Scroobius Pip: Losing its edge

How can rebellious kids express themselves now that tattoos have become part of the mainstream, asks heavily inked hip-hop artist Scroobius Pip.
Have tattoos become too normalized? Photo / Thinkstock
Have tattoos become too normalized? Photo / Thinkstock

Getting a tattoo doesn’t have to mean a lot these days. I think it used to mean something – it was edgy, a sign of the counter culture. Now it’s just … a tattoo. Nothing more.

The first tattoo I got was on my lower back (like most first tattoos, it’s awful). Since then, I’ve had tattoos done on my lip, chest, side, leg, and arm. Directly after I finish writing this, I’m off to get another one.

My new tattoo is the first one that I’ll have on show even when dressed. I guess I’ve got enough hidden that I feel comfortable to display some.

I’m quite traditional like that. In the old days you’d earn the right to have tattoos on show. Now people are getting their first tattoo on their hands, arms, even their face.

For me, I think it’s something you build up to – but then everyone’s got tattoos now.

Meatheads, jocks, scientists. There’s no specific type of person or culture connected to having a tattoo any more. It’s become mainstream, the same as everything else.

I’d love it if there were a backlash, and all of a sudden the rebellious people were the ones who don’t have tattoos. But it will probably go the other way.

There’s a girl I know who just had a design drawn on and then cut in with a scalpel. I have no doubt it’ll look beautiful, she’s got real discerning taste, but that seems crazy to me. I’m sure that’ll probably be the route now – everyone’s got tattoos, so counter-culture will be carving designs into your skin.

Anything that’s cool will be cool for a while and then it becomes normalised.

That doesn’t make it sh*t, it just means it wasn’t what it was. Punk was punk, but then punk bands started to get in the charts. Rock’s the easiest example – it was alternative, but now rock bands are the main pop acts.

I had an ex-girlfriend who was a tattoo artist, and she would refer to people as being “tattoo collectors”. I think that’s a great way of putting it – it’s like collecting art. For me, I collect tattoos for myself, rather than to make any kind of statement. It’s why all the ones I’ve had done so far are covered up – it’s nothing to do with anyone else.

I remember there being such an uproar about David Dimbleby’s tattoo (the presenter of BBC’s Question Time got his first, of a scorpion, at the age of 75), and people saying tattoos could no longer be fashionable.

Why does everyone care so much about what everyone else is doing? It’s such a weird preoccupation. I get my work done how I do it, but it doesn’t mean the presenter of Question Time shouldn’t get a six-legged scorpion. Do what you want to do.

The same goes for Girls Aloud singer and X-Factor judge Cheryl Cole. Her tattoo is amazing. I wasn’t that into the placement and the design, but as a piece of work I can’t fault it.

But why do we care anyway, what business is it of ours? How regularly were you seeing Cheryl Cole’s bum anyway? Your view hasn’t been ruined if you don’t happen to like that tattoo. It was a view you never had in the first place.

It’s weird, tattoos have always been a far bigger deal to people who don’t have them than to people who do.

The argument, “how’s that going to look when you’re 90?” always amuses me. I mean, how’s my belly going to look when I’m 90?

How sad is that, living your life in preparation of being 90, sitting around and gradually dying. How’s that going to look on your corpse? Let’s just worry about what’s happening now, shall we?

Anyway, I’m sure within five or 10 years you’ll have tattoo removal that’s instant. I reckon laser removal companies could be as worth as much as Apple one day.

Laser removal companies, and companies that can remove Instagram filters, so you can have all your photos back – that’s the two companies to invest in.

– Telegraph

Scroobius Pip is a British hip-hop artist. His latest album, Repent Replenish Repeat, with fellow artist Dan Le Sac, is out now.

– Daily Telegraph UK

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