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57th Dynasty
57th Dynasty - Fas Fwd
57th Dynasty
57th Dynasty
57th Dynasty - On The Bus
OK, can you first introduce yourselves and let the readers know a bit about your crew and the members? Isn't there 8 of you in the crew? There is Paradise, Lil Monsta, Charlie Parker, Thunda, Oshin The Nomad, Dark Troopa and 50, so who have I missed off? 

57th Dynasty: Shineye, who along with Charlie Parker make up the in-house production team Watch No Face.

What are your individual roles within the group? And how do you all work together? Is there a hierarchy? Paradise seems to come over as the leader…. 

57th Dynasty: We lead by example. In the beginning Charlie knew more (as FasFwd founder) about the progressive steps needed to be taken so we all looked to him. I had a lyrical vision and direction format. As we grew our individual roles began to emerge on a larger scale. Example Thunda was our top sales man on road selling upward of 400 albums by himself in a matter of days. Similarly- the younger members formerly known as Juvanile RUKasz (50, Troopa, Monsta) began incorporating more of their life experiences into their creative endeavors, where as before they emulated Dise and Thunda and whatever artist they admired.

You mention the Juvanile Ruckasz, are they actually a trio within the 57th Dynasty? Are they the next generation? 

Paradise: They make up part of the future of the fruits of our labour. 50, Lil Monsta and his big brother Dark Troopa.

Who is the DJ within the group? Is that down to Charlie too? Is that an area where you don't concentrate too much time? 

Charlie: We don't have a DJ 

Paradise: But Charlie and Shineye are hands on with the musical backdrop at live events.

So, you are all repping Boro 6 - Brixton hard. Is that where you were all born and where you grew up? 

57th Dynasty: Actually we are a lot more diverse than people know. Charlie is white, originally from the Midlands, Oshin is also from the Midlands raised in foster care, and travels the world- all over Africa (that's why he's the Nomad), Dise was born here, but moved to the States at a young age, and came back after 18years Stateside. So he brings an American thang. Shineye and 50 are of West Indian decent, while Troopa, Thunda and Monsta (brothers) are Ghanaian. 

Charlie: I'm not from the midlands.

How did you all come together to form the group then?

Paradise: We began back in the summer of '96 when I (Paradise) was forced to return to the UK from NYC (after 18 years) and met up with Charlie Parker who was running his house as an open studio in Brixton. Our meeting quickly led to numerous singles under Charlie's FasFwd label. The 1st of which was "M.O.N.E.Y/ NO WAY" then "ET TU?" "BOOMERANG/ CROWN JEWELS". "M.O.N.E.Y" was backed with "NO WAY" which featured the FasFwd all-stars, some of whom (Thunda Storm) would later form The 57th Dynasty.

Let the readers in on what your names are all about and what they signify. Starting with the group name 57th Dynasty - what is that all about? Could it have anything to do with Egyptology, they measured their Kingdoms in Dynasties didn't they? I suppose it represents the Dynasty you guys are going to lay down in terms of being a power house for Hip Hop in the UK?

57th Dynasty: Your questions show an insight… You're a journalist for real. 57 is the number of Charlie's house, which is/was the studio and "Dynasty" came about when I was thinking of the best way of describing the newly formed group. We were first known as the FasFwd all-stars by DJs such as 279, but it wasn't descriptive enough, and I was never an all-star in truth. Also, at that time there was a lot of clicks, gangs, posses, crews, etc, but I wanted a title with meaning. Hence, Dynasty: A succession of leaders in a given field. That was who and what we were.

Paradise: I got my name from when I was like 13 and dealing with older women. I was caught out when one was in a lovey-dovey mood and called me that in public on the block, and everyone started teasing me about it, and it just stuck… Paradise.

Right, so how did each of you first get into Hip Hop, and when would this have been? What are your backgrounds musical or otherwise, like hasn't Charlie Parker been involved in recording studios since the '80's?

Charlie: I've been playing in groups and recording for a while. I worked in reggae record companies and promotion (& sound system) and played in reggae groups, jazz & fusion bands. And a drum n bass production team KUS. I was listening to Hip Hop from days of "the message" and rappers delight, but wasn't in this so called UK Hip Hop scene until I decided to start actually releasing 12"s. That was around '94...

Paradise: I've listened, loved, and lived Hip Hop since '79! Never ever wanted to be no rapper though. Never crossed my mind. I started rhyming, well poetry really, back in prison, and it evolved into my style and content now.

57th Dynasty: Shineye started with a local sound system named Baby Phonics. Used to mix and eventually found himself producing tracks. Lil Monsta was originally inspired by his two older brothers Thunda and Felony. Dark Trooper, the other sibling wonder kind of astounded us all when he started spitting. 50 was encouraged at a young age by his uncles who were in a group known as the Regimen.

In more recent years there haven't been that many people breaking out of Brixton, which I find surprising. Who are the artists in your locale you really rate? Who is going to be the next big thing from Boro 6? 

57th Dynasty: Big Brovas. Know em well and respect their struggle and triumph!

Can you break down some of what has been happening Hip Hop wise in Brixton and the surrounding areas over the last few years? What I mean is who were the local heads who have been performing, putting on shows and setting up pirate radio stations? 

Charlie: Brixton has seen Hip Hop event at the MASS (Dekefex) and further back in the FRIDGE, there's also been lil round the way things in some of the pubs and bars. Baseline has always repped US Hip Hop but been slow on UK, there's couple other stations but mostly they support reggae and US music

Before that then, going way back, are you familiar with any of the people who were influential in starting the scene in London way back? Who influenced you and made you think, yeah I can do this?

Charlie: No one in Hip Hop. Not in this country. I know Rodney and Bionic and other mans like Huntkillbury Finn who did shit back in the day but the only people round here who made money were in reggae or into something else completely.

OK, what are the main club nights round your way? You mentioned the newly refurbished Mass which hosts Dekefex? They have some good acts on, but the queues to get in are just far too mental. 

Charlie: There's a place called the Telegraph and another called George IV that sometimes do shit. Also the White Horse on Brixton Road

What makes a good night out for you? Would it be a night when you were performing, or do you have a better time when you go to watch acts? 

Charlie: Neither. It's all work nowadays. Though I do get inspired while we perform.

Paradise: I enjoy both performing and watching others perform, but I'd enjoy it all if I wasn't such an active part of it, which has such high expectations for it… it being UK Hip Hop

You have done loads of gigs now, supporting some of the biggest US acts. What have been the best gigs you have done and why? And have there been any mad experiences you can share with the readers? 

Paradise: DMX was a helluva show, we rocked that our way and sold hundreds of records outside, but my favourite show was in Finland. It was culture shock by day, and Dynasty mania by night. What started as a one appearance booking, wound up a three-city tour. The city of Tampere will never forget us. Thanks for the memories.

Sometimes when I have seen you, the show has been a bit disorganised, sometimes with people rapping over each other. This shows great enthusiasm, and you certainly get crowds rocking, but do you think there is more work you could do in terms of coming over a bit slicker and more organised? You don't want to lose the raw energy though…

57th Dynasty: Some shows we set out prior to and do rehearse other times we just wanna rock free willed. We've had tatty to tip-top, this is Hip Hop!

Is it a problem being from London where there is so much competition from other aspiring acts? What are the bad points and what are the good things about being in London where most of the UK's music business is?

Charlie: It's only good really - or put it this way, not as bad as being in country. Not to diss anywhere in country, but its hard enough as it is without being distant from all what's going on business wise.

Paradise: We live in the Mecca, what could be wrong with that. For other groups it's difficult cause of the competition, but we set the standard so… it's all good.

What do you do to stand out from everyone else? 

Paradise: Stay true to ourselves. We came out as who we are. We never had to change to please… we pleased when no one was checking for UK Hip Hop. No one would play UK in clubs, 20min UK slots on radio. We pressured everyone from MTV, to radio programmers, to promoters, to periodicals to stand up and take notice. Shit we've got a full-page feature in the Source next month! The world has taken notice of us.

Right, you have already dropped the Spoken Word LP, and a few singles as well as making videos to accompany them on Fas Fwd Records. How did you find it starting a business and putting all that together on the independent tip? Was it a bit of a struggle? 

Charlie: Struggle yes!

What is the deal with the label then? Did you all just pool you funds to start it, or is there someone else behind that running it? 

Charlie: I finance about 90% of the label with input from Paradise and Shineye.

So the label started in about '94, is that right?

Charlie: Yeah

OK, so a bit of time elapsed before the 57th Dynasty stuff started coming out. What was the label doing in that period? 

Charlie: The label recorded a lot of material with London Posse affiliate MC Babyhulk, who later renamed to Mr Green and is currently blasting some garage tings. Some dubs were pressed up and shit was passed around on DAT. There were some recordings with two female artistes that tried for publishing deals - all that kinda shit. It took a while before I felt the time was right to release something. Before Dynasty 3 12"s with Paradise had been done (from 96 onwards) and 2 releases (though one was pulled) with Babyhulk/Mr Green. The idea wasn't to be a record label but to be more of a production company and license on material. But the industry never showed no interest so it turned to releasing its own shit.

Paradise: I was in prison writing my little poetry! 
 
57th Dynasty - Spoken Word

57th Dynasty - A Dynasty Like No Other

57th Dynasty - Return To Boro 6

What experience did you have when you started out? Who did you learn from? 

Charlie: Learned mostly from sound system days and reggae promoters and producers. When I started the label I had been doing shit for quite a while and had been thru a lot of the scenarios.

Paradise: Charlie and my in-depth knowledge of how to make the streets talk and react in the way you want 'em to! Shit! I knew we could do this shit! It was all about our community and then branching outwards.

What is the connection you have with the Dark 'N Cold shop in Soho? 

57th Dynasty: We have a common struggle. Man we watched them go from selling US brands to become a hot urban brand themselves. They recognized our struggle, and vice-versa.

Tell us about Prolific Entertainments? What is that company all about? Is it like management and A&R etc.? 

57th Dynasty: Yes in a way. But it's also an entity that has a history of making things happen and now… Prolific Ents is simply about opportunities. Co-promotion ventures. Lighting the way to stardom, however, and wherever. Look out for the compilation album OK:UK accompanying the UK docudrama entitled FROM CORNER TO CORNER.

Lets talk a bit about your production for a moment. Is much of your stuff produced by Charlie Parker then? Or do many of you combine on beats?

Charlie: The situation hasn't really changed from the off - I've always been close to studios and run my own shit wherever I've been and have always known plenty of people that want to get down and sing or rap or whatever. So it's always been a case of man checking me because they know that I'm doing music shit. I then record that shit and try and put it out. Because of the struggle and non-existent profits there's never any development money, so it's been hard to open up opportunities for man to diversify their skills and spend the time necessary in studios to develop. Shineye does his thing with me but a lot of his work goes towards his label WYNDRUSH. He does both Hip Hop and reggae. 50. Troopa and Monsta can all make beats and are currently working on shit with other producers around the way. My theory behind the Dynasty has always been about empowerment. Show what is possible and show that man can do for self.

What equipment are you currently using, both at home to compose tracks on and then to record?

Charlie: I use alot of different shit. I see the studio machines as members of an orchestra. I don't like to get my sounds from plug ins or just the regular modules. I play a lot of live shit and sample myself - I use Akai samplers (the older ones 900 etc) and a Roland SP808 as well as a Korg M1 and MC505. 

When it comes to production I prefer to record and print everything to tape. But it gets expensive so sometimes compromises are made. Vocals should always be on tape.

Do you find yourselves going to professional studios to finish off your stuff, or with so much high technology available so cheaply today can you get away with only forking out for the quality mastering? 

Charlie: There's no substitute for good mixing desks like Neve and SSL. Mastering is important but the mix has got to be there first otherwise all you can do is patch shit up.

What equipment would you be looking to use if money was not limited? What have you got your eyes on? 

Charlie: I wouldn't try to think bout-mixing equipment yet because it's all too expensive (£100K+) but I could use another SP808, a couple Urei or DBX compressors and some different modules. 

Can you describe your crew's production, how do you go about putting tunes together?

Charlie: Beats get given to MCs and MCs ride them (or not) - don't have no formula for making the beats. I like to use acoustic and analogue sounds.

I saw you at the pretty disastrous Elements Of Hip Hop show in London Bridge. What is your take on the way things went down there? We have heard stories of artists not getting paid and even the promoter getting a beat down, is this true? What do you think went wrong?

57th Dynasty: NO COMMENT

Anyway, during your show, Charlie Parker picked up a guitar and you lot were singing. This was a very different departure to what I have heard from you guys and I wasn't expecting that for sure. Is this a direction we can expect you to progress further in the future?

Charlie: Maybe. Were you feeling it?

Lets move on to the lyrics then. You cover a large variety of topics and I'm feeling the more serious, political, eye opening stuff you do. Can you break down some of the subjects you have broached and what your motivation was to write about these things? 

57th Dynasty: Simple: The phucking struggles of life. The contradictions, the misconceptions, the lies, the harsh realities of…  Life

What was the first Dynasty record that you released then? What did you aim to achieve with that first record and do you feel you did it? 

Charlie: First Dynasty release was Boro 6/Lil Bro. It was meant to go out and get heads ready for the album that we dropped 4 months later. It worked ok 'cept that fucking DJs would play it hardly. Same old shit. It didn't sell that well either because of the distribution situation back then. And therefore it didn't make no money. Singles rarely do. But I think it did good work in spite of all of that 'cos we were able to give it long life by getting well know performing it. That caused the DJs to pick up on it a bit more later down the line.

Since then, you have been doing quite well getting out there, can you talk us through your career so far, pointing out some of the highlights along the way? For example I understand that at the beginning of the year you licensed a track to be the title music of a long running French TV series and you had a track on one of the Tim Westwood CDs, that is becoming big time stuff isn't it?

Charlie: Sort of nut not really. Its all overdue and none of it still don't pay no money. Garage mans laugh at UK Hip Hop like that. Its all good to say its good promotion and bla bla bla but we don't get no promotion we don't work for. It happens only when we make it happen. And we sure don't owe no one nothing.

Paradise: And don't think it just comes to us. We still pestering everybody, damn near everyday. Its phucking depressing at times. Knocking on the same damn doors, when you really wanna be stepping on to the "up" escalator.

Continue on to Part 2

Intro Early Doors:
1979-1985
False Dawn:
1985-1990
Underground Years:
1990-1995
The Renaissance:
1995- 2000
The Future:
2000 & Beyond
Artists &
Discographies

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