Straight outta Bellshill, Hydro grew up listening to his dad’s hip hop collection, split into ‘kid friendly’ and ‘non-kid friendly’ categories. He soon skipped the De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest and broke out the NWA and the Public Enemy. Moving to New York in his teens let him carry on his hip hop education by interning at legendary rap label Def Jam Records. He’s 26 now, and the insanely driven producer and rapper (he doesn’t just want to be ‘Jay-Z big’, he’s aiming for ‘Quincy Jones big’, he tells us) has used his own label Underdogg, to bring out his debut album, Crucial, featuring Busta Rhymes on the first single, ‘Crowd Goes Wild’.
‘A lot of Scottish hip hop sounds quite bedroomy,’ says Hydro, in his fast-talking weegie twang. He called in some favours for his slickly produced album, including producer L.E.S, rapper Quan and Australian R&B singer Che’nelle. It’s a poker faced, chart-friendly, party soundtrack with crunked up Missy Elliott style moments, and Kanye West echoes on ‘Sugar’ with its speeded-up Gladys Knight sample, and Hydro hopes it will be his breakthrough.
‘Hip hop is a lifestyle in America, in Scotland it’s still a baby. I’d like to carry Glasgow on my back and hopefully be a frontman for the city.’ In January he is off on a world tour supporting Rihanna, but he insists – despite rapping in an American accent – he’s all about realness. ‘I’ve been listening to Dre and Snoop since I was nine. I’m not about ego. I’m just obsessed with hip hop and I want to be the best hip hop artist that ever lived.’
Oran Mor, Glasgow, Mon 3 Nov