Monday, 18 October 2010

Big Smoke Magazine (Volume 1)

The 1st official issue became available
in Autumn 2000 for a paltry £2.50
As far as desirable UK Hip Hop collectables go the first volume of Big Smoke magazine must come high on the list. The brainchild of dedicated UK head Pete Real of Deal Real Records fame, the magazine came packaged in a 12" record sleeve printed with stunning black and white photos of the artists featured in its pages. The mag was originally concieved in 1997 but the idea took 3 years to come to fruition when a promo issue featuring Mystro on the cover (which I don't have but seriously desire) was dropped on an unsuspecting few who happened to visit Deal Real around March 2000. A few months later and the first official issue hit the shelves of Borders and a some other forward thinking retail outlets. Each of the issues also had a dedicated mixtape made for it that was avaialable via mailorder for an extra £5.00.

After its initial release issues came out quite sporadically due to pretty serious financial and time constraints of those invovled in its production. Content was always spot on and written from an insiders perspective. Probably the biggest attraction of the mags for me has to be the photography on display within its pages which help make all 5 issues fantastic historical documents of our scene at the time. Looking back over them now it's exciting to see album reviews and full page colour adverts for some of the vinyl releases at what was creatively a real high-point for UK hip hop. To give an example of the riches coming out of the UK scene at the time, Issue 2 of Big Smoke treats the reader to reviews of Jehst's High Plains Drifter, Skitz' Countryman, Aspects' Correct English, Champions of Nature's Salsa Smurf and Ty's Awkward. On top of this, across the 5 issues there are a multiple adverts on display for the likes of Low Life, YNR and Ronin that are probably rarer than the records themselves.

After the first volume, later issues in volume 2 reverted to a pretty standard A4 magazine format and started covering American artists but kept up the quality. The 10th Anniversary issue with DJ Mentat on the cover became available in 2009 and given the fact that magazines covering our scene have totally died out I will surprised if there is ever another hard copy for us physical product nerds to get are hands on! A new online version is due to go live in Autumn 2010 at . High quality PDFs of some of the back issues are available at big smoke's own blogspot .

 Vol.1 Issue 1: Blak Twang & Braintax                                               

 Vol.1 Issue 2: Task Force and M.S.I & Asylum

 Vol.1 Issue 3: Fallacy and Skeme & Shortee Blitz and Big Ted

Vol.1 Issue 4: Est'elle & Jehst and Lewis Parker

Vol. 1 Issue 5: Killa Kela & Terrafirma

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