When you think of Newcastle’s music traditions, the genres of rap and Hip hop may not immediately spring to mind. Yet, within this bustling local scene that still remains largely unknown by the rest of the country, a dynamic force strives to reshape that narrative. Meet Max Gavins, the up-and-coming rapper and Hip hop artist whose innovative sound and profound lyricism are not only captivating audiences but also defining a new era in the region’s musical landscape. After competing in a number of rap battles at the start of his career that took him all over the world including Colorado, Max is now focusing all of his efforts on delivering more new music.
You’ve been in the Northeast Hip hop scene for a while now, how would you describe your sound?
“If I were to sum it up into one phrase I’d say alternative hip hop, as I love to integrate other styles in there too – melodic phrases and whatnot. Even before I knew what genres were, I gravitated towards the world of hip hop and R&B, so I’ve been exposed to all sorts of amazing music.”
Was there anyone local to the region that inspired you to pursue a career in Hip hop?
“I went to a Dizzee Rascal gig when I was 12 at the Academy in Newcastle, and at the end, there was someone handing out flyers with a couple of Northeast acts on – Dialect and Drop Dead Fred were featured. It had their MySpace on, so the next day I made an account and searched hip hop in Newcastle, adding everyone that came up. Hearing those guys from the local area definitely changed my perspective because before I rapped in an American accent – it was the only thing I knew. I learnt that you can use your own accent and it’s still hip hop.”
Do you think the Northeast music scene has a good support system for Hip hop and R&B artists to the same extent as other genres?
“I’m 28 now, so when I got that flyer outside of the concert that was about 15 years ago. The scene has definitely improved to what it was, but I’d still say the hype for this kind of music comes and goes in waves, which is a shame. It’s crazy because whilst visiting America, I noticed that the locals even in the smaller states are always looking for and championing their own artists, particularly in the Hip hop and R&B world. The North East has the same supportive attitude but more so for other genres, so I hope this current hip hop wave doesn’t subside.”
As well as a talented songwriter and musician, Max’s expertise also lies within the world of production. With a home studio and a keen ear for audio mixing, Max is able to master the entire musical process from start to finish. Having collaborated with multiple North East artists such as Frankie Jobling and 90br0, it’s safe to say that his accomplishments reach far beyond just the songwriting realm.
What has been your favourite collaboration so far?
“Alongside doing my individual tracks, I’m also part of the duo ‘Rumaz’ with 90br0 (Rizwan Yousuf). He’s originally from Sunderland and honestly one of the best rappers I’ve ever heard. My favourite part about writing with Rizwan is how much he pushes my musicality in different unique ways. He’s got the capabilities of writing incredible lyrics within 15 minutes and it’s great to be part of that process.”
Max recently released a new single called £WORLD, a thematic concept around money and its current impact on the world during this cost of living crisis. Capturing an early 2000s vibe with catchy melodic and rhythmic inflections, the song combines simplicity with a touch of spice, reminiscent of Eminem’s ‘Nail In The Coffin’.
Can you explain a little bit about your inspirations behind £WORLD?
“We are all trying to climb that ladder of success, so there’s a bit of internal conflict in all of us and £WORLD vocalises all sides of that in one way or another. The name of the track came after I’d finished writing it. My first ever job was at Poundworld in the MetroCentre when I was 16, for something pitiful like £3.50 an hour. That was my first rung on the ladder, so to speak, so I thought it was a fitting name to the track.”
Are there any upcoming projects or initiatives that showcase the Northeast’s Hip hop talent that you’d like to share?
“There are so many talented Northeast Hip hop artists on the rise right now, so I’d love to shout out AP3, ZELA and obviously the veteran rapper Rick Fury never fails to amaze me. It’s promising to see more and more local musicians within this particular scene fully embracing their roots because it was something I was scared to do at the start.”
With a brand new album on the horizon, it’s clear that Max isn’t just an artist on the rise but a trailblazer in the Northeast’s Hip hop movement. With his unique blend of storytelling, unapologetic lyricism, and a sound that defines convention, Max is poised to leave an indelible mark on the regional rap scene, taking it to new heights.