Wednesday, 30 December 2009

DOPE Photographers

and no, I don't mean the type of sadsack who takes pictures of weed and posts them up everywhere.

Here's two photographers who I know who are AMAZING. One now resides in Australia, one still in East Anglia, UK.

1. Sam Barker

This is him.

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Sam does pictures of people, landscapes and all inbetween. His composition is amazing, and the colours in his pictures are vibrant and uniformly superb. He also did a load of the photography for Rapsploitation Sessions. He's now based in the land down under. Here's some of his recent pics from his blogspot.

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And, of course, he did THIS little beauty which is currently pride of place framed in the Jones Family dining room. (That's Akil from Jurassic 5, with a dashingly handsome and talented DJ in the background.)

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In his own words, "I take photographs of things I like & find interesting. If you like what I do, thankyou. If you don't like what I do, thankyou too." He also had an exhibition at Jones Family favourite shop Black Sheep at the Raplowtation event I mentioned on here before.

Check out his work here.
Sam Barker's Blog

2. Jen O'Neill

Jen takes amazing pics of bands and musicians, either in performance or for promo pics, amongst other things.

This is her.

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She is DOPE, her pictures really catch the energy and mood of whatever or whoever she's taking pictures of. She's had her work in The Sun, the Eevening Star, on BBC Look East, the BBC website and the Grapevine, among others, and had a great exhibition at Jones Family regular haunt The Swan in Ipswich (also home to the internationally reknowned Rapsploitation Sessions). Check these pics out.

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Jen specialises in "Live Music photography, Events and Functions, Natural Images and Landscapes," and has had recommendations from US ska-punk band Less Than Jake, Franz Ferdinand, Go Records and the BBC. Go Jen!

Check out her work here.
Jen O'Neill's Website

Both of them are talented as all hell! To be honest, I'm expecting big things from them in the future... well, bigger than their considerable portfolios so far! If you're needing photographers, then give them a shout on their websites. POW.

Massive props to both of them - support the local talent!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Mys-Diggy's 09 Rap Up

I've been posting a lot of video clips recently, and I don't really want to post another one, but this is MASSIVELY worth it so here you go.

With Skillz's annual Rap Ups now part of the end of December the same as end of year lists on the net, the legendary Mystro has done his own one. And, to be honest, I'm feeling this more than the Skillz one (that dropped earlier today).

* * * * * * * * * *

Patronisation Corner:
For the uninitiated who DON'T listen to rap all day and have no idea what this all means -
the Rap Ups are an annual release, basically putting the notable events of the year into one long rap verse.
*steps down from Patronising Podium*

* * * * * * * * * *

Check it out. PROPS MYS!

Monday, 28 December 2009

Souls Of Mischief ruffle some feathers... Soulja Boy catches feelings

From those kindly folk over at SoulCultureTV, here's a recent Souls Of Mischief interview about that old chesnut.... the G.R.O.A.T. (Greatest Rapper Of All Time for those who aren't used to the use of acronyms)

Now, I don't agree that Jay-Z has bought nothing new to hip hop, but each to their own.

The interesting part to this saga is that apparently "SouljaBoy" posted up some comments underneath this video pretty soon after it was posted up. Then he decided to take them down. What were they? Well....

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Hmmm. This isn't the first time Soulja Boy (if it was actually him) has slated an established hip hop act. Let us not forget the Ice-T debacle from last year. *sigh, shake head*

Anyway, just for you lucky people, here's a treat from the vaults - one of the Souls Of Mischief demos that never made it onto 93 Til Infinity, mainly due to sample clearance issues.
Note: compare this with ANYTHING that Soulja Boy has ever done in his life.
....I rest my case.

Cabfare (version 1)

Cabfare (version 2)
Souls of Mischief - Cab Fare .mp3
Found at bee mp3 search engine

Friday, 25 December 2009

It's Christmas!

Beat Street

My Favourite Christmas Record Ever

Another Run DMC Christmas Track

Smokey Robinson - a GOD amongst men



JB. Rest In Peace Soul Brother.


Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas

Here's something to give you festive cheer. Big up to Smiff at UKHH for the link.

Happy Christmas.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

How To (re)Make Smack My B1tch Up by The Prodigy

Wow. I don't know who this dude is, but he has NAILED this. Apart from a couple of tweaks he put in himself, and the singing at the end. Before you check out the remake, here's the OG Prodigy version to jog your memory of the intricacies of the track.

And NOW..... *drumroll*

Here's the remade version by Jim Pavloff.


Check out Jim's (Dmitry's) myspace here.

Black Sheep Christmas Party

Further to my last post on BlackSheep, a DOPE shop in Ipswich where I occasionally hang out and bother whoever's working, I got a thing in my inbox a couple of days back but cos I don't check myspace regularly I only just got it. Anyway, thought I'd give em a bit of promo, it's a great shop and they're good to me in there.

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It’s the BLACKSHEEP XMAS PARTY, and you’re invited!
With special guest DJs:
JON KENNEDY(Organik Recordings, Bristol)
Ben Marr (Ipi Massive)
Pfunk (FPT Crew, Hungary)
playing the best in funk, hiphop and original grooves!
Sunday 27th December
6–10 PM
PJ McGintys
Come early!
Festive Nibbles!
Blacksheep X-mas Raffle!
Please ask in shop for details or email us at:
Ipswich, 3 St Stephens Lane, IP1 1DP, +44 (0)1473 219833

POW! Get yourselves down there, you heard the man.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Classic Blaxploitation 1 - Blacula

This is the first in an occasional series of write-ups about classic Blaxploitation movies. I used to write for a 70s and 80s website a couple of years back, and these are reviews that got posted up there. They're great websites, by the way, you can find them here and here.

Anyway, here's classic Blaxploitation movie number 1: BLACULA.

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Transylvania, 1780.
African Prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall) and his wife Luva (pronounced 'Loo-Vah', played by Vonetta McGee) are visiting Count Dracula (Charles McCauley) in his castle. After a pleasant evening, they propose that Dracula adds his support to their campaign to stop the slave trade. Dracula refuses - the slave trade has "merit", apparently - and this disagreement turns into a heated exchange that ends with Mamuwalde pinned down by Dracula's servants.

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Dracula bites Mamuwalde, then takes him down to one of his basements. Here, he puts him in a coffin, and announces that he is now a vampire: "I will curse you with my name... You shall be - Blacula!" Then he locks Mamuwalde in the coffin, and outlines his fiendish plan to lock Luva in the basement to starve to death, while her husband can only listen while she dies. He goes back upstairs with his servants, and - sure enough - they lock Luva in with Mamuwalde (in his coffin) to die.

Transylvania, Present Day (well, 1972)
Bobby McCoy (Ted Harris) and Billy Schaffer (Rick Metzler), two of the campest men to ever grace the earth with their presence, are antique dealers. They are negotiating with an agent to buy all of the furniture from Dracula's castle (he's long dead by this time). They sign the contract to take EVERYTHING, and then discover the 'secret' basement where Mamuwalde and Luva were locked in, almost two centuries ago. They take the coffin, not worrying about opening it... they just want to use it as a guest bed ("It's SO camp, darling..." - a camp bed, possibly?)

Los Angeles, still 1972
Bobby and Billy check their new acquisitions in their warehouse, and while they do so Bobby decides to open the coffin to see what's in it. Although he breaks the lock, before he opens the coffin properly Billy manages to cut himself quite badly while doing something else a few feet away. Bobby goes over to try and stop the bleeding, and they're both so caught up in the drama of it all that they don't notice the coffin creak open... and Mamuwalde make his way out... and over to them.

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He attacks Billy first, sucking the blood from his arm, and then kills Bobby before draining him too. Then he puts on a cape (which seems to come from somewhere below the screen) and lowers himself back into the coffin, chuckling menacingly to himself.

At Bobby's funeral, Mamuwalde is lurking behind a curtain (he later explains his presence there by saying that he was taking care of "a little business" of his own). He sees Bobby's hand move, even though Bobby is supposed to be "dead". Bobby's friend Tina and her sister Michelle (Denise Nicholas) are there - Tina (also played by Vonetta McGee) pulls back her hood and she is identical to Luva! (This resemblence is not lost on Mamuwalde.) Also present is Michelle's friend and work colleague (and possibly her lover) Dr Gordon Thomas (played by Thalmus Rasulala), who is examining Bobby's body. The Funeral Director / Mortician tells Dr Thomas that Bobby seemed to die from a 'rat bite' to the neck. The director hasn't emabalmed him yet. Dr Thomas notes that Bobby has no blood in his body.

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Tina is walking home, when she suddenly gets the sensation of being followed. She starts to run from the person / thing behind her, only to round a corner and run into Mamuwalde, who thinks she's Luva. Now quite seriously scared, Tina runs away again and while running drops her purse. Mamuwalde stops and picks it up, only to be hit by a cab as he walks across the road. The driver (Ketty Lester) gets out and helps Mamuwalde up, only to be attacked when Mamuwalde realises that because she hit him, he's lost Tina.

Tina gets home, uses her spare key to get in, and double locks the door - suddenly someone starts banging on it. It's only Michelle though. Tina tells her what happened. Meanwhile, Mamuwalde makes his way back to the warehouse, and his coffin. He still has Tina's purse.

Dr Thomas is investigating is investigating the mysterious 'blood loss' cases that he has seen. He examines the body of Juanita Jones (the taxi driver) and notices that she has two small puncture wounds in her neck... and has lost all of the blood in her body... Hmmmm. Could this be the work of a vampire?

The good Doctor refers to the fact that there may be a connection between the deaths of Bobby, Billy and Juanita to his friend Lieutenant Peters (Gordon Pinsent). There is a delay in the investigation, though - Bobby and Billy's files have gone missing, and Dr Thomas can't examine Bobby's body again because the family are viewing it until 8pm. Dr Thomas decides to go out again as he had planned to - after all, it's Michelle's birthday.

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When Tina and Michelle and Dr Thomas are out at a club, Mamuwalde walks in. He finds Tina and gives her the purse back, explaining that he meant her no harm. She invites him to sit with them, feeling strangely drawn to him. Could she have met him before, somehow? Meanwhile, Dr Thomas gets a phone call - Bobby's body has gone missing...

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This appears to be simply a black version of Dracula, to begin with, but don't be fooled - that is not the case. Although it features the standard vampire iconography (bats, capes, fangs, blood, coffins...), it transforms into something more than a mere carbon copy of Bram Stoker's novel. The sociological idea of slavery is introduced, something mentioned explicitly in the fine opening sequence, and explored later on a more implicit level. (Mamuwalde 'enslaves' his victims, and as Mikel J Koven points out in his patronising, simple and childish book 'The Pocket Essential Blaxploitation Films', Mamuwalde also acts as a link from the present to the past, literally acting as "living history for contemporary blacks".)

On a visual level, the film has some intriguing ideas. It echoes the Universal horrors of the 30s and 40s, but with slightly more graphic ideas (similar to the UK-made Hammer films of the 50s and 60s). The opening title sequence is excellent, almost like a cartoon vampire version of Pac-Man. The sequences where Mamuwalde attacks are initially almost comical, but quickly change to effective when he bites down on his victims. At times, Mamuwalde looks almost like a werewolf, with his excessive facial hair, but William Marshall's performance sugars this particular pill so that it isn't as distracting as it might have been.

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The soundstrack is excellent, an unjustly forgotten gem that deserves to be reissued on a wide scale - a very effective opening theme, and Gene Page's incidental music fits the film perfectly... and has been sampled on several occasions by hip hop producers.

The casting of Vonetta McGee in both the role of Luva and the role of Tina is clever, again predating the casting of Winona Ryder in a dual role in Coppola's Dracula film by a good 18 years. Thalmus Rasulala as Dr Thomas is not too bad, but unlike other Van Helsing characters on Dracula films he isn't given a great deal to do other than act churlishly towards other characters.

The film was awarded the 'Best Horror Film Of 1972' by the Academy of Horror Films and Science Fiction Films. Apparently the trailer for the film was so popular amongst black audiences (seeing a black horror film for the first time) that according to William Marshall, people would go to the cinemas specifically just to see the trailer (much like audiences have done in recent years for the new Star Wars films).

The image used to market Blacula was not one that William Marshall remembered posing for (although it does exist) - he claimed it was doctored by the studio for promotional purposes. Marshall did not want the "sensationalised image of black on white lust" that the studio eventually plumped for, and Mamuwalde never bites a white victim in the film at all.

Mamuwalde's original name in the script was 'Andrew Brown', which is the same name as Andy in 'Amos And Andy'. The name was changed at William Marshall's insistence, and the idea that Mamuwalde was an African Prince was also suggested by Marshall. "I suggested an African hero who had never been subjected to slavery," he said in an interview for the book 'What It Is, What It Was', "an African Prince travelling to Europe with his beloved wife, to persuade his 'brother' Eurpoean aristocrats to oppose the African slave trade."

Although William Marshall was primarily well-known as a distinguished stage actor (and as the King Of Cartoons on Pee-Wee's Playhouse in the 80s), he said in a late 1990s interview "I daresay the vast majority of people don't go to the theatre, so I don't mind that I'm still so strongly identified with Blacula. I did enjoy Blacula to a great extent. Early on, young black people who didn't know my name would yell at me on the street 'Mamuwalde... hey, Mamuwalde!" It was especially pleasing that I was being called by the African name I gave the character. I asked one young fan 'Who do you think I am?' He said, quoting from the nightclub scene, 'you know, you're the Strange Dude!'"

Overall, this is a good film, although you might find it amateurish the first time you see it (especially the green masks for the vampires at the beginning), but on second watching and beyond it gets better. Despite lapses into cheese, highly recommended.

4 POWS out of 5

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Rage Against The Machine

Rage Against The Machine are dope as fuck. Their first album is amazing.

Anyway, everyone's caught up in the hype of whether or not Rage will beat Joe McfuckinElderry to number 1 in the UK this year. I think it'd be funny if they did. But I digress.

Big up to Jones Family member Ben Askew for putting me on to this via facebook - skip forward to about 9 minutes. Then wait for the inevitable. Then listen carefully to about 9.13. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

By the way, in case you missed it, it's FUNNY. People taking it too seriously really need to grow up.

Sample youtube comment:


What are you, 6? Get the fuck over it. Tryhards like yourself and the rest of the idiots buying into this Anti X-Factor campaign make me ashamed to be a Rage fan, you're just as much of a sheep than the people who go out and buy the X-Factor single every year, shameful.
HAHAHA! Funny as fuck. You kids today are fucking clueless sheep tbh. Go buy your shitty singles, pay to vote for some shitty insignificant show and then best of all have a pissy rant on YouTube about how those over 30 are all "fakers" whatever the fuck that means. None of you smacktards obvisouly LISTENED to the interview before hand or took one ounce of what they were saying in.
What's gay about it?

They allowed Rage to come onto their show and say what they wanted and then they went and swore pre-watershed after they explicitly asked them not to. Maybe in your pre-pubescent little world that might be hilarious but in the real world that's pretty fucking low.


This shit is priceless. I wasn't going to get involved, but yeah.... the hell with it. Go and buy Killing In The Name Of. It's currently at number 1 in iTunes. It'll be a laugh, anyway.

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I just re-registered with iTunes after my card got rejected over the summer, and bought Killing In The Name. HAHAHA. Fuck McElderry and the X Factor.


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Finally, Exhibit C is here.

Wow, it's been a LONG time coming!

You may remember me raving about this a few weeks back, it finally came out today. Amazing stuff.

JAY ELECTRONICA / JUST BLAZE - "Exhibit C" (final version)

Complete Lyrics:

When I was sleeping on the train
Sleeping on Meserole Ave out in the rain
Without even a single slice of pizza to my name
Too proud to beg for change mastering the pain
When New York niggas was calling Southern rappers lame
But then jackin our slang
I used to get dizzy spells, hear a little ring
The voice of a angel telling me my name
Telling me that one day I'mma be a great man
Transforming with the MegatronDon spittin out flames
Eatin wack rappers alive, shittin out chains
I ain't believe it then, nigga I was homeless
Fightin, shootin dice, smoking weed on the corners
Tryna find the meaning of life in a corona
Till the 5 percenters rolled up on a nigga and informed him.
- "You either build or destroy, where you come from?"
- "The Magnolia projects in the 3rd ward slum"
- "Hmm, its quite amazing that you rhyme how you do
And that you shine like you grew up in a shrine in Peru."

Question 14 Muslim lesson 2
Dip diver, civilize a 85er
I make the devil hit his knees and say the Our Father
Abracadabra! You rockin with the true and living
Shout out to Light Out, Joseph I, Chewy Bivens,
Shout out to Baltimore, Baton Rouge, my crew in Richmond
While y'all debated who the truth was like Jews and Christians
I was on Cecil B, Broad St, Master,
North Philly, South Philly, 23rd, Tasker
6 Mile, 7 Mile, Hartwell, Gratiot
Where niggas really would pack a U-Haul truck up
Put the high beams on drive up on the curb at a barbeque and hop up out the back like "What's up?"
Kill a nigga, rob a nigga, take a nigga, buss up
Thats why when you talk that tough talk I never feel ya
You sound real good and you play the part well but the energy you givin off is so unfamiliar
I dont feel ya.
(We need something realer!)

Nas hit me up on the phone said "What you waitin on"
Tip hit me up with a twitt said "What you waitin on"
Diddy sent me texts every hour on the dot sayin "When you gon drop that verse nigga, you takin long"
So now I'm back spittin that He-could-pass-a-polygraph
That Reverend-Run-rockin-Adidas-out-on-Hollis-Ave
That F.O.I.-Marcus-Garvey-Nikki-Tesla
I shock you like a eel, Electric Feel, Jay Electra.

They call me Jay Electronica
Fuck that, call me Jay Elec-Hannukah
Jay Elec-Yarmulke
Jay Elect-Ramadan Muhammad Asalaam-ica, RasoulAllah Supana Wataallah through your monitor
My Uzi still weigh a ton, check the barometer
I'm hotter than the mothafuckin sun, check the thermometer
I'm bringing ancient mathematics back to modern man
My momma told me "never throw a stone and hide your hand"
I got a lot of family, you got a lot of fans
That's why the people got my back like the Verizon man
I play the back and fade to black and then devise a plan
Out in London, smoking, vibin while I ride the tram
Givin out that raw food to lions disguised as lambs
And... by the time they get they seats hot
And deploy all their henchmen to come at me from the treetops
I'm chilling out at 3-Stop, building by the millions
...My light is brilliant.


Just Blaze absolutely kills it. I could have sworn it was a Dilla beat. Jay Electronica absolutely SMASHES this.


Cop it from iTunes, it's out NOW. There's a big push to get this SOLD rather than downloaded for free, so do the right thing and pay for it. It's not often that you get a chance to genuinely support an artist by helping them blow up, so take the time to pay!

Here's Just Blaze's take on it (from Twitter):

"Hey guys. I'm not 1 2 knock anyones hustle. But ths 1 time I do ask respectfully if ppl cn take dn the links 2 exhibit c. My stuff has bn posted before & I nevr say anything (unless it's an unfinished version, that drives me crazy lol). But I think we cn all agree that ths record is pretty special. It's not even abt the $$ so much, Im not making a ton of $ on ths, it's just abt allowing a gr8 indie record 2 get a real shot (and mayB picked up by a major distributor) & supporting the artists who put their hard work in2 ths. Do I expect ths 2 sell a million copies? No. But on the same token, most ppl who R gonna grab it (legit or non legit) R gonna do it the 1st day or 2 & then it'll trickle dn from thr. Just how it goes. So it's not even abt 1st week numbers w/ ths 1, It's more abt the 1st day or 2. Hopefully it does cont 2 grow organically as it as, despite the high number of downloads I'm alrdy seeing. Anyhow, anyone who did buy it thank U from the bottom of my heart, & anyone who dnt, I hope U do. It's only a buck! :) Album coming soon! Kinda... I hope. (Dear moleskine anyone?)"


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Some funny stuff

MASSIVE props to Paulo for putting me onto this one.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Truth back on the battle scene. WHOAH.

Truth absolutely RIPPING IT at "Don't Flop", Brighton. Serious. I know he's my boy and all that, and he definitely gets the Jones Family backing, but he absolutely murders the other fella. Don't trust me, check it for yourself.

Remember to leave a comment on the youtube page.

Biggup to Eurgh for hosting and hooking the night up to start with.

POW. Eat that. Truth = win.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Millionaires By Morning

Truthio (extended Stupid Fresh Radio fam) is in a band. Here at Jones HQ we're well into our nepotism, so I'm bigging it up on this here blog. Mwahahahahaaaaaa.

Truth's band is called Millionaires By Morning. The other members are DJ Shumzs (another member of the extended Stupid Fresh Radio fam), Carnell Cook (singing and that), Gilead Walters (drummer), Wes Holdsworth (guitar), Duncan Stewart (bass), and Sam Holdsworth (keybooooooooooooooard).

They did a gig a week or so ago at The Blue Room in McGintys (Ipswich).

Here's film of one of their tracks: Pass That.


Friday, 4 December 2009

My Christmas Mixtape - Free Download!

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Well, I put this together last year as a limited edition CD thing, and although I've been hassled to do a follow up, I think I'll wait til next year instead of rushing it.
So here's the original:


It's hosted by Sir Smurf Lil, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, the cast of Family Guy, Ashley Banks, Will Smith and Uncle Phil.

Don't be put off by the Christmas theme - it's made up of the best Christmas tracks in the history of old school hip hop, soul, funk, reggae, calypso, dub, R+B and gangsta rap. And there's a bit of Paul McCartney dropped in as well.

Holla if you want a tracklist.


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Hip Hop High School

Well, still not feeling great. But I found these pics courtesy of DJ Vlad (you know, the fella who did the Rap Phenomenon mix CDs with DJ Dirty Harry). If you like the look of these, check out his blog, there's Biggie, Nelly, Puff, Andre 3000 and loads more (over 30 at last count).

(Remember, some of em might seem geeky, but we were pretty much ALL forced into putting our best on and grinning for mum's mantelpiece of her "little darling", so let's not criticise.)


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Seriously, check out DJ Vlad's blog - LOADS of dope stuff on there.

POW. I'm off back to bed. See if I can shake off this bloody hot and cold feeling.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

DJ Ready Red + Chuck D

So, over at Hip Hop Gods they've got an interview with Prophet-Of-Rage Chuck D and ex-Geto-Boy / All-Round-Great-Dude DJ Ready Red.



Saturday, 21 November 2009

Exhibit A

Version 1

Version 2

I'm preferring the samples in the first version, but the fade-out of the second version is dope as hell.


I spit that wonder rhymer shit, me and my conglomerates
shall remain anonymous, caught up in the finer shit
Get that type of media coverage Obama get, spit that Kurt Vonnegut
That blow your brain, Kurt Cobain, that Nirvana shit
Who gon' bring the game back? Who gon' spit that Ramo on the train tracks?
That gold rope, that 5 finger ring rap?
Runnin with my same pack, you can find the Christ where the lepers and the lames at
Life is like a dice game
One roll can land you in jail or cuttin’ cake, blowin kisses in the rice rain
Nice whip, nice chain, a closet of skulls
the stench is like slave blood in Providence Hall
Yeah, they built my city on top of a grave
nigga die, nigga get high and watch the parade
Back then the early 90’s "Where they at, where they at, get the gat, get the gat" was a popular phrase
Bally animals and rugbys was a popular craze
This the vivid memoirs of a obnoxious slave
I pave ways like Nat and Harriet
I blast on Judas Iscariot
and peel off in a chariot
I'm sittin pretty spittin flames, grippin grains
ain’t a damn thing changed

They say "Candyman, Candyman spit me a dream"
blow a chunk of the levy out and spit me a stream
knock a man house down and build a casin’
a two thousand dollar government check from FEM'
I swam down shits creek and came up clean
with a new lease on life like Andy Dufresne
It's the most poetical, Nat King Unforgettable
Clarence 13X Allah's rhapsody from Bellevue
I'm splittin atoms, spittin flames, bringin change
things’ll never be the same
I got the rap game singin "At Last" like Etta James
Lames get they plane shot down like John Mccain
It’s a dream, it’s a dream
the flow's elegant like Miss Coretta Scott King
A lotta Kings seen death and turned Queen
crack they 24 inch rims in the ravine
respect the architect, never test the Elohim
Good night, this is Jay Elect live from New Orleans


Thursday, 19 November 2009

Dubplates? Try The Carvery.

Props to Truth aka Mr Reggie Rhythm for passing this little nugget on. It's from Spine TV (props!), whe went to visit Frank & Roy at the Carvery in Hackney, East London.

Check them out properly here.


Wow, it's been a LONG time since I've been all shouty and laughing out loud in admiration at a track, listening to it over and over again while I try to learn the words, but my GAWD this is amazing. It's been hanging about for a couple of weeks as a radio rip... when's the proper version dropping? MASSIVE props to Truth for putting me on to it a couple of weeks back. (I've been so busy - hence the lack of updates - that I've slept on this track until tonight.)



When I was sleeping on the train
Sleeping on Meserole Ave out in the rain
Without even a single slice of pizza to my name
Too proud to beg for change mastering the pain
When New York niggas was calling Southern rappers lame
But then jackin our slang
I used to get dizzy spells, hear a little ring
The voice of a angel telling me my name
Telling me that one day I'mma be a great man
Transforming with the MegatronDon spittin out flames
Eatin wack rappers alive, shittin out chains
I ain't believe it then, nigga I was homeless
Fightin, shootin dice, smoking weed on the corners
Tryna find the meaning of life in a corona
Till the 5 percenters rolled up on a nigga and informed him.

- "You either build or destroy, where you come from?"
- "The Magnolia projects in the 3rd ward slum"
- "Hmm, its quite amazing that you rhyme how you do
And how you shine like you grew up in a shrine in Peru."

Question 14 Muslim lesson 2
Dip diver, civilize a 85er
I make the devil hit his knees and say the Our Father
Abracadabra! You rockin with the true and living
Shout out to Light Out, Joseph I, Chewy Bivens,
Shout out to Baltimore, Baton Rouge, my crew in Richmond
While y'all debated who the truth was like Jews and Christians
I was on Cecil B, Broad St, Master,
North Philly, South Philly, 23rd, Tasker
6 Mile, 7 Mile, Hartwell, Gratiot
Where niggas really would pack a U-Haul truck up
Put the high beams on drive up on the curb at a barbeque and hop up out the back like "What's up?"
Kill a nigga, rob a nigga, take a nigga, buss up
Thats why when you talk that tough talk I never feel ya
You sound real good and you play the part well but the energy you givin off is so unfamiliar
I dont feel ya.
(We need something realer!)

Nas hit me up on the phone said "What you waitin on"
Tip hit me up with a twitt said "What you waitin on"
Diddy sent me texts every hour on the dot sayin "When you gon drop that verse nigga, you takin long"
So now I'm back spittin that He-could-pass-a-polygraph
That Reverend-Run-rockin-Adidas-out-on-Hollis-Ave
That F.O.I.-Marcus-Garvey-Nikki-Tesla
I shock you like a eel, Electric Feel, Jay Electra.

They call me Jay Electronica
Fuck that, call me Jay Elec-Hannukah
Jay Elec-Yarmulke
Jay Elect-Ramadan Muhammad Asalaam-ica, RasoulAllah Supana Wataallah through your monitor
My Uzi still weigh a ton, check the barometer
I'm hotter than the mothafuckin sun, check the thermometer
I'm bringing ancient mathematics back to modern man
My momma told me "never throw a stone and hide your hand"
I got a lot of family, you got a lot of fans
That's why the people got my back like the Verizon man
I play the back and fade to black and then devise a plan
Out in London, smoking, vibin while I ride the tram...


Just Blaze absolutely kills it. I could have sworn it was a Dilla beat. Jay Electronica absolutely SMASHES this.




It kills it that there's more than one person shouting out the lyrics, hahahaha.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

World's First DJ Battle

The sound is a bit hammered (they could have tried harder) but this is pretty dope.

Big up DJ Buddy Love for posting this up over at the Serato Forum.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

RA The Rugged Man

RA The Rugged Man = one of the top ten MCs ever. Amazing. Also very opinionated.

I don't agree with his argument about Kanye, but RA kills it the same way as he did with Floyd Mayweather a few days back (here and here).


Tuesday, 27 October 2009

London Posse: Roughneck Chronicles Part 1: 1985-1988

Since this article was originally written (based on interviews and articles by other people) I have spoken to/emailed/interviewed Sparkii, Dobie, No Sleep Nigel, Erroll Bull, DJ Devastate and MC Mell'O'. Thank you all for your time and patience in answering my questions and taking time out of your days to get back to me. Nuff respect due. Sparks – you started it all off. Thanks man.
The major (online) sources are listed at the end. I've tried to be as accurate as I can, but if there's anything glaringly obvious that I've missed or got twisted, let me know. Massive props to the various writers for Hip Hop Connection, whose back issues I have pillaged for a lot of the interviews with Rodney P and Bionic at various stages of their career, and Mark 563 for some of the article scans.

NOTE 1: I've marked internet sources for interviews with a hyperlinked "i" after each extract I've taken so the sources themselves get more traffic as a result of this page. MAD props to you if I've used your article, interview or personal recollection as a source - thank you for your effort and for posting it up on the net. I hope this blog brings more people to your site. Let me know (in the comments section) if anything needs adjusting.

NOTE 2: I've taken the liberty of breaking it into three parts to make it easier for you to read. When you get to the end of one section, click on the hyperlink in order to move to the next section.

Part 1 - 1985-1988 - you are here.
Part 2 - 1989-1992 is HERE.
Part 3 - 1992-1996 is HERE.

Pride's original London Posse logo

London Posse were one of the most influential groups in British hip hop, and one of the first to sound authentically British. Pretty much everyone who MCs now in the UK owes them a debt, from Roots Manuva to Jehst to Wiley to Ghetto to Skinnyman to...well, you name your favourite UK rapper, or anyone who raps in his or her own accent about things that are local to them, and it'll be pretty much down to the London Posse's trailblazing series of classic (but sporadic) releases in the 80s and 90s.
So if you've not heard of them, read fact, if you HAVE heard of them, read on anyway. They are one of those groups that a shadow of legend has grown around, and although their only album was slept on by the general public at large when it was first released, it grew and grew in stature until it became something that was spoken of in almost hushed, reverent tones. And to add to the mystique, it was almost impossible to find for many years until it was re-released on Wordplay Records in 2001. (Tru Thoughts reissued it again in 2013.) Despite that, they have been massively influential to nearly every UK hip hop act that has picked up a microphone in these fair isles, and as a consequence have left a legacy that still permeates the UK scene to this day. Here is their story.

Key Figures:
Rodney P - London Posse MC
Bionic - London Posse MC
DJ Biznizz - DJ
Sparkii - Producer
Dobie - Producer
MC Mell'O' - MC
No Sleep Nigel - Engineer
Basil Pepperpot - B-Boy
Mode 2 - Graffiti Artist
Fabio - Producer / Covent Garden head
Tim Westwood - DJ / Radio Presenter

The London Posse's original line-up c.1987, at Leicester Square Tube Station
(l-r: Rodney P, Bionic, Sipho The Human Beatbox, DJ Biznizz)


The London Posse have their roots in a larger UK Hip Hop scene that emerged in the early 1980s. They had allegiances with with the Covent Garden scene and the sound system culture that had emerged in the late 1970s – Covent Garden being the meeting place for what would become the nucleus of the London Hip Hop scene. It was the place in the country's capital where breakers, fledgling DJs and future MCs all mixed together and played off each other. B-boy battles regularly took place and friendships – and rivalries – formed between different cliques. MC Mell'O' ran with both Rodney and Bionic in the mid 80s; Basil Pepperpot (aka Basil Liverpool) was a B-Boy in Covent Garden; Sparkii was a known Covent Garden face and produced much of the early London Posse output; Mode 2 is a legendary Grafitti artist; Fabio was a Covent Garden face who went on to Drum + Bass fame. Together, their stories fill in the early days.

Covent Garden, 1985

Mell'O': "I was in a poppin’ crew with Basil Liverpool, aka Basil Pepperpot; Doran, aka the hardest hit in the popping world; and Bionic who would go on to be part of London Posse. We started off as the 52 Flash Kru, which was a Wandsworth Road / Battersea-based crew, then that grew into SAS, which was the South London All Stars. Cutmaster Swift was one of our best breakers! It was a massive crew."i
Basil Pepperpot: “Covent Garden in the early 1980s was no Bronx, but was the Hip Hop Mecca in England. People from up and down the country were coming to London which was the hub of activity for this new found underground culture. The culture was spreading like wildfire... There were names and crews that were considered dangerous to battle, at the time, underground celebrities like, Dolby D, Mark Monero, Danny Francis, Dennis Charles, Cutmaster Swift, Billy a.k.a Spider a.k.a D.J Biznizz, Pete Pervez, Flipski, Halit, Scotty, Milton and the amazing Breaker King. These names and plenty of others circulated around Covent to remind you of your position; if you had one. Crew names were also a form of tension at that time. Zulu Rockers, Popping Wizards, Sidewalk, S.A.S, Rock City, Broken Glass, Live 2 Pop, Live 2 Break, London All Stars were merely a few of the crews in and outside of London that were making a lot of noise.”i
Sparkii: “There was a small contingent of b-boys from East London, a very small amount, but we did a lot of damage. Bionic was a breaker. That's his breaking name. He's been Bionic since I was at least 14. I've been Sparkii since I was 13. That's my name, my popping name.”
Mode 2: “The scene was on such a buzz during that early summer (of 1984), even before Subway Art, Breakin', and Beat Street. We had Tim Westwood on LWR every Wednesday night, Spats on Saturday from midday until three, then of course Covent Garden itself, Leicester Square at night, and the underground walkways around Charing Cross station, especially the bit by a restaurant called The Tappit Hen, as it had the dark glass in the reflection of which guys were practicing their dance-steps.”i

Even back then, Tim Westwood was starting to have influence on the burgeoning UK Hip Hop scene, steeped as it was in confrontation and one-up-manship.

Spats flyer from 1986 i

Fabio: “People diss Tim Westwood but that guy was in it from dot man. And he changed the game. He stopped playing the souly kind of things and went full steam into electro. Used to go to Spats, Saturday afternoon. People would be breaking, we were into the Wildstyle thing, all of that shit. (It was) in Oxford St, just opposite 100 Club. Where Plastic People was. Little hovel downstairs. Wicked little space. great dancefloor and stuff.”ii
Basil Pepperpot: “Tim Westwood used to have a column in Blues and Soul called Zulu Message, as well as a radio show on L.W.R (London Weekend Radio). He would write in his column or announce on his show that such and such were going to battle at his next gig, and being a form of Don King within the corridors of Hip Hop, he would get the numbers he was after, to create a buzz at his gigs. Everyone was happy, you and your crew got your name out there and Westwood got his punters.”i

Westwood DJing at Spats, 1985

Sparkii: "Westwood... we used to go to Westwood at Spats every weekend, we used to listen to his radio show and give in the dedications on the Saturday, and he was the guy that used to read everybody's names wrong. Still does. He couldn't just say Sparkii, he had to say "Yeah, and this one's going out to my man Sparkii Ski". And it just stuck. But my actual name is just Sparkii, you know what I'm saying? I did the electric boogaloo, I was fascinated with electronic gadgets, I trained as a theatre electrician, and anything electronic got me. Sparks, Sparkii, you know what I'm saying. But Ski? That's a Westwood-ism. Monie Love made it law when she put it out on that first record. "Sparkii Ski.... for me". And even that, she knew I hated it when Westwood used to do it every week. You'd have Sparkii Ski, Sparky D, Sparky Sparks... it's SPARKII, Westwood, you know what I mean? But that's been my name from dot. "

There was a specific crew of London MCs and DJs who all lived in close proximity to one another who would go on to work together over the next few years.
Sparkii: “Sipho and DJ Pogo were best friends. I live in the middle of where Sipho's house and Pogo's house is. We're all from the same area. I knew of Sipho as well. Sipho was a popper. Mell'O' knew Monie cos they all lived on the same estate. Mell'O' lived at the back of it - Battersea Park Estate - his road leaned onto the back of it. Rodney was along the front of it, a little bit further down. There was two tower blocks - Cutmaster Swift lived in one block with his brother Storm, from No Parking MCs, which was his group. The next block of flats was where Simone lived, Monie Love. She was the youngest out of that crew. Mell'O' introduced us to her and then me and Pogo realised that we actually knew her before - we'd met her in Covent before she went to America. She knew Rodney before she went, cos they all used to hang out in Battersea youth clubs when they were really young. Everyone knew each other and they all lived in blocks on streets that were parallel. It ended up that we had this unit where everybody knew everybody.
What happened anyway, me and Pogo, we decided we were going to up our business, build a crew, and we were going to get an MC. Poges was really cool with Rodney in the Covent scene, well, we was all cool with everybody. But basically, he wanted to get Rodney. Rodney had just got taken into London Posse by Sipho.”


Pre-London Posse flyer from December 1985 with Sipho (underlined)

Sipho was a local celebrity on the Covent scene – not only was he a popper, he was a prodigious human beatbox. Along with DJ Pogo, he had been featured in a teen magazine “Day In The Life” style feature on Hip Hop.

Sparkii: “You know the girly magazine Jackie? They used to do these photo stories back in the day, they did "A Day In The Life Of A Hip Hopper" in 1982 and it was based around Sipho. Cos he did modelling and things like that. It started off with "We're going to Upton Park to meet Sipho. Sipho is a b-boy." And it showed him getting ready. "He's going to meet his friend." And he goes to Pogo's house, picks up Pogo, they go to Covent Garden.... it's all pictorial, the day in the life style. This Jackie shit was like 82, 83. It was Jackie, or My Girl, or one of them. ”

Sipho's agent was getting him modelling gigs, due to his “baby-faced” looks - “He was the youngest out of us all, and the baby-faced one,” says Sparkii, “so people used to notice him more.”
In addition to this, Sipho had performed in Mike Allen's classic "Electrorock" documentary on the UK Hip Hop scene from 1985, as part of “Bass And Treble” with his beatboxing partner, Gary Washington-Thomas. Sipho was a known face on a scene that was suddenly exploding. A lot of the Covent Garden crew were making good money b-boying, and b-boys such as MC Mell'O' were performing alongside acts such as Shalamar at the Hammersmith Palais. Indeed, Sparkii sites Mell'O' as “one of the top five breakers in the country”, which was no mean feat considering the talent that was springing from the Covent scene.

It was his striking and confident performance in “Electrorock” that caught the attention of the ever-experimental Mick Jones and Don Letts of the genre-blending Big Audio Dynamite. Sipho was approached to perform on their track "C'Mon Every Beatbox", an updating of Eddie Cochran's rock-n-roll classic “C'Mon Everybody”, which featured on their 1986 album “Number 10 Upping Street”. Fast-forward to "the end of 86", according to Bionic. As a result of “C'Mon Every Beatbox”, Sipho was asked to go on tour with BAD, to support them in the UK and US.
In the UK leg of the tour, he would be supporting Big Audio Dynamite alongside Schoolly D and DJ Code Money, but the offer also included going to the US to support BAD there as well.

Sipho asked his friends Rodney Panton (aka MC Rodie Rok, later known as Rodney P, who back then was MCing with MC Mell'O'), Jeff Tetteh (aka Bionic, who had been MCing as a reggae MC, and had been part of a body-popping crew with MC Mell'O' called the 52 Flash Kru) and Billy Ntimh (aka DJ Biznizz, aka Spider B) to go along with him for the UK AND the US 86-87 tour.
All four knew each other, or at the least were aware of each other, before going on tour.
Rodney and Bionic were friendly in the early days on a mutual acquaintance level - as Rodney remembers it, "Bionic, he used to know my bigger brothers. It was just like through mutual friends."

Mell'O' and Bionic used to go to the Anti-Apartheid 3A (AAA) nights organised by Jerry Dammers from The Specials, with other like-minded friends in tow (like Rodney - "cos we all moved together.") "It was like warehouse parties playing funk, rare groove, Hip-Hop and sometimes a bit of reggae and roots," says Mell'O', who took the mic for the first time at that venue. "That’s the first place that I went to and held the mic properly in a public place with people around. That was the night I realised I’m built for this shit. From then that was it, there was no looking back."

MC Mell'O'

Mell'O': "Bionic was there. He grabbed the mic too. Now, HE might say that's not the first time he grabbed the mic or suttin, all I know is, I was close to Bionic. We used to rave together, dance together, move together, and that's the first time I ever saw him hold a mic as well. But, like myself, he was absolutely ready, you know... it was ready time."
Rodney: “I used to body-pop, I used to break dance and I used to rap – it was hip hop man, we did all of it. I heard the Sugarhill Gang on Top of The Pops in the early 80's. The Sugarhill Gang came out back in the day… Everyone I know knows the words to that record [Rapper’s Delight]. We knew it word for word and then we were all rapping. We started changing the words here and there, it was a fun ting.”

Rodney, Sparkii and DJ Pogo were already close enough for Rodney to be one of the few to go to Sparkii's house and hear his beats.

Sparkii: “I was quite happy making beats for Rodney. Rodney used to come and work with me. I used to allow certain people to my house cos I had equipment, only the trusted few, cos Covent was rough. Just Pogo, me, Mell'O', Swift, Rodney, Monie. And another guy that never gets mentioned, Reinforced Gus. Then Rodney went off with them (London Posse), which left us with a bit of a problem. I was always jealous that Rodney was with London Posse. He was such a nice guy, and I loved his flow... I'm talking even when he was Rodie Rok, with the American accent.”

Out of the two MCs, Bionic's toasting style of MCing was particularly noteworthy, unsurprising given his past as a reggae MC, whereas Rodney was more of a hip hop head.
"Early days there was a bigger divide in our music", Rodney said in an interview with HHC in 2007. "I would bring the hip hop, Bionic would bring the reggae," which led to a natural meshing of the reggae and hip hop styles that reflected the state of London sound systems at the time.

Bionic: "I do it in my own style, I was a reggae MC before so I still chat reggae lyrics but in a Yardie accent and I use my own cockney accent."
Sparkii: “Bionic was never nothing else. He was a Cockney reggae MC! You can't disguise that! He didn't want to fake the Jamaican. He's got pure integrity in that sense, you have to rate that.”

Rodney got his influences from the heavyweights - “everyone from LL Cool J to Run DMC to KRS One” - but none of the three necessarily saw themselves making a career out of music. They were b-boys or budding MCs or DJs practising in their bedrooms. Indeed, Rodney was two weeks into a YTS computer course when Sipho asked him to tour.

Rodney: “It was an eye-opener. It was an education, but it was more of a party for me cos I was really a kid in them days. When we started doing them things I was still in school, the second (leg of the) tour I had just left school.”
Sparkii: “We all used to hang out in one of the homeless shelters slash youth clubs attached to the West End. If it was rainy or cold or we was bored, there was a place called the Centre. They've got a few of them around the city and they've got one next to St Martin on the Fields. We all used to hang out there. There was a generation of Covent Garden people and Leicester Square people used to hook up there. They had a hall, had a dance studio, had a gym, I used to play in a band that used to go there, there was a little band rehearsal room and everything, right next to Martins on the Field. Still there. Called the Centre.”
Rodney: “Round the back of St Martins, St Matthews, or whatever, Yeah, that was round for years. That was like a youth club, used to be the hip hop kids on one side and the skinheads on the other. It was a strange mix in that place, strange mix. Those were some volatile days.”
Sparkii: “So we used to hang in there. Well, when I say we *all* used to, I mean anybody that's anybody who used to hang in Covent would be there in the evenings. (Then) Sipho said he was going to take them man out on the road.”
Rodney: “We were just all mates really. I'd met Bionic, I'd met Sipho, we all kind of knew each other. Sipho was going on tour with Big Audio Dynamite and we was at Mick Jones's house. He had a little studio in the basement, we was down there doing our thing so we said 'yeah, we'll come on the tour'. They needed a group, they needed more than just a beatbox, so we said we'd do it. We didn't have a name or anything.”
Bionic: "It was Sipho who got asked to go on tour with Mick Jones and them. He asked the rest of us to go along with him, but it was him they wanted."
Sparkii: “It fell on them. It really did. I was one of the only ones who was thinking of being a musician and doing it as a career, but I'd been on that before hip hop. The others, it was just something you did. You did that, you got girls, it was a laugh. Next thing you're in a youth club, Sipho comes in and says "you want to come on tour with Big Audio Dynamite"? And they say "Who are they?" I'm like "You don't know who they are? Oh my GOD!" Honestly. I knew who they were, you know what I mean?"
Rodney: “We just linked on a bredrin vibe and we got lucky.”

To give you a flavour of what they were doing at the time, here's a short chunk taken from an Irish TV show called 'Megamix' (courtesy of DJ Mek). This clip was filmed at The Cathedral Club, probably from October / November 86. It's the group in its very earliest form - Sipho and Bionic rocking the crowd with an infectious interplay, with no reference to Rodney or Billy Biznizz. Notice Sipho's large contribution to the live routines, and Bionic's easy and confident manner with the crowd - as the man himself says, "When I did shows I was a crowd man".



The group's experience of the USA after the UK part of the BAD tour was massively influential; not only for exposure, on-stage experience and influence on their style, but on their name.

Rodney: “When we finished the (UK leg of the) tour, they were going to America and we just kinda said 'fuck it', borrowed some money here, borrowed a bit of money there, and we went to the states.”

While over in New York in Christmas of 86 the group didn't have an official name, but because they were constantly referred to as the "London Posse" because of their place of origin, it started to stick so they kept it. According to Rodney, "we were out in New York and we’d just come off the tour with Big Audio Dynamite. Everyone was saying, have you heard about the London Posse? But it wasn’t ‘til we were about to do a show and the guy was like, I want to put you on the flyers, but we need a name... It was a quick second thing; we just said ‘The London Posse’."

They took part in cyphers while they were out there, and although the temptation for Rodney P was to rap in an American accent, if he did and then talked in his normal cockney accent afterwards, it was seen as fake by the Americans. This led to the decision to permanently rap in his own accent, i something Bionic was already doing and a decision that would influence an entire generation of MCs that followed the group's example.

Rodney: “When I started rapping, I started rapping in an American accent, like everyone else, as a fan of the music, following my favourite rapper. I used to go to America a lot with my mum when I was a kid. Me and Bionic would go to America and the first thing you'd discover, when you're in a cypher out there was that rapping in an American accent and killing it and then stopping and being like 'alright mate,' they'd just look at you. So we learnt that the best way to stay noticed was to use what you got. And we bought that philosophy home before we started making records.”
Bionic: "I don’t use an American accent or nuttin’, that’s what’s keeping English people back, rapping in American accents.”
Sparkii: “Rodney said, he just realised, “I've got to talk to these people, and I'm gong to feel like an idiot, rapping American and talking Cockney.” They literally got off the plane with English lyrics - well, Rodney did, Jeff was always on that.”
No Sleep Nigel: "Bionic was the first person who didn't care that he sounded British. He's a one off, and the first as well. He began the process that ended with Lily Allen! (laughs)"

Even though the two MCs had undeniable skills and they were part of a crew with a superb beatboxer and a great DJ, it wasn't easy to be accepted in the States, although they did garner some interest as potential recording artists.

Bionic: “When we first went to New York, we got offered to make tunes with Full Force and Howie Tee, but we didn't want to distress ourselves although there was big money being offered.”

The fact that they used their own accents and rapped about their own backgrounds instead of adopting mid-Atlantic themes and styles worked in their favour.

Bionic: “In New York you get the black man taking the piss. 'Oh, you're English, you all want to be like us.' And it's true. So-called British hip hop is nothing but an emulation of American hip hop. As long as you're British and you're rapping American, you'll never be as big as American rappers. Neither will you have their respect.”
Rodney: "What they (the Americans) liked was when man said "Awrroight darlin, awrroight love, scuse me miss, do you know the way to..." you know? And that would just stop the whole road. Everyone would talk to me. But even that came from Saxon Sound. Saxon used to always be in an argument about "we're English-Jamaican reggae artists doing deejay work, but we're not Jamaican. Our ting is different." And that's where we come from - out of the sound system ting. So when we came into the hip hop thing, we came with that same dancehall ethics. Y'know, "I'm a hip hop artist and I love hip hop, but I'm English and I'm representing where I'm from, I'm south London." So it was really just us taking the UK dancehall ethic and putting it on hip hop."

TRIVIA NOTE: During their time in NY, the Posse were there for the filming of the BDP "The Bridge Is Over" video, according to Rodney - "That's one of our claims to a place in hip hop history! I don't remember seeing no other English people there!"i - although it's hard to tell if they actually made the final cut or not. Play spot-the-London-Posse here.

One of the key aspects of the Posse when they started was the lack of desperation to get signed: it was fun. They were kids, they were meeting their heroes, they were doing what they loved. As Rodney has said more recently, "There was no conception that a decent career could be forged out of making music, especially in hip hop."

When they came back from the States in early 87, buzzing from hanging out with the hip hop elite (according to Rodney, luminaries such as Chuck D remarked on their admiration for the English / Jamaican slang they used), they "toured around the UK on our return. The first record deal came off the back of these initial gigs." (Rodney). In fact, Jazz Summers and Tim Parry of Big Life Records saw the group perform and offered them their first recording contract. The result of their recording sessions was the 12" "London Posse" backed with "My Beatbox Reggae Style", released in 1987.


Before we look at the "London Posse" 12", it's important to put the group's output into context with the UK scene as a whole. Other established acts like Kamanchi Sly, Mell'O', MC Duke, The Wild Bunch, Demon Boyz and Monie Love were performing regularly - Monie Love, for example, was part of the Juss Bad Crew with Mell'O and Sparkii.
The earliest UK Hip Hop record ("London Bridge Is Falling Down" by Newtrament) was released in the early 80s, but London Posse were trailblazers in the sense that their 12" was before Monie Love, MC Mell'O, MC Duke and the Demon Boyz: with the exception of The Cookie Crew, some Northern crews and Newtrament, they were the first to drop a bonafide hip hop track in English accents.

However, as Andy Brydon (co-curator of Urbis's 2009 exhibition "Homegrown: The Story Of UK Hip Hop") says, "Hip Hop didn’t arrive (in the UK) in a cultural wasteland: before the London Posse and The Demon Boyz, we had Smiley Culture. Before that, when DJs first picked up American Hip Hop records, they filled in the gaps with vinyl from their existing collections. So already, as soon as Hip Hop arrived in Britain, we had a different slant on the way the music was heard and understood here."

The London Posse, as already witnessed, were different from the other crews and MCs mentioned: for contemporary artists from that era, not only were they the first to have a UK Hip Hop release on wax, but they moved away from the norm, which was to rap with a US twang - which they consciously avoided (although Rodney had a vague mid-Atlantic twang, as we'll discuss later).
This didn't mean that the content was American, but definitely the accepted way of delivery was with a mid-Atlantic style flow. The Posse were very clearly not doing that - they were almost entirely British in output and attitude. Coming naturally from a mixture of reggae and hip hop, they were reflective of the British sound system culture that was prevalent at the time (you can also see this natural crossover between the two genres in sound system crews like Soul II Soul and the Wild Bunch). "People like Tenor Fly, sounds like Coxsone, Young Lion, Saxon Sound, Black Unity; they were really representing the youth," said Rodney in HHC #214. "We were listening to hip hop, but on the weekend we'd be in the dance, because that was the UK black vibes in them times - and we kinda really took that mentality, that philosophy an put it on hip hop." Bionic agrees: "We needed our own ting." For his part, Westwood has said "The thing with London Posse, they were rhyming in a UK accent as opposed to an American accent, which was really happening at that time. They were also talking in UK slang about a UK experience, so it’s great that this record came out."

What is also worth remembering is the influence that the punk and new wave movement had on the London Posse. Not just because of the connection they had with Big Audio Dynamite, but also because of the overall influence those genres had on a whole generation of UK kids from the 1970s, especially Bionic. Future London Posse producer Dobie remembers how that influence used to come out during recordings in later years.
Dobie: "Bionic was the punk rock of London Posse. They're both 70s and 80s kids, they've both got that in them. Even though they were Hip Hop kiddies, they were also little rudeboys. They were more rudeboys than b-boys, they'll even say it! Also, you got to look at what they come up in. They come up through punk rock, they come up through Mod music and Ska, so you got all those influences that had been part of them, part of their childhood. It's in em. All of those little influences are in there. You'd be in the studio with em and they'd be talking and Bionic'd be like 'I'm gonna drop my punk rock style.' And it's like Johnny Rotten vibes! He grew up with that!. He might not have been a punk rocker but he heard it and knew it!"
Future London Posse engineer No Sleep Nigel also sees the connection.
No Sleep Nigel: "Bionic had the connection with punk – he knows Paul Cook, obviously Mick Jones. Chatting with him, he recognises people like Ian Dury as influences. Ian Dury's first album, “New Boots And Panties”, although he sings, it's like a rapper's lyrics. It's got that vividness, that first person, he brings it alive in that same way. Bionic definitely rates him."

Sipho (in mirror) and Bionic, c.1987

As a consequence, the "London Posse" 12" was a real head-turner. The track starts with a sparse drum pattern, hi-hat and snare, and Biznizz cutting up the "clap your hands...people clap your hands" part of "The Hand Clapping Song" by the Meters. The bassline kicks in, and Bionic starts MCing in his trademark toasting style - "London Posse, we are the London Posse...." The track then breaks into a back and forth routine between Rodney and Bionic about their time over in New York, rapping about 42nd St, smoking dope and meeting "birds."

Bionic: We was walking with the sorts
Rodney: getting high
Bionic: while smoking /
Rodney: Stopped on the corner
Bionic: skinned a spliff
Rodney: started toking /
Bionic: Passed the birds a joint
Rodney: and the birds started choking /
Bionic: They said
Rodney: would you put coke in? We said "Nah you must be jokin" /
Bionic: (to the tune of London Bridge) Cos the London Posse we don't choke, we don't smoke, speed or coke, or the charlie or go broke, my fair lady...

The fluidity of the routine really shows how the two MCs worked together so well back then, complimenting each others' contrasting tones and styles. The mixture of Cockney / Jamaican accents, the sing-song version of "London Bridge Is Falling Down" and the use of British slang point to something entirely British in creation, with nearly no pretension to being American aside from the use of rap.
Saying that, sharp-eared listeners might hear a slight Atlantic-twang to Rodney's accent on this particularly Englishmen-In-New-York-themed record. As DJ Biznizz explains, "If you listen to our early stuff Rodney actually rapped on the very first record with a little bit of an American accent.”

Biznizz: "After the first record, Bionic was like 'nah man, we can only do the English thing, we're English kids, we want everyone to know we're English kids. When we go to New York, people look at us and say 'Wow, I love the way you talk', and that is what we're gonna promote, that is what we're gonna use to make us big'."

These two classic, groundbreaking and trailblazing tracks were "produced" by Tim Westwood - at least that's what it says on the sleeve. It's not massively clear how Westwood got involved with the London Posse (one unsubstantiated web-based account of the Westwood involvement is that he saw them supporting the Stereo MCs in Birmingham, and decided to reach out and work with them, but there is no solid proof of this), but Bionic provided the drum pattern on "London Posse", and DJ Biznizz lays claim to doing the rest.

Biznizz: "It was me that actually went into the studio, sampled the beats, put the beats together. Y'know, a guy called Brian 'Chuck' New helped with the bassline, cos he was a guy that used to use a SP1200 who helped Westwood with production, so... he done all the bassline and all that, but I told him exactly what to do. I sampled all the beats, put all the beats together, told him what we were going to have in the choruses and stuff." (a 2009 interview with Whoah TV)
Sparkii: “The thing is, in that era there, when you went to the studio to make a Hip Hop tune, if you was powerful and you had money and you were putting it out yourself, you'd be the producer. The group would come in with the records. Yeah, you'd have a bit of gear at home, but you weren't coming in with a TUNE. I would say they self-produced. Westwood didn't produce anything. Even that beat, it was Billy that took that Meters to the session. I remember they called me up and said "Sparki, you should come down here, these men can't work their things. It's taken like an hour just to loop a beat man.” With "London Posse", Billy and Jeff and Rodney did it. It's evident.”

Sipho rocking the crowd

The b-side "My Beatbox Reggae Style" was simply Sipho beatboxing, with Bionic rhyming his trademark fluid rhymes over the top and Biznizz cutting a reggae sample as the basic stab throughout the track. Bionic's classic delivery and lines mean that this was just as well received as the more conventional a-side, and some of his lines still seem killer today. The group were playing to their strengths - after all, it was Sipho who'd got them together, and in this track they created something that was easily as good as comparable tracks from Jazzy Jeff + The Fresh Prince ("Rock The House", with Ready Roc C), or even The Fat Boys ("The Original Human Beatbox"). Both of those groups had released those significant beatbox records in the preceding couple of years. The comparison to "Rock The House" is a particularly pertinent one as both that and "My Beatbox Reggae Style" feature routines with back and forth interaction between the beatbox and MC - in the case of Bionic and Sipho, Sipho breaks into an excellent version of the "Dallas" theme ("if my beatbox ever met JR Ewing / then this is the beat that Sipho would be doing"), and even raps between his own beat at one point, along with performing a pretty heavy-duty version of the "Pee-Wee Herman". This track is very likely to be the first UK hip hop track where an MC has been backed solely by a beatbox. Both tracks appeared (in shorter forms) in Westwood's Bad Meaning Good documentary (see clip below), more of which will be covered in a moment.

Sparkii: “"My Beatbox Reggae Style", that was stage routines that they had from years before, and it was BAD. It's a wicked recording, it's well-recorded, it stands the test of time. With Sipho doing the beatbox and the reggae bassline, that is one take, no overdubs. It's not like he did the beat and then went back and hummed over it. Look how long ago he was doing basslines and that shit. That was the stage routine. That's their stage show. When that came out, people knew those lyrics off by heart. Everybody knew Sipho could do Dallas.”

As that track is quite literally Sipho beatboxing, Bionic MCing and Biznizz scratching, how much production (as opposed to setting up the mic levels and pressing record) Westwood did is up for debate. Saying that, Westwood's involvement would have ensured a higher profile for the group, and wouldn't have hurt in getting a release on a label like Big Life.
Biznizz: "Tim Westwood's name was used by the owners of the record label because he was on the radio, and other such things. To have his name on there for them would be prestigious, it would allow the record to sell more...obviously they used Westwood's name cos they wanted that credit."

Billy Biznizz

Also credited on the sleeve is UK graf artist Pride, who did the "London Posse" tag used for this and the "Money Mad" single (credited as "Name Style"), made up of a fat style of writing punctured with bullet holes, and a target icon underneath. Nexus also gets a credit for designing the sleeve itself, which has a striking black and tan colour scheme. The single was released in late 1987 (#BLR 2T) and was well-received on the UK hip hop scene, although it didn't break the top 40. However, it did reach number 11 on the UK Independent Chart, and stayed on that chart for eleven weeks. The iconic cover was shot at Leicester Square tube station by Steve Double, and features all four original members at the top of an escalator. This was partially possible due to Yazz (a labelmate at Big Life), whose father was the manager of the station at the time, and as a result the Posse were allowed to "run riot" in the photo shoot.

Freestyle on Radio 1, October 87

In late October of 87 (the 24th, to be exact), the original line-up of MCs Rodie Rok and Bionic, Sipho The Human Beatbox and DJ Biznizz appeared on Janice Long's BBC Radio 1 Show, performing three (unreleased) tracks - two routines over KC + The Sunshine Band breaks (a freestyle over "I Get Lifted" and a routine called "We're The Dett" over "That's The Way I Like It") - and the beatbox based "We Rule".

In the same year Westwood had filmed a documentary for BBC TV called "Bad Meaning Good". It featured some amazing footage of UK hip hop artists such as DJ Fingers, MC Crazy Noddy, The Cookie Crew and (of course) the London Posse performing, sometimes to straight to camera, and sometimes in front of a crowd as part of a gig that Westwood set up in London.
It was produced as a response to the Arena documentary "Beat This - A Hip Hop History", narrated on-screen by Gary Byrd (in rhyme). That classic programme looked at hip hop's formative years in the USA, focusing on figures such as Bambaataa and Kool DJ Herc, and looking at hip hop's beginnings in New York's five boroughs.
Westwood's documentary, as a UK equivalent, aired on August 5th on BBC2, and featured footage of (amongst other things) Run-DMC performing at Brixton Academy, DJ Fingers skilfully cutting up Tom Jones and Isaac Hayes in his bedroom, clips of Bionic and Sipho performing "My Beatbox Reggae Style" in the back of Westwood's car, and all the UK artists performing at a jam that Westwood held in London - with the London Posse performing their title track in front of the crowd.

In an interview afterwards, the 17-year-old Rodney said "I write about life, reality, what happens in the street - things people can relate to. I'll be on a train and say to myself, yeah, I'll write a rhyme about that."
Bionic, then 19, stressed the importance of being British: "Everyone's trying to rap American and dress American... we're just ourselves. I rap in patois and in cockney. We use the words we use in everyday life. They've got their slang, we've got ours."i

London Posse didn't always have an easy ride with their home crowds though – at that point, they were one of the only UK acts to use their own accents, and to display an open reggae crossover influence. This was new – and it wasn't always accepted in a positive way. In Westwood's documentary, you can see the crowd standing, just watching Rodney, Bionic, Sipho and Biznizz performing.

Rodney: “There were acts before us but everyone was American sounding, copying what the Americans were doing. I would say, hand on heart, we were the first to come out on the hip hop scene doing our thing, which was the London ting. Representing us. In the early days people wasn't really that interested because we had reggae in the music. That's just being honest. We were some little south London boys, and that's what we grew up listening to. And cos we'd been to New York and saw that little English kids faking American accents doesn't work in America. They got a million American kids, So when we came back, people didn't want to hear it, they wanted hip hop to be this fantasy thing. They wanted to be out there on some Yankee, wanting to be LL Cool J ting. They didn't want to hear no reggae. They didn't want to hear no estate talk, but things kinda shifted that way.”

Flyer from a later gig at Queen Mary College, Mile End Road, December 18th, 1987

One person who saw the London Posse performing live in their early incarnation was Dobie, future Hip Hop producer and London Posse collaborator.
Dobie: “I've always been a London Posse fan, cos, you know, I'm an original London Town Hip Hop kid who used to see them back in the day doing shows at the Astoria, and stuff like that. I used to see them at jams and I remember seeing them at a jam in Holloway. The jam was on the rooftop of some building in Holloway one summer. I remember there being a good buzz about the jam and everybody knew London Posse were coming down to hold the mic. That was when Rodney was called MC Rodie Rok.”

Unfortunately, after the first single, the group suffered its first loss of personnel - Sipho decided to move on to take a job with fellow UK MC Derek B.
In addition to this, the record deal with Big Life fell through, leaving the Posse with no way of putting their music out or building on their new-found success. This could have been to do with the fact that there was record label pressure to compromise their sound.

Biznizz: "we didn't go in a commercial direction, which was a conscious choice because the record company kind of wanted us to do that, but (Bionic) and Rodney never wanted to do that. They always wanted to promote the UK with what they did."
Rodney: "We didn't make music for the audience, we made the music that we wanted to make."
Bionic: “Big Life tried to mess us about. We had dealings coming in from other interested companies but none of them were any good so we didn't bother. After we left Big Life we got solicitors to act as our managers. They went through the contracts we were offered. Nuff man's signing for peanuts, nuff man's in jail. We just said, let's take it easy until we come true.”

One more factor to add into the changing state of the group was that Biznizz was no longer quite as involved as he once was, although he was still having input into some aspects of beat-making and scratching. Amongst other activities and affiliations, he went on to be the mix-DJ for Westwood's Capitol Rap Show, which can't have hurt London Posse's exposure as obviously both men had been closely connected with the group from the early days.


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The group soldiered on, primarily as a duo. With the backing of Tim Westwood, who had been aware of them from back in the Covent Garden days, Rodney and Bionic recorded what would be a UK anthem – and, until “How's Life In London”, the record that would bring them the most recognition – the infamous "Money Mad". Another bass-heavy fusion of hip hop and reggae, this legendary track has several different accounts of its origins.

Sparkii: “When they came back from the states, 'The Bridge Is Over' was out, and there was also a tune by the 45 King and a guy called Latee called "This Cut's Got Flavor".
Rodney: “Money Mad” was inspired by another tune that was out at the time by Tenor Fly called “Pure Badness In The Inner Cities”. It was just a hip hop version of that really.”
Sparkii: "'Money Mad' is Latee being beatmixed with the reggae bassline. That's all it is. That's what they made. A lot of times for the shows, they would mix a Hip Hop record with a Reggae record or Sipho would do a Hip Hop beat and hum a reggae bassline. It was always about doing the two things together - literally, a mix. So, that's what they did, they used those two - I'm not too sure who bought what, but I'm pretty sure Biznizz bought the Hip Hop tune and then they did the mix.”
Westwood: "I produced 'Money Mad' with my man Chuck New."
Sparkii: “At that time, Bryan "Chuck" New and Westwood had got pally pally and Bryan "Chuck" New was the main man in England for mixing and mastering Jive/Zomba's stuff. It was cheaper to mix here and master here, so they used to record in New York and then come here to mix all of their artists. So, people like KRS One, things like that was all done here. And Bryan used to get the chance to do remixes, even though he couldn't creatively mix so well, he used to just EQ them and that. He was the go-to man in England at that time. Westwood approached Bryan "Chuck" New to do this. Billy then reached with the tunes.”
Rodney: “The morning we were going to the studio, me and Bionic went to Dub Vendor in Clapham Junction and bought all these bits of tunes that we wanted to use. And we took 'em to the studio and gave them to Chuck New, who put it all together. We told him the idea that we wanted, We knew the elements of it: the bassline, the little 'bigga-bing, bigga-bing' – all the piano bits. We left it all with him, came back the next day, and he'd built it. And we was amazed... It was amazing! It was amazing.”

Westwood broadcasting on Kiss, 1987

Whatever the reality behind its conception, the “Money Mad” 12'' came out in 1988 with Westwood's backing on his Justice Records imprint (#JTT 003).

Rodney: "Money Mad was a big tune for us, it was a classic tune for us. Before that we were all fans of hip hop music, but it didn't really represent where we came from."

The version that most people know and own is the version that's on the "Gangster Chronicle" album, which was a remix with different lyrics. As Rodney says, "the original is a lot more dub, a lot more sound-systemy. But the remix definitely works. It's a lot more immediate." So, for those who haven't heard it (and it's hard to track down, even though it was reissued a few years back), here's the original 12" version of Money Mad, as opposed to the album one.

"London Posse, we are gon tell you bout the ones who are bad / cos them a gone Money Mad..."

So, with the origins of the track based around the 45 King's chopped up version of Lyn Collins's classic “Think” break, sprinkled with a touch of Courtney Melody's dancehall classic “Bad Boy”, rumour has it that Biznizz was again involved with the single's production, although (yet again) it was credited as being co-produced by Westwood and the mysterious “Bevington”.
Regardless of the extent that Westwood was involved in the actual recording of the track, the connection he had wasn't hurting the group's exposure. Some accounts say that he played it endlessly on his Capital Rap show, but the man himself is keen to contradict, that, saying "Money Mad, I never played on the radio once... (even though) it was such a big record on the streets."

Musically it highlighted again the connection between Jamaica and England with a heavily reggae influenced sound, even more so than "London Posse" or "My Beatbox Reggae Style".
Using wailing siren sounds and a digital keyboard reggae-style stab on the down-beat for most of the track, not to mention an earth shaking sub-bass, it was more like a dancehall track (at a slightly slower speed with a massive hip hop drum pattern) than a rap record.

"At the time", Rodney says, "I would say that was the most honest British rap record... (people) could hear themselves in it."
Even if you disregard Bionic and Rodney's heavy Cockney-Jamaican accents, it's difficult to argue otherwise. With Rodney's references to dealers, bad boys wearing Adidas and Reebok, pawn shops and stolen Sovereigns, and Bionic's lines "In London they're robbing, it's coming like a fashion", "from other rappers you'll never hear a word of these things, it's happening in England", sticking up Securicor vans, and the classic line "I make it easy, or you can get it hard / gimme your money, your jewellery and your credit card", it was basically untouched territory as far as recorded output went for a UK hip hop act. And all this was in the first verse. The deal was sealed when Bionic boasted how he "got a video from Curry's in the riots" - this was an unmistakably British record, through and through like a stick of rock.

Looking back, it's hard to underestimate how big that track was. DJ MK considers it to be one of the landmark records in UK Hip Hop. "'Money Mad'...was the first tune that really incorporated the whole ragga side of it, the reggae side of it, into hip-hop," he said in a 2002 interview. "At the same time you had people like Asher D & Daddy Freddy who were doin' it as well, but they were kinda older and were more like just reggae emcees, people who chat over hip-hop. But Bionic and Rodney P were hip-hop kids who can chat. 'Money Mad', that shit was definitely ahead of its time."
The Posse's tracks were one way or another having an influence on other artists of the time, not just regarding accents, but musically. DJ Supreme from Hijack was one such producer who was affected by their reggae influence. "London Posse at the time were dope," he says. "They really represented Britain and themselves as well, but their sound was closer to reggae in a way, it was orientated that way because of who they were and what they wanted to bring through. And so I tried to do something that was more hip hop but with my own flavour, not reggae orientated like the London Posse guys."
In a later interview with Max and Dave on KISS FM in 1993, Rodney and Bionic were asked about Money Mad. "It's now come to pass, because like, the crack, money's the God and all that kind of thing," said Max.
"Really, it's not a matter that it came to pass," Rodney explained. "At the time when we wrote it, it was like that."
"Yeah, that's how things were," said Bionic.
"And got worse, y'naa mean. Yeah, you say we tell the future, maybe I could make some money off that! (laughs) I dunno about that but, yeah, it's just life, living, that's what we write about." Rodney concluded.


At the same time that the Posse were growing in stature and addressing the attitudes and concerns of a certain generation of British youth, there was a sense of community amongst certain groups in the UK Hip Hop scene. This was a time where things were looking big for UK Hip Hop acts and DJs - Cutmaster Swift had won the DMC World Title; Monie Love was moving with the Native Tongues; Hip Hop Connection magazine had just started; Overlord X, Gunshot, Demon Boyz, Hijack, Blade, The Cookie Crew, Derek B, Hardnoise, Simon Harris (and the acts on his Music Of Life label), Merlin, and other hip hop and cut-and-paste inspired acts like Bomb The Bass and Coldcut were really taking off in the UK media and sometimes across the world. Despite some rivalries (like the one between Merlin and Overlord X, as half-chronicled on the Hustler's Convention LP from 1989), there was a genuine vision that UK Hip Hop would make it big, and that everyone would get a piece of the pie. Some super-crews emerged with this in mind.

Mell'O': “It was exactly around that time that DETT Inc came together, which was my idea. Determination Endeavour Total Triumph Incorporated. We looked at the Juice Crew, Flavor Unit, all those crews, and we had Trouble, Reinforced Gus, MC Bee, Monie Love, Cutmaster Swift, No Parking MCs, myself, London Posse, DJ Pogo, DJ Biznizz and Sparki. We had all this talent but I felt we really needed to put a stamp on it and firm up what we were about. It gave us mileage. I remember when Cutmaster Swift won his DMC event in 1989, held up his belt and started shouting ‘DETT! DETT!’. That was the day we’d rushed the doors. It was at the Royal Albert Hall and they wouldn’t let us in so the door had to get smashed (laughs). I remember us all running in down the corridor and Queen Latifah was coming the other way like ‘Yo! Yo! Mell’O’ what’s going on?’ It was so funny. We had bouncers chasing us trying to stop us, people were trying to stop the bouncers. We hit the auditorium, spread out and represented.” i

Certainly the London Posse worked closely with DJ Biznizz and Sparkii over the next couple of years, and each of these acts stayed intertwined with each other in various combinations through the following decade, at the very least. These close working relationships resulted in some of the best releases that UK Hip Hop had to offer.

However, soon after the release of “Money Mad”, Westwood started to get cold feet with the running of a record label (Justice), and the politics it involved.

Westwood: "I just found it to hard, to be honest. Also, it put me on the wrong side of the fence in my opinion because I wasn’t used to dealing with artists like that. I wasn’t used to have that type of relationship; I didn’t want to feel compromised... Plus it was real hard work, plus UK rap never really jumped off either."

Life wasn't easy for the Posse at this point either, despite having a 12'' out on the streets.

Bionic: “Let's take a yout' like me for instance. No parents, no money coming in and I have to pay bills and rates. I've got qualifications but I can't get a job cos of the colour of my skin.” i
Rodney: “On one level, it was good days then bruv, 'cos you was making records. But the reality was I was living in a hostel at the time, sharing a room with man, and bruk, signing on the dole. SO in one way, yeah, it was the beginning of a career. We were focused and we knew what we wanted to do, but at the same time life was hard them times, man was struggling. We never made no money off that record, it never paid us. It wasn't like suddenly we started earning. We just had a really good record that we was proud of.”

This was despite their live performances, often sharing the stage with Hip Hop legends from across the pond again. At the time Money Mad was out, London Posse were supporting for one of the greatest posses of all time – the Juice Crew. Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, MC Shan and Biz Markie were on a world tour, and the London Posse were supporting them. Also on the tour were Mister Cee, DJ Polo and Marley Marl.
The live shows were a massive part of keeping Rodney, Bio and Biznizz going while they worked out what to do next.

The story continues here: Part 2 - 1989-1992.