From suit salesman to rapper, new BBC Scotland documentary tells story of Edinburgh hip hop star Stevie Creed, The Brooklyn Scotsman

Stevie CreedStevie Creed
Stevie Creed | other
BETTER known as The Brooklyn Scotsman, Stevie Creed is no stranger to Fringe Festival audiences.

The story of the 29-year-old from Edinburgh’s Southside, who found himself alone and in trouble when he decided to pursue his dreams of being a hip hop star in New York at the age of just 19 proved such a hit with audiences it has now become the subject of a new BBC Scotland documentary.

It’s the story of one man’s passion, of tragedy, and is ultimately one of hope - it’s also an adventure that Creed has tattooed across his back.

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“That was done by Dominika Szymczyk at Mr Greg Tattoo Parlour on Easter Road and took about 12 hours,” he says. “It symbolises my journey from Edinburgh to New York and has a microphone in the hand of the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and, on my shoulder hovering above Edinburgh Castle, a pixie for my good friend and singer Jamei-Lee Lister who passed away recently.”

Stevie Creed with members of his Brooklyn Family, Roody Louinis, Darnell Guerrier, and Chris Louinis on Pennsylvania AvenueStevie Creed with members of his Brooklyn Family, Roody Louinis, Darnell Guerrier, and Chris Louinis on Pennsylvania Avenue
Stevie Creed with members of his Brooklyn Family, Roody Louinis, Darnell Guerrier, and Chris Louinis on Pennsylvania Avenue | other

Recalling the origins of the documentary Creed, who was still working as a suit salesman in Slater Menswear on George Street when filming began, says, “I met director and producer Garry Torrance when I got a small part in the TV drama The Grey Area. “He had heard about my story and was interested. When he read a screenplay I’d written based on the events I had experienced in New York, he pitched it to the BBC as a documentary - the rest is history...”

Filmed over five weeks, the documentary took Creed, a keen boxer, back to New York where it reunited him with his ‘Brooklyn Family’, the people who looked out for him when he first arrived there as a naive teenager pursuing his dream. The performer reflects that, at the time, he had no inkling of just how dangerous a situation he had placed himself in.

“In hindsight I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I went to NYC as a teenager, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Those experiences made me the man I am today. They gave me a unique story to tell and opened my eyes to how beautiful the world can be - The Brooklyn Scotsman was born out of hope not helplessness.”

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Continuing, he adds, “I’m not the first white guy to live in a black neighbourhood. And I’m not the first artist that has went to New York to chase his dreams. However, I may have been the first rapping, boxing, Scottish, baby-faced white boy to walk runways at New York Fashion Week while living in a crack den and packing monopoly money into his wallet to stop being robbed.”

The Brooklyn Scotsman on BBC ScotlandThe Brooklyn Scotsman on BBC Scotland
The Brooklyn Scotsman on BBC Scotland | other

Educated at Beeslack Community High School in Penicuik, his love of hip hop began at the age of 12. “That was when I started recording music on a tape cassette recorder and formed a group called Loose Endz with my best friends,” recalls Creed, whose real name is Stevie McGhee. He laughs as he remembers, “ My English jotter was full of rap lyrics.”

All a long way removed the world he returned to earlier this year. “I felt like I had never left,” he reflects. “Brooklyn is my second home and always will be - I have people I consider family out there. The most emotional thing was going back to tell them I’ve not forgot about their kindness and that I was there to finish what they started - they believed in me as a rapper when I never believed in myself.

“Nothing in my life will ever compare to being in a car with my Brooklyn family, freestyling, with them telling me I was going to break my Scottish accent into the mainstream. But having discovered that there are homeless musicians on the streets of NYC who would wipe the floor with people over here, that keeps me humble.”

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And Creed knows what it’s like to be homeless in the Big Apple, that happened to him shortly after he was swindled by a promoter, all of which he explains in a new biography, which is currently being pitched to publishers.

“I also got robbed, witnessed horrific violence and ended up starving and homeless for a short time,” he reveals, insisting that being Scottish “allowed him to survive the worst times”.

Horrified but not surprised by what is happening in America in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Creed admits, “It made me sick to my stomach. My eyes get teary when I recall what I have witnessed in the past and what we are still witnessing. This is nothing new. The only thing new is that people have camera phones and the Internet exists so it can be seen for what it is now. Brooklyn changed my life, it changed the way I look at the world. It changed the way people look at me. I will be eternally grateful for that, but the one thing we all have in common is that we are all human beings.”

The Brooklyn Scotsman, BBC Scotland, Tuesday, 10pm

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