You remember ‘The Message’?… “Don’t push me ‘cos I’m close to the edge!”. If you’re too young to remember it first time around, you’re bound to know that track. It massively influenced hip hop as we know it today. Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five were one of the first to reflect social commentary in their music and offer the world a gritty representation of inner city life in America.
This paved the way for artists like Boogie Down Productions and Public Enemy and many more whose music often reports the inequality, injustice and conflict of individuals, communities and governments. Before ‘The Message’ this style and ‘message’ was the exception, rather than the rule. Something we now take for granted.
Their impact and influence cannot be underestimated.
With a career spanning decades, Grand Master Flash and the Furious five pioneered at the beginning of 2007 by being the first hip hop act to be entered in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was a massive achievement somewhat missed by the majority of the Hip Hop community.
In light of this, Scorpio, of the Furious Five has recently been found drinking tea and eating biscuits in the sunny northern town of Warrington. No joke.
No hall of fame there, so what’s the deal?
He has recently finished collaborating with as yet unsigned hip hop collective China White on their new track: Aggression.
Regardless of his status Scorpio remains fairly humble. He offers suggestions in the production process, but never tells anyone what to do. His professionalism and energy are something to be admired.
Lady Jay Uk (who provided backing vocals for the new track) from Unity Radio in Manchester interviewed Scopio and China White to find out how it all began…
“I flew over to the UK to see these cats China White”, says Scorpio, “we built up a dialogue; it was just about 2 weeks ago – and now I’m actually here”. That’s some fast moves! After a few days in the studio and a couple of interviews, he’s flying out to Canada to go on tour.
Initially approaching him on Myspace, China White “stood out” he claims, and Scorpio decided he wanted to work with them.
China White are essentially Liam Croaker and Antony Egerton. They’re down to earth types. What you see is what you get. Ant mainly does beats, and Liam sings. They work with producer ‘Latch’ in the studio, and the live element includes guitarist Jon Lord and percussionist Adam Baldwin.
When asked about the China White sound, Liam states: “We’re hip hop's finest rock and roll band. People say trip hop, but I don’t think trip hop is a genre. It’s a media made up thing to put bands like Tricky and Massive Attack in. We’re not typical UK hip hop were just doin’ our own thing using our own influences”.
In terms of working with an artist like Scorpio, Liam sees it as two ends of a genre coming together. ˜Yes this is different than what the kids are being forced to listen on MTV and the radio but it's still HIP HOP. Don't believe the hype kids, there are no boundaries”.
It’s understood that industry and media imposed restrictions can weigh heavily on a musicians ability to make it commercially, even if they have a strong underground following. Record companies usually stick with what’s safe. Or the image they want to portray at that time.
The new track ‘Aggression’ certainly has heavy commercial appeal, and a high profile artist like Scorpio can open doors, engaging people who might not have usually taken the time to listen to something different from the norm.˜It's definitely more radio friendly than the rest of our work but without loosing the China White edge”, states Liam.
“You know (our music is about) taking people to pieces and putting it on paper. The murder song; isn’t saying go out and murder someone, it’s saying what does it take? There’s no boundaries with music. People think there is; (but) there’s no formula to it. We own the music, but we’re the puppeteers to the music at the end of the day”.
Interesting thoughts Liam…
The MAJOR news of course is when Scorpio announces: “We bringin back Yo! MTV Raps”.
“I’m about to be the official host for 2007…It’s gonna be major, this is the way everybody learned about hip hop!”.
Big news for the music world! Yo! MTV Raps was the main way hip hop artists gained any wide exposure back in the day. It’s official, MTV Raps will reign supreme once again.
There is a God.
It’s evident that the music itself just isn’t enough anymore, and Scorpio’s comments really cement this. It’s not a given that artists will hold respect because of their musical achievements with the buying public, if they’re not in the current marketing loop of what’s ‘hot’.
“In America right now, everything isn’t based on your music first. Right now the big thing is television shows; reality shows. Flava Flav got the biggest show in America right now, it’s the biggest radio show in the history of cable! It’s much easier once you got a forum and a audience on the television, its that much easier to get your music across’. Like if I try and put my music out right now, just the arrogance of where people is at, it’s like oh that’s old school, before a word come out my mouth. I’m not even gonna play myself .I have to come from a position of strength”.
I can’t stomach any more reality shows. This madness has to end!
Scorpio plans to come back to the UK to discuss promotion and a possible music video with China White. He clearly believes they have potential.
When asked about UK hip hop, he replies: “I gotta be straight honest. I think British hip hop can be incredible, but I think they biggest prob is, they tryna sound too much American… ‘Cos if you’re from over here I don’t wanna hear you tryna be Jay Z or Nas. It’s hard to respect cats on that level, you gotta have your voice. The tone in your voice is your tone, that’s what make y’all stand out…”
He states he would actually like to live in the UK sometime in the near future.
China White are looking to, “push to get a big independent deal, and get us of the dole! We get more appreciation from the States and Canada which is bizarre. We don’t sound like typical UK hip hop you know what I mean, we might start a revolution, you never know!”
As yet unsigned they still landed a distribution deal with ˜So Much Soul” in Canada.
Watch this space. I think you’ll be hearing more about these guys. In fact, future projects involve Rowetta from The Happy Mondays…
By: Jay Diamond
'The DisFUNKtional E.P.' is available to purchase at: