The new millennium has seen the release of several compilation LPs consisting entirely of UK talent, the most outstanding of which are 'Raw Materials' on Stonegroove records and 'Word Play' on Word Lab records. Also out at this time is the Pioneers video created by Chris Leech after several years of collecting interviews and material. Although short it is required viewing for anybody into UK Hip Hop. This diverse and burgeoning scene has created an increasing media interest and although it has been said before, perhaps we are on the verge of something big.
Westwood will occasionally remember where he is and devote airtime to UK ish, but sadly it is never enough. The Gaialive internet radio outfit based in Whitechapel have a UK Hip Hop show once every two weeks which seems to be serious about getting it right. So check: UK homegrown. Fusion & Tee-Max have a 'Hip Hop Review' show on Digital MTV Base. They frequently get in UK guests to chat and freestyle so peep it if you get a chance. It's on Sundays at 9pm with repeats at 11pm Friday nights and 2pm Saturday afternoons.
But perhaps the situation isn't as rosy as that. It could be the case that the scene is descending into a state reminiscent of the late '80s when there was a prodigious amount of artists and and copious releases, but the overall quality and consistency was only average. Because it is so easy now to produce material at home and distribute CDRs, or press your own vinyl artists need to pay a great deal of attention to quality control. There is currently a renewed interest in UK Hip Hop with distributors taking on releases, but this could soon back fire on us when they find that they can't sell the records. They will withdraw their investments and retreat back to the easier money of dance music. I think that there will be many stand out tunes, but remain to be convinced that UK Hip Hop will ever get the true props it deserves. Mainstream media support is still desperately lacking and has even prompted Bandit from MSI and Asylum to obtain signatures for a petition to Parliament asking for UK broadcasters to broadcast at least 40% home grown music in the hope that 40% of the Hip Hop we hear on the radio will be British. However the politicians weren't interested in getting involved.
In a further attempt to induce people to listen to UK music, both over here and in the States producers have turned to having US MCs rap on their beats. Hopefully this will only be a temporary phenomenon, but it is becoming an increasingly common occurrence with the Creators and the Nextmen having US MCs on their latest LPs. 16 tracks deep, 'Amongst the Madness' features collaborations with Grap Luva, Ken Boogaloo, Velcro and Soulson - a DJ from Philly. On the UK front appearances are made by Ty and DJs Harry Love and Mr Thing. Funky DL also has Milkbone on his latest 12" 'Heart's In It'. Hopefully this will be beneficial in that UK Producers will gain recognition and be acknowledged as being capable of making beats as good as any ones, but in the longer term (and hopefully soon) Homegrown MCs with British accents must be given their turn to shine. For an example of UK lyrics check Seanie T and Karl Hinds on Kiss 100 FM and Karl Hinds' debut 12" 'Don Grammar' B/W 'Feelin'.
May 2000 and the Villains are back to their tricks with the release of their follow up 12” single ‘Gotta Get The Cash’ / ‘Stress'. This release built on their earlier acknowledgement and set them up nicely for the release in November of their 20 track deep LP 'Welcome To Wolftown’. The main Villains MC, Late, started as a breaker and Graf writer back in the day, but after being busted for criminal damage he turned to the wheels of steel and gradually fell into rapping. 'Stress' also features High Timez another Wolftown Committee member who had been a breaker in the mid 80's and uses the familiar UK style of rap mixed with ragga chatting/toasting. Look out for solo work and collaborations on the Villains LP from High Timez and releases from Vicious Circle and the Wolftown Committee. These guys also have it locked down on the publishing front so keep your eyes open for Rago a Hip Hop magazine edited by Tricksta and contributed to by the whole crew.
Other crews to look out for in
the future include: Whisky who has produced his 'Mindblowing'
Demo, the Extremists who recorded 'Groundbreaking'
for Skitz's Titan Sounds Label and Psychic Phenomena who may be
making a comeback with their track 'The