Brighton/Hong Kong based emcee Tommy Chonged caught our ears on Soundcloud a few months back and we’ve been following his output and progress ever since. Tommy brings together smart rhymes, choice beat selection, and morbid content to craft a distinctive and atmospheric sound that we really dig. This sound is showcased in his recently released EP (produced by Dos Gringos), which is available to download for free right here.
We reached out to Tommy to see if he’d be down to let us fire a few questions his way concerning his music, his outlook on life, and his inspirations, ambitions, and influences. The homie obliged, so check out the resulting correspondence below..
(TC gave us a sneak peak at his forthcoming project, due to drop some time in September, and it’s sounding sick, so make sure you peep his Soundcloud, Facebook, and Youtube accounts for new material and updates,)
THE6BY6 : Can you give us a little run down of who you are, where you’re from, and the type of music you make?
TC: I go by the moniker of Tommy Chonged which is a pretty close representation of my actual name. Also I used to smoke weed and mong out a lot, so it made sense.
I’m an extremely unknown UK rapper/emcee from Brighton. I got bored of Brighton, and Hong Kong has a nice ring to it, so I decided to head over this way – now I’m an Asian amongst many, it makes things a little easier.
As for my sound and influences, I would say that’s firmly UK HIP HOP. I never used to listen to US stuff, I started listening to Taskforce and then found Jehst, Jam Baxter, Mr Key etc, so I would say UK Hip Hop with certainty.
THE6BY6 : What drew you to Hip-Hop, and what really made you want to start spitting your own bars? A particular record, or perhaps a particular emcee…
TC: Taskforce! In that Taskforce encapsulates what it was like in the UK back then, it’s grey, it can be miserable and hopeless but there’s still a lot of creativity and people who think a bit more outside of the box to the regular UK citizen. As soon as I heard a Taskforce track, I was hooked. I used to skip college to smoke and freestyle with an old friend of mine, who recently passed away trying to rescue a friend from drowning, RIP Freddie, you fucking absolute hero. Anyway I gave up on spitting but then when I moved to Hong Kong I heard a bunch of new artists (Kendrick Lamar, Team Dreebs, Jam Baxter, Dirty Dike to name a few), who inspired me to pick up a pen and write. I have a lot of tracks from 2013 that I’ll never release cause they’re total shite.
THE6BY6 : “Home is where the heart is” – Funny Init. Place and ideas surrounding ‘home’ are important to most. We know you rep both Brighton and Hong Kong – have these places particularly helped to shape your music and your outlook on life?
TC: They definitely have, Brighton’s an amazing place, especially for such a small town. The subject of Brighton’s homosexual population often comes up when I mention that I’m from Brighton, and I think this fact just shows how forward thinking and open minded the town is. There’s so much creativity and industry in Brighton, anyone who’s from Brighton better say that they love it cause if they don’t then they’re just shit and I don’t like them.
I’ve only lived in Hong Kong for about two years now but I like it a lot. The culture is vastly different to the UK but also has a lot of similiraties, people love to drink for one, but the weather and environment is so much better – topped off with a subtropical climate, it’s full of mountainous terrain that’s covered in dense forest full of weird creatures, and amongst all this there’s a huge urban metropolis populated with around 7 million people. It really is amazing, I think everyone should consider living abroad, there’s more out there than just the UK.
Sorry I’m getting off track, UK culture has shaped me completely, I’m a huge pessimist and have a very cynical sense of humor. There’s something about the UK’s griminess that really appeals to me and I think it gives people a good perspective on life.
As for Hong Kong, I can earn a pretty good wage over here and if you go to the right places, the cost of living isn’t too high, so I’ve just been working part time and getting fucked up most of the time – it’s a pretty good lifestyle, I would recommend it.
THE6BY6 :Your new EP features some dark, brooding but thoroughly refined production courtesy of Dos Gringos. What drew you to those beats? The lyrics you spray on top of those beats could be seen as equally brooding – there are damaged bodies, substance abuse, and a kind of subdued anger. Where does that stem from?
TC: I was drawn to Dos Gringos because of those very sounds you just listed, I’ve always had a pretty dark outlook so I wanted to make a piece of music that represented the period I was going through whilst making it, which was pretty shit; I have trouble sleeping sometimes, so combine that with the substance abuse and general bodily harm and you have a disgusting human being putting out dark music. Before I forget, BIG UP DOS GRINGOS, check out their new release ”Space Crack” it’s that future substance.
As for where it all stems from, we live in a civilization that is bent on it’s own destruction and using others to further ourselves, and I don’t think that’s ever going to change (although you can find positivity in the right places). So I take drugs and get mashed to deal with that fact but I don’t know shit, I’m just an ape flying through space on a hunk of rock, most of my friends think I’m a dickhead.
THE6BY6 : Arguably, Hip-Hop outside the US is relatively neglected- although with the recent popularity of acts like Ireland’s Rejjie Snow, and even with the grime scene blowing up, it’s safe to say that America is definitely starting to take notice of British shores. Do you welcome that attention, or do you feel somewhat protective over the strong underground scene that various artists, like yourself, have been building over the years?
TC: Well, I haven’t done shit for the UK scene yet, let’s speak in 5 years time…
I think it’s great, I want everyone to be able to support themselves and travel the world having these amazing experiences, as long as the success doesn’t change the content. I love UK hip hop because no one is really making any real money and everyone has a very grounded ego. But all these UK artists have a lot to say so I’d love to see a UK Kendrick Lamar or J Cole.
THE6BY6 : Have you got a long-term plan with regards to your music, or are you just letting it come naturally at the moment – Got any stuff in the pipe-line we should keep an eye out for?
TC: I am always working on music, you can expect a lot in the future. I’m actually contacting promoters, plus you might see me hop on stage at a DnB rave just to spit some bars. I’m producing some stuff myself as well as working with a few other artists like Harvs (of Harvs and KLB, LITE), VitaminG (watch out for him), Vic Jr, Floyd C, to name a few.
I’ve got a self-produced project in the works as well. It’s looking like it’s going to be another EP or album, probably around 6-10 tracks, and it’s coming together pretty nicely right now, so keep them tings peeled.
I’m really excited about the future, I just wanted to get better at rapping and now I am so that’s really all that matters to me.
THE6BY6 : Thanks for getting involved Tommy.