Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Code of the Streets Presents: The Homegrown tape (Echoes Magazine, 1997)

A lovely little compilation from 1997...
This little number poped up somewhere, probably Discogs or ebay for a quid or two, I can't really recall exactly where. It was released in February 1997 as a freebie available with Echoes / Code of the Streets Magazine and contains some of the choicest UK Cuts that came out in 1996 and 1997. Yes, there is the odd bit of american accent on a few of the tracks by some of the lesser know cats but the overall tracklist is top notch. The lack of mixing means that this is not really a mixtape as such but I guess that these days the literal definition of mixtape has been stretched a bit further than that anyway!

...and a lovely little tracklist to match
Upon listening you will here a few cuts by a pre-19 Long-Time Blak Twang and pre-Brand New Second Hand and Countryman Roots Manuva and Skitz. There are also appearences from TY back in his Shortee Blitz collabo days and Lewis Parker with the majestic "Rise" from the Rise/Visions of Splendour 12" on Bite It. Braintax even makes an apearence with a track taken off his highly sort-after Future Years EP, "Taxation". All of these tracks also came out on 12"s and on albums or EPs at some point so they will be covered in detail at another time. However, for now consider this a little Xmas present to warm the eardrums while I take a little time out over the holiday period. Enjoy and I will be back in the New Year. Peace Postie   

Code of the Streets Presents: The Homegrown

Monday, 29 November 2010

Life MC Debut: "In Memory " (The Compressed Knowledge 12s)

Life - In Memory Original 1998 12"
I was in Oz, an 18 year old kid in love with hip hop, chilling and seeing new shit! My pride and joy - a slimline Sony Walkman not much bigger than a tape case and around 10 cassette mixtapes picked up from MK prior to departure. I had been away seven months by the time a good mate of mine came out to meet me in Sydney and by that time the tapes had been more than little bit rinsed. So it was a big occasion when my man popped open his rucksack to reveal 5 new mixtapes courtesy of the smoking night boys holding down the one-and-twos in the UK. One of these was the Wordlab Vol.1. compilation taped straight from CD but coming complete with a homemade cover and a message from my best mate to "check out track five".

Life MC - the "Life" part of "Phi-Life Cypher"
Sure enough "In Memory" blew me away. Sandwiched in between The En4cers - "Never Ending Beginning" and Ty and Nextmen's ill "Turn it Up a Little", the fact that this tune by some dude named "Life MC" was taking the honours is testament to its impact. The voice was familiar but at this point I hadn't quite made the connection between the rasta-raps honouring Stephen Lawrence and the verse I had heard a couple of years previously when Disorda's UK Hustlerz Vol 4 debuted Skitz' "Fingerprints of the Gods" through my headphones. 

Stephen Lawrence
The magic of "In Memory" came from the story it told. The sense of anger and injustice in Life's timeline of events relating to the infamous Stephen Lawrence murder case in many ways summed up the feelings of injustice felt by the majority of the nation towards an institutionally racist and corrupt police force and a gang of racist thugs who undoubtedly got away with murder.

To summarise a long and complex story for those unfamiliar with the case - 18-year-old sixth-form student Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death at a bus stop in Southeast London in April 1993. In the years following the murder the resulting metropolitan police investigation was lackadaisical at best and at worst corrupt. Despite no fewer than 39 tip-offs and a statement from a material witness, it took the interference of Nelson Mandela - putting the case on the international stage with a visit to Eltham to meet Stephen's family - before the police decided to make an arrest. Two of the five suspects named by witnesses were eventually charged but in July 1993 the Crown Prosecution Service decided to drop the charges against prime suspects Neil Acourt and Luke Knight due to insufficient evidence. 

Daily Mail 14th Feb 1997
Frustrated with the police ineptitude, the Lawrence Family brought a private prosecution against the two initial suspects as well as the three other suspects named by witnesses - David Norris, Jamie Acourt and Gary Dobson. By 1996 the prosecution had failed in its attempts for justice after the original two suspects had the charges dropped before the trial began and the remaining three were acquitted at trial after a judge ruled that evidence identifying them as the perpetrators - provided by Stephen Lawrence's friend Duwayne Brooks (present at the bus stop at the time of the killing) - was inadmissible. There was also a distinct lack of co-operation from the Police.

Such was the sense of injustice felt by the nation after the conclusion of the trial, the Daily Mail took the unprecedented step of branding the five suspects "Murderers" on the front page of their newspaper and challenged them to sue for libel if they were wrong. To further rub salt in the wounds, footage caught on police surveillance camera in David Norris' flat in 1994 was broadcast in a TV documentary which caught the suspects acting out their racist fantasies whilst "playing" with knives. Whilst brandishing a large knife Norris was heard saying: 'If I was going to kill myself do you know what I'd do? I'd go and kill every black, every Paki, every mug, every copper that I know. 'I'd go down to Catford and places like that with two submachine guns and I'm telling you I'd take one of them. Skin the black alive, mate. Torture him, set him alight. 'I'd blow their two legs and arms off and say "Go on, you can swim home now."

Stephen Lawrence Murder Suspects
If there were any doubts as to the character of those accused - the footage had cleared them up and the resulting public anger was palpable. The public outcry and media pressure led to a number of enquiries into the police handling of the case. Details began to emerge of alleged police corruption - more specifically the relationship between Clifford Norris (the father of prime suspect David Norris) and a lead detective on the case - Det. Sgt. John Davidson. It emerged that Clifford Norris - known to police for his connection to a South London firm implicated in a 1983 gold-bullion robbery, and with a rap-sheet the length of an epic novel - was a family friend of Davidson and had connections going back many years. Neil Putnam - a former 'bent copper' turned whistleblower close to Davidson, claimed Davidson had been receiving cash from Norris to protect his son and that the police had supressed information about their relationship in an effort to avoid an investigation into police corruption. Later on, Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates, who was tasked with ridding the force of corruption, admitted he thought Mr Davidson was corrupt, stating on record "From all the evidence I've seen, and the intelligence I've seen, I have no doubt he was corrupt." The Independent Police Complaints Commission investigated the claims and found insufficient evidence to prove the allegations.

Despite the general acceptance by anyone who followed the case that the five suspects were - without doubt guilty - to this day they have never been successfully prosecuted for the murder of Stephen Lawrence although there is hope that new DNA evidence may eventually provide Stephen's parents with the justice they crave. The legacy of the case lead to the Metropolitan Police force being labelled "institutionally racist" and resulted in double jeopardy laws (preventing UK citizens being tried for the same case twice) being repealed.

Life "In Memory" Label
So that is a very brief and simplified version of the Stephen Lawrence story - now down to the wax put out by Life on Compressed Knowledge in 1998. On my part, a flight home from Oz and the acquisition of Millennium Metaphors cleared up all the missing links and many years followed where I ignorantly assumed I knew of everything Si Phili, Life and Nappa had ever put down on wax. Then one day about 5 years ago whilst I was at the house of very same best mate who had made me the Word Lab vol. 1 tape, I took the liberty of perusing his crates. What the fuck is this? Some weird white label 12 with Life "In Memory" calligraphically scrawled under some dodgy looking marker-pen logo! The Vestax were duly dusted off and the wax spun - whoa, this isn't the same tune that graced my ears back in that crusty backpacker hostel on Sydney's George Street! Sure the lyrics are the same but what's this library jazz-style loop changing the whole vibe of Life's message? Nice!

The flip-side featuring "Blinded Reality"
Those opening bars, potent and angry as ever hit home again... "Was there justice Stephen Lawrence was killed? Cold-blooded murder! / A racist attack by five guys who hated blacks / They blatantly proved that, caught live on a camera in a flat / simulating violent attacks with sharp knives and bats." Just like that Life sets out the stall for the record - no fucking about - straight to the point - Life was the voice for anybody with any sense who had followed the case with even one iota of interest. The rest of the record continues in the same vein - basically using three tight verses of concise political rhymes to tell the story I have told above - but far more effectively and emotively.

In my opinion "In Memory" is a classic track purely because it does what hip hop should do - It provides a picture of the frustration felt by a disaffected community in the same way that "The Message" did when it was dropped all those years ago. As a historical document it reveals the feelings of persecution that to this day are still felt by minority communities towards elements of the police - this time as a result of their indifference to the Stephen Lawrence case. For this reason this record is to UK race politics what KRS One's "Sound of da Police" was to US politics in the wake of the Rodney King case. Trouble is, unlike the KRS effort -  as usual not enough people outside of the UK Hip Hop community heard it!

"Bring the education to teach
the youth about integration"
 As far as collectability goes - rumour has it that a large number of the Compressed knowledge vinyls suffered from a pressing fault - indeed my own copy has a discernable warp and a tendency for the needle to end up grinding over the label if left to rotate on the run-out groove - whether this limited the number that made it out to shops is unknown to me but none of the issues with the pressing spoils the impact of this UK hip hop beauty when placed on the turntable. It rarely comes up on Ebay and there isn't any release info for it on Discogs. The times I have seen it sell it is usually priced between £10.00-£20.00

Oh yeah, and for the record, there is also a b-side track called "Blinded Reality" that seems to be unavailable in any form anywhere else - not the highlight but tight nonetheless. And for those eagle-eyed individuals that noticed the CK002 catalogue number on the label, don't worry I haven't forgotten CK001 - the other Phi-Life venture on Compressed Knowledge - The Baddest Man EP and vinyl debut by the Phi-Life Cypher crew as a group will be covered in SP.O.T.S shortly. In the meantime check all of Life's debut offering below!

Life MC - "In Memory" (Original Compressed Knowledge 12" version)

Life MC: "Blinded Reality" (B-side of C.K. 12")

Life MC: "In Memory" Wordlab Vol.1 Version (also on the 2003 Solo LP "Everyday Life")

Article Sources:

Saturday, 20 November 2010

The Making of Jehst's Premonitions EP 1999 (YNR): An Interview with Evil Ed

Jehst - Premonitions EP - a classic?
In this post I have decided to get my Wax Poetics on and get deep behind the history of what was a massively important record in the development of my (and many other heads of my age) love affair with UK Hip Hop. It was 1999, I was 18, at college, permanently plugged into my Walkman and trying to find out as much as I could about the UK Hip Hop scene. I used to read HHC every month and scour the reviews section to figure out which UK releases I would buy the next time I had enough cash to catch the train to London and do the rounds at Deal Real and Mr Bongo. Some Old School heads might dismiss this era as occurring after the magic had passed but for those of us that were only just starting to pay our dues I can assure you it felt pretty magical then.

To say that Premonitions blew me and my mates away was an understatement. It became the record we all used as the example to non-believers that hip hop could be poetry. It was one of those records that felt special because it was so fucking good but so few people seemed to have heard of it – those who had it were part of a privileged club – and to say we rinsed it at our music discovery nights would be an understatement.

For this reason it was a great pleasure to be able to conduct an interview with Evil Ed who produced three tracks on Premonitions and was a major figure in the early years of YNR records. So without further ado ladies and gentlemen, I give you Evil Ed's take on the making of a now classic EP. 

Evil Ed in the house
 Postie: At what point did you hook up with Jehst and how did that come about?

Ed: I met Jehst around 1998 although I'd seen him MC a couple of years before in Manchester. He came on stage and I thought he was some live-wire kid with skills, he really left an impression. I then bumped into him in '98 in 4th Wave Records in Huddersfield. I was playing a demo tape I'd done with some MC's and we got chatting and he remembered me from the HID record. Jehst came round mine and we recorded some freestyles and stuff over some of the beats I'd been working on. He was in the process of making Premonitions and got me involved with some production and cuts for it. I met the rest of the YNR crew at the various recording sessions for the EP in Leeds, Tommy Evans, Nmonic, Asaviour, Taharka, Usmaan, Nexus 6.

"I love the crackle on the old vinyl/
I rock break loops / I make moves from my HQ!" 
At that time I had the chance to do a tune with some of my heroes of UK rap, Gunshot, for Disorda's UK Hustlas mixtape. It was a last minute thing, but I persuaded Jehst to come with me, I told him they'd let him on the track once they heard him. He nearly never came, he came to Leeds bus station and nearly never got on the National Express with me, but by some fluke there was a spare seat and he came with me. Gunshot let him spit on the track and I remember we were sitting in White Child Rix's lounge playing them 'Premonitions' on tape. These were legends to us - proper rap heroes!

Gunshot-Firepower from UK Hustlas Vol 6.

The beat for the Gunshot track, 'Firepower' never got mixed properly due to White Child Rix's girl and her parents coming home and we to cut the session short, which was shame, I always was gutted about that, but they said to us they had these MC's called Task Force who they wanted to get on the track too. I'd heard of them and Jehst had too I think, but that hook up lead to me and Jehst recording with them, me for 'The Tournament' and Jehst for whatever he recorded with them (even though we weren't there when they recorded the vocals for 'Firepower').

Postie: At this point in time what was Jehst like as a character and creative individual? He was obviously already an extremely talented lyricist. Was he easy to work with? How did you complement each other?

Ed: He was very lively, always rushing around, young and restless like the label name, trying to hook up music stuff, recording, doing shows, going to gigs. When I first met him .... For the full in depth interview click on the pdf viewer below the Premonitions youtube links...

Jehst - Liquid Diction (taken from YNR 001 - Premonitions EP)

Jehst ft Tommy Evans "Deadly Combination" (taken from Premonitions EP)

The Making of Premonition - An Interview With Evil Ed (full article)

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Live at the Soul All Dayer of the Century (Raiders, 1987)

UK hip hop's first recorded live showcase
For this post I have gone all Puff Daddy on you and straight jacked the work of another, better, far more knowledgeable hip hop writer than myself. For those who don’t know, James McNally wrote for HHC for many years and cemented his reputation as the foremost UK hip hop geek in the business. Anyone who took the trip up to Manchester’s Urbis earlier this year for the incredible ‘Homegrown , the Story of UK Hip Hop’ exhibition’ (which he co-curated), will testify that this guy has got knowledge and crates that run very deep. This article was one of my favourites he wrote for HHC simply because it turned me on to what is now one of the best slabs of wax in my collection. ‘Live at the Soul All Dayer of the Century’ is way more old-school than most records that will be featured on this blog but for anyone wanting to understand the roots of the 'DJ Yoda-style' or the Soundsystem Culture that spawned this music we all love - it is essential. It certainly took a very long time to find but the quest was worth it and it turned out to be everything the ‘Ancient Britain’ writer had described.

The Original McNally's Ancient
Britain Article in HHC#205 Oct06  
The following article was written by James McNally for his Ancient Britain column in HHC#205 October 2006...

So what’s the weirdest record I own? Peruvian singer Yma Sumac rocking five-octave tonal glissandos over library-style grooves? Nope. Jazz singer Leon Thomas yodelling ‘The Creator Has a Master Plan’ over a carpet of unlistenable free-jazz screeches and squawks? Hell no. Maggotrons’s helium pitched ‘Pillow Talk’ bouncing sex perv sweet-nothings off a bed of erotically bumping 808s and downy duvets of heart flutter synths? Hell no jehri kurl.

The weirdest record I own also has to be one of the best – a record with cover art so confusing, and a title containinng so many sub-clauses, that you’re never quite sure what it’s called. My best bet is ‘Live at the Soul All-Dayer of the Century” – though it could also be called ‘Hammersmith Of The Century Acton 1.187 Sold Out. What is certain, however, is that this live session released on London Reggae label Raiders in 1987 is neither strictly soul, and nor is it reggae.

In fact, recorded at Hammersmith and Acton Town Halls over two days way back at the beginning of 1987, this record is an important historical document that captures London’s nascent hip-hop scene at a key moment of transition – and remember, in terms of recorded hip hop, London’s 1987 was equivalent to about 1982 in New York’s history. It’s certified old school.

A side of Soul All Dayer Label
Essentially a series of squeeze-as-much-as-you-can-into-five-minutes scratch attacks from hip hop sound systems TNT, Beat Freak and Main Attraction. I could – if you’ll indulge me a minute – suggest that this record is to post hip hop black British music what Afrika Bambaataa’s Death Mix’ was to early rap – and perhaps even more. And, if you’ll indulge me another minute, that it says as much about black British music’s unique history and, more importantly, its future as Bambaataa’s did that of black America.

It’s perhaps telling that ‘Soul All Dayer’ came out on a reggae label and Bambaataa’s on one owned by R&B veteran Paul Winley. The black British music economy in the early ‘80s was the reggae economy, just as black New York’s pre hip hop music economy was largely set up around the R&B market. And as the music of Bambaataa’s Death Mix engaged with the R&B tradition, so did ‘Soul All Dayer’ with that of reggae.

B Side reads "promotion copy not for sale"
So when the opening crackle of ‘Soul All Dayer’ gives way to a young Mike West – later the Rebel MC but then the black brogue wearing mix man for Beat Freak – spinning the theme from ‘Singing in the Rain’, he armour plates it with a mid-80s cut of the classic reggae riddim ‘Heavenless’ (to a unified command from the massed air horns of South London posse in the hou-ou-ouse! for a rewind) It’s surely one of the most strangely beautiful openings to any record in the rap pantheon.

And when DJ Ron – now a successful jungle deejay, but then the lightening fingered scratch master for TNT – drops ‘Planet Rock’ only to cut Pablo Gad’s militant UK reggae perennial ‘Hard Times’ beat-perfect into it – and here we should point out he does so at proper tempo which works out at half-time to ‘Planet Rock’ – the trails to black British music are clear.

Back cover artwork includes pics of the sound
system crews and cover artwork for more
Raiders Live releases
For what you hear when you listen to ‘Soul All Dayer of the Century’ all the way through is not just a hip hop scene at a point where it was still happy to embrace ‘Jack The Groove’ spliced into LL Cool J, or Joseph Cotton married to the Beastie Boys – or even to have its breakbeats softened by Mary Poppins – but also a record that in many ways offers a hint of what was to come. For in this invaluable record you’ll hear hints of everything from Prodigy-style happy hardcore and early 90s Junglism to Yoda-style mash-ups and hip-house, even the hip hop soul of Soul II Soul. And that’s to say nothing of reggae rap. That is, if you can find a copy. Internet rumour puts its complete pressing at just 150 copies.

Note from Postie: In my two year hunt for a reasonably priced copy of this record I discovered that it was pressed as both a promo and general release. The only discernable difference is that the Promo copy has “Promotion Copy – Not for Sale” clearly printed on the B-Side – other than this both the record and the sleeve are exactly the same on both versions. At the time of writing one copy was for sale on Ebay at a buy it now price of £139.99 with the following information in the item description… “Britain's first soul & hip hop sound-systems. Live recordings from hammersmith & acton town halls 1.1.87 and 24.4.87. Reported to be only 80 copies pressed of which only 12 made it out to the public, the rest went to dj's and producers.” There are none for sale on Discogs so there is no price history but I got my copy for ten quid!!!.
Enjoy the listen – and the inevitable treasure hunt that will follow.
Peace, Postie

Live At The Soul All Dayer of The Century - side 1 

Live At The Soul All Dayer of The Century - side 2

Sunday, 14 November 2010

The Institutions behind the addiction #1: Deal Real Records

Deal Real Flyer
The story goes like this... After getting turned onto hip hop by a mate at secondary school you go to HMV and buy a couple of cheap tapes at random from the tiny hip hop section. After a little more research you start listening to Westwood and buying HHC in a quest for information about this music that has inspired a deep sense of curiosity. You start learning about these legendary artists but you can't find their records in your local Virgin. Inspired by the adverts in HHC, once a month you bunk off school/college and jump on a train to London and ride the tube to Oxford Circus. With a walkman and a minimum wage paycheck in your pocket you head into Soho for your Hip Hop pilgrimage - the Deal Real-Mr Bongo run!

Deal Real Records one and only venture onto
vinyl - Mystro's "Kiss that Arse Goodnight"12
Back then stepping through the front door of Deal Real instantly gave you a feeling of being part of something special. The records and mixtapes you read about in Independents Day or Homestyle simply couldn't be bought in your home town but now you had access to all this music that you had been hearing about for months. The prospect of arriving back at college with the latest Disorda mixtape turning in your sony whilst the rest of your crew looked on with envy was too much to resist so the paycheck would disapear without a second thought for your Mum's fast approaching birthday. If you were lucky you would also return with a story about how you had bumped into Skinnyman or some other freestyling UK hip hop luminary whilst you were there to further amp up the feeling of privilage and belonging.

A depressing end - deal real is closed down
That was the thing about Deal Real in the late 90s! It wasn't just a record shop that carried product from the scene... it was the scene! Like all legendary record shops in hip hop history Deal Real served as a meeting point for the artists. It was one of the reasons that heads from all over the UK gravitated to London because for an all too brief time the shop was the centre of the UK hip hop community. If you were a US act passing through London on tour, you went to Deal Real in your time off. If you were a UK-based producer or a rapper - if you hung out at Deal Real long enough and struck up a relationship with Pete Real, MK or any of the other heads that worked behind the counter - you would soon find yourself networking with like-minded artists and opportunites would arise.  Just the list of those who worked in the shop is impressive - Estelle, Sarah Love, Tony Vegas, MK etc etc. Regular open mic contests also encouraged the discovery of talent with regional acts from all over the country given the opportunity to step up and kick some rhymes standing shoulder to shoulder with Chester P or Mystro or some other dude with a vinyl record to their name.

MK behind the counter at the Noel St Deal Real
The shop originally started out in D'Arblay Steet below the Dark N Cold clothes shop and then moved to Noel Street. Whilst the heyday for UK hip hop boffs like myself was undoubtedly in the period around 1997-99. A change of ownership in 1999 saw it take a less UK centric attitude to hip hop and embrace a more all encompassing attitude to urban music as a whole. From the perspective of the new owners this was probably a good business move as it allowed the shop to attract a wide range of international talent to do instore performances and maximised sales throughout a period in history in the early 00s where all forms of hip hop took over the charts. However, it also meant that you were less likely to be able to find the mixtapes and 12s you wanted, thus elevating the status of Mr Bongo and MKs postal service mixtape business for truly underground heads. In addition, the first few years of the new millenium brought with it a brief period of commercial acceptance for UK hip hop that saw artists like Mark B and Blade achieve top 40 chart success for the first time; and saw product previously only found in London become more readily available in regional independent record shops as well as the likes of HMV and Virgin.

Deal Real in its post 1999 Incarnation on Carnarby St
Despite maintaining through much of the 00s - and even briefly popping up with a sister store in a tiny basement underneath a shop called Jello in Brighton's Gardiner Street around 1999 - nowadays, like nearly all the good independent record shops, Deal Real is well and truly shut down leaving the likes of Suspect Packages and Rarekind Records to fill the void and carry the torch for the underground Brit rap collector - both of whom will be covered in "The Institutions" at a later date.

Below is an incredible video that I feel sums up the magic of this London based hip hop Mecca at a very special time. Just listen to Skinnyman ask "where's this from?" as the dude behind the counter drops the freshly imported Dead Prez "Hip Hop" intrumental for some Millenium bounce freestlye action from 1999. Take a look at the records on the wall where Chester P is chilling in the background. Wall to wall UK hip hop vinyl including three spanking original New Mic Order LPs stare back at you! Now that's what you want to see when you enter a record shop! Ahh, the good old days... where did you go?!!!

Enjoy, Postie

Skinnyman rapping over "Hip Hop" in the original Noel Street 
Deal Real Records back in 1999 (courtesy of DarkNCold)

For more archive footage like this including more Skinnyman
go to the DarkNCold Youtube Channel and show some love

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Boombox Presents Underground Airwaves Vol 1 (Fatboss mixtape 1999)

Underground Airwaves Front Cover
Back in 1999 I had just finished my A Levels and was about to spend another year avoiding the rat race by pissing off on gap-year trip around the world. Back then portable MP3 players were just a twinkle in the Apple's eye and I was facing the prospect of 8 months without my decks and records. Cue a timely update through the mail from MK Enterprises. Back then if you were on DJ MK's mailing list the latest list of mixtapes he had available used to come through the post (yes... post as in snail mail) printed on a wad of A4. The solution to my problem was send off for a load of the latest mixtapes and pack one less pair of shorts to make space in the backpack for the resulting half Llb of plastic that came through the letter box a week later.

MK Enterprises Mixtape Catalogue
One of the purchases was this gem of a tape put together by "Da Boombox" on Oxford radio station Oxygen FM (later Passion FM now Oxford's FM 107.9). The Boombox crew consisted of Kid Fury, DL the Controler, Mr Ben, Ant Style and Bennie G of the Mixologists, The show's guests included the like of Roots Manuva, Braintax, Lewis Parker, Rodney P, Aspects, Scratch Perverts, MK and Jehst as well as a number of prominent US Artists such as Co Flow, All Natural, Lootpack and the X-Ecutioners. The Boombox crew disbanded in 2001, leaving Kid Fury to carry on the show solo.

Featuring Braintax, Lewis Parker, Rodney P
Task Force, Skinnyman, Scratch Perverts, DJ MK
This particular tape compiles together some of the best live mixes and freestyles from the show between February 1997 and May 1999. The guest list is impressive, putting together a veritable who's who of the UK scene at a really exciting time just before the likes of Low Life and Big Dada blew up and started shifting  significant quantities of product. DJ sets from MK and Tony Vegas alongside freestyles from Rodney P, Braintax, Lewis Parker, Task Force and Skinnyman amongst others are all entertaining and paint a decent audio picture of the musical moves being made at the time.

The tracklisting
An added bonus is the significant contribution of the US emcees and DJs make to the tape. Freestyles from the the likes of El-P, Big Jus and All Natural alongside awesome DJ sets from Mista Sinista and Rob Swift of the X-Men ensure the sandards are kept very high from the first to the last minute.

The tape doesn't have a catalogue number or anything like that but seems to be sponsored by Mat C's Fatboss Magazine - yet another early example of the man now known as Jaguar Skills heavy involvement in UK hip hop throughout the 90s. Anyway, enjoy the listen and get in touch if you want a download link as I have decided to only give it out to those who are following the blog! Well, a man has got to do something to get some readers hasn't he?!! 

Peace, Postie.

The Full Cover Artwork by Roughe

Boombox Presents Underground Airwaves Vol 1.

Contact me below for the download link -
available to all followers of this blog.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Roots Manuva: Witness the Fitness 12" (2001)

UK Original 2001 12" Picture Cover 
 "Well, well, well... Task master burst the bionic zit splitter, at breakneck speed I down ten pints of bitter! We're lean all day and some say that ain't productive, could that depend upon the demons that your stuck with? Coz right now I see clearer than most and sit here contented with this cheese on toast!"

Is this the best UK Hip Hop track of all time? Some people have suggested that it is, not least the readers of HHC in a poll conducted some time near the demise of the legendary hip hop journal.

Those incredible first lines say so much about Roots and his attitude to his music and his life. Search youtube for any interview with this UK legend and you will come across a laid back dude with opinions and knowledge a plenty. In interviews about this particular record, Roots has joked about the fact they pressed it up to be way louder than your average record pressing in the hope it would blow a few speakers on rotation. This may be one of the reasons that it is one of the hardest fucking records ever to mix in with anything else - once the baseline kicks in - even the best deejays are not gonna be subtely beatmatching it with anything!!! 

Back Cover of the OG WTF
The 12" itself is not particularly rare and can still be picked up for around five quid without too much searching. It was repressed in a Ltd edition red "Well Deep: Ten Years of Big Dada" cover in 2007 and was also released on a slightly harder to find 7" in 2001. The fact is that unlike some of his early stuff , most Roots Manuva records from this point onwards are fairly easy to find thanks to the massive crossover success of this tune and the "Run Come Save Me" album it was on.

Most UK heads will have seen this vid at some point, but given that this tune is in most people who know's top 10 UK Hip Hop tunes of all time - including mine - I figured I should post it up to make sure I have it in the archives. For those who haven't seen it - where have you been? This is straight up hilarious!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Junior Disprol feat Evil Ed, Jehst, Skeleton and Alkaline Fight Club 7" 2001

Dropped in 2001 as the first ever release on Junior Disprol's Cardiff based SFSB (Same Family Different Ballbags) record label, Fight Club 7" is another one of the many UK hip hop records that falls into that "extremely rare and sought after" category. For me, its desirability is fourfold. Firstly, it is the first release on the unique SFDB - a label that kept high levels of quality control on all their releases and put them out with great packaging in much the same way as Low Life was doing at the time. Secondly, it is the only 7" record released by the now defunct label and was pressed in very limited quantities (300 copies according to Evil Ed). Thirdly all three tracks are absolutely banging. Fourthly, and from my perspective most importantly, it contains an Evil Ed produced posse cut featuring (a Premonitions Era) Jehst rhyming alongside Junior Disprol, Skeleton, and Alkaline that can't be found on wax in any other form.

Evil Ed has written a great description of the recording process for the record on the discogs Release page for Fight Club - I have copied it in below as I figured that no article I could write would provide quite the same insight, You can listen to Junq Waffle at the bottom of the article.

The following information was originally posted by Evil Ed (who produced two of the 3 tracks on the 7")  on the Discogs release page for Fight Club :

Simple and Plain
Evil Ed: I produced the original version of 'Fight Club' and 'Junq-Waffle' so here's some history of the tracks. Fight Club was recorded at my lab, the original Buskers Corner up in Huddersfield. Me and Junior Disprol had been exchanging tapes of old UK Hip Hop rareties for some months before we finally met when he came up to my yard with a book of rhymes and concepts galore. The idea for Fight Club was that Disprol had all these MC aliases such as Pleasant Skelator (!) and that each MC would have a different beat for their part of the track to suit their persona. I put down a drum beat on the s950 to being with and the process began of rading my breaks and some Disprol had brought with him to construct the backdrop for the track.

L to R -  Evil Ed, Junior Disprol, Jehst,
Skeleton, Alkaline
 Our creativity was constricted by the small amount of sample time I had on my original, un-expanded, 950, but we managed to pull out some ill breaks and get them to work back to back, throwing in extra sounds here and there and it was a real sporadic, off the top of the head beat constructing session. Disprol then laced the beats with the different MC personas and over-dubbed it with some bugged out adlibs.
This track was a bugger to mix down as back then we had to do it all live, adjusting levels for each 'MC' and and every time I messed up I had to go back to the top of the track. We also did a remix of this track that used classic UK Hip Hop instrumentals (Hijack etc.) as the backdrop. I don't even have a copy of this, but I'm sure Disprol does! The remix on the 7" is by Secondson, this was done later and was a pre-cursor to the Fleapit stuff he and Disprol recorded.

Battling me? That would be an
embarrasing mistake, Like Promoters
who don't get the H in the right place! 
Junq-Waffle was an interesting one. Recorded one afternoon at MC Alkaline's flat (legendary Gunshot MC) I forgot to bring my mic stand to London so we had to tie the mic to a clothes-horse and move it up and down according to height of each MC. The MC's recorded their vocals in the hallway while the rest of us sat and monitored it in the lounge! Everyone recorded and Jehst turned up late and luckily made it onto the track with some classic bars. Once everyone was done with their main vocals everyone gathered around the mic and we did one take of back-up's with all kinds of noises and sound efx going on. The quality of these was rather poor and it was a nightmare mixing this one live as was 'Fight Club', but this was a classic meeting of the old school UK Hip Hop veterans (Alkaline & Skelaton) and newcomers Disprol & Jehst and it was a buzz doing the track.

I always felt it wasn't a good idea having two such long tracks on one side of a 7" and was disappointed with the sound quality that resulted from this, but this 7" has been a people's favourite and despite the quiet pressing I have heard DJ's spin 'Junq-Waffle' at jams and people rhyming along to it. I will hopefully re-master 'Junq-Waffle' at some point and put out a louder pressing, but in the meantime have fun hunting for this one as it is quite a rareity now.

Junior Disprol feat Jehst, Alkaline and Skeleton
(produced by Evil Ed)

Evil Ed Links:

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

A Holy Grail #1: Blak Twang Dettwork Southeast LP 1995

The Dettwork SouthEast LP Artwork
Blak Twang's Dettwork Southeast is undoubtedly one of the holy grail vinyl records in the post 1992 uk hip hop vinyl collecting world. It is straight up vinyl porn for a UK hip hop digger and stumbling across it in a bootsale would on my part be likely to result in a nasty stain on the Carharts. Considered an all time classic of the genre it was ranked at number 3 in HHCs list of the top 50 all time UK Hip Hop LPs even though it never got released. It's one of those records that you only hear of someone owning - and that's usually coz you've electronically bumped into MK or Lewis Parker or Disorda on a vinyl buying spree on discogs and tried to turn your friendly banter into a "so what records have you got in your stacks that you want to sell me type conversation" - unfortunately this is one that is never on the for sale list!.. It is rumoured that there are no more than 50 copies doing the rounds and those are in the hands of a select few DJs and industry insiders lucky enough to be given a promo copy at the time of its completion. Just to make it even more worth breaking out the tissues for - the small amount of promo LPs that did get released came with a full picture cover. This record rarely ever comes on the market and the only ebay sale recorded on popsike saw it go for £122 in 2005 a price that would almost certainly be beaten if and when it pops up again.

Dettwork S.E. LP promo tape cover
I managed to borrow a minidisc copy from a kind mate at a well known Brighton record shop a while back and copy it on to CD. Whilst a lot of it is very similar to 19 Long Time there are 6 or 7 tracks on this 15 song LP that simply should never have been kept from the world - not least another Blak Twang/Roots Manuva collaboration to complement Queen's Heads that is just straight up phat with a PH! Tony Rotton has intimated he will re-release this at some point and from my perspective that can't come soon enough. (Mr Rotton, if you are reading this please make sure you do a limited number of vinyl presses when you do).  If it does ever get re-released I will take these down but until then consider these tracks a taster to what is as an absolute lost gem of an album. 

Enjoy, Postie

Blak Twang - Creme De La Crop

Blak Twang featuring Seani T and Roots Manuva - Echo Chamber

DJ Vadim and DJ Primecuts: Architects Of The Great (Jazz Fudge, 1998)

I picked this little number up back in 1999 at a Knowledge of Self jam at Brighton's Pressure point. At the time Jazz Fudge had just put out the Swollen Members LP - Balance - and were supporting them with a UK tour. In support were Taskforce/Bury Crew who had just dropped New Mic Order and were selling it for a tenner at the show. Also present were Mr Thing and Jazz Fudge label head DJ Vadim. I had gone to see Swollen Members and at the time hadn't really heard much of Taskforce but they blew me away that night. I went home having parted with cash for this mixtape and New Mic Order - a total of £15. Seems like a pretty decent investment now given that the only copy of this mixtape available on Discogs is currently going for 88 euros and 1st press New Mic Order LPs go for anything from £30 - £90. 

1999 Jazz Fudge Tour Poster
The mixtape itself is undoubtedly one of my favourite mixtapes of all time. Loads of high quality scratching from (Original Scratch Pervert) Primecuts, and eerie samples from the king of offbeat leftfield hip hop Vadim. They blend a few recognisable UK cuts from the likes of Blade and Skitz and freestyles from Lewis Parker, Chester P and Skinnyman with a mix of random audio samples and funk records in a style that at points sounds similar to Brainfreeze (a full two years before Shadow and Cut Chemist's effort). The result is beautifully made atmospheric trip that initially hypnotises the listener before waking them up with the raw scratched up funk and hip hop! Its trippy but it makes for a hell of a listen. 

The tape comes with a high quality insert designed by Openmind

The1999 KOS night in Brighton
I have no idea how many were made but apart from the one currently on discogs I have never seen it for sale on ebay or the like and it's not the type of thing likely to pop up in your local hip hop friendly record shop so I guess it is pretty rare. A mate of mine recently met up with Vadim as he was selling off a few of his records. He asked Vadim if had any copies of this and Vadim told him he didn't even have one for himself! That said 88 Euros sounds a little excessive for a tape so I would recommend being patient on that one!

Anyway I have posted it in below for your listening pleasure. Enjoy, Postie.

Discogs Info link:

Monday, 18 October 2010

The Pioneers The British Hip Hop Documentary

VHS only stuff here but thanks to the wonders youtube this incredibly rare documentary covering the UK scene from the late 90s (released in 2000) can be brought to you live through the tinternet via this blog (Shout out to IBMCs2009 for that). That said it ain't gonna be sitting there staring back at you from your shelves if you are happy to leave it at that so get digging people and unearth this little diamond in your local charity shop (and then dig out a video recorder to watch it). Hmm sounding a bit long-winded now isn't it!

Anyways, this is a fantastic gem of a film by Chris Leech and Daniel Raynor of 40 Oz Productions with distribution courtesy of Disorda. The Vid features a veritable who's who of the UK scene from old to new-school with everyone ready to chip in their two pence' on what the UK scene is all about. The end result is a lot of fascinating stoned waffle, a few decent freestyles and a bit of insight into the minds of the UKs finest MCs at a period in time when the scene was at a creative high point.

Artists featured include: Blade, Lewis Parker, Scratch Perverts, Blak Twang, Mud Family, Taskforce, MSI Asylum, The Brotherhood, Parlour Talk, Mark B, Harry Love, MC Mello, Fallacy, Disorda, Gunshot, Braintax, Krispy, The Creators, DJ Vadim, Dark Circle, Numskullz, Phi Life Cypher, Supa T, DJ 279, The Ruf, Roots Manuva, Aspects, Delirious, Rodney P, Icepick, Funky DL, Kela, 57th Dynasty, DJ Supreme, Hijack, DFXO

If you have any problems watching use the links to take you through to the Youtube page where these are originally posted.

Sit back and enjoy....

Pioneers: Part 1

Pioneers: Part 2

Pioneers: Part 3

Pioneers: Part 4

Pioneers: Part 5

Pioneers: Part 6

Pioneers: Part 7