The frat pack

‘Look to the horizon my friends,’ advises far-sighted rapper Me Phi Me. If that’s too far, his debut album will at least take you half- way there. Craig McLean tags along and enjoys the ride.

‘I took the hip from hop. the roll from rock. the rhythm from blues. and I added some folk for you folks. then carefully thought about what really needed to be said to make you think . . . to encourage contribution.’

He‘s divvied up music. has Me Phi Me. and forged it anew. Well. nearly. For all the initial confusion when you phone him up in Paris he’s busy supporting Arrested Development round Europe - and say ‘Hi. is that Me?‘. his music is clear-cut and his manifesto clear-sighted. Individuality! Non- conformity! Stand alone. stand proud! ‘A complete picture is made up of a series of points. with each dot serving a specific purpose and you can‘t play connect-the-dot withjust one point. Leam to value your own point of view and not just that of the masses.’

Positivity! Yawnsville. Hectoring. haranguing. get- your-shit-together platitudes from club-footed rappers we‘ve had it up to here with that particular marketing ace. punted as new age soundness for rap fans that care. So why give this 22-year-old son of Flint. Michigan. floorspace? Because the Me Phi Me Pledge. the oath of allegiance of this fratemity (majoring in Organic Hip-Hop at the School Of Thought), is honourable and true. ‘Some people desperately want to be part of the crowd. Some people are special. they stand out in the crowd . . . And then there‘s the ME PHI ME. WE STAND ALONE!‘

One. Me Phi Me‘sjust-released first album. is fit to burst with invigorating. self-awaring poetry and pulses. Even though the ‘daisy age' is a hazy memory and ‘empowering‘ messages are old news. One never sounds stale. never sounds trite. always bathing its gentle. incisive polemics in what Me calls

imandatory round about this point in the article. But

I , ast October's debut

é ‘Black Sunshine'. as the title ofl ; single has it.

‘Believe it or not we started recording in l988.’ he i chuckles. ‘It just took a while to make sure that we were presenting all parts of Me Phi Me. It‘s a very big thing to try and swallow at once. There‘s me. I look different and I am quite different. The name is confusing and the music is also very different and there’s a lot of things we want to do. So itjust took time . . . Everyone said in 1992 and 1993, “Aw, this is really fresh“. But if you could have heard it in 1988 you would have passed out!‘

The album came out in America last July, just as lMe Phi Me were touring the country with Arrested {Development and The Disposable Heroes Of , ;Hiphopr1sy hip~hop’s dream ticket, surely and its 1


jmix of funk.ja'1.7. and inspirational lyrics finds gparallels in both of these other. boundary-testing rap Qacts. References to Sly Stone and Gil Scott-Heron are l

Me Phi Me also throw in . . .

this country had of Me Phi Me was on 10013 ; Holland’s Later show on BBC2 last November.

Playing ‘Not My Brotha’. their scathing-yet-chirpy lambasting of other rappers’ calls-to~brotherhood and—unity-(man), Me Phi Me swung from a cappella to doo-wop to chain-gang chants to hip-hop to acoustic folk. Then back again. They barely paused and totally thrilled. That's what Me Phi Me throw in, along with Me's sprawling. funky verse. born of a childhood spent ‘writing all the time, all day. pages

I and pages. I was very. very heavily into poetry . . .‘

Poet first and rapper second, One is a bright, refreshing listen as a result. ‘I am Big Beat Poet, I am thinker,‘ goes the Me Phi Me welcoming mantra. This is one frat pack whose initiation ceremony is entirely pleasurable.

One is out now an RCA. Me Phi Me play London '5 Brixton Academy with Arrested Developent on Fri 23 and Sat 24. l 'd be there if I were you.


:- Spiritual high

Together now since last April and constantly being turned down for landing, Manchester Gospel Choir has survived thanks to the dedication of the three tounder members, Peter Morgan, Glenroy Powell and Phillip

‘Vle decided to get together and form the choir tor a number of reasons, mainly because Manchester was lacking a choir, which most large British cities have these days. We wanted the astounding gospel talent that we have in Manchester to have an outlet and saw ourselves as tilllng a void left by gospel promoters who don’t venture liorth at Birmingham. Also we saw it as a counteraction to all the negative press which

where we are based.’

constantly surrounds young people, especially in areas such as Mosslde,

Starting oil by advertising in the local press and on pirate radio, they were soon ready to hold their first audition. ‘itle hired a hall for the evening and set out about so chairs and something in the region at 150 people turned up.’ low they have a 70- strong core group, ranging In age from titteen to the mld-lortles and since their outset, have been playing venues

in and around Manchester regularly and have worked with theatre groups and television companies. Future plans are tor a larger tour, bringing the whole entourage up to Scotland and touring round the rest of the country. The 30-strong choir, along with musical accompaniment, will most certainly make for a different club night out and is one that dellnltely should not be missed. (Joe Lampard) The Manchester Gospel Choir, Whlmr G chips, The Venue, Edinburgh, Sat 1.

The List 23 April-6 May I993 85