|Years active: 2006–present
Genres:Hip hop, political hip hop, British hip hop
Labels: Tru Thoughts
Associated acts: Swet Shop Boys, Heems, Plan B, Sway, Distance
iTunes: Riz MC | Swet Shop Boys
Inspired by jungle and hip hop music, his music career began in his mid-teens, appearing on pirate radio and in freestyle rap battles. While at university, Ahmed co-founded the Hit & Run night in Oxford, which has since moved to Manchester and gone on to become one of Manchester’s leading underground music events. At Oxford, he was also part of a 12-person jazz-house/electronica band called Confidential Collective. After graduating, he competed in and won many rap battle competitions. He competed as Riz MC on JumpOff TV’s “Spin the Mic” freestyle rap battle contest in 2006. He beat contestants Stig and Skilla Mic, before a controversial loss to contest winner Whatshisface; according to JumpOff TV, Riz was at a disadvantage due to racial double standards from the crowd.
In 2006, Ahmed recorded a satirical social-commentary rap track entitled “Post 9/11 Blues”, which was leaked by friends and first gained popularity through the internet. The song was initially banned from British airplay because the lyrics were deemed “politically sensitive”, including satirical references to 9/11, terrorism, the post-9/11 climate, Iraq War, death of Jean Charles de Menezes, MI6, and Belmarsh prison. The resulting press coverage, however, prompted some independent radio stations to play the track. He soon founded his own independent record label, Battered Records, officially releasing “Post 9/11 Blues” for the CD and MP3 formats in August 2006. He went on to win Best MC at the 2006 Asian Music Awards. He released his second single in 2007, the garage rap song “People Like People”. He was selected as a BBC Introducing artist in 2007, playing the Glastonbury Festival and the BBC Electric Proms. He opened the Meltdown Festival with Bristol-based trip-hop group Massive Attack at the Royal Festival Hall in 2008, and was appointed ‘Emerging Artist in Residence’ at the Southbank Centre in London. He played at the London Camp for Climate Action in August 2009.
In 2011, he released his debut album, Microscope, which was re-released with additional remixes in 2012. On 1 December 2011, it was announced that Riz MC had signed to Tru Thoughts, an independent label in Brighton. From Microscope, he released “Sour Times” which was accompanied by a video featuring Scroobius Pip, Plan B, Tom Hardy, and Jim Sturgess. Formed in 2014, Ahmed is half of the hip hop duo Swet Shop Boys along with Heems. Their debut release, Swet Shop EP, was released in 2014. The group’s debut full-length effort, Cashmere, was released on 14 October 2016, and received critical acclaim. He was featured on the song “Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)” in The Hamilton Mixtape, which topped the Billboard 200 chart. This put him in the unique position of sitting at number-one on both the Billboard 200 album chart and the movie box office chart (with Rogue One) at the same time. At the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs), “Immigrants” won the award for Best Fight Against the System, giving him the rare distinction of winning both the Emmy and VMA awards. In 2016, he released the nine-track mixtape, Englistan.
– Microscope (2011)
– Englistan (2016)
– “The Post 9/11 Blues” (2006)
– “People Like People” (2007)
– “Radar” (2008)
– “Shifty” (with Sway & Plan B) (2009)
– “Don’t Sleep” (2009)
– “Hundreds and Thousands” (2010)
– “Get on It” (2010)
– “All of You” (2011)
– “Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)” from The Hamilton Mixtape (2016)
Swet Shop Boys
|Years active: 2014–present
Labels: Customs, Greedhead Music
Members: Riz Ahmed, Heems, Redinho
iTunes: Swet Shop Boys
Swet Shop Boys is an Indian-American/British-Pakistani hip hop group, consisting of rappers Heems and Riz MC, with producer Redinho. Originally formed by Heems and Riz MC, Swet Shop Boys released an EP, Swet Shop, in 2014. Along with Redinho, the group released the debut album, Cashmere, in 2016. In 2017, the group released an EP, Sufi La.
– Cashmere (2016), Customs
– Swet Shop (2014), Greedhead Music
– Sufi La (2017), Customs