Tuesday, 14 September 2010

I reminisce for a spell, or shall I say think back. 22 years ago to keep it on track...

For a young Hip Hop head back in Liverpool in the late 80’s the 20 minute fix of Roxanne Shante, Spoonie G and Mantronix sandwiched between Iron Maiden and the Smiths in clubs like the State and Macs could never be enough. There was only one place to get your rap fix and that was the Mardi.

A dedicated hip hop night where you could hear DJ Terminator Sef cutting and scratching, mixing Eric B & Rakim ‘I Know You Got Soul’ into Mr X and Mr Z ‘Drink Old Gold’...Genius:

If you were lucky there would be an afterparty in 61A Bold street with freestyle sessions from the likes of First In Command and Power to The Max. All good things come to an end and after Quinns 2 closed and the Mardi changed its music policy the scene became fractured but you could still catch some Hip Hop at nights like...

Then when Acid Jazz hit Liverpool, Hip Hop fans embraced it with many discovering the original funk breaks and samples that were so familiar to them. Grand Groove were among the torchbearers playing the Pharcyde and The Goats alongside Acid Jazz and Ultimate Breaks and Beats. For the next few years Hip Hop lived in Clubs like:

...And of Course First in Command's open Mic Freestyle night Phat Skillz. 
...and many of the heads who were present at the Mardi Gras from day one were recreating that vibe in the D.I.Y. spirit of Hip Hop with parties at various 'Venues' in Toxteth:

On some next tip and a definite must for all ladies...FRESH!!!

During this time you could cop the latest Hip Hop 12”s and a promo copy of ‘Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop’ from Jenny D at Unity Records on Bold Street or if you were in the know Pyramid Records on Lodge Lane:

Then as the Drug Wars gripped the city in 1996 and the only people on the streets of Liverpool were armed police...a handful of dedicated Hip Hop fans could be found head nodding in the basement of Le Bateau at...

Check out the prototype Art Attack flyer using cardboard, glue, gold marker pen, letter stencil sets, a scalpel and an Old English bottle label...Fresh.

Massive thanks to Grand Groove (AKA evrokski and Danny Crates) for the citation, stories, flyers, memories, support and above all this photograph:

You can catch them spinning at various No Fakin' Joints and Beatdowns across the city.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

First In Command

Well it's 1995.....having formed in Liverpool in '89, aware that studio time is expensive and mistakes would be costly Abyss (MC/Producer), 2Kind (MC) and DJ Olabean have spent the last 6 years honing their craft. Collecting Jazz breaks and Library records. Studying rhyme patterns, lyric structures, metaphors and production techniques of the US artists that have inspired them. First In Command are ready to create 'Pest Control'.

Aiming not to imitate but to contribute to the genre F.I.C. Succeed in producing 18 tracks of sublime jazz loops, funky drum breaks, soulful cuts, scratches and skits topped off with a flow and subject matter not yet witnessed this side of the pond. 'Pest Control' compliments and sits perfectly alongside Hieroglyphics, The Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest and Digable Planets. However what sets 'Pest Control' aside is the MCs' refusal to compromise their own background, with a scouse accent and subject matter that any British kid listening to Hip Hop would relate to and appreciate.

...But this is 1995, the internet is still in its infancy, no myspace, no facebook. Independent Hip Hop record labels of the US like Fondle Em and Rawkus are still an idea in the heads of American Hip Hop mavericks and the UK is way behind still. Major labels don't know what to do with UK Hip Hop artists and, perhaps most importantly, this is Liverpool. F.I.C. Do their best to get 'Pest Control' heard. They organise their own club night Phat Skillz. They perform up and down the country supporting Credit to The Nation amongst others. They shop the album around and beat off over 40 acts to be declared the Best Unsigned Hip Hop Act in Hip Hop Connection. But unsigned they remain. Industry politics, families, mortgages and life get in the way and F.I.C. Go their separate ways. Abyss continues to make beats producing tracks for Children of the Damned and Tommy Evans. 2Kind puts down the mic and takes to the turntable becoming one of Liverpool's most sought after club DJs and opening Liverpool's first dedicated Hip Hop records store 'Static'. DJ Olabean becomes a member of UK DJ Super crew the Hitmen, touring the globe alongside Semtex and Shortee Blitz. 'Pest Control' is put to bed.

Fast forward to 2010....at some point over the 15 years 'Pest Control' finds its way into the hands of Liverpool's No Fakin' Djs. It becomes a staple in their sets. They wish F.I.C. Were still together, regretting not having the opportunity to have them perform at their club night. A Liverpool Hip Hop act that could perform alongside the US acts they were booking; Lootpack, J-Live, El da Sensei. They wax lyrical with the lads from F.I.C. About how different things could have been had they know each other back then and regret not having worked with them. No Fakin' DJs release the first record on 2Dogs and during a think tank session with the label's head honhos, planning future releases, they crack open the 15 year old 'Pest Control', its matured well and still sounds fresh. They label are hooked, they believe it still has an audience and Abyss, 2Kind and Olabean are convinced. The time has come to finally unleash perhaps the greatest UK Hip Hop album never released. First In Command's 'Pest Control'.

Until then here's a taster.....DOPE!!!

First In Command - 'my next project'

...And Here's First in Command on the bus.

Going way back

Whilst helping our kid move out we unearthed some early No Fakin' Flyers and photographs which prompted me to dig through boxes of junk in my loft to try to piece together the history of the club night. There's a few gaps but I've managed to put most of it together chronologically, so over the next few months on here I'm going to bore you with images, flyers and the odd recording to paint the picture of No Fakin' since '97.

Here's the first flyer....we didn't really know any graphic designers so its a bit turd but for its time in Liverpool the line ups were dope and we were off to a flyer:

The second one was done by a friend of mine who designed greeting cards and I think it looks Fresh:

4 Decks of Flava yo!!!