As we head towards the final days of 2013, it’s an odd feeling to know that Hip-Hop is still so vibrant in all its forms of rocking. It’s a great thing, no question, there are still Rappers and DJs that have followed the code of purity and inventiveness that kicked off the whole game back in the early 70s in the community centres and parks of a crumbling New York. A healthy percentage of the elders can still get paid off throwback tours by reinventing their acts and performing on stages like Decepticons. The number of DJs that can tear the roof off a crowd in London, Dubai, Melbourne or Vegas also remains astonishing if you look at the timeline and it’s with a proud heart that RRR witnesses this evolving all around us for generations to come.
To think that individual songs from as far back as the the early 90s have eluded us for all this time is also a bit of a shocker, and RRR is all about salvaging these random tracks. Way back when, we’d be loaded up with our disposable income, buying up magazines, 12″s and LPs, checkin the outlets for cassettes and CDs, to ensure everything we’d read about and heard on the radio was in our hands, in preparation for our ears.
One particular album birthed an unhealthy amount of studio out-takes, elusive and unreleased cuts, Ultramagnetic MC’s Funk Your Head Up. In the UK, from April 1990, pioneering DJ Tim Westwood was broadcasting a handful of demo versions of tracks from this LP on his iconic London based Capital Rap Show, straight from tape, that never saw the light of day. These cuts are true classics to those that tuned in during the 2 year period before the albums full release in 1992, because they were BANGERS. For some reason, the versions of tracks like Bust The Facts, Ya Not That Large and Message From The Boss that were aired on Capital Radio during this period never received official releases, they were re-programmed by Ced-Gee, the rest of Ultra and a Danish producer by the name of Phase 5, and as a comparison, they just did’nt cut the mustard. They had the shit bootlegged & re-pressed out them in later years by Tuff City Records and others, but one cut, MC Champion with a verse from an unknown up until that point, Brother James never even got the booty treatment. This verse was seemingly faded out on every radio recording that was made, but evidently not all of them, this is one of the reasons why RRR is in operation, to continue to dig, unearth and to share these gems. For the record, it remained on Tim Westwoods NME Future Rap Chart for weeks on end, ramping up the excitement in prep for the full release.
Until June this year the Brother James verse was’nt even out there. But it’s almost 2014, and we can all finally enjoy the full grainy version that until YouTube uploader Madscience81 kindly shared, might’ve been buried forever if it was’nt for their generosity, so big shouts to him/ her, and to Beatlover for bringing it to our attention. To anyone that held onto a copy and shouted from rooftops that they were sitting on it but did’nt wanna play, go back to the duck pond. Brother James was an MC that recorded with a group by the name of Call Us What You Want, and was reportedly dropped from the finished release for legislative reasons but very little information about him or them is available. Kool Keith admitted to Angus Batey last year that he was ‘so pissed off that that energy of production was lost’ on F.Y.H.U. and that is unquestionable, but listening back to James droppin’ rhymes about typical Ultra subject matter like pterodactyls, highlights how he could’ve become another Nasty Nas, in the same way as Nas blessed us on Live At The BBQ. We’re fortunate to even have this lost verse in the first instance.
RRR have blatantly grabbed the Madscience version and hastily tacked it onto the highest quality available of the original demo, we’ve got no idea if the version of the verse is from a Westwood show or not, but who cares, it’s finally here, the full version of MC Champion, with the ENTIRE verse by Brother James in all its hissy glory. Now all we need is for the original demo cassette to find its way into the hands of a label like DWG, Slice of Spice or one of the handful of others that take the care and attention to bring this kinda jewel back to peoples record players.
Trumungous propers go out to Dynomite from Daily Diggers, to Beatlover and Madscience81 for bringin this to our ears for the first time in over 23 years.
Shouts also go out to FIN for the heads up on the Wonder Woman album that gets sampled on a fair amount of the F.Y.H.U LP.
As well as unnecessarily hiking the loudness levels way too high, hovering avoidably over the pause button, getting the names of songs completely wrong, and stopping the tape when Son of Noise entered the studio, this D90 from the archives is still an enjoyable tape, and precisely how UK Rap radio sounded in 1992. If you arent aware of DJs Max LX & Dave VJ, you may know them as the pioneering British Rap outfit the Hardrock Soul Movement.
Tune in to this bass-heavy recording [apologies] and recall the days of House of Pains Jump Around, before it was a guaranteed student-disco floor-filler, and when PE Greatest Misses album was on heavy rotation on pretty much all of the Rap radio shows, as well as getting coverage on Channel 4 s The Word.
This was also a time when consumers were invited to phone specific artists directly to arrange purchases of their product. London Rapper MC Blade had crowd-funding locked, long before crowd-funding.