Being a music loving teen of the 80’s, Rap has always been part of my cultural life. It was the crossover of ‘Licence To Ill’ period Beastie Boys that had me, as well as many of my peers, hooked on Hip Hop. That album was full of rock samples, and crazy lifestyle japes- but for me it was the Miami Bass style beats on some of the album tracks that gave this album longevity. Those Roland TR-808 sounds can really put a ‘Bass-Face’ on me.
This path led me to listen to bands like Public Enemy, NWA and Ice-T, and favouring Adidas over Nike. As you can see, nothing too ground-breaking here- they’re all blessed with great beats (really, ‘Straight Outta Compton’ has some of the best production in its genre, in my opinion obviously), Ice T, particularly the album ‘OG- Original Gangster’ was good mix of crossover material and great lyrics and in Public Enemy we have one of the great poets of our time in Chuck D. Thing is, the whole Hip Hop package wasn’t really Me. Beats, turntables, scratching, mixing- yep. Socially aware lyrics, knowing your history- yep. Graffiti, breakdancing, ill fitting clothes? Nope.
Along came the Daisy Age and all was well again- De La Soul were rapping about more general themes White Guys from Sussex could relate to, their more sampledelic approach to music making was even better as sample spotting music geeks (ahem) had another area to focus on, this approach also gave us one of the great overlooked albums of our time ‘Paul’s Boutique’ by The Beastie Boys- much revered now, back in the day it was in the bargain buckets- I bought the cassette AND the cd for less than £3 together- making it one of the select few albums I have on all 3 formats (Licence To Ill, The White Room [KLF], Excursion On The Version [Beats International] Viva Hate, [Mozzer] and Blue Lines [Massive Attack]- thank you for asking). Definition Of Sound’s debut album, ‘Love And Life:- A Journey With The Chameleons’, is another lost gem as to are the first two Stereo MC’s albums ’33, 45, 78′ and ‘Supernatural’.
It is no surprise that when Mo Wax, ‘Trip Hop'(shudder- horrid pigeonhole term) and the Headz compilation came out that this was the route I took- for me it’s mostly about the beats. (That said, I also got fairly heavily into The Last Poets- who seem to get overlooked in Hip Hop terms. I’ve seen plenty of programmes which deal with history of Hip Hop that leave them out- I’d say they are an essential listen).
The popularity of Cypress Hill and Wu Tang Clan largely passed my by, mostly due to other interests in music, rather than content- I loved the soundtrack to ‘Ghost Dog’, so maybe I should check out some more Wu Tang… and in the end Rap all but fell off my radar. When I DJ’d Hip Hop- it was beats based, favouring Depth Charges hard Kung Fu style beats and the ‘Big Beat’ (more shudders to the pigeonho’) stuff of the mid to late 90’s.
Odd Future caused a ripple in the music world when they were signed by a major- all their stuff was up for free download before being taken down. I grabbed it. Maybe I thought there would be a re-kindling in the genre, but alas no, I don’t know if I missed the point- but some of their stuff seemed racist and homophobic (please feel free to comment if this isn’t the case, and I’ve been a little dumb!), so I listened to them no more.
ON-U Sound have had a re-birth recently, releasing new material by New Age Steppers, African Headcharge, Little Axe and Adrian Sherwood himself as well as Mark Stewart and this has had me listening to and re-visiting the back catalogue. One album I originally missed was ‘Vulture Culture’ by Ghetto Priest, this uses some old On-U rhythms and tracks- notably the excellent Prince Far-I sampling ‘Dungeon’- a brilliant addition to the Singers and Players aural triptych of ‘Dungeon/Merchant Ship/Jah Army Band’ off ‘Revenge OF The Underdog’- all in all a fantastic album. This led me to investigate what Ghetto Priest was up to now.
This being the age of social media, I found him on Facebook, ‘liked’ his page and then followed him on Twitter. This led to me being followed back by @dub_hop- which turned out to be the twitter name for Screaming Soul– the latest project he was involved with alongside rapper/producer Lucid Mover, and like all things in this cyber-age, things moved fast. A link to a FREE Download of a megamix of Screaming Soul tracks was shared, I listened and I liked. Very much. What we have with Screaming Soul is a perfect balance of excellent beats, great socially aware lyrics with Lucid Mover’s brilliant lip-tripping delivery and Ghetto Priest’s sweet, soulful vocal croonings. I quickly purchased their recent release- a dub re-working of the debut album ‘Ghost In A Shell’, called ‘Ghost Inna Dub’- the mixes were (de)constructed by the excellent Mutant Hifi and Dub God, Adrian Sherwood.
This paved the way for Lucid Mover’s style to re-acquaint me with the rap genre. Plan B has been making all the right noises with his ‘Ill Manors’ set, and by coming from these shores, his content has a relevance to it that is lacking from those rhymes from over the pond, but where, in my opinion, Screaming Soul’s Lucid Mover wins is that the music he creates- the beats and the soundscapes- are just so damn good. His earlier album under the Sandman moniker, ‘Code Of The Roadrunner’ is also available as a FREE download here. Also on his label-Emerging Species, you can purchase the album by DefDeFires ‘Operation Zombie Nation’ which is a concept album centring around a plague of Zombies spreading through the land and infecting the Royal Family and Parliament, and the media covering it all up- it can also be viewed as a tale of the rotten undercurrent of sleaze and depravity which seems to grow daily…
Ghetto Priest and Lucid Mover are concentrating on their own material at the moment, Lucid Mover teaming up with Wytfang for the beats, releasing a free download every Monday under the Lucidmonday hashtag. And Ghetto Priest you can find doing his own thing here.
I strongly urge you to check out Screaming Soul and Lucid Mover- he tends to give away more than he sells, you’ll have nothing to lose and everything to gain.