The British rapper talks about fatherhood and how his perspectives on life and music have had to change
British MC Example to appear in Dubai's Make Smart Cool youth festival
Earlier interviews with Example often centred on some of the hedonism in his music and life in general.
There were discussions about break-ups, substance abuse and larrikin mischief and how they generally informed the British MC’s sound.
Critically acclaimed albums Won’t Go Quietly (2010) and The Evolution of Man (2012) blended the escapism of electronic dance music with gritty introspective hip-hop – it was the soundtrack to the kind of party you would regret the following day.
Hence, it took a while to recognise the Example – real name Elliot Gleave – that was on the phone from the UK as he discussed the joys of being a father of sons aged 2 and one month old.
“Oh, it’s tough,” he says with a soft cackle.
“One baby is crazy, and two is just madness.”
The additions, he explains, mean his solo career has become a team effort.
For Friday’s performance as part of the Make Smart Cool festival in Dubai, Example enlisted his Australian parents-in-law to lend a hand with babysitting duties.
“They are staying with us for the moment,” he explains.
“And because I am coming down to see you guys in Dubai, I ideally didn’t want my wife to be home alone, coping and looking after the kids. I just feel very fortunate to have them around.”
In the three years since his fifth album, Live Life Living, one can assume that Example took a break from all musical pursuits to focus on parenting.
Instead, he has been plugging away diligently with regular summer tours and crafting a new collection of songs. While the live shows are always fun, Example says penning slamming party anthems as a new father is rather tricky.
“My songs have always been either love stories, break-ups or nights out,” he says.
“I think there could be a clever way of introducing kids into the mix. But you have to be clever with the wording and not be too direct. I mean, if you are in club at 2am with your friends having a good time, it is very rare that you want to hear someone singing about their family.”
But one thing is for sure, Example says, the new songs are more celebratory.
This is a reaction to the more experimental and sombre sounds of Live Life Living. Example admits he also accepts some of the criticism hurled at the record by the press.
“I don’t dislike the album, but it is a little bit of a mess,” he says.
“It is not a solid listen from start to finish. The sounds and my tones change a bit too much. It just didn’t really work for me. If there will be a new album it would make more sense. But, then again, I honestly don’t know if I will release another album again.”
The reason behind the caution is the rapidly-changing state of the music industry. Not only is making an album an expensive venture, Example says, but we are in a digital streaming era, where standalone singles offer more artist exposure than a whole body of work.
“At the end of the day, it is a business. A record label these days just wants a few big songs out and they are happy,”
“When it comes to an album, you can be paying 15 different producers five to 10 grand each; then you’ve got the guys who mix, the guys who do other production on the album such as the instrumentation, the featured singers and the mastering. Then you also may have samples from other songs that you have to pay – some of these albums can cost 500,000 grand upwards. So if you are a record label, it’s better for you to have your artist produce a few big songs a year instead.”
With Example stating that he is nearly finished working on a comeback single, he says he may “be cheeky and play a new song” in his Dubai set.
A regular visitor to the UAE, having performed at major events including the 2011 Abu Dhabi F1 after-race club shows and Dubai’s beachside festival Nasimi Sessions in 2015, Example says the UAE crowds have grown to appreciate
“When I first came about seven years ago I think the crowd didn’t know how to react to someone like me,” he says.
“But that was because I first came before dance music blew up. Now the fans know what to do and how to really let themselves go.”
Example will perform as part of the Make Smart Cool at the Dubai World Trade Centre on Friday. Doors open at 6pm. Tickets begin from Dh299 from tickets.virginmegastore.me/ae