The group Criminal Minds was formed in 1985, by
DJ Halo and his good friend, Graffiti artist
Chase 1. They were largely responsible for building the Hip Hop scene in and around their local area.
While at college, Halo met an MC who was already writing tunes and gigging himself - this was
MC Iceski. The two got together and decided to make demo tapes to sell them locally. There was another DJ in the area currently working on his own projects, he was a friend of Iceski - Iceski asked Halo if he wanted to hook up with him and Halo agreed - the DJ's name was Spatts. The two DJs soon found they had a similar background as far as
Hip Hop was concerned, and The Criminal Minds expanded to include Spatts. In many ways, the acquisition of Spatts was a catalyst for the group to take a new direction. Very soon the two DJs began producing music for Iceski, which gained such a
following, that the group decided it had to release a record. Iceski enlisted the help of two other rappers
CMD (Iceski's brother) and the good friend
Guilty As Charged was recorded in 1989/1990 and released in 1990. It was a combination of raw
Hip Hop and intelligent lyrics. Iceski managed to combine a flowing hard edged rap style for the accompanying hard beats and breaks, CMD and Safe D providing backup. The EP sold 500 units and put the groups name on the map. The group started gigging regularly, whilst working on new material.
In 1991 the follow up EP was released -
Tales From The Wasteland. It continued where the last EP had left off, with a hard and distinctive sound. 300 units were sold before the group decided it was time to move on.
In 1994 the first album was produced after a year hard working by the group. The self titled
Criminal Minds album was immediately signed by a prominent UK label, but was later pulled after a string of legal threats regarding sampled material. The album reached the demo stage, and only ten pressings exist. The group were legally unable to release any material from the album which was a huge blow after such an effort. This put a huge strain on the group and they decided to take a break.
After a year out new songs were put together and in 1996 the Limited Edition EP
Widowmaker was released. 200 copies were sold before the EP was pressed. Two more tracks were written in 1997
(Where's the Juice &
Lyrical Madman) but were shelved and were never released.
In 1998 the two producers Spatts and Halo decided to go separate ways. Spatts is currently enjoying international success and wide acclaim with his new group Environmental Science, who have been prolific in releasing both breakbeat and alternative music of the highest callibre.
In 2001 Halo started a new independent Hip Hop label, UK Rap Records, releasing and re-releasing hard edged raw
Hip Hop music. The first release was the Criminal Minds LP Widowmaker featuring many unreleased tracks and many brand new tracks. Fans of the groups hard uncompromising style found a remix of Urban Warfare (Guilty as Charged) on the album, as well as many new tracks.
At the end of 2002 Milti, owner of the record shop
vinylstore.ch (Switzerland), got in touch with Halo discussing about releasing a Criminal Minds 12" on his label
Vinylstore Records. Finally in August 2003 they released the EP called
Break Shit Up, limited on 300 copies. At the time of writing most of
these have now been snapped up. The EP, contains 4 main tracks with a variety of
accapellas and DJ Cuts & Scratches.
The A Side contains the title cut Break Shit Up and Who's Next For The
Graveyard. The B Side contains new remixes of the Systems Overload and
Widowmaker tracks. Overall the EP has a real old UK Hardcore feel about it and
JB's Funky Drummer even gets to rock in the background once again. For some this
retro sound may no longer hold the appeal it might have done for previous
generations, but the energy and anger is still there and there is something
refreshing to hear a group producing the music they want to without pandering to
the fashions of the moment. You can definitely see how Jungle and Drum and Bass
drew out of this raucousness, but there is so much more to this. The production
consists of big drums, and a whole manner of samples and breaks. Across the
whole EP all tempos are tackled and if you can remember the likes of Hijack or
Gunshot there will be a lot in this to appeal to you. The DJ plays a full role
in this crew scratching up a frenzy on every track. And where the lyrics can be
a bit simplistic in terms of flows the whole package is strong and compelling,
and I for one have missed some of this manic energy in some of the more up to
date sounding crews, there is definitely room for crews like this to survive and
for some reason, the haven for UK Hardcore crews seems to be in Switzerland of
Moreover the group is planning to put out an LP in the near future with the name
A Different Type Of Lyricism. So watch out … …the Criminal Minds are back!