London rapper and accomplished actor Rizwan Ahmed, also known by his hip-hop alias Riz MC, set off pointed, political discourse in the U.K. right out the gate, debuting in 2006 with the satirical yet tongue-in-cheek single, The Post 9/11 Blues. A second-generation Pakistani, Ahmed was raised in north London's Wembley area but went to a private school outside of the city in Hertfordshire. Inspired equally by jungle and hip-hop, he first got involved with music directly in his mid-teens, cutting his teeth on pirate radio and in many freestyle battles. As a Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) major at Oxford University, Ahmed started a hip-hop/jungle club night called "Hit&Run" and was part of a 12-person jazz-house and electronica ensemble called Confidential Collective. After graduating in 2004, he enrolled into London's Central School of Speech and Drama for a year to study acting and quickly landed a role in the acclaimed, politically charged film, The Road to Guantanamo Bay (2006).
His solo musical career up to that point had been confined mainly to battle-rap competitions, of which he won many. The 2006 single, Post 9/11 Blues, was inadvertently leaked by friends of the London MC, first gaining popularity via the Internet. Expectedly, many mainstream outlets, particularly MTV, declined to air the song, but the resulting press coverage prompted some independent radio stations and programs to finally play the track. Faced with record label interest in his music, he decided to found his own label, Battered Records, in order to maintain control over promotion and his image, officially pressing the single on CD and as an mp3 in August 2006. Capping off his successful year, he won Best MC at the Asian Music Awards for his efforts. In 2007, Riz MC issued his second single, the garage rap-driven "People Like People," in addition to gaining work with the Asian Dub Foundation for their drum'n'bass opera Gaddafi and starring in the TV drama miniseries, Britz. ~ Cyril Cordor, Rovi