The Legion -Is it the fans killing Hip Hop?

While in NYC I got to work with the group the Legion.   By chance I was working at the Zulu Nation event alongside mentor, brother and great friend Jazzy Jay. For two weeks I had got a crash course in building and setting up speakers. Anyhow at one of the days events The Legion were scheduled to perform.

I’m a big fan of their music, They kept and maintained the sound of New York alive. I introduced my self and spoke to them about the project I’m working on and if they would like to take part in the project.

The legion have guts they are not colored or swayed by the current sounds or trends in the music. When many claim to be keeping the music alive, there music comes from the gut and gives me that feeling of some 20 years ago where for many of us I was excited to hear what’s coming or what’s next, every week there was something to look forward too.

Hip Hop music in its best forms has always come from the gut. As a listener or fan the best records that we have in our collection were all made from that same blueprint.

The spirit of the culture in its purest form can be found here.   This was part of the magic of Hip Hop so powerful that honest music like this influenced many across the seas in the way we make music, dress and carry ourselves. Whilst in NYC I spent some time with The Legion and got to sit on the new album. Since coming back its been playing on my mind and bugging me.

When people say that Hip Hop is dead blaming the artists, who change their sounds or don’t live up to the expectations to their fans delivering pretty standard albums I came to the conclusion that we the fans are hugely part to blame for this and the demise in the creativity of the current state of Hip Hop. There are some great records that we passed on, and lot of that is because how some people are listening to music is changing.  Some so called Hip Hop fans play it safe and avoid the street music and prefer to listen to that nice hip hop that just talks about hip hop and how much they love it forgetting the grit and soul it came from, that’s fine if that’s what there into but personally this is where i’m lost, i miss the message that was being delivered by the music that had guts.  It presented a picture of the day to day dealings and struggles, the highs and lows of living in the inner city.  The music where artists / groups were driven by competition of being not just the best they can be, but better then the next group.  Where the above strived to add and contribute to this music.  Where producers lived for being creative, Im not saying that today’s music is bad, but the accepted bar or level of whats good isn’t that high.  Being different is too often used to disguise the lack of real talent.

Why that period of the 80s and 90s was so fantastic was melting pot of great music, styles and sounds that were being created, artists worked hard to just get on a platform to make a mark. This goes down even to the jams where MC lined up to get on the mics and spit. The Legion encompasses all that. I firmly believe that if the people and the fans of hip hop don’t get behind this new album, then yes hip hop is dead but it was the fans that killed it, because they are going to deliver a true classic here. From start to finish this album comes from the gut. Here is a group that still has the passion drive and hunger to add to list of great records in that timeless discography of HIP HOP albums.

Yes this is only my opinion but after listening to the is album, spending time with the group what they are delivering is what I spent my life trying to aspire too. There is lesson to be learn’t from the guys in The Legion. They are the blood and guts of this music. I really hope that people pay attention to this Album. Let this one slip and you was part of the demise and death of hip hop.

 

AG – Blow Video

A.G with out a doubt one of the greatest M.C’s of all time. An artist that has got better and better over the years, as Sparkii Ski put it earlier. One of those Golden Era M.C’s that you never get tired of hearing his music, he has took it to another level.

I’ve known AG for some years, In fact AG was one of the few people that reached out to me in my most difficult times. Aside from that he and Ray West forged their very independent record label Red Apples 45 that put out some of the most interesting project out of the last few years.

I can not remember how I heard the track BLOW, but I heard it early. I loved this track and for some time I wanted to have a go at creating something different for it. Not the norm.

I approached AG and he welcomed me to put something together. I did a rough first edit for which he liked. He suggested a few changes which again I have to hand to him..Like Diamond D, AG will work alongside you turning what was an idea into real piece.

So here it is, my video for the song Blow. No prizes for guessing which movie I sampled.

You got to have style and be original..yes thats me

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Aside from my passion for film and music I have always been involved in making garments for myself. At School I would hand paint t-shirts at collage I would create images that could be heat pressed onto shirts.

At 17 years old I was introduced to the world of screen printing and got to meet Tony from AM SCREENPRINT. He still runs the company based in Redditch. I started creating some designs which he printed and brought to life. To this day I still use his company.

Over the years I created lots of designs of shirts that I would sell amongst friends or at events, there was a time me and legendary artist A.Dee also known as the Artful Dodger would put stuff out together. Everything we did was aimed at the hip hop market. Going back into the 90s era we very influenced by Star Wars in a lot of our creations.

These were the days that I really didn’t pay too much attention to the way I personally dressed I was more interested in the creating rather than paying attention to fashion.

Its only when I got divorced that things took a turn. One thing my ex commented on that was she didn’t really like the way I dressed most of the time. Thinking that if that meant so much to her I through all my clothes away in a effort to save my marriage. That made no difference at all. So I was left without a wardrobe.

Entering that dark space most people go through I just went about re-inventing myself. I would head over to TK Max and dig for clothes. Amongst my close friends we set some rules. I could not spend more that £10 on a shirt or £20 on pair of jeans, this made things very interesting for me. I started to pick out stuff, but at the same time started to notice how the styles of shirts have changed. The days of Fruit of the loom shirts are over, there are better quality garments being offered at affordable price now.

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Another thing was that I was spending a lot more time round my parents now, seeing them and hanging around. For the first time in my life I started to notice the textile work my mother had been doing and was so passionate about long before I was born. These are the things we often don’t notice and take for granted. She has this embroidery machine that she is into that she would make clothing for the grandchildren. It’s a digital machine driven by a USB stick. I had already been getting king of the beats and Diggers hats / jackets being embroided by AM Screen Print.

I just wondered if it would be possible to put my logo onto one off pieces for my self using her machine. Like I said times have changed and my tastes and dress changed. I still want to have a connection to the music and culture I love but I just want to appear a bit smarter and well dressed to how I used to be.

I would dig for garments shirts / boots in stores like TK Max that were unbranded and customize them making them my own. I now have a wardrobe full of out fits that Ive created and personalized. This went pretty far to a point where I started to create pieces for Diamond D, Break Beat Lou, Jazzy Jay, Tha 4orce and Large Pro. I didn’t do this alone, I would do these with the help of my mother.

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Now that my parents are getting on, My mother in her 70’s this has brought us together, It keeps her mind active keeps her creative, plus she become somewhat of celebrity among my hip hop friends. It made her very proud to see artists wearing her creations, items she hand made for them. You can see the Biker style jackets we created inspired by the pre Hip Hop gangs of New York on my Instagram.

I have been doing this for some years now, and the reason I wanted to write this article was that in this day and age where there not as many outlets supporting creatives as there used to be, I feel like I have to document my own journey as if I don’t then no one will.

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Ive offered on my site before the service of custom pieces to the public, it bothers me that people that within this scene there is such little support for this type of creativity. I can only thank the likes of Diamond D, Jazzy, Breakbeat Lou and those artists that are up on it and embrace this.

As graffiti artist and coming from the 80s I was involved in the tagging scene and putting my name all over. As an artist your always thinking about how to take things and push your ideas further. My latest creating in ‘GrandGarm Bombing’. Where I have been putting my customized items into the market place. By purchasing items, customizing them then returning them to the stores. Now some lucky person may not be even into this hip hop thing has purchased a dope shirt that infact was created by me. Now that is tagging at another level. So if you do find one my pieces consider your self one lucky DIGGER

You read it first here. `

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MC MELLO – EXCLUSIVE OUT TAKE

There was a time me and Mello would calling each other regularly I would go as far as saying one the most interesting people in my circle. He would always phone greeting me in Punjabi, throwing me off wondering who is this. Mello does go through some phones.

We have maintained a pact that we made many years ago and to this day have stuck to it even in our recent absence from being in touch with each other.

For those that maybe reading this that do not know who MC Mello is, he is among the most significant, intelligent and couscous recording artists to have come our of the UK since the 80s. He played a major part in the scene and like DJ Pogo, Monie Love, Sparki Ski bridged the gap between here and the USA in those ever so important years we call the Golden Era.

Working along The Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest, 45 King and Gangstarr to just name a few, He is in many people eyes here in the UK the unspoken member of the Native Tounges.

Mello along Jay King made the trip to the Midlands to sit on the viewing draft number 3 of the film I have been working on.  We shot some footage towards the film. I’m not going to explain why yet, but there is an angle I do want to explore. Anyhow here is an out take from one from the shoot, Mello reflects on his time with Public Enemy and there front man Chuck D.

After viewing this for those that know his music already and those that don’t glancing at the message currently being delivered in popular music listening back to first Album ‘Thoughts Released’ maybe refreshing enjoyable listen.  We need more artists with substance weather young or old, there is nothing like good music that stimulates the mind.

Behind the Scenes September / October 2015

Over the last month I’ve been locked in my home feeling like house arrest working on the this film. Very few people have seen me. My Normal routine would at least go to the city on Saturday to catch up with old friends for something to eat and a record dig. I’ve not done that in nearly 3 months.

I’m very close to completing this film. Whilst working on it, I did shoot some of the behind the scenes goings on to document for my self this journey.  I recorded my skype calls with friends that have supported the project and who had an inside glimpse of the work. Not being part of a production team or being managed by anyone I don’t have professional filmmakers around me to talk too.

I’ve been bouncing ideas round with trusted friends. One of those you will see in this scene is my friend Elliot from the group E.S.P on Select Records.

My mother who’s been my biggest supporter over the last few years, through all the let downs and bad times which all seemed to happened since 2012 has really been there for me, whilst ive worked on this film, the times I had no money, couldn’t afford to eat, she knew id be working on this, she would give me a call I have dinner if you want to pop over. How is the film coming on.  A creative her self and passionate about her textiles, she is the lady behind the Diamond D shirt the Ultimate Break Beats Jacket you see BB Lou rocking. Whilst making this film I lost 3 people very dear to me, time is very precious I learnt. I see know how important it is to document your own history.

I have also really enjoyed working on the music score for this film, it gave me a good excuse to get my fingers dusty and go digging for sounds that would bring this movie to life.

One fantastic experience whilst working on this film was working with DJ Disk, him being in California posed a real problem shooting him. We came with idea of doing the shoot through Skype. He arranged Camera man Mathew Alhoner to do the shoot as I directed from my home here in the Midlands. Together we made it happen and got the scene edited the day after shooting. This opened my eyes to what can be achieved when working with the right people who share the same vision. People who understand what it takes and have the drive to make it happen.

Enjoy.

Malcolm A.K.A DJ Midday thanks for the message of motivation

It’s not long now until I will head back to NYC to show my film to those that took part in it and possibly embark on my next project.

The last 3 years has been a little bit difficult, it’s been hard to find the motivation to get into this film. The archive of footage collected goes in to well over 30 hours shot. It can get a little overwhelming to get started.

Living out side the city now of Birmingham things can become very isolated. A lot of my friends moved out of town. I don’t really get to see the crew as much as I used too. So over the last year I embarked on transformation of my self I started to take care of my self. I took up running and eating healthy, to improve ones inner self is a good place to start to get energized.

I stopped going into the city to hang out, my time could be spent being more productive. Unfortunately I’m not managed I don’t have deadlines I work at my own pace, I had to put a stop to that and my solution was buy a ticket to NYC and turn up there with a film. I perform best what my back is up against the wall.

For a minute I lost the hunger and will that Id carried for so many years. Anyhow that’s changed. I built my studio and surrounded my self with pieces that remind me of why I got in to this.

I want to thank those that supported me and shown me love, my friends here and overseas. Recently I got spend some time With Break Beat Lou and Peatnut Butter Wolf (my first meeting with him) and to be able to share that time and get to know each other more meant a lot. They were open for me to join them on their tour, sadly I could not make it all as I have to work. They offered me a platform share their experience.

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Yesterday my old friend Malcolm aka DJ Midday out of Brooklyn visited me. He wanted to say something to me that he didn’t mind me sharing. I don’t mind sharing this with people visiting my site. For me I can go back to this in those low moments and be reminded that I got a lot to get on with and further more achieve.

Create your own lane.

WHY WATCH CHANNEL ZERO? – WHEN YOU CAN WATCH THE GOOD STUFF RIGHT HERE P.E

Who can ever forget the day the first heard the album ‘It takes a nation of millions to hold us back’ from Long Islands Public Enemy? Before I ever got my hands on it my older brother who is no rap fan purchased it. I was sat inside the living room and he came back from the city with his vinyl copy.

There was nothing out there to compare to with how big a sound that record was. I remember him looking at me doing arms folded stances, something that I do pretty much all the time in personal pics. Funny enough the stand out track on that first listen was by no means the greatest or the one any DJ’s play, it was ‘She Watch Channel Zero’.

To this day there has never been a record like it. In reflection where this record made its biggest impact on me was the lyrics by the front man Chuck D and its minister of information Professor Griff who’s  sheer presence in my view, stood there as a strong person of color. The groups imagery was iconic. I think this is one of the reasons my older brother now in his 50s brought this album he was already intune with its message. He was into politics and would spend his time sat in his room reading books about Carl Marx when not listening to records or drawing.

Being a lot younger I loved the message and the stance P.E took. I felt inspired and strong willed; I felt I had something more to offer and that I was no second class citizen to anyone. This record and B.D.P’s Edutainment were catalysts for me seriously pursuing this art form and working towards becoming a contributor to not just document its development growth and origin but to inspire future generations.

publicenemy10 My interest in records, graff and Breakin film & photography was there before this record let’s make that clear. This record influenced me to try make a everlasting mark on not just this culture but people I meet on my journey.

Fast forward some 20 years I got to make friends with former P.E journey man Johnny Juice who I wanted to feature in my movie ‘The Men & Their Music’. This lead to genuine friendship we went onto work a few projects together. The first being the piece on Leaders of the New School and the film on Son Of Bezerk all shot at the famous Terrordome. Which lead to me asking Juice to take part in my upcoming movie ‘ Looking for the Perfect Beat’. This later lead to me working on his HiCoup project shooting and directing the videos for the song Crocodile Tears.

Also over the years I had built a strong friendship with NYC Radio Legend and DJ, Chuck Chillout. Who’s infamous ‘I’m Large’ video got played on BBC2’s Def 2 Show. We worked on a short film together too. I was given a chance to film his show at Kiss Fm. I believe it was these two men that must of talked to Chuck D about my work.

2014 Saw Public Enemy embark on a European Tour for which Chuck Chillout joined them. I remember the phone call I got some 2 or 3 am in the morning from him.   I was fast asleep but Chuck told me he’s coming to the UK lets get together. So he cordinally invited me to join him on one of the P.E shows. I drove to Sheffield with my long time friend Diamond Keith as he is known today to meet up with Chuck Chillout at their hotel. There in the lobby we met members of the group.   That evening Chuck D did leave his room and visited the group where he quickly just hello to me.

publicenemy21The following day we went to the venue in Sheffield. Courtesy of P.E we joined them in the V.I.P area where some hours later Chuck D arrived. I was sat with Chuck Chillout when Chuck D sat down with us and said right Pritt, lets talk. I want to know what you do and how you do it, I hear a lot about you over in the states. We discussed my beginnings and where I am now. I even showed him some of the new film I’m working on. I remember telling him that I do come from that B-Boying Culture and that I thrive of competition, The last film of any substance at that time was ICE T’s ‘Art of Rap’. I told him that I’m going to do my best to take that film out and show people what people can do and achieve with no budget no sponsors and very little support also taking to account i’m not from the USA or even the Big city of London. I believe I am the hip Hop story and that my actions in the completion of this film away from the movie itself can only inspire young /old people that if you really believe in something that not everything is beyond your capabilities.

With so many negative images and media driven agenda’s, I wanted to show through facing many challenges, diversity and person issues that people of color can do great things. This left a mark I think on Chuck as he allowed me to join the group on stage and shoot them. 2015 They return to the UK and in my home city of Birmingham where Chuck welcomed me to join the group to shoot them performing at the Moseley Jazz Festival.   IMG_1800 That night I joined Chuck in his hotel room too have a long discussion regarding a few things. Within the week I had edited the show up for which I sent to the group. Seeing as Erik shared the video on facebook I thought I would write this about my experience with the group plus for a limited time share the film I shot. There is another film I did shoot for the Legendary Roy Ayers who also performed at the Jazz Festival which for all those that were there was spectacular as Flavor Flav made a guest appearance and together with Roy Ayers and Band shared a incredible moment with us all.

Big thank you to everyone mentioned and all the P.E Crew.Tommo & Mike Richards & Moseley Jazz Festival.

For further information / tour date check www.publicenemycom