Over the years, we’ve seen many of the country’s sickest artists come out of Leeds city. With the launch of their new EP “Alphabetix Anonymous”, there’s a group on the horizon who look set to send a fresh wave of funky hip-hop out to the masses. The “Alphabetix” are fast gaining a solid reputation up North, with the release of their debut EP doing nothing but favours for their reputation further a field.
The York-born, Leeds based group consists of a diverse range of characters, who combine effortlessly to create a truly original blend of hip-hop that caters for even the most eclectic of tastes.
ABD, MrRis and Angel S each bring their owns cards to the table lyrically, with DJ Sir+ serving up a nice fat serving of turntable trickery over beats provided by some of the North’s finest producers, including Jack Dans (DS Crew), Fenna Rhodes and DJ Creation.
After a heavy intro where Sir+ gets busy tearing up the decks, “Alphabetix Anonymous” gets going with “You Can Bet it’s the Betix”. Straight out, the Betix kick off as they mean to go on with a funk-infused track that you can’t help but nod your head to. Mike D’s beat is brought to life with verses that bounce over the bass line and, rather than knocking softly, it kicks in the door to announce the group’s arrival.
From here, they go on to prove that they have more than one trick in their bag, by spinning a tale of back-stabbing, cheating lovers that would make Katie Price’s love-life look restrained. “I Know Something You Don’t Know” also displays Angel S’ lyrical dexterity, where she combines her catchy rap lyrics with a melodic hook, to create a nicely rounded performance.
With each track that passes, the Alphabetix prove their calibre with a combination of head-banging vibes and topical content that is close to the hearts of many of us like-minded individuals. Where, “Long Day” provides a narrative of the everyday hurdles that MC’s face trying to make it in the music game, “Children” highlights the group’s conscious side by touching on the taboo topics of paedophilia and problems associated with underage pregnancies.
Following J Bravo’s reggae-inspired bass-heavy beat for “Children”, the Betix pick up the pace again with the pick of the tunes from the 10-track EP. “Bounce” is a high energy track where all three MC’s let loose to complement the aptly-chosen beat that is guaranteed to get crowds bouncing.
Overall, for those of you that haven’t heard of these guys, this is certainly an EP that would sit well in any collection. It’s original blend of thoughtful lyrics, catchy hooks, sick beats and a trio of individual MC’s provides for an EP that offers the listener a tune for every occasion. Personally, “Bounce” will be helping me make it to work on a Monday morning!
Luckily for those of you that aren’t aware of the waves that are starting to emanate out of Leeds, I took the time to catch up with the guys and get you all a little bit more info.
Right, so for the people out there who haven’t heard of the Alphabetix, tell us a bit about how it all started…
Abd: Me and MrRis met first at open mics in our mid teens in York, then Angel S jumped on a track a couple of years after that.
MrRis: At the time there was a lot of open mics in York for us three to rip up but just limited opportunities.
Sir+: I jumped on board about 3 years ago, after the group moved to Leeds and I met MrRis at a house party I was spinnin’ at and he spit some bars, we have all been making music together since then.
So you started out in York. What prompted the move to Leeds?
MrRis: We've got a lot of love for York and still play there whenever we can but there is so much of a bigger scene in Leeds and more opportunities.
Obviously the city of Leeds has given rise to many of the greats of the UK scene over the years. What is it about the city that breeds sick hip-hop?
Angel S: Leeds is such a diverse place and there is so much talent here. In LS6 where we are there are loads of musicians and artists it makes up a vibrant atmosphere and that’s inspirational.
MrRis: Any big city does alright but most of the MCs that are from Leeds have moved elsewhere I think maybe because of a general lack of exposure up North.
Sir+: When I moved to Leeds there were fat hip-hop nights every night of the week, that’s gotta inspire anyone.
I've been lucky enough to have a listen to your new EP, "Alphabetix Anonymous", and I have my views on it, but how would you guys describe your debut offering?
Angel: Heavy! It’s Alphabetix own flava.
MrRis: Upbeat. It’s all head nod and bounce. Proper party hip-hop.
Sir+: Its boom bap with a modern twist.
ABD: Organic and lively.
Like many aspiring artists out there, I gather that you've decided to release this EP under your own label; 30-Tonne Slug. Was this always the plan?
MrRis: Pretty much.
In a highly competitive market, what do you feel can distinguish 30-Tonne Slug from all the other UK labels out there?
ABD: Its just the different flavour of music from a listeners point of view, we're coming with a unique style of sound that’s distinctive from others out there.
I don't think anyone in the country can ignore the fact that times are hard financially for a lot of people, particularly aspiring artists. To what degree has the credit crunch stifled Alphabetix / 30 Tonne Slug's progress?
Angel S: It's hard even without a recession! We're trying to be realistic about things and at the same time I reckon the UK scene will survive as long as people are doing what they love to do.
ABD: For a time there were a lot less gigs about but it seems to be picking up now, most people we know seem to be getting some gigs and there’s a big choice of nights to go to again up here.
So the EP officially drops on 12th October 2009. How do you expect it to be received by the heads around the country?
MrRis: We'll see. The heads round here seem to like it so hopefully we'll be received well elsewhere.
Where can people get hold of a copy?
Sir+: Ok, suspect-packages.com, 30tonneslug.com, all the independent shops in Leeds and the usual iTunes etc.
Given your first offering, I, for one, am excited about what 30 Tonne Slug had to offer. Is there anything else in the pipeline that you can give us a sneak preview of?
MrRis: Yeah, we've got a fresh signing to 30 Tonne Slug. Some guys that we've been working with for a little while, a crew called Verbal Contact consisting of Matter and Prys, two Leeds heads that happen to be two of the illest MCs I know.
Angel S: Their EP 'Literary Vices' is going to be dropped late November on 30 Tonne Slug its big trust me look out for them.
ABD: If you want a sneak preview check them out on the new Risin Styles mixtape, get that on suspect packages as well.
Right, well that about wraps it up for me. Anything else you want to add?
Sir+: if your in Leeds on 28th November come down to Freshjive in Leeds, we'll be supporting Masta Ace alongside Defenders of Style and bare other hip-hop acts at Elbow Room.
By: Phil Clark