In today's go-go world of lead times, press releases and marketing smokescreens it's rare that you stumble across an act that's truly come out of the blue. Onoe Caponoe seemingly popped up from nowhere last year with Clockwork Green, swiping a Dilla production and not only doing it justice, creating a new song entirely. While piggybacking one of hip hop's most revered producers may not be pushing the envelope, everything he and his Funk Mafi crew do courses with psychedelia. A rare breed amid scores of "me too" rappers.
To mark the release of his second LP, Willows Midnight Gallery, we spoke to Onoe about sun-dials, Liverpudlian punk outfit Big In Japan, unexpected props from Jehst and to see if he's a mere earthling or lost his way from the mothership.
Congratulations on the new album, it doesn't sound like anything else anyone's currently putting out.
Safe man, thanks for that. We're on our way to be making some real amazing 'delic music, so yeah, at the moment I'm just putting out the stepping stones leading people into the shit we' re heading towards. Shit's not even started yet.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I like pretty much everything, apart from fake shit. That to me means music that's been created by people just for the purpose of making money - no soul, no heart, no meaning, no emotion. As long as it's not that I'll probably be diggin' it. I been really into sub poppy, punky type stuff like the Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, Wavves, Mika Miko, even Big In Japan. I'm really into music like that for some reason - I find it mad interesting. But yeah, anything from fuckin' Angolan 70s shit, Latin jazzy type stuff to disco and funk, to jungle 'n' all that. So yeah man, literally everything man. I pump fuckin' Al Bowlly when the mood takes me - music is the shit, period! Yo, lemme go on for ever and drop drop some crystals on you - Walter Wanderley, Roy Ayres, Bobbi Humphrey, Kavinsky, Gangsta Pat, Lord Infamous, Tragedy Khadafi, Henry Mancini. I don't wanna even start to go and give all that trill shit away, but yeah, you get the picture.
You've got Jehst on the new album and the collaboration fits really well. How did that feature come about?
Jehst has just been showing me mad love for a while now telling people to check out my music in interviews and stuff before we even met, so I was just like “yeeeeeeeeaaaah son” 'cause he's fuckin' dope and I grew up bumpin' his shit. I got the chance to go down to Chemo's studio time ago, before I put out Milkyway, to feature on a track and Chemo holla'd at me after like “yeah, let's do something!” Then I started puttin' shit out and he holla'd me again sayin' how he'd showed my stuff to Jehst and he really likes it 'n' shit. Then a mutual friend, a dope producer called ADE, hit me up saying to come down to Jehst's studio to jam and work out some tunes 'n' shit, so I went down with my homie Taz and we started banging out some marrfukin musak!
Your style is psychedlic through and through. Where does your inspiration come from?
Yeaaahhh son! I'm straight 'delic, Funk Mafi are straight 'delic. Basically I got a good group of friends who I make all my music with called Funk Mafi, Funkadelic Mathematix, Punk Trashy, Drunk Smashy etc etc. Our music is 100% who and how we are. Long story short, yeaaaaaars ago we all broke into a music festival to sell weed and just got fucked up. We had nowhere to sleep and met loads of really cool people 'n' had an amazing time. Basically carried on kinda living like that and jus' having a fuckin' sick time all the time. We decided about three or something years ago to make music properly and do something different. Fuck all the following bullshit. We're not brainwashed anymore. We're gonna make some dope shit 'n' have a dope time no matter what...169.
The imagery and lyrics are pretty out there. Is there any drug element to the music? Any hallucinogens involved in the creative process?
No comment. But art is a big thing in the group. I paint and there are a few others in the group who are amazing! We got a crazy dope animator as well!
The album's got a cohesive sound, which a lot of people say is missing in rap since artists started cherry-picking beats from hot producers. Was that cohesion intentional?
Yeah, that's good to hear! Well, I just do me so I work mainly with two or three producers who are my good friends and have very different styles. We all been working together for years, so it's very comfortable. With my shit I'm like the executive producer, so I'll get beats, write the songs then maybe play shit in over the beats as well or find skits I wanna add to create a final product. I also help to put across the 'delic Catporno vibe...Make shit my own, you know? I make beats but find it mad hard juggling time, so writing and painting take priority at the moment.
And how about the name? It's got to be one of the best monikers in British rap. Where did it come from?
One day I was at the bottom of a hill in the middle of nowhere and I didn't know where I was going. All I could see was this huge mountain, so I started making my way up there and I meet some weird people on the way and they all give me a gift. One was like a sun-dial, one was like a scroll written in French, but I don't speak French or anything. When I made it to the top there was a mad castle. So I knocked on the door, it opens and there was this woman standing there wearing an all-red dress and she's got no pupils in her eyes, her eyes are just white. She calls me Onoe Caponoe and she takes the scroll off me and reads it, and then puts her hand out and we go into this huge hall with mad paintings all over the walls. And in the middle of the hall there's this huge fountain with silver liquid coming out of it and shit. We go into the fountain and everything's splashing and I woke up in a house party in London somewhere.
Anyone you want to shout out before you go back to the mothership?
BIG SHOUT OUT TO THE DELIX 169ERZ FANGGANG FUNK MAF SMASHERZ N ALL THOZ SPREADIN OUT THAT MARRFUKIN LOVEEEE%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%
Willows Midnight Gallery is available for free from Audio Doughnuts now.