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Blade Storms Are Brewing LP [691 Influential]
Blade Storms Are Brewing LP [691 Influential]
Blade Storms Are Brewing LP [691 Influential]
Tracklisting:
01. Storms Are Brewing
02. Slapping Egos
03. Reflection
04. Blow You Out The Frame
05. I Wonder
06. Scream
07. Robot
08. Pop Idol
09. This Is My Life
10. Rink
11. Breathe
12. What Have We Done
13. The Journey
Blade is probably as close as you can get to a UK Hip Hop godfather. He is one of the very few artists who was around to break the new style of music in this country and still be around today doing the same thing that he loves - producing music. He has been putting out records on his own 691 Influential records label for nearly 15 years now, some of which have become seminal moments in UK Hip Hop. Blade has a great deal of personal experience to draw upon. I have heard all sorts of stories relating to where he originally comes from including that he's Kazakstani and whole manner of other things. According to his new press release he is Iranian, but moved to India at age 3 and at age 7 came to the UK for his education. Since day one he has been heavily involved in Hip Hop originally by becoming a top rated beatboxer, only later focussing on writing and rapping lyrics. By 1989 he was ready to drop his first record, which was Lyrical Maniac and over the years built on this even at one stage obtaining funding for an LP by asking fans to pay in advance!

In 1998 Blade hooked up with producer Mark B and release the Hit Men For Hire EP which came out on Jazz Fudge and after being well received cemented their partnership for the next few years culminating in the Wordplay LP the Unknown which spawned chart topping singles and collaboration with mainstream acts like Feeder and even an appearance on TOTP and even Never Mind The Buzzcocks!

The relationship with Mark B and Virgin / Wordplay caused tensions and once again Blade has broken out on his own and returned to his own 691 Influential imprint. In March 2004 he will be dropping his latest LP Storms Are Brewing which has been in production for the past two years. Time has tempered Blade's style and I had wondered if this move away from Mark B might bring him back to the ultra hardcore and rawkus sound of his earlier self produced material. This is not the case and the influence of Mark B has rubbed off a bit. The production is still different to Mark B and has Blade's own style. With Blade you should know what you are going to get - straight up Hip Hop and lyrics after lyrics. Blade is not a fancy rapper, he doesn't have mad experimental flows, but he is steady on the beat and has tremendous breath control obviously developed over years of practise. The main things about Blade are that his delivery is clear and precise and that he has some deep subject matter that he spits in a very educated and thought out way.

The album opens with an imposing orchestral beat of Storms Are Brewing which throbs along at the tempo most suited to Blade. Its an introductory rhyme telling the fans what blade is all about and what it has taken for him to get to the stage where he is now. No pun intended, but it seems that some of Blade's proudest moments are when he is entertaining thousands of fans live. Slapping Egos reveals a side to the Blade story which has rarely been revealed before. Here is isn't dissing too much, rather turning the mirror on himself as he explores possible failings within himself. There is some tasty cutting as well from DJ First Rate who Blade has taken on as support for this episode of his career.

Reflection takes the tempo down a touch for an emotional string based heart string tugger of a track which exposes paranoid feelings and what drives people to try and struggle against the system. Whereas Blow You Out Of The Frame sees Blade take a more angry approach to his fellow MCs . As with much of his work it is semi autobiographical and Blade juxtaposes his skill against that of the other MCs he views as mediocre. All this over a semi funk, but also with a G-Funk occasional tone. Blade has all his beats really pumping and you get a pushing feeling as the beat grabs you. He shows his true credentials as he explains that if he were cut he would bleed Hip Hop.

I Wonder has a childish chant a la Jay-Z or numerous other copycats. The backing is a jolly piano loop which allows Blade to ask all sort of wide ranging and philosophical questions where he wonders what if? The track is as ever up to par, but it is just the chorus singing that gets on my nerves a touch. Scream on the other hand utilises a fanfare of trumpets, but the lyrics don't totally fit on this. Blade has tried a flow with more syllables in, but he just sounds better at his normal speed, but respect for trying something a touch different. This would be more like spoken word poetry should you have access to the accapella.

Perhaps as an acception of his biggest successes so far Robot leans heavily on a rock influence with distorted electric guitar riffs and solos. This is definitely power led and the composition should appeal to that grungy student demographic. Across the album there are virtually no skits which these days gives it a strange feel, but this is also refreshing as so many skits and interludes are a bit played out these days. The main thrusts of this album are Blade's disillusion with the mainstream music business. Having experienced it from both sides he can speak with authority when he comments on manufactured acts and how marketing seems to be everything these days. This is perfectly described on Pop Idol where Blade eloquently describes the reasons for the current malaise in the modern music business.

Blade continues to espouse the topics that he is comfortable with across the funky bass lined This Is My Life, the danceable Rink, and the third party story rap of Breathe with its commanding chorus. Thereís humour, pathos, frustration and anger all wrapped up on an album that dares to stand on itís own. To round off what has been a satisfying trip to a previous era, Blade rips up the deeply political What Have We Done which was probably motivated by the thoughts of what the world will offer his son in years to come. A sense of urgency is imparted with the use of an electro sample in the mix along with some Chellos or violins.

After the final track The Journey in which Blade name checks many of the main acts in the UK and those who have supported him, there is a space and then a secret track. I guess this one is called Keep On Running, although it is not listed on the track list. This is a touch more manic and has more of the original Blade feel to it. The obviousness of samples across the LP is kept to a minimum, but the trumpets and loops on this are banging and the LP reminds people that not only is Blade a heavy MC, he is a fantastic producer and before his time with Mark B cooked up some seriously heavy sounds.

Blade will not now be changing up his style, it has been too long for that, and whilst many may say that he hasn't moved with the times, I for one wouldn't want him to. Blade is Blade and for him to deliver anything other than what we expect of him would cause just as much consternation. He isn't going to drop many double-time flows and his subject matter will remain on the struggle tip until he doesn't have to struggle any more. Even then it might not change much. I do not feel that people have the right to complain about the content of Blade's lyrics until they have been 20 years in the game, put in as much work as the original Hardest Working man in UK Hip Hop has and still be not much further down the path to success than when they started.

Related links:

Blade Discography :: 691 Influential Discography
www.blade691.com

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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