satisfaction on your effort and hustle. He is a real pro. He doesn’t mess around and the fact that Green is supporting me like that is a true blessing. I don’t need yes-dudes around me.
What’s the status of the mixtape now?
It’s coming this fall, it’s called The Scope’s On You Vol.1 – International Hustlers. I got Bleek on it, Freeway, Copywrite and a couple of my Greek artists and producers, like my main man Diveno. Hip-hop Connection magazine will cover mount it. That’s 25,000 units throughout the UK. It’s one of the biggest and oldest hip-hop mags on this side so that’s a good look. They have it exclusively, but don’t be surprised if I decide to also give it away on a hip-hop site near you.
My life is in that tape. It’s my mini-legacy prior to my legacy, my debut album. I show all sides of Sniper from the business to the club to the studio to the lifestyle. I had fun with it, but I made sure to add meaning and lyrical content to the tape too.
Your manager is Bee High, who also manages Memphis Bleek and Copywrite. How did you link up with him?
Yeah, B is my dog. We met when I put together a Jay-Z afterparty out in London. I was part of the biggest collective to ever come out of the UK, the So Solid Crew, so I showed him what I did and what I do and he hit me up when he was back in NY to tell me that he likes my beats and I told him, “I want to bring Europe up. Are you with me?” Since then we’ve been on the phone everyday. We put a Roc show on out here. He connected me with the fam and now he’s like my big brother. It’s more than just regular management. See, nowadays you can’t just rap. We have a few hustles up our sleeves that are about to jump off. To clarify everything, he handles my States’ side. In Europe my manager is Suzy from Mojona Ltd. And right now Europe is where most of the time and effort is spent. On the States’ side we are only dealing with specialist hip-hop organizations like yours.
What made you want to go with Bee High as your manager?
Mado, B will take you where you need to go. He’ll bring you to the door but he can’t walk you through it. That’s up to each individual to do so and since a lot of doors are closed, I’m ‘bout to break some…or I might just borrow a key from those who have one. To sum it up, B was the main connection, but from then on it was up to me to show what I had and gain the respect from the people I work with.
Are you happy with the progress you’ve been making in the game recently?
When I see a progress, I’ll let you know! So far I’m just spending money putting my shit out there! (laughs) On the real, I’m satisfied that my first show was in front of 10,000 people and it was a festival that included acts like 50 Cent and Akon. Akon actually rocked my chain on stage. I’m satisfied that my boy Bleek was holding me down. I’m satisfied that my debut mixtape is with a great mixtape DJ like Green, but as I said, I never put something out before. This is the beginning, so I will let you in on the progress on the second single or when it’s album time.
When are we going to see a Sniper album?
Hopefully in the summer of 2008. Worst case scenario it would be at the end of 2008.
How’s your album coming?
It’s almost done! I got lots of time to see if I can create more hits for it. Hopefully I will have a second album ready by the time this one is about to drop. And the fact that this first album is about my life and my side of the globe means it can’t be outdated since it has to do with my life’s events. It’s called Foreign Affairs and who knows, the hottest joint on the album might not have been done yet. I’m always on the lookout. I never stop. I like to be ahead of time.
Where do you want the album to come out on?
The mixtape and single are all done by my own small indie movement, but it’s moving like a wave and people are catching onto the wave and it’s turning into a tidal wave. The album will be coming with the backup I want it and it needs to have. I know that for a fact since all four options I have are all powerful machines. However, I can’t let anything out in the open just yet. I have a label. I am not looking for a record deal. I am looking for a partner to bring me to more households. A lot of people are losing money in this game and I am not and I won’t be a loss to nobody. I’m just profit, so for now let’s just say that the world is my oyster.
What kind of response do you get for your music outside of the U.S. versus inside of the U.S.?
I don’t know yet. This is my first project, so we shall see. The only thing I do know is that the Medfest had 10,000 people and I had ‘em rocking. I love it when people get hyped. That’s what shows are meant to be like, hype and energy. It was fire. The only place I have some of my music is on my MySpace and the response I see there is real positive. My team is hard on that since you can’t ignore the ‘net nowadays, but I ain’t exactly a pro when it comes to going online. I always try to reply to my peoples when I get time but that’s all I know how to do. I can’t do all that custom stuff and codes and all. I’m a new artist so I am trying to grind and get out there as much as I can. No big name is behind me yet doing all the endorsing and talking, but my music will do all the talking. I can’t wait for it to get out there.
A lot of artists from the U.S. talk about how they can make more money touring overseas than in the States. Do you notice a significant difference between fans where you are versus fans in the U.S.?
You can’t be certain. I mean, some people in Europe might not have a response but others could launch their career or even extend their career in Europe. Lupe jumped-off hard in the UK. Kelis has a huge fanbase out here, but sometimes unless you’re a Jay-Z or a Nas, the European crowd is not as easy. Yet again, in some countries where their English is not as good maybe, some people can get away with it because they can’t understand and rate how good or bad they are. I think it depends on the day, the vibe, the time, the crowd and the artist himself. I think the fans in Europe need that European cat that will force them to go crazy just like the U.S. fans. When you relate to something you live, you have more passion for it, whereas when you know of someone because he is famous, it’s not the same.
Is having a large fanbase in the U.S. even a concern for you today?
Whoever is in this game wants to have a large fanbase everywhere! If someone disagrees, they’re lying. A fanbase is the fuel to keep putting music out. Sometimes your fanbase may direct you as to what you should put out. I think it’s essential to keep close to your fanbase. You have to or else they will forget you. You’ll just be the next rapper out of millions. You need to respect your fans, whether its 100, 1,000, or 10,000,000. You need to connect with them because they will stick by your side and carry you through and understand you and support you. My life so far has showed me that no one is irreplaceable, no matter who you are, no matter how much money, cars and success you have. When the flossing is over, you’re one of them, so stay close and give them your best. That’s my aim and any fanbase is a concern for me.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Get at me. Love!