INTERVIEW: Rick Fury | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Since I first discovered and started writing about the North East’s humble urban music scene almost three years ago, one name constantly came up in discussion: Rick Fury. During any conversation about the best in the region, you could bet your life that the South Shields native’s name would get a mention. Yet, despite his prolific output and regular performances, it’s taken the release of his new album, Heart Break Kid, to finally pin him down for a chat.

I meet Rick at a central Newcastle pub on a grey afternoon, he’s sat with fellow MC and pal Gilly Man Giro enjoying a pint. Rick quickly apologises for not sending me the entirety of his new album, explaining that it hasn’t all been recorded yet. Determined to show me his masterpiece, Rick suggests we go back to his flat for the interview and he’ll perform the album front to back for me. A bit awestruck that he’d take the time to do that, I quickly agreed. Fast forward twenty minutes, and I’m with Rick in his kitchen. It’s littered with paper covered in lyrics, notepads everywhere; to a North East hip-hop fan I might as well have been surrounded by gold dust. Rick proceeds to pick one of his many lyric books up, presses play on his phone and, in what was about to be one of the most surreal 45 minutes of my career, starts performing.

“All my albums have a sort of theme and this one, with it being called Heart Break Kid, relates to the wrestler Shawn Michaels – it was his nickname,” Rick explains, as he takes a breather and pauses the music four tracks in. “The story of how it came about, Gilly [Man Giro] inspires me a lot, just by making me realise who I am. So, we started hanging out and watching wrestling again – you know, you get older and you start going through all the things you enjoyed as a kid – we were on a proper wrestling hype, watching something with Bret Hart and it was like ‘here he is, the people’s champ blah blah’, and I said, ‘that’s me, I’m the Bret Hart of North East hip-hop’. Then Gilly was like ‘nah man, you’re fucking Shawn Michaels’.”

After hearing the album live, seeing Rick’s hands cut through the air like Bruce Lee’s with each punchline, it was clear to me what being the ‘Shawn Michaels of North East hip-hop’ means to Rick. The album is filled with braggadocio, but Rick’s bragging about the modest life, not a life of luxury; living in an inner-city high rise, making money from music and smoking the odd joint with some female company. “Fuck a Lamborghini,” Rick preaches, that’s not how he sees success. In Rick’s mind he’s already got it all, and as humble as he is, he’s ready with Heart Break Kid to take ownership of his ‘best in the North East’ reputation, calling out the sub-par rappers as he goes. Rick isn’t holding back anymore.

I’m making music, getting paid to do what I love, I can pay the rent, and to me that’s a pretty big deal, it’s pretty fucking amazing

“Before this album, I was in a dark place. The last album D.O.A got an amazing response, probably the best response any of my albums have. People seemed to really connect with it. But it was about a rough patch in my life. With this album I felt like I had to address that, because I am alright now, I am going to be alright. I’ve got a new flat, I’ve got more money, I’m doing better and I’m getting validation for what I’m doing with my music.”

Despite being in the game for longer than most in the hip-hop scene, Rick seems as passionate as a teenager releasing their first track. He seems truly affected by the response to his last album, motivated to push on with a renewed self-confidence.  “I guess I am sort of aware of the ‘hype’ surrounding me. But I’m still just a person, I still get insecure. I suppose it’s exactly what I wanted, but it’s on my terms how I decide to enjoy that. Everyone’s obviously like ‘I want to be the best’, and when I was younger, if anybody was unsure and asked who’s the best, who should they check out in the North East, I was like ‘I wanna be that guy’. And I wasn’t at the time, but I knew I could be. That was making it for me; it was being that guy in the North East. So, this album’s basically me going: ‘on my terms, I’ve made it’. The kids I teach aren’t convinced. They’re like ‘you haven’t got a car, why are you here with me if you’re balling?’, because they expect jewels and private jets. And I get that. But, from my point of view, this might be as good as it gets for me and that’s alright. I’m making music, getting paid to do what I love, I can pay the rent, and to me that’s a pretty big deal, it’s pretty fucking amazing.”

Heart Break Kid will be available to stream this month and features RuMaz, Jamilah, Izzy Finch and Smooth Jezza. Catch Rick and others live at Newcastle’s Star & Shadow Cinema for the Summertime Shoot Out on Saturday 13th July.


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