Women, I'll let you into a secret. Men - and by that I mean your husband, boyfriend, brother, workmates and maybe even dad - all think they can rap. Most won't have ever even tried it, but they're convinced that not only can they do it, they also think they could do it well. They've nodded along to Nasty Girl on their iPod and perhaps even mouthed a few of the rhymes to themselves, and this - they believe - is proof. They can do it. Hell, if they'd have started earlier, they could have even been professional. But while most of us menfolk are resigned to drunkenly mumbling our way through Ice Ice Baby at a family karaoke, there are others out there that are a breed apart. They actually do it. They emcee, they rap, they make beats. They stand up in front of a crowd, grab the steel and own the stage. They lay original wordplay down on vinyl and plastic, putting their thoughts out there for the rest of us to hear.
One such emcee is Nottingham born-and-bred Cappo. The 31-year-old has been performing, writing and recording for over a decade now and is on the verge of stepping out of his comfort zone and embarking on a whole new project.
"I wrote a verse to something that I'd heard," Cappo tells us, explaining how he got started with the rhymes. "My girlfriend at the time said it was really good so I thought, 'yeah, I'll keep going with this'". He was into breaking and graffiti at the time but as soon as he found the talent for rhyming, they slowed down as he set about honing his craft. "I was in West Bridgford with my mum," he recalls. "I met Styly Cee and made my first couple of EPs, then I moved out to Ruddington. It was kind of in the sticks but I kept on with the music". Cappo's first forays into the world of music production were - to say the least - rudimentary. "I had a karaoke hi-fi," he remembers. "It had two tape decks and a pause button, so you could play a piece of music on one and record it on the other. Then you'd pause it, rewind the music and record that bit again. So you could build loops that way". I chuckle at the tedium of it, but Cappo's pretty serious about his work. "We'd get a record playing, too, so we could bring something else to the mix," he adds, not even cracking a smile at the simplicity of those early endeavours.
The painstaking time and effort spent building beats paid off. After the two West Bridgford EPs (Cap3000 and Codex), Cappo met the P Brothers and before long his debut album, Spaz The World, was released. From there, he's never looked back, and the young man already has an impressive back catalogue building-up. Check the discography after the article to get the complete list.
"Genghis, that was pretty difficult," he says, remembering back to the production of his 2010 album. Not only did he write the rhymes but also produced all the music. "Genghis was like a test of my own character, to see whether I could do something like that. It was an uphill struggle to complete it. It took a long time'" he says, shaking his head and exhaling. I mention the sheer weight and diversity of references on the album. I spotted references to Proctor and Gamble (pharmaceuticals), The Human Torch (comic books), George Clinton (music) and Maurits Escher (graphic design and illustration) and am sure there must be hundreds more that passed me by. "I want people to know that I know about it. If I say a name and it's somebody that you recognise and you relate to, you can relate to me a bit easier. It's all detail into my character," Cappo explains. "It's like the slogan, 'don't judge a book by its cover'. You can look at someone and think, 'I know what you're like', but then they mention someone like MC Escher, you might be surprised by it and relate to them".
After Genghis there was The Fallout album. Cappo's had a difficult time personally since that one, but is starting to make plans for the next step of his amazing journey. "I've been making some beats for a while now, maybe a year, that I think are really good," he says. "Very diverse, a little bit more commercially acceptable. I'm looking for a couple of singers from Nottingham who know how to sing hooks and choruses and stuff like that". Cappo's plan, then, is simplicity itself. "I'm going to try and make my most commercially acceptable album to date," he nods, the determination and focus clear in his eyes. "I'm going to make my new stuff as polished as I can, but then give it to someone I respect and trust as a musician and let them scratch the surface of it, to take away the polish of it and mess it up a bit," he elaborates. "I want them to put some extra elements into it that I would never have been able to do myself".
Despite the clarity of Cappo's vision, there are concerns about stepping-out into a more commercial soundscape. "If I was trying to sound like Lil Wayne or Drake right now, people would realise and they'd say, 'You're wack, you've sold out, and you sound out of your depth'," he says. "It's like a swimmer. Maybe someone's a good one hundred metres swimmer. If you ask them to swim four hundred metres, they'd stand out a mile. They can't do it. They'd be out of their depth".
Doubts aside, though, Cappo is confident he can keep the skills in place that have seen him garner critical acclaim and a strong following, whilst bringing-in producers and vocalists to make a record with more widespread appeal. "I want it to appeal to more than my established fans, so I want to get into the minds of people and work out how to gain some wider success 'cos I think I deserve it now'" he muses. "I'd like to make some money by using my smarts, my brains, and think about it properly and doing it that way". It's not only the cashflow that's on Cappo's mind, though. "As you know, I've got a son now," he says, referring to two-year-old Christian. "I'd like to leave a legacy for my son of not just of my fitted caps and my snapback caps, but also for him to see the framed album covers on the wall and think, 'Dad also paid for my house as well as making all these records'. I'd like to leave him with a belief that anything's possible. I want to be able to say, 'look what your dad built for us, out of music'".
Check Cappo's website, http://cappohq.com for all release information on the next album and a forthcoming mixtape, The Superior Prowess of the Greatest Human Strategy; Gusto Gulliman the World's Cuspy. You can find a discography with links to live footage at http://www.discogs.com/artist/Cappo and check iTunes to download Cappo's music (along with extras such as digital booklets).