Smoka-Motive is the latest solo adventure by the much-loved Manchester rapper, Dubbul O. By working with producer Mankub, the EP reveals a different side to Dubbul O than is his usual style with Manchester hip hop crews, Mothership Connection and Voodoo Black.

The EP is a versatile mix of dark beats, 1920s style jazz, and old school samples, and with the added dexterity of Dubbul O’s thought provoking lyrics touching on topics such as self-development, creativity, and politics, alongside luscious guest vocals by Tyler Daley (Children of Zeus), Smoka-Motive is much more than a weed EP.

Dubbul O and Mankub chatted to Now Then about their latest project.

What was the inspiration for the EP?

[Dubbul O] The inspiration for me personally stemmed from trying to make some positive music, as I predominantly prefer darker tones.

[Mankub] This EP came about organically. We started developing what became Smoka-Motive before the Mothership [Connection] release. Dubbul O was the driving force behind both projects and I can’t thank him enough for bringing me aboard and making me part of the Room2 Family.

What were you trying to achieve on this EP?

[Mankub] Just to make some good music together. O was telling me he was digging my beats and that they set him off on a different vibe. I guess that’s all a beat maker can ask for. It’s not chart topping or world conquering shit, but I think we’ve achieved what we set out to do as a team.

[Dubbul O] We are just trying to bring that Manny vibe to the world, innit.

You work together quite a lot. What’s the key to successful creative relationships?

[Dubbul O] I think it’s to not let things get stale. It’s all well and good making the content, but it’s all about being motivated and well planned, otherwise things can take longer than intended.

[Mankub] Well, as I mentioned earlier, we set this project off before the [This Train Goes To] Junkleberry Junction EP, so a lot of the demos had been recorded. Once we got to work again with Kydro, it came about pretty quick by my standards… We sit on a lot of music.

How long have you been writing and making beats for?

[Mankub] Together? Maybe three years or so. But I’ve been a fan of O’s for years, man. Well, as soon as I heard ‘Spooky Caravan’ and his solo work with Pro P, I was sold.

What purpose does writing and making beats serve in your life?

[Dubbul O] It’s a lot of fun, but I find it brings a certain amount of discipline to my life and has attributed to my interest in other art forms.

[Mankub] It’s all for fun. It’s a down time for me, but it also takes my mind off the daily grind. It’s a selfish manner, but in a good way.

What do you like the best about Smoka-Motive? Any favourite tracks?

[Mankub] I like the title track. That’s the one that, when I first heard what O did, I went nuts. After that point, I believed we were gonna make a cool EP. The artwork by Pockets is sick as well, and kind of gives a complete vision to the project. The animation Carjack did was fire too.

[Dubbul O] I’m not too sure myself. Both questions are for other people to have opinions on.

[Mankub] Good answer, man!

What was it like working with Tyler Daley from Children of Zeus?

[Mankub] Myself and T are old friends. It was O’s idea to have a vocal hook on that particular track and I auditioned a few artists. I bumped into Tyler on an unplanned night at his studio and we chatted and got lifted. After that meeting, I sent him the beat and he was in. After that first meeting we were sent the hook, but knowing what a dope MC he is, we invited him down to record at Room2 with Kydro and he nailed a verse.

[Dubbul O] ‘Do What You Can’ developed enormously when Ty jumped on it. He’s easy to work with and a very talented guy.

Dubbul O Smoka-Motive

Dubbul O, you’ve just been on tour with The Mouse Outfit. Do you buzz off the live gigs?

[Dubbul O] Yeah, man. It’s an unreal experience and I never want to leave once I’m on stage.

Have you got any shows coming up? Where can people catch you live?

[Dubbul O] The Mouse Outfit are playing two nights at Manchester’s Band on the Wall, on 7 and 8 December.

Any tipoffs about other Manchester artists, venues or events?

[Mankub] Obviously Children of Zeus are killing it right now. I’m a big fan of TNC and Aver. Mothership Connection are ill. Gotta rep my brothers Carjack Mallone, Mouse Outfit, Voodoo Black – all Room2 cats. Golden Egg Collective as an event rep. Big up Now Then for all the support.

There are some class samples on the EP. Where do you find them?

[Mankub] In record shops on dusty grooves. I can’t really take credit for anything, as I just steal sound and utilise it to my own advantage…

You’re releasing the EP on vinyl. Why is vinyl so special to you?

[Both] Well, that’s not set in stone, but hopefully the wax will see the light of day. We aren’t at a major level of demand yet, but we are trying to push it so one day we can be part of the pile of broken dreams…

What are your hopes and plans for the future?

[Both] Just to continue making music and hopefully some live performances in 2018.

Can you settle the age-old scone debate? Is it ‘skon’ or ‘skown’?

[Both] Haha – like us!

It’s ‘skon’.

Red Hen