After starting on local pirate radio stations and honing his live skills at his club night Hit&Run (still going strong in Manchester) he burst onto the scene, winning several rap battle contests in 2005 including Jump-Off (the club night which also launched Professor Green and Mr. Hudson), Battlescars (broadcast live from Maida Vale on Radio1), and DJ Nihal’s ‘Bombay Bronx’.
In 2006, his debut single ‘The Post 9/11 Blues’ caused a huge buzz across TV, radio and press, and won him a loyal online following. Since then he has been championed by BBC Radio 1 (on the ‘Introducing’ stage at Glastonbury, the Electric Proms, and a Maida Vale session); toured the USA winning rave reviews; and played shows from Fabric to the Royal Festival Hall with the likes of Massive Attack, Nitin Sawhney, Dizzee Rascal, and Mos Def.
In 2009 Riz MC released two singles, ‘Radar’ and ‘People Like People’, with global dance innovators Crosstown Rebels, topping the dubstep charts on DJ download portal Beatport, and garnering widespread critical acclaim. Techno and house heavyweights Tiefschwarz, Loco Dice, and Ashley Beedle all remixed the singles for release on the same label.
Riz MC’s debut album MICroscope, released digitally in 2011, set him apart as a singular voice with an innovative and bold musical vision, and gained acres of press coverage. While his peers dilute for chart stardom or indulge in underground ruts, MICroscope bristles with risks, intensity, and intelligence. The depth and ambition of Riz MC’s lyrics cut across the honed contours of impossible-to-categorize futuristic bass, as easily as they gel with acoustic strings, or pierce dense layers of jazz-electronica. Working mainly with tech-breaks rising star Lazersonic (Zak Frost, Turbo, Eye Industries), and Nmbrs hot shot Redinho, Riz mixes big ideas with big bass. With his haunting singing voice and hypnotic flow; cutting social commentary and wry, laugh out loud punchlines; searching, searing grime and real dancefloor heat, he brings a refreshing and rare diversity of styles. Further singles “All Of You” and “Dark Hearts”/“All In The Ghetto” brought with them acclaimed and innovative promo videos that highlighted Riz’s credentials as a cross-platform artist and entertainer.
The album is coupled with a groundbreaking live show and online experience. Riz’s future sounds come complete with the compelling sci-fi story world of ‘MICroscope’. At the live show and online, MICroscope invites you into a realm of secret agencies, sonic warfare and mind control in a battle of bass and beats. The secretive government ‘Department for Culture and Communication’ (D.O.C.C.) seeks to control the minds of the public with the spread of insidious sonic viruses – only the MICroscope resistance, an illegal network with equally secretive methods, stand in their way. You are called on to join the resistance and progres the story with your interactions – both at the live show and the award-winning website, where users can play a unique computer game to unlock free music and a groundbreaking short film, directed by Riz himself.
The high concept MICroscope live show is an interactive, immersive experience. As a true innovation for live music performance it has attracted investment from two heavyweights of live music – Festival Republic (Glastonbury, Latitude, Big Chill, Leeds, Reading Festivals) and Metropolis Music (Amy Winehouse, Coldplay, Oasis). The show debuted as a work-in-progress at Sadlers Wells Theatre, took over Fabric, Glastonbury and Latitude. An example of the initial feedback:
- “He has created something unique” – THE INDEPENDENT – “High concept sonic theatre” – GUARDIAN GUIDE – “Riz seems to have done it all. The show served as a platform to incorporate his varying methods and mastery of expressing himself… an impressive feat.” – CLASH – “It’s impossible not to get swept along with his wild imagination” – DJ MAG – “Like nothing else that’s around right now” – EVENING STANDARD
In late 2011, Riz signed to Tru Thoughts to put out a first ever CD release of ‘MICroscope’ – a deluxe edition with new content which sees Riz MC developing his ideas further and raising the bar again. This physical release introduced the augmented version of the record – with all-new skits created and recorded in collaboration with the mighty Zed Bias, plus a host of A-list remixes – to the widest possible audience.
Also well known and highly acclaimed as an actor, Riz Ahmed has starred in award-winning film and TV including Michael Winterbottom’s ‘Road to Guantanamo’ (Berlin Silver Bear), Peter Kosminsky’s ‘Britz’ (BAFTA + RTS winner, Emmy nominated), ‘Dead Set’ (BAFTA nominated), ‘Shifty’ (Best Actor at Geneva Film Festival) and Chris Morris’ critical and commericla hit ‘Four Lions’ (Winner LAFF Audience Award, Best Debut Feature BAFTA, Nominated Best Actor BIFA). Forthcoming and recent appearances include Michael Winterbottom’s ‘Trishna’, Jean Jacques Annaud’s ‘Black Gold’, Ben Drew’s (aka Plan B) directorial debut ‘Ill Manors’ and Mira Nair’s ‘The Reulctant Fundamentalist’.
Having been making music for as long as he can remember, Riz MC is no more an actor-turned-rapper than the other way around, simply a rare example of a multi-talented and expressive creator at the top of his game; in whatever artistic discipline or mode of expression he turns his hand to, Riz displays the level of skill, creativity and passion for which he has become known.