Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Juice Fanzine

Around 1992 I began producing my own home-made hip hop magazine.
It was called Juice and the first issue was a few A4 sheets stapled together embarking on a more 'newsletter' territory.
This was before home PC's were big, and even before I had a word processor. In fact I did the early issues on an electric typewriter.
All the images were cut out of other magazines and some logos were created by friends - mainly those with a 'writing' bent. The  cut 'n' paste action was done literally with scissors and a Pritt Stick. And I went through stencil transfers like nobody's business.
I managed to speak to a few artists such as the Krispy 3 and Katch 22 - who I interviewed at the Kold Sweat studios - and met some good people in the process. Some would become life-long friends. One in particular who would introduce me to the ways of the spraycan and night time adventures along train tracks....

This was a great time to be doing this - and I think I subconsciously knew it was the right time - as it was hip hop's Golden Age and the music was pouring out at a tremendous rate. In fact there are some classic jams in this issue's Review section. Little did I know how they would come to be revered in years to come.
I remember that I was into the music so much with such an undying appetite because there was really so many well-produced tracks around that I could never do this at any other time. This fanzine was of it's time for me. Never again will I have the voraciousness for hip hop in it's current form. And the time it took to put it all together could only be painstakingly done with a passion.

The readership wasn't high and was probably in the heady heights of 100 sales. The promotion was low-profile yet I got mentions on local press and radio as well as a shout on Kiss FM's Max & Dave's rap show.
The magazine was bought either direct from me or from my local specialist record shop, Dance 2 Records in Guildford. I heard from someone a few years ago that one copy sold for a lot of money in Japan on ebay.

As well as the magazine, I produced a 90-minute cassette tape which consisted of remixes and dj mixes and whatever else I could find to put on it.
Some of these were my contributions under various guises while others were from the Juice readership.

It all lasted for 2 years until another interest came into my life and sadly the mag was put on the backburner.

I have digitized the last issue ('Numba') 6 and the tape that came along with it.
Quite a few people have requested me to do this so I hope you enjoy it. And if you were involved with it at any stage please get in touch, it'd be great to get in contact again (and find out if you still have your copy!)



Download The Mag
Download The Tape

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Sweet P From The SL Troopers Interview

"Cold chillin, I'm moving about for fun. I'll take you suckas out, each and every one"

I recently had the good fortune to communicate with one of the UK's most eloquent and humble microphone masters, Fabian Stephenson AKA Sweet Pea from London's SL Troopers.

The late 80's were an exciting time for UK rap, almost a golden age, and there were a lot of great records coming out regularly with a creative buzz previously unseen for this genre.
The two heavyweight record labels of the time, Music Of Life and Kold Sweat put out some of the most memorable tunes and were home to some of the UK's most legendary acts such as Hijack, Hardnoise, She Rockers, Derek B, MC Duke, Krispy 3, Katch 22, Daddy Freddy, Demon Boyz and so many more.

Both of these labels at one time or another managed to sign the SL Troopers , such was their status at the time.
Beginning with DJ Woodhouse and DJ Crime, Sweet Pea arrived soon after where the first single Debut (Unarmed, Yet Dangerous) was released in 1988 on Global Rhythm Records. With a simple break loop, scratched horns and a Lord Finesse-esque rap flow this signaled the arrival of the Troopers.

1989 saw the release of the still-firing 12" single, Movement on the Music Of Life label. Moving with a fast style and furious scratching, this track boosted the group's status further and got the attention of Kold Sweat who signed them the following year where they would release the single Knowledge / Put Your Brain In Gear and the Systematic Terror EP both making waves on the UK scene.

Since the disbanding of the group Fabian went on to record with the Acid Jazz band Quiet Boyz, Chris Bangs for the Mr Electric Triangle project, Kosmosis Of The Heart and subsequently in 1996 worked with The Herbaliser on Ninja Tune. It was here where his friendship with Ollie Teeba would grow while he featured on the albums Blow Your Headphones and Remedies.

The late 1990's would see the birth of an alter-ego, Travis Blaque who Fabian would use as a mouthpiece to relieve his vent and fury on the industry.
Travis has since worked alongside Ollie again as well as producers RJD2 and East Coast crew, Ugly Duckling.
His album, The Many Facets Of Travis Blaque was released in 2006 and Fabian is still very much busy recording to this day.

Ageing B-Boys Unite!: What was the first record to interest you in music?

Fabian Stephenson: There are so many records that have interested me in music, but if there is one it is Max Romeo's War Inna Babylon.

ABBU: Can you remember the first record that you purchased?

The first record I purchased with my own money was the Slave album Visions of Lite.

ABBU: You were a keen dancer in your youth. Which crews were you in?

I used to hang out with Anthony Duncan (DJ ADEE), Mark B, Ollie Teeba, Baby K/DJ Afro Puff (ex-Choice FM/DJ 279's mix DJ) Regal from The Wise Guys, Malachi (The Herbaliser) Julian from The Creators and others from Kingston and surrounding areas. We all shared ideas and developed styles and would go uptown to Covent Garden to showcase our styles. The main influence for me was Poppin' Pete from L.A. the master of locking. I was a big fan of Live To Break and Francisco Diaz from Epsom was a good friend of mine.

ABBU: How did you make the transition from body-popping to holding the mic?

I was listening to Tim Westwood when he was a presenter on LWR and he was a judge at a Rap competition with Tom Silverman from Tommy Boy Records. The Cookie Crew won best group performance and I could say that they were my main influence to start writing rhymes.

ABBU: Who were your peers when emceeing? Which crews did you roll with?

Other MC's at that time were Sergeant Rock, MC Mello, Blade, Uncle B Nice, Demon Boyz, London Posse, Huntkillberry Finn, Kamanchi Sly who all influenced me in one way or another.

ABBU: Grooverider was a heavy presence in your earlier days. Did you ever feel like going down the hardcore/drum & bass route?

Grooverider was and still is a good DJ. An old soulboy at heart who embraced house music and techno to drum and bass and was instrumental in guiding me in the early days of Global Rhythm Sound System which the S.L. Troopers were part of. I have no problem with drum & base as an MC you ride the rhythm and I would love to work with German group N.O.H.A. and the diverse British producer Manifest.

ABBU: What kind of emcee were you? Did you actively battle?

As a young upstart living in suburbia, The Royal Borough of Kingston I had to get myself together and battle other MC's whenever or wherever. Going into London with the guys and the S.L.'s gave me confidence. As you get older or as you mature you still keep the battle principles, but life is much more than that now. There's much more to talk about from a spiritual and humanitarian perspective.

ABBU: Which of the 4 elements of hip hop have you participated in, however successfully?

B-Boying - I was good.  
Graf - I tried it and was caught tagging in '86 in Feltham shopping centre by the police!
DJing - Well I used to mix well, but didn't master the scratch mix.  
MCing - Well that's my chosen field and I'm content.

ABBU: Would you have liked to released an album on either Music Of Life and Kold Sweat?

I would have been happy for an album on Music Of Life as I was The S.L. Troopers' first MC, Sweet Pea. Unarmed, Yet Dangerous was the first 12", then Movement/There It Is came. I left the S.L.'s due to creative differences. The other MC's they worked with. That's another story!
There was a track called Ready To Run recorded in Kingston with The S.L.'s in '86. I don't have a copy, but it was OK.
As Fabian I have 8 tracks recorded with The UYD's on DAT. As Travis Blaque I recorded Ego Trippin' Pt 3 in 97' with Ollie Teeba from The Herbaliser. Killer Tune!!
Travis Blaque and Misty Oldland - You Can Be The One. I love the tune and it will probably be on the 2nd Travis album.
There is also a nice Soul cut I recorded with Marsha Ambrose (Floetry) before Floetry blew up. One day, perhaps when I die these tracks will see the light of day!

ABBU: What was the difference between Music Of Life and Kold Sweat?

With Music Of Life you were happy to get a tune out. It wasn't about the money, that's me being naive! I heard that Kold Sweat actually paid royalties. To be honest I actually earned money working with British labels such as Acid Jazz, Delancey St. and Ninja Tune. German labels Unique and Buro 9 have also been good to work with.

ABBU: How involved were you in the production?

I tried to steer the S.L.'s in a P-Funk, Jazz influenced way before the genres were big in Rap Music. This resulted in me leaving.
However as Travis I have to be in the thick of it and add some creativity here and there.

ABBU: What do you think of the current UK rappers compared to the golden age of the late 80's/early 90's?

In the 80's there were MC's who were influenced by the American sound and rapped as if they were from the US, I was one of them. MC's that have heavily influenced the way the UK sound has developed in my opinion and no particular order are Blade, Rodney P, HKB, Roots Manuva, MC Mello, Demon Boyz, Blak Twang, MCD, Chester P.
I like some of the current crop, however some of those who come from the grime arena, well that's another story!

ABBU: You're marooned on a desert island. You are allowed one of each of the following items. An album, a single, a book, a dvd, and one type of food. What do you take?

The album would be Gil Scott-Heron - Pieces Of A Man. The single would be The Roots feat. Common UNI verse. The Book would be Can't Stop Won't Stop by Jeff Chang. The DVD would be Roman Polanskis' Chinatown. The food would be fresh veg and salad.

ABBU: Is there any one person or persons that have influenced your musical path in life?

My father and my mother's cousin Uncle Boogs for introducing me to Soul, Rhythm & Blues, Ska, Rocksteady, Calypso and Reggae. Chris Bangs for helping me to find my Jazz chops and understanding the need to experiment.

ABBU: What are your musical aspirations for the future? Who would you love to work with?

I would like to release a 2nd Travis Blaque album in which I have 4 tracks which are ready to record.
I would like to work with Nomadic Poet of The Planets, the legendary HKB, my friend, time permitting Mark B, Gael Blondeu from France, Shareholder Tom from Germany. The Beat Barbers from Sweden, legendary UK Soul Vocalists Misty Oldland, Noel McCoy, Paul Johnson & Leee John. Steve Spacek, David Mitchell. German Jazz vocalist Alison Degbe, Primo and Pete Rock.

Last year I worked with Shareholder Tom, a multi talented German musician/producer and featured on two tracks on his 1st album. I didn't meet him until a few weeks ago when he asked me to repeat the process, but record in Cologne as supposed to the UK. The music is Reggae-influenced and Mambo which I am happy to work with. There will be a 7" before winter 2010.

Many thanks for Fabian for the time and respect to DJ ADEE for the hook-up.


Travis Blaque Myspace
Travis Blaque on Discogs
SL Troopers on Discogs

SL Troopers article at Heroes Of UK Hip Hop

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Clyde Stubblefield's Long-Lost Brummie Son

It appears that the UK has a new Funky Drummer in it's midst. Yes, new video footage reveals to us that hip hop producer, DJ, radio show presenter and all-round biscuit entrepreneur, Waxer has a new talent up his Adidas sleeve.
As to what that talent is I'm not quite sure but here we can see some Pumpkin-esque skin-hittings as Steve tries to replicate the classic drum pattern of Schoolly D's almighty PSK What Does It Mean on an authentic 80's-looking, Simmons drum kit belonging to the Son Of Waxer.

Regardless of whether he fully achieves it or not, I see a series of videos in which Waxer recreates a new beat each time. Next month lookout as he plays his inimitable version of Sucker MC's!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Essential Elements & DEF Momentum blogs?

Both the Essential Elements & DEF Momentum blogs are down at the moment and have been for a while.
Supreme and Def D, I hope this is just a hiccup in your bloglife and that you'll be back up very soon!


Essential Elements

DEF Momentum
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