Our guest writer, Craig M. Riding, talks about his first love in hip hop (written on 14th February 2013).
As it’s Valentines day, and I’m on my own while going through a separation (but that is a story for another day), I thought I’d write about my first and true love, Hip Hop. Common said that he used to love her, (a classic track, and that MURS and 9th Wonder version is equally as good), meeting her when he was 10 years old and that’s about the time I met her. 1986 in the most improbable place on Earth for a seed from the Hip Hop plant to germinate. An old mining and market town in the hinterland of Greater Manchester, with towering mills looking oppressively over rows of old terraces as an ode to a bygone age and a council estate that competes in size with the rest of the town.
Radio and television very rarely played Hip Hop, but you would hear the odd thing, and obviously my young sponge like mind soaked up these alien sounds. One afternoon after school I found an LP and a tape my older brother had left next to our stereo, (we shared a room which I imagine pissed him off no end being several years older and myself being a little smart arse), and that is where the love affair began. The albums where “Licensed to ill” and “Kings of Rock”. Two albums with similarities but also very different, my young pre adolescent mind took to Beastie Boys first album immediately. It took a little longer to get into Run DMC, and as I was trying to decipher them like a strange code, more albums and tapes began appearing in our shared bedroom. The next batch to appear included, the first 2 Public Enemy albums, “By All Means Necessary”, “Lyrical King” and a few compilations including some Chicago house, which led to a few affairs with club music over the years but the relationship with Hip Hop stayed strong.
Those albums pulled me deeper into the rabbit hole and more and more classics came. I then started secondary school (high school), Madchester and the acid house scene was pretty big at school, and I was listening to 2 of the greatest albums of all time on one C90, “Critical Beatdown” and “Strictly Business”. To this day Kool Keith is one of my all time favourite emcees, and the reason I see the world in a fucked up way, the mans metaphors are just ridiculous. Along with that tape came a Red Alert mix from New York, the audio quality was dire but the music was golden. I haven’t even mentioned Eric B and Rakim yet, or the Jungle Brothers. I still find it hard to put everything into a time line, the summer before I started big school was pure overload time and it continued as I began buying albums, and listening to the only 2 Rap shows on radio, Jeff Young on Radio 1 and Stu Allen on Key 103, both had Hip Hop sections sandwiched between house and club music. Tape deck at the ready, I’d record the whole section then edit out the talking later on. I had an old Tim Westwood tape from his pirate radio days, then found some pirate radio stations broadcasting from Manchester. I’d stay up listening to them and breeze through school tired, thank god I have some intelligence.