Socially conscious hip-hop duo Too Many T’s have launched an innovative crowdfunding campaign. Fuelling the concept of environmentally friendly blow out, Too Many T’s are paving the way for artists to involve their fans and their local community in making efforts to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Taking a direct approach to carbon offsetting, fans will join rappers, Ross and Leon, to plant 1,000 seedlings at an as yet top-secret location sometime this October or November. An average reduction of 7.6% Co2 emissions is required every year from 2020-2030 to save the world from climate disaster, and despite a record drop of 4.6% during lockdown, we’re still a long way off.
Being released alongside the crowdfunder is the music video ‘The Earth is Fucked!’. The funk-infused hip-hop banger is a cutting-edge lyrical statement piece, which uses humour and old-school beats to catalogue the smorgasbord of crises humanity continues to inflict on the planet.
Along with Jessi from Wheres My Tent?, we spoke to Ross and Leon to find out more about Too Many T’s and Too Many Trees: “We aim to make people feel good, but we also really give a shit about the state of the earth and have to speak up and take action, however we can. Feeling good and highlighting the plight of the earth are hard to fuse together, but we’ve tried to do that in this project.
“Launching the track reminds us there are still many serious issues we are facing nationally and globally, and we offer some direct action with Too Many Trees. Something we hope will build year on year into a huge project. Our fans are absolute legends, so we are confident we can make a real change together.”
All of the trees planted will be species native to the UK, potentially including beeches, firs and endangered oaks. With the benefits of biodiversity in mind, the duo are planning to plant a mix of species in every location; “whatever’s best for the place”, adds Ross.
“A lot of it depends on location and cost and how much we can raise from this campaign”, says Leon.
They initially considered launching their own tree planting app, allowing fans to offset their carbon footprint, before deciding they’d rather involve their community. “This is bullshit actually, it’s not like, direct at all, l think we wanna do something more direct”, said Ross, “oh wait a minute, we could involve, like our fans and make a proper day of it”.
Leon added: “Yeah, I think you’re right, the idea of a community thing, and being able to be there ourselves and be there with fans, and be hands on, you know. We’ll curate a playlist with our fans, be there, create such an enjoyable day. So if people can have a fun day, and they go away, and they tell their friends, and they look forward to the next planting day, that’s the environment that we wanna create around it, build a community.”
On the first day of planting, the duo want to fill around half a hectare with an initial target of 1,000 trees, and hope to expand with a number of satellite projects spearheaded by fans across the country.
Leon said: “I guess that’s the dream. Hopefully it can grow and we can have a superfan in different cities around the country and give them the model to set something up in the heart of their hometown.”
‘The Earth is Fucked’
The ‘The Earth Is Fucked’ video is just one tool they’ll use to promote the tree planting project, presented as one solution to the problems voiced in the video.
The crowdfunder has no fixed timeframe and will remain open to see how much the project can achieve.
UPDATE 31/07: The crowdfunder is now operating in rounds, with the first target of £2,500 already smashed and another round of crowdfunding coming soon.
Back in February, way before the lockdown, they went on the search for a nearby farm willing to let them borrow some animals for filming.
Ross phoned almost every city farm in London, but kept being met with negative responses: “all of them said no, a lot of them were just scared by the fact it had like, swearing in the song and they didn’t wanna be associated with it ‘cause they’re, apparently, ‘family oriented’ and stuff. Three people didn’t get back to me, three it was a pretty negative response, and then Vauxhall City Farm were like ‘This is awesome! When can you come?’”
Leon: “They were just onboard, they were so helpful on the day, which was useful cause like, it’s quite nerve racking holding a delicate little animal.”
Ross: “That’s ‘cause animals freak Leon out, he’s got a phobia of animals! And awh man the chinchillas, have you ever held a chinchilla before? They’re the softest thing I’ve ever touched in my life.”
Back in his university days, Ross studied a Masters’ degree in Sustainability: “It was years ago, so I did an economics-based undergraduate degree, and then got bored of it all, became a bit of a hippy and thought ‘this looks good’, and did a sustainable design course. It was sustainable design in buildings, with whole modules on climate change. I was at Cardiff, it was wicked, it was an amazing course, and then I still do bits and bobs in that field now, I sort of freelance on buildings and stuff.”
“My thesis was ‘If Biomass could fuel Bristol’. I was living in Bristol at the time, and I was looking at loads of different forests and crop rotations that you could potentially power all the public buildings in Bristol with.”
Leon: “What was the conclusion?”
Ross: “It was about 60% the case that it would work, but there was loads of delivery issues in the centre. You wouldn’t be able to get the deliveries into the centre, but it would have been cheaper than what they were being fuelled on already. It was really cool. This is the first time I’ve thought about it in about 10 years actually!”
He went on to explain how Too Many T’s has evolved since they got started: “Yeah, it’s been the last couple of years basically. I think the first couple of years it was all festivals and just a big party, and then we did the album and we were just tryna be a bit more serious. Then the last couple of years we just started doing what we wanna do and having a bit of purpose. Especially now it’s all been a different angle, and a different feeling to what we’ve been doing, and what our targets have been. I feel like this year it’s all kind of come together and we’ve made a proper plan, and we know what we’re doing now, which is what we want.”
The Alexa Song
Too Many T’s made global headlines back in 2018 after releasing this track with Amazon’s Alexa intricately woven into the lyrics – and there’s even a version with Alexa’s bars removed from the audio so your own Amazon Echo can pick up on their prompts and fill in the blanks.
Leon: “A technology firm came to us with the idea and asked, ‘Do you think you could do something?’ So me and Ross spent weeks testing out asking Alexa questions, trying to work out the timing of the beat so it had the right delayed response. Obviously, you ask the question, it’s not directly in time, and we had to work out the tempo of the beat with an average internet speed.”
Amazon have changed some of the responses since the song was released, but it still works brilliantly for us if you change Alexa’s language to US English first.
With a massive thanks to Ross and Leon for taking the time to talk to us, and to Jessi from Where’s My Tent?.