This week we were lucky enough to speak one of the hottest rappers to come out of the North West of England, Merseyside based, The Surgeon.
Previously a member of Rap Group, NWC, they have since gone their separate ways, but The Surgeon carried on and has continued to make his own special brand of rap music. With compelling lyrics, projected through a spectrum of different flows over a vast range of beats, his music has got him recognised by some of the biggest names in the UK scene. He has previously performed alongside such names as Klashnekoff, Bugsy Malone and Chip, but is hungry to achieve much more and cement himself as a permanent fixture of UK Rap in his own right.
He has just released his latest EP, “Off the Radar”, which goes in a different direction to his previous work, but is just as exciting as any of his previous projects and shows just how much range he has as an artist. We got together to speak about his past, his music and his views on the UK Scene in general.
Hello Surgeon and thanks for speaking to Underground Sound!
So, you are from Merseyside, do you mind telling us how what it was like growing up there?
Growing up was tough, as I was one of a very small minority in my area. With a white mum and black dad, I was constantly bullied and fighting with people due to my race. I was raised by my mother and older brother, I was from a family who never had much but was always happy, raised to be respectable and well mannered.
Even though it was tough, it was very fun growing up. From an early age, I became a lover of sports, art and computer gaming, however, my love from music started from birth. I was a bit of a troublesome teen and I spent a lot of my years in cells and in the back of police cars, but every memory I have was worth it. #notguilty.
Sounds like it would have been very interesting to know you when you were younger! When did you first start making music?
I have been making music since I was 12, at first it was like, “Scouse House Music” freestyles and to be honest, it was mainly gibberish then. But, as time moved on, I listened to more and more Hip Hop which triggered my mind to write structured lyrics. I have jumped between Grime, Hip Hop and R’n’B over the years, but Hip Hop remains my true love.
What first got you into making music?
I first got into music because of the poet Spike Milligan. I loved the way he used his words to make people laugh, confused or genuinely shocked.
I started writing poetry and one day I found a Hip Hop beat and just put a few words together over it that rhymed, and the rest is history.
Do you think your background has influenced your music?
Yes, because I have Caribbean roots and music is a big part of the Caribbean culture. My mum also introduced me to every genre of music there is known to man, mainly, Indie, Rock and Roll, Electro and Trance, all of which have contributed to my sound.
Which artists in particular influenced you musically growing up?
There is genuinely too many to name them all, but just a few of the top of my head are, Tupac Shakur, Nas, Amy Winehouse, The Rolling stones, Eminem, G-unit, Dapz on the Map, Ella Fitzgerald, Frankie Lymone, Mozart, Bishop Lamont. I could be here forever.
Wow, that is very wide variety!
So, tell me about your name, The Surgeon, where does that come from?
A Surgeon will open up a patient with a specific set of tools. They then operate to find the root of the problem. Sometimes surgeries can be successful and sometimes they are not, but no matter the outcome, they will continue to do so as this as this is their job role.
I open up my own mind using my lyrical content accompanied by music, which is my tool to release my emotions and ease stress. Sometimes this works for a few minutes, sometimes it takes the pain completely away and sometimes it doesn’t work at all. Regardless of the outcome, I too carry on as I believe this is my purpose.
Check out The Surgeon’s Music Video for his track “Standing Alone”
As we mentioned, you started off in the music scene in the group NWC who got quite successful, how did that all start and what happened to it?
We were a group of 5 MCs. Surgeon, Double T, Hammo, Gee, (now known as uncle Paulie) and Blaster, this eventually expanded to 7, with the late addition of Tricks and Eazy. It all first started because plain and simply, we were the best Grime Mc’s in our local youth clubs and so we decide to form a group. As we were from all over, we agreed on the name North West Connectionz.
We got pretty successful in terms of fanbase. We did a couple of smalls shows and one big one, where we supported Klashnekoff, Chipmunk, and N-Dubz. The problem was that we were still young and so teenage problems and life got in the way. College, work, Uni, etc, plus, me and Hammo ended up becoming dads at young ages. I’m still in touch with all the members of the group, 4 regularly and 3 sporadically.
Do you sometimes miss your old group, or do you prefer working alone?
I prefer working alone, as I get a lot more done. I have full studio sessions to myself and we don’t need to take turns in the booth. Of course, I would love to make a track for old times’ sake as NWC was where it all started for me, but I doubt it will happen though.
You just released a new EP called “Off the Radar”? What direction did you want to head with this project?
Listen to the Ep and it is self-explanatory.
What is your favourite track from the new EP?
“OFF THE RADAR”
Your music seems to have changed a lot for this latest project compared to the stuff you released just 6 months ago and older. Why? Are you heading in a new direction?
To be honest, I am just trying to show my versatility.
Do you perhaps have a favourite track you have ever made?
I have 3 tracks that are my personal favourites.
“Real” which I featured on alongside Hammo. It was the first time me and Hammo had entered a booth together for around 6-7 years and we had also helped each other battle depression that year. Another I really like is “By Any Means”, which I featured on alongside Uncle Paulie. It tells the story of us growing up and how we use to go to youth clubs, shows and house parties and kill it every time. The third is, “The Beast is Back”, which is my own tune and features Tony Broke. This was the first tune I made after a three-year break with my mentor.
Do you have plans to work with other artists soon?
Yes, a few projects with artists from all over. Follow my Insta, TheSurgeonUK, for previews. Also, if anybody who wants to work with me, just drop me a message
What is next for you as an artist and what is your end goal in this industry?
I plan to just keep working on my flow and concentrate on my own sound and eventually, start managing artists. Overall, my end goal is to be remembered for my passion and love for music
Shall we talk about the UK Rap Scene in general?
In the last few years there has been a bit of a Grime renaissance, with more people getting into Grime and a whole new generation of fans and with people like Krept & Konan, Stormzy and Skepta, not just getting into, but also performing well in the charts.
What does this mean to you as an artist?
It’s truly great to see the UK scene finally up there again, this time more so then ever.
How have you seen it change over time personally?
I think now there is stronger lyrics and more competition, a lot of Grime is now heavily influenced by US sounds and there is more use of auto tune.
What do you think of this new wave of Grime fans?
Without being too harsh on the artists, I think the new wave are listening to a watered-down version of Grime. I’m a 90’s baby so I was there through the raw sound, but it is still good to see such a huge fanbase.
Are you now marketing yourself to cater more for the newer fans or are trying to keep it old school?
To be honest, I just make music for my soul, like it or not, I cater to myself.
Do you think in some ways, it is now easier to make movements in the music scene with Grime Music?
Easier, no. More recognition and more media outlets to be recognised in, yes.
Do you personally like the new acts coming into the limelight, or are you more into the older, more traditional artists?
I’m just into people who have strong content and flows, regardless of the era or area.
Obviously, staying true to the music is huge in Grime, what’s your opinion on artists that sold out or went in a more mainstream direction and then returned to the scene when it blew up?
I don’t think they ever really sold out. They built a platform. People like Wiley, Dizzee and Skepta made a strategical business moves and then came back to remind people who started this shit.
So, you supported quite a few big names in the scene, who has been your favourite person to perform alongside so far?
Bugzy Malone and Klashnekoff.
Of course, you have performed with both Chipmunk and Bugsy, who not so long ago had a very publicised beef, so I have to ask, who did you prefer musically, personally and who won the beef would you say?
I prefer Bugzy, as I relate to him more, but Chipmunk is a better lyricist. I think Bugzy Malone won overall, by keeping it simple and breaking him down.
Beef was of course massive factor back in the early days of Grime, but it attracted unnecessary attention and very much hampered the movements progression. It still remains today, but less so. What is your general opinion on Grime beefs? Does it bring out the best in the artist or do you think it’s a complete waste of time?
Personally, I think it brings out the best in us artists. I agree in competition and if it gets heated, then have a scrap off camera and shake hands after.
Have you ever been in a beef yourself?
Nothing major, but yes, I have voiced a few opinions.
What do you think is next for the movement?
Big things. Bigger venues and hopefully, a festival as a big as V, Creamfields and Global Gathering, but one that is just for Grime/Urban rap artists,
Anything you would like to add?
Just thanks for taking your time to get to know me.
Thanks again for speaking to us and good luck in the future!
You can listen to The Surgeons music and his latest project “Off The Rader” on his Soundcloud or check out him out on YouTube. Also, follow him on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date with his latest projects!
You can find The Surgeon here at:
Words by: Will Macmaster
Underground Sound takes no credit for the photographs featured in this article.