Thursday, 5 May 2011

DJ Yoda & DJ Greenpeace - The Late 90s / Early 00s Mixtape Collection

Yoda's stash - pic from @DJYodaUK
The relationship between these two understated stalwarts of the UK rap DJ scene goes back some time. Having flat-shared through the '90s they set about forging hip hop inspired DJ and journalistic careers together. By the late '90s - in the hours left available between writing for Hip Hop Connection Magazine, running Fatlace Magazine with fellow HHC scribe Andrew Emery and playing out around the country, DJs Yoda and Greenpeace were making a small mountain of cassette mixtapes that got distributed to a very small number of hip hop inclined record shops throughout London and Bristol. As a result they are almost impossible to find in physical form and many have yet to even find their way onto the net in MP3 form.

The ones I know I haven't got from this time are Yoda's Turntable Schmurntable, Seven Year Scratch and Funk Monkey - all of which are listed as being available on the inside cover of Jewbonics - and Fatlace Mixtape#1 and The Underground Classics (1979-1999) (which could possible never have been released) by Greenpeace. But whilst I still only aspire to own the TDK output from the king of cut'n'paste and his Fatlace co-founder, I do have a five-some of lovely little cassettes from this special time in history before DJs started putting their mixes out on CD.

Kanye ain't got shit on Yoda
Yoda's Piano Breaks does exactly what it says on the tin - a well mixed hip hop tracklisting with one common theme - the ever present tones of the ebony and ivory keys in the beats. The mix itself is actually pretty conservative for Yoda with nowhere near the amount of crazy cartoon skits listeners have come to expect. That said, the star wars themed sample madness is very definitely present its just that on this mixtape it is largely confined to breaks in between every two or three tracks. You get the impression that this was Yoda warming up and finding his style, experimenting with intros and segways to make the tape interesting and developing a love for it that would influence all his later work as a DJ. The tape came out around 1998 and was certainly not widely available. It was also the last tape he put out without any backing and the shoddy home-made paper cover and hand labelled TDK reflects this.

The Shoddy Hand-Made Cover to the Piano Breaks Mixtape

After Piano Breaks, his involvement in Fat Lace magazine provided him with the cash backing to up the quality control. The next couple of tapes came complete with professionally pressed and printed tapes and crisp, well designed cardboard inserts. In the same packaging but before Yoda's contribution hit the shelves, Fat Lace had released two more cassettes, both by DJ Greenpeace. The first was imaginatively entitled Fat Lace Mixtape#1 which is yet to grace my collection. The second was Jiggy Free (Fatlace Mixtape#2). 

Jiggy Free is a 90-minute cassette-only mix of late 90s shiny-suit-free hip hop of the variety he used to review in his "Independents Day" page in HHC. R&B choruses are nowhere to be heard and in their place freestyles, shout-outs and proper Indie rap music are the order of the day.  Roots Manuva, The Nextmen, Mark B and DJ Vadim are amongst the UK heads holding down a spot in the mix alongside lesser known tracks from the likes of Black Star, Common, Dilated Peoples, PUTS, Quasimoto, Dilated Peoples and the incredible Scaramanga.  Overall it is an awesome testament to that romantic time in rap history when "Keeping it Real" was more important than the "Dollar Dollar Bill"!

Jiggy Free full cover artwork - Fatlace Mixtape Volume#2

The third instalment in the FatLace mixtape series was Jewbonics and was the moment Yoda as we know him today arrived, fully formed and as mental as ever. It blew my mind the first time I stuffed it in my walkman and gave it a rotation on the train ride back from another late 90s Mr Bongo run. I just wasn't expecting to hear all my favourite 80s kids cartoons next to Parlour Talk, Jay Z and the Arsonists! I mean the Cities of Gold theme tune over drum breaks, Scooby Doo scratched whilst Lion O argues with Snarf ... really?  That shit was mind blowing for me - I'd never heard anything like it and it was crazily relevant to all my memories of excessive childhood television consumption. To this day I can watch some old movie for the first time and suddenly find myself quoting the lines of a scene I've never seen - instantly transporting me back into the world of DJ Yoda. I loved the X-Men but turntablism with humour made me think again about what you could do with a pair of Technics and a record button.

Jewbonics full cover Artwork - Fatlace Mixtape Volume #3

The next tape in the collection is Jews Paid. Another Fat Lace backed affair and a Collaboration between Yoda and DJ Greenpeace. Rather than cutting up on four decks in one mix Scratch perverts style, the fellow DJs instead take responsibility for a side of the tape each. "Side Fat" is Greenpeace's contribution and is very much a mix in the style of your everyday hip hop DJ of the late 90s. As you would expect from the man behind HHC's Independents Day at a time when any true hip hop head would spit at anything even vaguely commercial - there is a strong Indie Hip Hop vibe running through the mix. Cuts from Non Phixion, 7L and Esoteric, J Live, Mr Lif, High and Mighty and Smut Peddlers amongst others are well mixed and would have been exciting for an underground head at the time it dropped but other than that the mix is solid but pretty unremarkable.

The B-side by Yoda - named "Side Dues" - is on the other hand - remarkable. Whereas Greenpeace's track list reads as a standard list of names and song titles, Yoda's track list reads a little differently... "A moronic mix of childishness, irrelevance, general imbecility and foolishness. Featuring an Arsonist, a Hieroglyphic and He-Man." And when 5 minutes into the mix you hear Inspector Gadget perfectly blended over the top of "The Show" - you know that the description just needs one small tweak to be entirely accurate... that is the insertion of "Brilliant" between "A" and "moronic".  This has been recently re-released on CD by the fellas over at Fat Lace so go pick yourself a remastered CD version with much better sound quality than the one I have taken ripped off tape and posted here! 

Jews Paid - "Moronic" Yoda at his best

After Jews Paid, Yoda and Greenpeace didn't waste any time dropping the follow up with the release of Jews Paid Too. This time, instead of taking a side of the cassette each they combine throughout and create the perfect combination of Yoda's nutty cut-n-paste comedy routine and Greenpeace's fine taste in Late 90s Indie Rap - a decision that makes the tape a much better all round listen than it's predecessor. One again it comes with professionally printed cover and tape so don't go parting with your cash for any dodgy looking TDKs with photocopied covers!

Jews Paid Too - Another side each

Download Links

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Rodney P - The Future 2002 vinyl LP and related 12s (Low Life Records / Riddim Killa 2002)

The Future 2002 edition (limited to 100 white label vinyl test presses with full cover art) 

Around 15 years ago when I first started collecting records I remember hearing about the concept of a white label for the first time. They sounded exciting! As a collector what more could you want than some obscure promo release, pressed onto wax in low-numbers, often containing different tracks unavailable on the official release, coming direct from the label? A year or two later after picking up a few rarities in plain white sleeves and personally writing the name of the tunes on the label in my best, but inevitably inadequate graf-style writing I came up with the answer to this question... cover art! The problem was that a major part of my love for records was contained in the fantastic variation of artwork displayed on the 12" covers - for the most part white labels, by their very definition, didn't have this and my own badly executed marker pen scrawl just wasn't doing it for me! 

So that's why the Future 2002 edition does "do it for me" - it's the perfect package that checks all the boxes a record nerd could hope for and as such has all the ingredients to become a truly sort-after little number in the UK hip hop vinyl collecting world. The story goes that back in 2002 ex-London Posse member and general all round UK Hip Hop legend Rodney P was due to drop a new LP on his own Lowlife Records subsidiary-label Riddim Killa. Everything was in place, three quality singles had been dropped, the press releases were out, the album artwork finalised and 1000 finished CDs and 100 vinyl test-presses were back from the plant! Then... hip hop's curse, the same old story of sample clearing issues (rumoured to be centred around his use of the Bob Marley sample on Trouble) done fucked up the plans for everyone and left Low Life Records HQ with a small stack of wax they weren't allowed to shift.

Marks of UK rap quality
Cue a two-year wait before fiending heads could get their hands on a significantly altered version of the LP with new artwork, five fewer tunes overall and some significant changes to the tracklisting that left fans to wonder what they might have missed out on. Then in 2005 whilst being interviewed by HHC for a special Low Life issue, Braintax's right-hand-man, Kam dropped an in-print hint that no doubt made a few of Rodder's fans perk up. Whilst running through a list of ten Low Life rarities he mentioned the 2002 edition with the direction to - "check the Low Life website soon if you're interested".

The P stands for pissed!
I was interested, so I did check the Low Life website... obsessively... for about year... and had begun to lose faith when one metaphorically sunny day 100 copies went up for sale for the seriously bargain-basement price of ten quid each with the caveat that once they were gone they were gone and would never be repressed! Jackpot, but why didn't I buy two??? Collecting vinyl is so often full of regrets!!!

RKP 001 - the first release on Riddim Killa
But I am getting ahead of myself. For a full understanding of the crazy distribution of the tracks made by Rodney at this time I should start with a quick run through of the 12" singles released in the build up to the (non)release of his 2002 solo magnum opus. First up is Murderer Style - the first effort by the Riddim Killa/Low Life business partnership. The fact that this track was one of the casualties that was left off the 2004 edition of the Future LP is reason enough to own it but the addition of a flip-side - "Friction" featuring MCD - which is exclusive to the 12" makes it pretty much essential for Rodney P enthusiasts. Both tracks are pretty nice but for me it is the Joe Buhdah produced A-side that takes the bright red "1st place" rosette. (Murderer Style 12" - Track List and Credits)
Rodney P - Murderer Style

Rodney P feat. MCD - Friction

RKP002 - Big Tings We Inna 12"
Next came "Big Ting's We Inna" and once again the exclusive 12" tracks are present and in full effect. The title track itself never made it onto the 2002 edition of the LP but turned up in significantly altered form as Big Tings Again (featuring Rodney's favourite go-to guy MCD) on the 2004 edition of the LP with the same beat from The Sea. The second track on side A of the 12" is yet another track that didn't make the cut for the 2004 version. "Worldwide," produced by Joe Buhdah and featuring Skinnyman and Mr 45 did however make the original 2002 version of the LP and, as you would expect from such a line up, is straight up fire - especially Skinny's contribution on the second verse. And as if that wasn't enough, staying true to the Low Life remit of providing value for money on all their releases, things are rounded off nicely on the B-side with a lovely little Joe Buddah remix of "Murderer Style". (Big Tings We Inna 12" Track List and Credits)

Rodney P feat. Skinnyman and Mr 45 - Worldwide

RKP003 - Riddim Killa 12"
The final primer before the 2002 Issue was due to be released was the "Riddim Killa" 12". The A-side was produced by The Sea and got a dedicated video which you can check at the end of the article. The clue to the sound is in the title - Rodney P's roughneck vocals killing a ragga-hop riddim - probably my favourite track from the LP so it's no surprise it was left on both versions of The Future. The same cannot be said for "A Love Song" - which featured on the 2002 CD version of the LP but was absent from the 2002 vinyl pressing and the 2004 version of the album. Produced by Dobie it's Rodney in full-on positivity mode and is a little bit saccharine for my tastes - Ooooooh... You've got to love your life.... it's a blessing...oooooooohhh - one to put on that mixtape for your girl then? (Riddim Killa 12" Track List and Credits)

Rodney P - A Love Song

But "yeah yeah" I hear you cry - "we already have all those 12"s in our collection - you ain't telling us anything we don't know already"! Which I guess means that I should move on to the lost LP and pre-empt the question on everybody's lips... What exactly was on the 2002 version that was kept back from the world due to those pesky music industry ambulance chasers?

RKP 004 - The Future (2002 Issue)
First up and probably the best is Hip Hop Gangsta. It is the rare kind of new-school jammie that gets the old-school heads to dust off their wallets and part with mid-thirties-career-cash usually reserved for wax from the Thatcher decade. The tune is a remake of the 1986 Just Ice classic "Gangster of Hip Hop" featuring ex-London Posse member Sipho playing the part of Human DMX on the beat box. In recent times Rodney has probably embraced modern hip hop production trends too much to keep fans of his London Posse incarnation overly interested. This however, is a hark back to his roots, the reunion with Sipho only adding to that sense of 80s nostalgia.

Rodney P feat. Sipho - Hip Hop Gangsta

Cover Art by Dreadi
The second track to disappear into obscurity was "Consider". This is a different type of homage all together and see's Dobie lacing Rodders with a track that starts out sounding like it is going to be a sparce piano driven little number but quickly turns into a full on Do You Want More?!!!??! era Roots tribute complete with Jazz backing and "It's a Lazy Afternoon" hook. Somehow it works - by flipping back between what sounds like an off key harp sample, a couple of piano samples and the Lazy Afternoon hook, Dobie manages to keep the track both dark and ominous and light and fluffy whilst complimenting Rodneys vocals perfectly. The result is definitely one of the most interesting tracks on the LP in terms of production.

Rodney P - Consider

The Future 2004 edition Cover Art
The final missing track on the 2002 edition reunites Rodders with long-time collaborator Skitz who drops a beat that sounds like it came straight out of the Countryman offcuts. "Horror" features Fallacy, Big P and Skeme so there will be no surprises to find out that it is a straight up banger of a posse cut, nuff said!

Rodney P feat Big P, Skeme and Fallacy - Horror

The Future 2002 Edition tracklisting

The Future 2004 Label Art
In summary - I am not saying this LP is a classic or anything, just that it is a bona fide collectable - I tend to feel that Rodney P solo tunes are better digested one at a time rather than over the course of a full album. In my opinion the issue that he faces is that his voice is so naturally rowdy it is difficult for him achieve a variation in the tone of his tunes even if the lyrical content is varied. Every track ends up becoming a club-banger even when he is talking about deeper subject matter - which is all good but can get tiresome over the course of 20 tracks. But in many ways, that is what makes the 2002 edition so desirable - you don't need it for the tracks you already have on the 2004 edition - you need it for the three banging tracks unavailable anywhere else on wax.

The Future Videos
Rodney P - Riddim Killa (Official Video)

Rodney P - Trouble (Official Video)

Rodney P - The Nice Up (Official Video)

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Manuva-ring Thru The Roots of Brigadier Smythe... the Early Vinyl Excursions of Roots Manuva

Roots Manuva's first appearance on wax was way back in 1990
Words: Postie

Why should Collectors of UK Hip-Hop desire the vinyl offerings of Rodney Smith? Hmm well... not only is Roots Manuva one of the very few "UK Hip Hop" artists from the 90s who has managed to break out of the narrow "UK Hip Hop" classification and gain genuine cross-over recognition from critics who wouldn't usually touch our music with a barge pole, he is also one of the few artists who has managed to do it in a way that hasn't alienated a scene notorious for turning it's collective back on artists who they deem as having sold-out. How has he achieved that? Simple, he hasn't sold out! 

Since '99 The LPs have just kept coming... 
but what came before?
In fact, as a recording artist he's a shining light for our scene. As a musician he has managed to maintain relevance, progress his music and keep us all interested whilst remaining fundamentally true to his hip-hop and sound-system roots. As a rapper he is everything you would want from a truly special MC - he has a distinctive and completely unique voice, a vocabulary filled with words the average listener has never heard before that rep his roots to the fullest and still make sense, and lyrics that cover the entire range of conditions of the human soul. In other words, he's Bona fide!

So after appreciating the above I applied this simple process of vinyl collecting mathematics to Mr Manuva... (Truly original and relatively popular artist with a strong following originating from a music scene with an innate appreciation for vinyl records) + (large back catalogue of vinyl records often pressed in fairly limited quantities) =  (the theory that early/rare Roots Manuva vinyl records would one day shoot up in value and become highly collectable thus validating my possession of them and giving me a warm fuzzy feeling inside!). Then, in Spring 2007,  I was perusing the pages of a freshly delivered HHC when I came across an article by a rap-journo with a fondness for the Homegrown that caught my eye. 

Ancient Britain HHC 211, May 2007
As an avid but often mystified reader of James McNally's Ancient Britain I was excited by the realisation that for once I recognised the subject of the article. In said article, McNally served up a feast of information that for a geeked out Roots Manuva fan with a vinyl addiction and completist tendencies generated a little too much excitement to handle. The result - a lot of time spent trying to find five tricky-to-track slabs of wax, all bearing various pseudonyms relating to Lord Gosh himself - Mr Rodney Smith. All five releases hit the record shops before Manuva dropped the 1999 classic LP - Brand New Second Hand and, when listened to one after another, beautifully chart the development of one of scenes most loved recording artists.

Stupid Fresh Vol 2: Roots TDA vinyl debut
Until I read the article I had no idea that Rodney made his first appearance on wax 21 years ago, way back in 1990, a full eleven years before his Run Come Save Me LP brought him to the attention of the broadsheet press and the wider musical world.

As with the 1992 Blak Twang debut talked about elsewhere on this blog - the missing link to the puzzle is Victor Redwood Sawyer aka VRS (who would later go on to become the 2nd member of Blak Twang back when the name referred to a duo not just Tony Rotten as it is now). I don't know all the ins and outs but the schoolmates formed a group with another friend and called themselves Touchdown Alliance. They cut a track and managed to get it on an obscure 1990 UK rap compilation on Warrior Records called Stupid Fresh Volume 2.

The album itself looks like an early Wax incarnation of what Disorda did with his Mind the Gap tape series - a load of tracks commissioned with the help of an HHC advert from a series of unknown rap groups, put together with the aim of getting them exposure. Whilst many of the names on the back will have drifted into obscurity, Manuva certainly isn't one of them. The notes on the back of the LP could still apply today, describing the group as... "hitting hard from the Southside with a sound all of their own. With their own production company, Safe Sound Productions, they blend together Reggae, Street Soul, Swing Beat and of course Rap."

R.Smith in full effect for the 1st time
And to be fair "It's Our Time" really isn't bad even if the "Oooooooh Teee Ayyy" chorus contribution from the annoyingly singy VRS does over-sweeten it a bit! Whilst the beat somewhat resembles something from an 80s schoolroom educational video, the lyrics and delivery from the first emcee isn't bad - but the fireworks definitely start when our man Rodney jumps on the mic to kick the first of his debut verses. The voice is immediately recognisable even if the flow sounds like you would expect from the 1990 'aspiring teenager' incarnation of Hylton Smithe - its lovely to hear and makes so much sense as a starting point when you place it in the context of his later records.

Touchdown Alliance: "It's Our Time" (1990 Warrior Records)

IQ Procedue 12" on MC Duke's Bluntly Speaking
But if "It's Our Time" only hints at what is to come from the multi-monikered Manuva, his contribution to another obscure record on MC Duke's Bluntly Speaking label by a crew called IQ Procedure is a straight kick in the balls introduction to his future work.... in his own words... "One bright spark breaks through /and the rest of you be lining up neatly in a queue"... too true!

All four tracks on the EP are ill in their own right. It all kicks off with the original version of "Run Tings" and the beat is nice enough in 93-Pete Rock-Large Pro-influenced-jazz-funk-loop-kind-of-way, but things really pick up with the stripped down industrial sounding Southside Relick of the same track that follows on side A. The bass heavy metalic beat and the husky "rude bwoy - liiick" chant give the the track a properly grimey London feel and the ragga vocals of the other emcees only add to make it the earliest example of the sound we would later hear Roots develop and modernise - not least on Slime and Reason.

Released on MC Duke's Bluntly Speaking Label
The flip is made up of two further cuts. "Can U Get With This" is a little more mellow and reverts back to the jazz-funk production courtesy of a couple of familiar sounding horn stabs, saxophone rifts and an ill rolled drum break that sounds like it could have been utilised by any number of early 90s East Coast US producers. "Big It Up" plays out in a similar vein but according to McNally it is in fact "The Gucci Loafer of early Roots Manuva jammies."

IQ Procedure EP (1994 Bluntly Speaking)
Run Tings (Southside Relick) / Can U Get With This / Big It UP 

Front cover of the Sound of Money 12"
Probably a little better known to Manuva followers will be the vinyl single that got released on the massively collectable Sound Of Money label as part of a series of five 12s that included Blak Twang's Dettwork Southeast and the Twang/Roots collaboration Queens Heads (already covered in this blog). It was apparently this track that made Big Dada's Will Ashton sit up and take notice. The A side of the single is home to the original version of Next Type of Motion - which was later remade as Motion 5000 for the Brand New Second Hand LP. Whilst its pretty nice, it really is no match for the beautiful cello sampling 1999 version. The Remix however is another kettle of fish entirely. The samples that kick in for this version sounds something like a cross between a slowed down "10 Crack Commandments" and Jeru's "Come Clean" and it changes the vibe of the song completely to something a little darker.

And on the back Roots in Stockwell Station
On the intro to "Raw Uncut" on the flip of the twelve, Roots announces his intent with the lines... "I send a warning, I repeat I send a warning. This is a Bakkle Rap, but we don't bakkle against Emcees, we bakkle against evil..." What follows is an introspective Roots Manuva at his best. Everything you would expect to hear on an RM record made at this time is present, battling against his inner demons - check, trying to remain positive and collect the Queen's heads - check, South London Jamaican English schoolyard slang - check, Blak Twang contribution on the chorus - check, horn stabs over a melancholy beat - check mate! What a tune!

Roots Manuva: Next Type of Motion (12" Remix) / Raw Uncut (1995 Sound of Money)

Label track-listing is incorrect "That Side"
should read "Fever", "Fever Instrumental"
Moving swiftly on to early Hylton Smythe 12 inch desirable No.4... "Fever" will be a track that is already well known to those with a fondness for Brand New Second Hand, but some may not realise that the version stuck at the back end of the 1999 LP was in fact a VRS relick of a tune Roots originally dropped on the AA side of Skeme's scarce Herbman Hustling 12" released on his own Wayward label in 1996. Whereas the LP relick is a Jazzy little number, the original, produced by Roots himself, is very different. With a stretch of the imagination the original version is best described as Mr Smith rapping in a submarine complete with beat resembling a sonar call and a whale response... sub-sea-level underground madness then?

Roots Manuva: Fever (1996 Wayward 12" Version)

A straight up must have for any fans of Mr Smith
The fifth - and perhaps the most readily available of the 12s - is Roots venture with Skitz on a 1996 Ronin Records 12. Those familiar with Skitz' 2001 Countryman LP will already be aware of "Where My Mind Is At" but may not realise it was originally released five years previously on this lovely double A side record coupled with another track entitled Blessed Be The Manner. Both tracks are absolutely top notch, fully formed Manuva and absence in the collection is a gaping hole in any serious UK Hip Hop collector's crates!

Skitz alongside Roots Manuva: Blessed Be The Manner / Where My Mind is At (1996 Ronin 12")

Peace, love and happy hunting,

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Krispy 3: On Tempo '94 Lick 12" / Herd Out the Gate EP (Kold Sweat 1994)

Vinyl releases with exclusive dope remixes are one of the reasons
I got addicted to records in the first place
Words and visuals from a UK rap collector known to some as Humble Pieman...

If UK rap in general is pretty slept on, then mid 90's UK hip hop from outside of London is snoozed on harder than a narcoleptic on Nytol.

Krispy 3 hailing from Chorley near Manchester are a  classic example of this, a great UK hip hop group who never really get the props they deserve. Two quality albums,  releases on several labels and slew of singles and EP's spanning 15 years. Their back catalog is packed with top draw, heartfelt beats and rhymes, and the 94' Lick version of On Tempo is maybe my personal favorite.

Krispy 3 in effect!
I distinctly remember the first time I heard it, and that's possibly why it edges out some of their other cuts in my eyes. It was back in the days when MTV was only available on cable, and cable was only available in certain areas of town. One of my pals had it, and we used to go round his house to watch MTV raps on a Saturday morning.

I guess it must have been MTV Europe, and therefore MTV Raps European edition, because spliced in between the regular US rap tracks on this show was first the London Posse's classic How's Life in London video, swiftly followed by On Tempo '94 Lick by Krispy. These were the first two UK rap videos I ever remember seeing and they had a big impact. Both tunes were instantly added to the wantslist...

On Tempo ('94 Lick Re:Vamp 12")
The original version of On Tempo appears on Krispy's excellent 1993 'Can't Melt the Wax' LP and is a quality track in it's own right. It took me a hot minute to get hold of the album, specifically searching for it off the back of seeing the video, and although it was a great purchase, the absence of the remix version made me fiend to own the video version on wax even more.

The Legendary green Kold Sweat label
Vinyl releases with exclusive dope remixes are one of the reasons I got addicted to records in the first place, and In typical 90's fashion, the '94 Lick delivers a whole new beat, a killer b-line and totally re-worked lyrics. The production and laid back vocals, delivered with panache in Krispy's Lancashire accents made it a total must have in my books.

As it turns out the '94 Lick was available as a 12' single in it's own right, and also on the the 'Herd Out the Gate' EP, both released on the legendary Kold Sweat label. The nerd in me needed to bag them both, but if I had to recommend one i'd go with the EP, it features the vocal and instrumental versions, plus four more nice cuts, and it comes with a smashing Easter Island head inspired picture cover.

The 12' single does offer two other alternative mixes, but neither outshine the '94 Lick as far as I'm concerned. There is also a white lable promo out there, but the tracklist is the same. Either of these two, or the Herd Out the Gate EP should be easily picked up for between £5 - £10 and I can't recommend enough,  a stone cold classic from one of the UK's unsung heroes.

Krispy 3: On Tempo (94 Lick)

Friday, 21 January 2011

Jehst, Cappo, Ricochet and Mystro Demos and More: Disorda Presents Mind the Gap Volume 1&2 (Suspect Packages 1998 & 1999)

Tapes are home to early demos from Jehst, Cappo, Mystro and Ricochet 

Okay so I am going to start this post with a statement of fact. Sometimes such statements can be controversial sometimes they can provoke intense debate and counter opinion - especially with regards to the UK Hip Hop scene and people's place within it. This statement is not like that. This statement is a statement that is simply an indisputable FACT. Here goes: Over the last 15 years no one man has contributed more to the UK hip hop scene than Disorda.

I will stop there - it's not yet time to go into details on this man, that story is for another time. Right now its time for a little focus on just one of his countless contributions to the scene - a contribution that many fans of some prominent UK names may not be aware of but should be grateful for nonetheless. This particular contribution goes by the name of Mind the Gap Volumes 1 and 2 - both of which are a compilation of demos that were given to Disorda by unsigned UK artists in the late 90s.

As you would expect from a cassette tape full of demos the sound quality ain't great, but fortunately this doesn't detract from the listening experience - in fact, in some ways it enhances it. Hearing the poorly mastered vocals, muffled base and hiss of the cassette is all part and parcel of what the project was... bedroom demos from hopeful amateur hip hoppers. For some of the artists a song on the tape was just the start of a career that would see the release of many more records, for others getting their track on Mind the Gap was the high point of their love affair with the music.

The magic of the tapes is in the tracklisting. Inconspicuously tucked away on side two of the first volume is a track by one of those artists who was destined to go on to bigger things. The dude's name was Jehst and the track "Focal Point Memoirs" might just be the earliest example of his music to become available to the buying public. Fans of Jehst nowadays will instantly recognise the voice but will be less familiar with the rapid delivery of his lyrics - this time being kicked with the thirst of an emcee with something to prove. Like all Jehst's early tracks it takes several plays and some close listening to hear and figure out the meaning in the lyrics, but whilst the production is definitely low budget, the poetry of Premonitions is certainly already in full effect even at this early stage in his recording career.

Universal Soldiers
Elsewhere on side one of the first Volume sits another cracking effort from one of the early 00s most underrated emcee's. Later to become one half of Universal Soldiers, Ricochet went on to use Mind the Gap as a springboard to hook up with Braintax. His artist page on Discogs puts it this way:.. "Screwface Assassin' (featured on Disorda's 'Mind the Gap' mix tape in 1998), gained recognition within the UK's rap fraternity and it was soon after this that his long-time friend Supa T introduced him to members of the Low Life Records crew. By early '99, Ricochet had made his first appearance for the label, dropping guest vocals on the title track of the Easter Island EP". The rest, they say, is history! 

As testament to the fact that Disorda had his finger firmly on the pulse there are countless other notable inclusions too. Contributions from the likes of Hoods Underground, Uncanny, Parlour Talk and K-Delight keep volume one banging from start to finish. And it don't stop there! Volume Two brings with it a very early appearance from Mystro - then one half of a duo going by the name of Genuine Article - and a Demo track from Notts finest emcee Cappo released before he had dropped any vinyl. Evil Ed pops up with a production effort on 'We Rule the World', Manage introduces himself with 'Self Titled' and Bristol stalwarts Sir Beanz OBE and Awkward drop 'Focus'.    

Guess who?
I caught up with Disorda over the wonders of electronic mail and asked him a few questions to put the tapes in context.

What made you do the Mind the Gap tapes?
Basically the same reason I'm still running Suspect Packages today, no-one was pushing the UK's Hip Hop scene and the artists who struggle to get heard. I had loads of demo tapes from artists and most of them we're worthy of being heard by the outside world, so I decided to do a compilation of all the best ones.

How were they different to the UK Hustlerz tapes?
They were all relatively unheard artists, people no-one really knew. And most of them had never had anthing out, it was all off tapes and dats, so no-one was hearing them. This was waaaaay before shit like myspace and youtube. So it was my way of getting these artists heard. I had the product and an outlet, so I used it. I got a good response to the UK Hustlerz tapes so thought i'd try it out, it was all material i'd been sent, and basically i used my own knowledge of what sounded good and what didn't, that was it really.

There are a number of artists featured that went on to become more prominent in the UK scene – Jehst, Ricochet, Hoodz Underground, Cappo and Mystro all stand out – had these guys had much out before this or was this tape literally their first experience of gaining national exposure?
I had demos from them all so yeah, I guess on a national and international level it was the first time some of them had been heard. A few had already, or were just about to release some vinyl though from what I remember, Chris Smoov & Prestige, Uncanny, Hearts Of Darkness, 3PM...

What are your favourite memories of compiling these tapes?
Collecting the finished copies, it took a lot of hard work and time to get it all together, it was a totally self funded grass roots d.i.y. business, and in some ways it still is! But getting the finished tapes and opening up the boxes seeing hundreds of them all together was a good sight, especially after all the graft that had gone into compiling it all and sorting all the artwork, liasing with the artists etc.

What 3 tracks are your favourites from these compilations and why?
Ricochet 'Screwface Assassin', still got his original demo tape, it's dope! Uncanny's 2 tracks, and also Jehst & Cappo's I remember as being pretty solid. That's four, sorry.... I'm also pretty fond of my track '2.20' on Vol.2 as it's got some good memories, the subject matter, recording it, etc...

How many did you sell?
You know what I can't remember how many I pressed at all, possibly 1000? Still got a few left, not many though.

The following tracks aren't downloadable but seeing as you can still get your hands on an original of both these tapes from the man Disorda himself for a measley four quid you shouldn't be too pissed. Hit him up on the contacts below to get one of the last of his copies. In the mean time - whilst your searching for a tape player to play them on - here's a few of those tunes. 
Enjoy, Postie

Mind the Gap Volume One cover - (click to enlarge)
Jehst: Focal Point Memoirs (1998 Pre-Premonitions Demo)
Ricochet (Universal Soldiers): Screwface Assassin (1998 Demo)

Mind the Gap Volume Two cover - (click to enlarge)
Disorda and Patterson - 2.20
Cappo: Emcee's Emcee (1999 Demo)
Genuine Article (Mystro) - Straight Spittin'

Suspect Packages Ltd.
'Backing British Beats since 1996'