Monday, 7 September 2009

Recognition overdue

In the tenth issue of Your Heart Out, which you can download for free in the library on the left, there was some thought given over the question of perception and the way the official media works. On one hand if you say something often enough it seems to stick. I guess that's why the 20th anniversary of the Stone Roses' first LP is celebrated so vigorously. But what about the flip side of that? Why are things under valued? Why do people persist in peddling falsehoods? You know, like the perennial underwhelming UK hip hop scene. Then for whatever reason you go back and listen to some of the rap records made here over the past 20 odd years, and you think eh? Underwhelming? Nah. You just lack the imagination to create a context where some of the best and most vital sounds are suitably celebrated.

Lie number one about UK hip hop (and here there is a tacit acknowledgement that in music as Alex Fergusson's Cash Pussies said 99% is rubbish) is that it is a pale imitation of its US relation. Some on the scene did strive to use their own voice, their native tongue. The London Posse and the Demon Boyz were among the first to use their own accent, to bring in Jamaican influences too from the reggae/dancehall scene. And the Demon Boyz would come through with what is now in certain (but not enough) circles as a bona fide hip hop classic LP in 1989's Recognition, which is now available on CD. Its youthful zest is totally infectious, and if you need a nudge here's Vibes.

There is to this LP the same sort of gauche cockiness that was present in early punk recordings. Indeed watching rare footage of the young Demon Boyz it's impossible not to break into a goofy grin the way you do watching The Jam or Orange Juice.

Funnily enough Recognition didn't take off in the way the Stone Roses did. And by the time they made a second LP, which came out '93ish, the lyrical content was a lot harsher, the rhythms much rougher, more in line with what was happening with jungle. Ironically by that time the pirate radio stations were awash with MCs spouting freeform nonsense and the Demon Boyz disappeared from view.

And the great thing about the proliferation of digital outlets is that there are so many opportunities for long term fans and new converts to share passions, so YouTube and the blogosphere is rife with references to the brilliance of the Demon Boyz with material posted to back these claims. Thus outside of the official media channels new truths take root. Maybe in time they will be repeated enough for momentum to grow and recognition to flow ...

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