Friday, 30 June 2017

Public Enemy - Nothing Is Quick In The Desert FREE ALBUM

Nothing Is Quick In The Desert (2017)

Public Enemy have just released their latest long-player. It is their 14th studio album since 1987's Yo! Bum Rush the Show.

You know by now the deal with PE - hard, chaotic beats and shouty, political raps.
Well, the hardcore rhymes are still there courtesy of Chuck D but the beats are only just adequate. Gone are the swirling, exciting, all-enveloping wall of sound that was their trademark in which to handle Chuck's voice and instead are more mediocre, run of the mill rhythms.
Sadly PE will never live up to their evocative early days purely due to the loss of the Bomb Squad. This is such a shame as every new PE album could be so much better with the right production.

Of course there are shimmers of promise and occasionally it feels as if the group have found the right sound (Smash The Crowd) but these are sadly few and far between.

Strangely I cannot find a complete list of credits so am clueless as to who produced 'The Desert..' and would love to know who did what - as well as the guest spots.

Man Plans God Laughs (2015)

On the whole this is a good effort and a definite improvement on 2015's Man Plans God Laughs which was an ordeal to get through.
DJ Lord continues to fill in the gaps with his great turntablism but here's an idea, how about giving the DJ a break and letting him have his moment to shine for 4 minutes? It would be a welcome change from the heavy aural assault of Chuck D's gravelly barking.
And while I'm on that tip, remember when Flavor would have his solo track? Bring that back, too as Flav only occasionally punctuates sentences throughout the whole album. What gives?
Later in the album Flavor begins Sells Like Teens Hear It and it feels like he's got his own track until Chuck's distorted vocals come back in. Oh well.

PE have made this album available for free (although apparently Chuck alludes to this being for a limited time only) on their Bandcamp page. You can download or just listen which is handy.
Go here to do just that.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Hip Hop Connection Magazine - Issues #2 & #3

"Get Ready For A Hype '89"

Issue #2

I've left a bit of a longer-than-antipcipated pause between posting the next issue of HHC so to make up for it I'm putting up a double.

KRS One adorns this issue's cover as he chills in his militant, pro-X gear straight outta Dan Dapper.
The Jungle Brothers and Salt 'n' Pepa as well as the homegrown, Cookie Crew all give a great smattering of the diversity that was typical of late 80s hip hop.

Normski kicks off the set as is what is becoming a regular slot with some immersive everyday photos of hip hop 'slebs in their natural habitat. And, hmmmm, whatever happened to The Fly Girls?
A short chat with the Coldcrush Brothers at the time of their Feel The Horns album and mentions of the best club venue, "The Autobahn"(surely the Audubon Ballroom?) and news of the beginnings of the Stop The Violence Movement.
A four-page spread devoted to The Artful Dodger is never a bad thing. He was probably the first UK writer that a lot of us remember, quite possibly due to his Weetabix campaign in 1985.

The super-sexily-voiced Malu Halasa interviews Overlord X as he tries to get his point across about violence in hip hop and football hooliganism. There's a feature of UK independent record labels (Rhythm King, Music of Life...) and Daddy Freddy & Asher D introduce 'Ragamuffin Hip Hop' to the world.
There's a great mini-feature of all the top names of UK rap in 1989 with a group posse shot featuring such luminaries as the Demon Boyz, No Parking MCs, Ruthless Rap Assassins as well as many others. A really historical moment.

Dave Pearce

For those of us living in the south of England, Dave Pearce was an authority on hip hop as he broadcasted out of GLR (formerly, Radio London) with his show A Fresh Start To The Week each and every Monday night. Check him out in his oh-so-fresh varsity jacket and obligatory cap. This was of course before he jumped ship and became Mr Trancey McTranceface.

Cookie Crew! Original Concept! Don Baron! Where else would you have ever found interviews with these 1989?! We mustn't forget this.

A few albums get the review treatment ("In Full Effect") by HHC journos Lee Holding, Hannah Ford and the aforementioned, Malu 'Hubba Hubba' Halasa.
Incidentally I once bought a big box of A4 biographies and promo photos from Lee Holding. I remember one particular bio on an upcoming group called Public Enemy. The headshots of one Cutmaster DC are wonderful - JerhiCurl-tastic.
Interesting in one review of Steady B's Let The Hustlers Play that Mr Holding points out that our very own Mike Allen gets a shout out on the back cover and asks "..where is Mike now?". And this was in 1989.

This issue features the first readers' letters. Some quite well thought-out points made as well as a lovely likkle letter from 9-year-old, Allen - "Yo! I love Hip Hop Connection because I love hip hop!!". Bless.

Who remembers General George of 4 Star General in Camden? He's featured amongst other fashionable shops in the nation's capital.
Followed by a Real Roxanne interview - who bizarrely made it to the UK Fresh 86 lineup because Shante caught chickenpox?! - and bookended by a roundup of '88 and predictions of the year to come this completes the very second issue of Hip Hop Connection.

Oh and a pull-out, centre-pages poster of Professor Griff in full military garb (phwoooar) for all you hardcore hip hop militants out there. But then, as a teenager back then who among us wasn't?


"All The Way Dope"

Issue #3

April '89 marked issue #3 of Hip Hop Connection.
KRS makes the front cover (again) and continues the magazine's love affair with the Blastmaster.
Richie Rich is there, too. I do loves me some Richie.
Normski steams the set with his gorgeous shots - has he ever produced a coffee table book? Why not?
I really do need to step my game up with my scanning technique. I've noticed a few blurry bits. I'm on it for next month, Scout's honour (I was a Scout for 3 weeks, therefore it still stands).

Many of last issue's top UK rap heads get to air their views and discuss what HHC should actually contain and it seems that the priority should be more UK-based stuff, funnily enough.
Anglophile, Chuck D blurts, "You English kids do a better job of covering rap than anyone in my country".
There's a news snippet of when Hijack were on the cusp....the cusp... of signing up to a major label courtesy of Ice T. The photo shows DJ Supreme aka Soops looking as dope as ever and K-Sly (sans afro) right next to him. Never again, eh lads?

Remember those indie-rocking skate punks, Jesus Jones who were on the waaaay out side of the spectrum of alternative hip hop back in those experimental 80s? There's a thankfully brief chat with them as they place palm to face and dig a huge hole explaining that "dissing" in hip hop is really nothing more than just plain paranoia. Well, it's not but thanks for your contribution, chaps.

Everyone's favourite female London emcee, Monie Love - to paraphrase Derek B, 'is she a Yankee? Nah, she's a Londoner....who thinks she's a Yankee' - talks us through her brief history while Dave Funkenklein (RIP) gives us the lowdown on the latest happenings on the West Coast of the Yoo Ess Ay.

There's a nice piece on Fab 5 Freddy as he talks about his part in the history of hip hop and explains the gist of the recent My Philosophy music video and Yo! MTV Raps.
Incidentally, am I imagining this or did one or more members of The London Posse happen to appear in that BDP video? Answers on a postcard, plz.

This month's pull-out poster is KRS One looking like he has just been offered his favourite Skittle flavour - orange. Print it out and stick it on ya bedroom wall, ya retro freaks, ya.
Tru-Funk Posse

Oh how times have changed. Richie Rich is accused of being a "Yuppy" simply because he is holding a mobile phone ("vodeaphone"). Well he was the (part) owner of Gee Street which was actually a pretty credible label at the time.

A return to the readers' letters and there's a prize tome from one "Jon Scott" who comes across like a twat, if I'm being honest, and goes on to dis a 9-year old kid - Allen from the last issue - the absolute cad.
There's also news that HHC will begin to print some Pen Pals letters. Now THAT sounds like a great idea!

Be careful, Professor Griff is fuming and can't wait to infiltrate our ear canals with politics and religion. Better keep going to the next page where the Bristol scene is looked at in-depth.
Wrapping up this month is a look at the 1989 DMC World Mixing Championships where Cutmaster Swift just pipped the post and beat favourite DJ Aladdin to win the golden Technics.


We Like Dondi

An oldie from Style Warrior.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Original Gangster Tee Shirt

Well, STYLE WARRIOR may now be just an old, happy memory of sadly-missed era of the finest of designed and produced shirts that catered to us maturing hip hop people but not any more.

As a one-off, LOVEGROVE has come back to us with this great design in a retro-nod to the 1970/80s era of our collective televisual childhood with a very cool twist.

Sold as either a t-shirt or a hoodie in blue or black you need to purchase one quickly as there is only another week left until availability runs out.

Nip over here to buy yours now.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Hip Hop Connection Magazine - Issue #1

I recently found a stash of long-lost Hip Hop Connection/HHC magazine up in my loft the other day.

For anyone not familiar with HHC let me briefly explain.
This magazine hit the newsstands in July of 1988 and was something completely new and mostly unheard of at the time. A magazine all about hip hop.
Let me tell you that I was absolutely gobsmacked when I first saw it and literally threw my money at the shopkeeper in that little newsagent in Guildford (opposite Surrey Police HQ, if you want to know).
I salivated at what the cover promised. Salt-N-Pepa! Wee Papa Girl Rappers (it does get better...)! EPMD! Stetsasonic! Tim Westwood! AND the chance to win a drum machine!

This was it, I thought. My whole life had led up to this point. The music I had been listening to exclusively for the past 6 or 7 years had finally made it into print. Things were going to start happening now.
Bear in mind that this was months before The Source had even begun so to say our generation were starved of reading material was an understatement. Sure I had some books which alluded to (some more than others) the history of hip hop and would snap up whatever I could find. But to see something that actually dealt with the current was almost mind-blowing. We were easily pleased back then.

From the off celebrated London photographer, NORMSKI was involved snapping some legendary figures in the scene. This wasn't some home-made, cheaply-photocopied fanzine (cough, more of which another time). No, this was the real deal, full-colour shizzle and only cost a measly £1.

I now present to you Issue 1 in all it's glory in what I am hoping will be a semi-regular feature on the ABU blog.
I know what you're thinking - where's the penpal section? Alas, you'll have to wait until Issue 4 where the legendary CONNECTIONS page began. Amidst the inaugural batch of hopefuls are 'Mandy' and 'Flen' who appear to have super-glued their hands to their chins (this would become the de rigueur hip hop pose of the '80s).

Own up, people. Am I likely to find any of you lot lurking in these pages as a spotty teen?


Download HHC Issue #1 Here

Mister Reeps

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