Can you firstly introduce yourself, tell us a bit about where you are from, taking it back who were your crew - the Laylow Posse are and who were they associated with?
My name is
Rakin da authordox AKA
Trim; I grew up in Ladbroke Grove West London. I was part of the Hip Hop group Cash Crew. Back in those days we were down with the Mighty Ethnics, NSO Force, 11.59 and Paradox brothers.
To me you would be amongst the first wave of artists to actually create Hip Hop in the UK and get it put out on wax. What was it that inspired you to get into Hip Hop?
I got into Hip Hop when it first entered these waters, I started off as a break-dancer, and I was part of a breakdancing crew called
Supreme Rockers. Those days Hip Hop was everywhere, you could walk into most council estates and you would encounter b-boys and b-girls getting down on a piece of lino.
What do you remember about the scene back in those early days, who were the people you would go and check for their performances? Ladbroke Grove had its pioneers - West Roc, Newtrament, Born 2 Rock etc.
I remember jams where Newtrament used to be spinning the wax his crew was called KREW, the Wild Bunch and Rapattack were also there.
Were there any clubs playing Hip Hop at that time? Did you ever go to early Westwood's jams at Spatz?
Yeah I was there at the Westwood jams at Spatz Westwood has paid his dues I always tell people that Westwood is an old skool cat.
Was there Hip Hop on the radio and if so what stations and shows would you be listening to?
In the early days you couldn't really find hip hop on the radio, people used to bring mix tapes over from the states Afrika Islam was one of those DJ's. Later on pirate stations used to rock the
Hip Hop tunes. I remember Westwood dropping vinyl on LWR pirate station.
Many people will only know of you for your more recent work, but you were 'Trim' one of the MCs from the Cash Crew. Can you tell us about how the crew got together and how it was trying to put your music out back then.
Cash Crew really started off in 85, 86 those days it was me and Flex from Mighty Ethnics. We used to roc the mic together at local jams. Cockpit theatre used to have massive
Hip Hop jams they would invite all crews in the west London area. At one of these jams I met Gravity AKA Champaign, he later joined the crew we also had a human beat boxer those days called Munch.
Now that we had a strong rap line up we needed a DJ, so we enquired about who was hot in the area, then we heard about DJ. Loose. He used to DJ for Sir Drew. He later became our full time DJ. In those days there was no British tunes out, the first one was London Bridge is Falling Down.
So, what was the first record you put out?
Our first tune that came out was in 1987 it was on a small label called Vinyl Lab.
Our first tune was called
Microphone Maniacs which got a lot of publicity and positive reviews.
OK, so you got a deal with Vinyl Solution, the guys that also put out Gunshot. Why did you choose to go with them? Was it that you knew the owners of the shop?
We moved on to Vinyl Solution, they were a Ladbroke Grove company and yes we met them through hanging out in the basement of the record shop. Our second record was
You Can't Stop This this received a very warm reception and established as one of the names in British
Over that period you put out several records and built a bit of a fanbase, to you what was the most important record and would you have done anything differently?
There were a lot of important records that we released but all of them were important at the time. For example after
You Can't Stop This we released a 12" called
One Decade this was important to us because we were celebrating ten years of rap in Ladbroke Grove.
We released this in 1988. We also later released a track called
Ghetto Circumstances years later when we was signed to a subsidiary of Virgin called Scream records. On this track we explored the problems and traps that can lead young ghetto individuals into a career of crime.
So you left Vinyl Solution…
We left Vinyl Solution and got signed to Scream records we recorded an album entitled
Will It Make My Brown Eyes Blue?
Can you tell us a bit about some of the themes and topics on the album?
This was an interesting album it showed a more conscious group who had developed. There was a wide range of tracks from
Your Forgiven talking about the pangs of slavery to
Lay Low Licking talking about our neighbourhood. We also had a track called
Black Cab which discussed the issue of black cabs not stopping for black males. We released two 12" from the album but when it came time to release the album our company went Bankrupt.
Lucky for us Virgin put out the album. But after that we were dropped.
That was very bad luck. So this would have been around 1994, how did you take it and what did you do about the situation?
When this happened we created our own record label called Street Ministry we released two 12" on that label. By that time we had converted to Islam so our lyrical content was much deeper.
The third release on our own label was called
Anything Can Happen this was an EP. We made a video for the main track
Can You Dig It this featured Lay Low's finest Flex, Dee, Mc. Ni and Sidewinder. This got us a lot of airplay and the buzz on the crew was at its peak.
Yeah, that EP was everywhere, I played Bring It On a lot…
From the reaction of this EP we were signed to a subsidiary of BMG France called "Disques Vogue" this was in 1996.
So another big label, what differences did that bring?
We recorded a lot of the album in France, which was an eye opener, the French rap scene is massive, they have loads of successful rap groups and the government supports them. So when you watch MTV France it is full of French rap groups.
OK, so again, what was the name of the record and can you break down some of the content on this album?
The album entitled
From An Afropean Perspective had many different themes on it. The track
Bounce Back, was about still being around making good tunes after more than ten years in the game.
Notting Hill Shit and
Freaky Flow are songs expressing our lyrical skills.
Rufie was talking the girls that love the rude boy, and explaining to them that they kind of man is going to give you pain and heartache.
Who's To Blame is a story from the ghetto stressing how hard it is to survive but it also points to the fact that a lot of the problems in the ghetto are caused by society. Poor education and lack of opportunities leads to a life of crime.
Was everything as good as it appeared at this time? The reason I ask is because after this things went a bit quiet for you as the Cash Crew.
Things were fine at this time but I was getting more into my religion so I was moving in a different direction so I decided to leave the crew at that time. I gave up rap for a while but then a spiritual Sheikh stressed that I can use it to spread the good news of Islam.
This is when I created Mecca 2 Medina, I got together with two friends Ishmael and Imran (Nomadic poet).
Are you still in contact with any of your old crew? I understand that Champain (the other rapper from the Cash Crew) is now called Gravity and is currently producing some French rappers. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Champ from Cash Crew AKA Gravity has been producing for a long time and has his own studio in NW London. He does a lot of work in France and is over there quite a lot of the time.
Why do you think that the French Hip Hop market is more healthy than over here? What could help the market and artists over here?
The French scene is massive and the British scene could follow if Laws were changed so stations had to play 40% British music. An example of the success of playing British Hip Hop is Itch FM. I heard so many artists that I would never of heard of before. There is a lot of good products coming out in Britain, it just needs airplay. It would be great if Itch was made legal.
Is Loose still living in the US?
Loose is back from the US and is at the moment working on his own album. Which is a mix of rap and poetry over Phat and Abstract production. Loose worked on the Marissa Anglin album which was a strong RNB album it came out last year on Black Kat records, but the company went Bankrupt due to bad management. Loose's new production is hot.