Craig M. Riding is back with another guest post, this time talking about an early 90s UK hip hop classic from Manchester.
Manchester and its adjoining conurbation was a strange place to be a teenager in 1990, It seemed everyone wanted to be from there. Madchester fever had gripped the nation, and the acid house scene was shoving pills down its throat. The centre of the known universe seemed to be Afflecks Palace and we would head on down there every Saturday, and the occasional week day when we bunked off school. We would bump into other kids from school, and have a smoke around the back. People wearing tie dye shit like it was the sixties again and mad baggy jogging pants from Joe Bloggs and Stolen from Ivor. About this time I purchased one of the most underrated (UK) Hip Hop albums of all time – Killer Album by Ruthless Rap Assassins.
The majority of UK Hip Hop I had heard was from London, which I did like but a lot of it seemed to be a poor copy of its big brother. I never really felt MC Tunes though some of my peers did, I was pretty much US-centric, and still am unfortunately. However when I first listened to Killer it was like, woah! Hang on a minute, it was full on assault of local problems, crazy film samples and great music (including a cheeky Beatles sample).
It had a definite Mancunian wit about it, and wasn’t trying to copy the US. There was a punk ethos to it, and was refreshingly honest. No fronting or faux gangster mentality, just the sound of a flat in North Hulme and getting through the day, watching films and listening to whatever music you could get your hands on. It’s still one of the most intelligent Hip Hop albums I’ve heard and was a stark counterpoint to the Madchester scene of pilled up bliss. This was what Manchester was at that time, after you stripped away the baggy clothes and hedonism. Grimy and gritty, a clash of cultures where the reality was a more depressed affair.
This album made me revise my view on UK Hip Hop and though I’m no super fan I will always give good music regardless of geography a listen. It was good to hear a local band do such a great job. It seemed to show the way for UK Hip Hop for a short time, that we didn’t need to try and break through in the states or hook up with their producers. I think that album did a lot for Hip Hop in Manchester as did (holding hands up) 808 State and MC Tunes, MC Buzz B…. Hard and direct!! Also Krispy 3 from Chorley (of all places) deserve a shout.
I can’t blame Kermit for joining up with Black Grape, but it seemed a shame RRA could only muster one more album before they descended back into the council estate they peered out from. Still they managed to release one absolute classic, which had humour and honesty, 2 of the qualities Mancunians are famous for.