One of Hip-Hop’s most consistent artists, Da Flyy Hooligan, kicked off 2022 with another chapter in his series paying home to actor Ray Winstone. This time around Da Hooligan shows love to Winstone’s co-star from the 2000 film Sexy Beast, Ben Kingsley. The result is a 12-track project courtesy of GourmetDeluxxx titled, “Ben Kingsley (The Ray Winstone Saga).”
Ben Kingsley (The Ray Winstone Saga) is produced entirely by Micall Parknsun. The album features appearances by D.V. Alias Khryst, Hooliyo Iglaciers, and Dom Pachino of Killarmy.
Da Flyy Hooligan talked to The Real Hip-Hop about the importance of great storytelling, why he avoids quick cash grabs, and his new album, Ben Kingsley (The Ray Winstone Saga).
TRHH: Why’d you title the new album Ben Kingsley?
Da Flyy Hooligan: He’s one of my favorite actors, for one. For two, he killed his role in the movie Sexy Beast and that’s part of the whole Ray Winstone saga. The actual title is “Ben Kingsley (The Ray Winstone Saga).” When you listen to the album in each skit you will hear Ben Kingsley and Ray Winstone as well. It all ties in.
TRHH: That’s the guy that played Gandhi, right?
Da Flyy Hooligan: That’s right! In fact, that was what I was going to call the album, “The guy who played Gandhi.” That’s crazy. Someone else said that as well, my homie Sumit from Hip Hop Chronicle. He caught that straight away. I thought “Ben Kingsley” is far more iller.
TRHH: And Gandhi has all this other crazy stuff attached to him.
Da Flyy Hooligan: That’s right. No, I’m with you. I know full well what you’re talking about. That’s pretty much why I decided against it.
TRHH: On songs like “My Cousins Keeper” and “Bar of Soap” you tell some very detailed stories. How do you feel your storytelling has progressed over the years?
Da Flyy Hooligan: I’ve always had storytelling as my forefront thing. It’s just I felt I would rather display skill first, and then show how I go in with the storytelling. I can list my five favorite storytellers from jump; Kool G Rap, Slick Rick, obviously, Nas, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, to name a few. Big L, Prodigy, rest in peace. Andre 3000 is so underrated as a storyteller. That guy can tell stories like it’s nothing, especially from a retrospective angle. He can definitely give Nas a run for it. When Andre 3000 is ready to tell a story, he can tell a story. Storytelling has always been my thing. I’ve always found it a key thing to show in ones lyricism. Common as well; he’s another person that can tell a dope story. There are so many out there, man. All your greatest emcees — Ice Cube. So many great emcees out there.
TRHH: Scarface, Biggie, Pac…
Da Flyy Hooligan: Exactly. I didn’t want to name the obvious ones.
TRHH: They tell great stories though.
Da Flyy Hooligan: Absolutely.
TRHH: The Fresh Prince is a great storyteller.
Da Flyy Hooligan: Man! Rakim!
TRHH: Mahogany could be a movie.
Da Flyy Hooligan: It is a movie though. It’s a soundscape. It takes you into a world any novel would take you into. I often think if all these story rhymes were in a book that would be some Lord of the Rings type of shit. It would be our thing. It would be our Harry Potter. Oh, my days! Pharoahe Monch Stray Bullet! Come on! That Equinox album had so many stories on it. Chuck Cheese with Prince Po. The Shut Em Down 98 album, Onyx, Sticky Fingaz is a great storyteller. The Autobiography of Kirk Jones. Even on the Onyx album, him and his brother X1, Rob & Vic. Every dope artist has had to show that they’re a novelist as well as a lyricist. Jay-Z. That shows that you’ve got that. I don’t hear a lot of people doing it, so yeah, let me go head and do that.
TRHH: The song “Model 500” features scratching, I think by DJ Jazz T. There’s other songs on the album with cuts on the choruses. Why is it important for you to incorporate scratching on your records?
Da Flyy Hooligan: It’s Hip-Hop, man. It’s Hip-Hop [laughs]. That’s it. I’m not trying to come with nothing digital, this is a Hip-Hop album. That’s like listening to a Gang Starr album and not hearing any cuts. Gang Starr is the epitome of Hip-Hop. If I’m going to do Hip-Hop I’m going to incorporate scratches in there more than I ever did on any other album.
TRHH: You say that, but scratching is a thing of the past for so many people who put out records now.
Da Flyy Hooligan: And you know what I say to that? Rather them. I rather them. That’s their business, that’s their market, that’s their lane, that’s their formula. But for me, I do Hip-Hop. I am the culture, so I have to represent the culture the best way I know how. I’m not getting mixed up with anything else right now. My story has to be clear cut.
TRHH: How did you end up collaborating with Dom Pachino on Wu Baby III?
Da Flyy Hooligan: We were introduced by someone that we both know. Dom wanted to do a song with me, so he reached out to me to do a song for his album. Being the humble person he is, he extended the favor. He said, “If you ever need me for anything…” and as soon as he said it I thought, “Wu Baby III. I’ve got the beat, I got my verses down pat already, so I think it would be dope to have you on Wu Baby III.” In a manner of minutes, I got that verse. Big salute to Dom Pachino. He didn’t have to do any of that. He’s got my full respect for that.
TRHH: The last time you and I spoke we got a little political. Without getting too political, what’s the political climate like in England regarding Russia invading Ukraine?
Da Flyy Hooligan: The obvious thing is in England with the media’s interpretation of what the public feels is they’re backing Ukraine and Russia is a tyrant. I’ve got my personal views about it and so do people that look like me. Going by what we’ve seen and the footage that we’ve seen about how people like me get treated in this situation, it’s very hurtful. There is not more I’m prepared to say than that. I don’t feel it’s going to get me anywhere. I don’t feel it’s going to make any difference. I could just hope that the people out there that look like me are in safe hands now. The last footage I saw was this guy being rushed by some Nazi’s out in Ukraine. He ran into the police station, and they threw him to the wolves, man. That brother hasn’t been seen ever again. It might even be on worldstar. That was the last place I thought I would see that shit. I couldn’t believe it. It was even on worldstar. When I see things like that, of course it’s going to leave a brother like me with a foul taste. It’s just going to make my angry side feel. “Fuck ‘em all” really.
It’s like the Muhammad Ali moment, “Ain’t no Viet Cong ever call me nigger.” I’m seeing the opposite over here. I’ve seen stuff where Russians are being racist toward people like me. I’ve seen Ukrainians being racist toward people like me. So, how am I supposed to feel being a black man? I’m against any type of violence toward innocent people, anywhere, period. I don’t think they should be doing that shit. A lot of people feel that way as well. It just hurts. What’s the middle ground? Even saying this now I’m trying not to be bothered about people that are not in my shoes that are seeing that or might read this interview and feel a certain way about what I’m saying. A reporter said they shouldn’t be going through this because they’ve got blonde hair and blue eyes and they aren’t savages like Afghani’s and the Palestinians. How is one supposed to feel when they hear and see shit like that?
TRHH: That’s what they really feel though. They feel like, “This is what Africans and Arabs do. This is not what we do.” Yeah, you started it! This is what you do!
Da Flyy Hooligan: You start shit, you get met with fire, then all of a sudden, you’re a victim. I want to say a lot more, but my focus is on the music. My focus is on my career. I want to get my career poppin’ before I get cancelled for expressing the hurt I feel about how I feel about how people feel about me and the people that look like me. It’s a shame, but what can we really do right now?
TRHH: There is nothing we can really do. I was just curious about how people felt out there.
Da Flyy Hooligan: People that look like me feel fucked. Your human instinct would say, “Nah, Ukraine shouldn’t be going through this.” Then you hear the backstory about everything. Even before this shit kicked off I’ve seen footage of people that look like me getting attacked in Moscow, Germany, Ukraine, and Poland. Racism isn’t a thing of the past. It’s still here. When there is a war now how are you supposed to feel sorry for someone who don’t like you? You’ve got the media telling you you’re supposed to feel sorry for them.
Your human side wants to feel sorry for them, but also your human side is conflicted by things you see happen to people who look exactly like you. We may have slightly different accents, we may be from different parts of the world, but to those kind of people, we all look the same. How is one really supposed to feel? I’m lucky enough that I can articulate that. I know some ignorant niggas that will say exactly how it is, being from the streets and shit. It’s a weird place to be in, man.
TRHH: It’s very strange. You hear a country is being invaded and think, “that ain’t right.”
Da Flyy Hooligan: But how long has Africa been invaded? Double standards and all that. I know some day someone is gonna pick this up and try to twist my words. When I’m some big mega-star someone is going to pick this shit up and they’ll twist my words and say I was for this and I was for that. The reality is, hopefully this will still be floating about and people will see how a black man feels conflicted by something that’s going on because he still has his human side. This is a human side of the interview that we’re having – a very human side. This ain’t the entertainment side of it, this is a very personal thing we’re discussing here. My only hope is that it doesn’t get manipulated in the future to cancel me, so to speak.
TRHH: There’s nothing you said that’s wrong.
Da Flyy Hooligan: We can agree to that. A lot of people can agree to that. But, you know what the media is like. When they have their agenda, they know how to manipulate things very, very well. I will forever be outspoken about something like that. I don’t think it’s a political stance at all. It’s something Eldridge Cleaver would say if he was still here today.
TRHH: On the song “Da Nycest” you say “Offered a wad of cash for my catalog, fam, and refused it.” When it comes to business what keeps you from going for the quick cash grab and thinking long term?
Da Flyy Hooligan: Seeing what people like Wu-Tang achieved. Seeing what KISS achieved, Green Day. I look at the rock stars a lot and the success they’ve had over the longevity of their careers. Even in Hip-Hop I look at someone like Ransom. He’s been doing this a long time, he stuck to it and now his catalog is worth a lot. The same thing with Conway, the same thing with Westside Gunn. I’ve always looked at longevity. I’ve never been in it for the short term. I’ve never been in it for the money like that. I’ve just always looked at sustainability more than riches. I know the riches is coming. Obviously, as time goes by I’m accumulating my value, I’m acquiring more weaponry in my artillery and in my knowledge of how to deal with people in this business, and how to carry myself and conduct myself in this business as well. I’m maturing like fine wine. I’m good with it. That’s what keeps me going.
Like I said, I look at what Wu has done, what Public Enemy has done. I can say those groups because they have been there from the very beginning. Outkast can come out with an album now and they can easily sell ten million copies. That’s because of longevity, not because it’s commercial songs. It’s because they’ve grown up with generations. As time goes by you will notice that people are picking up my past catalog and past discography. They’re saying, “Look, not only is Ben Kingsley a work of art, but your whole catalog is! It’s incredible. Why have we not heard this before?” That’s what makes it very interesting. It brings them into a whole world of discovery and that also breeds loyalty as well from that customer. They root for me and they want to see me progress and do greater and better things. They can foresee as well, as much as I can.
TRHH: Is Ben Kingsley the last installment of the Ray Winstone Saga?
Da Flyy Hooligan: [Laughs] There is one more. There is S.C.U.M. II and that’s all I can say about that. S.C.U.M. II is pretty much done. S.C.U.M. II might be the last installment.