The Hiatus Is Back Off, again. And RRR return from our Summer break, energized by the exhaustive and industrious efforts of DJ Stretch Armstrong who has been inspiring us with his recent shares. This time we reach into the archives and pluck out a cassette from 1988, featuring the ‘Sound of Rap n Roll’ from the legendary Capital Rap Show, and UK pioneer Tim Westwood.
Tim Westwood has widely been regarded as the most important figure in UK Rap radio. He was responsible for promoting Hip-Hop and Rap here from as far back as his early days on pirate stations during the early Eighties. He was [and still is] a DJ, a promoter, a TV personality and a label owner, passionately espousing all facets of the culture and chartering himself as a spokesperson, when it was fundamentally finding it’s feet across Great Britain.
This tape from October 1988 captures the golden era of Rap broadcasting in all its hissy FM glory. It’s also something that artists, djs, producers and heads outside the UK fiended for back then, in much the same way British industry insiders and consumers fiended to hear the iconic and influential sounds of DJ Red Alert or Mr Magic coming out of NY. The year was coming to a close and one of the most important alblums in Rap had just dropped, Ultramagnetic MCs Critical Beatdown or, as you’ll note on the tape via the amped up goofballs of young Tim, an alblum by the name of Critical Breakdown [Tim tripped his lips with numerous on-air fails over the years but it never doused the spirit of what he was doing or the importance of the music he was playing]. The cassette, a crispy and balanced TDK SA90, was recorded over a couple of weekends during a visit to London, and was pause-buttoned to avoid ads, wack tunes, too much chat and to capture tracks that were simply bangers and to catch some ‘spectacular, high grade vernacular’ from an interview with ‘rhyme boss of the Syndicate alliance’ Ice T.
The tape begins with a super-duty station ID from Public Enemys Chuck D and Flavor Flav, authenticating if there was any doubt, Westwoods position at Capital Radio and therefore within the community. Tim then kicks off the show with his first fail, he plays the opening few bars of the first track before remembering that he has to play his signature ‘legendary’ opener promo from Boogie Down Productions’ KRS One. It’s at this point that we get down to business, a goose-bump inducing Evil Dead promo, some Floyd Pepper, and the grand incredible sounds of Ultras’ Ease Back, being played for what sounds like the first time. A Mikey Dread promo re-introduces our presenter and we kick off the show properly after this. Unfortunately at 5:08 the impatient blade of the pause-button makes an appearance and we jump straight from Tim to some more promos from the Fat Boys and Sir Drew [from UK pioneers the Mighty Ethnicz]. At 5:53 Comptons King Tee and his alblum title track Act A Fool have the listener reaching for a neck-brace while listening to this vintage head-nodder, before the Paul C produced classic Give The Drummer Some comes in. At 12:28 Tim informs us that he’s ‘Rock Shockin That Funky Beat’ over a classic Cerrone bed before instructing us to tune in to his TV show on Night Network the following Friday. Ultra appear again with Ain’t It Good To You after a random Shinehead drop. After more unfortunate pause action, the first UK track appears from Demon Boyz as they ‘distress the rhythm’ with Vibes [including that Dario Argento intro dialogue].
Over a bed of Experience Unlimiteds go-go classic Knock Him Out Sugar Ray, Tim gives us a rundown of the weekly record sales in London with the Capital Rap Report. The chart places in the top 10 are bursting at the seams with a list of Rap gems including In Control Volume 1, 900 Number [The Sound of the Street], Sugar Bear, Night of the Living Bassheads and It Takes Two. At this point Ice-T suddenly appears in the studio [on the tape], explaining that Def Jef, the next cut on the show, was originally a Syndicate member before heading to work with the Dust Brothers at Delicious Vinyl. Tim also gets intensive with the questioning when asking ‘Did you ever get hurt when you were in the gangs’ ? Around the 34 minute mark, the phone-in Version Excursion competition has caused the Capital exchange to ‘go bionic’ and that the board has lit up ‘Christmas Style’ with the competition entrys.
At 38:30, an older session gets aired. Heavy D appears along with Trouble T-Roy & other various Boyz. DJ Eddie F drops some Bobby Byrd bonus beats while the Overweight Lover drops a few rhymes from the Barry Manilow themed We Write the Songs, as well as few lines ‘off the top’. Were reminded that Tone LOCK, was ‘strictly armed & dangerous’ with DJ M-Walk, we hear a superfluous track by Cool D, some more UK plastic from the London Rhyme Syndicate and then were blessed another Capital Rap Report from the 2nd Friday of the holiday, as Tim sends young consumers on a wild-goose chase [over a deftly looped version of Stanley Turrentines’ Sister Sanctified], telling us that Ultramagnetic MCs LP Critical Breakdown has risen to the number one spot.
At 1:06:43 Tim gives a respectful nod to the old school by introducing ‘a new regular freature’ of playing one track each week from the days of way back. This weeks jammy, from the 1983 soundtrack to the Wildstyle movie, is a short-lived Double Trouble Live at the Amphitheater. Over some more Wildstyle beats, Tim continues to questions Ice and asks about the sexist imagery on his LP artwork, before we reach the end of the tape, with Tim signing off with his trademark “Thats all from me Westwood, im outta here, Peace” !!
Again, huge trumunganoid propers to the king of Cadbury, DJ Stretch Armstrong, thanks for the incentive and aaaayoo, the stimulation. Check out why here: https://medium.com/@StretchArmy
Til next time, remember, ‘Stay locked in or left out’.
It is easy to forget the effect Rap and Hip-Hop culture were having on not only the fans, but music industry heads during the 80s, people that werent exactly embedded in Hip-Hop circles or part of the black music scene of the time.
What is interesting is listening back and rediscovering just how much Rap was being underestimated in terms of popularity and how much enthusiasm some of these people had for a fundamentally new music and what became the voice of a new generation. It was influencing them enough to discuss it on national radio. RRR was reminded recently about legendary DJ John Peel recalling his attendance at the UK Fresh music festival in 1986, and how he’d been mesmerised by the actions of Word of Mouth and more importantly, World Champion DJ Cheese.
Above is another example of the mainstream discovering the power and compelling nature of Rap, this time from late 1988. The clip features Jeff Young interviewing Ice T on the weekly Rap and Dance show The Big Beat, on the most successful, and to this day, most popular UK radio station BBC Radio1. Jeff alerts Ice for the first time to the fact that rock monsters U2 had shown more than a passing interest in finding a copy of his first album Rhyme Pays whilst being interviewed by ex-Old Grey Whistle Test presenter [and the female John Peel] Annie Nightingale, in an interview a couple of months previous. Turns out that Ice had already been approached by U2 about a collabo. Thankfully Ice was busy at the time.
Bono was so amped that he asked the listeners on-air, ‘There must be a copy in London – if anyone out there actually has a copy, please bring it round’.
Huge propers to Sparkdala for the original cassette.