HIP HOP PREVIEW
Quannum Glasgow: The Arches, Sun 12 Dec.
‘Quannum. It's a play on the word “quantum“,' explains Chief Xcel, DJ, one fifth of Quannum, and half of Blackalicious.
In attempting to explain their name and the differences between their various projects, Xcel backtracks to provide a potted history of their own record label and the entire hip hop scene in the San Francisco Bay area.
Solesides records started in 1993 with the release of DJ Shadow’s debut 'Entropy' and 'Send Them' by Lyrics Born (then known as Asian Born). Albums and EPs by Blackalicious, Latyrx and DJ Shadow were released to great acclaim, and helped earn the Bay area scene a reputation as a goldmine for quality hip hop. DJ Shadow's transformation from bedroom boffin to worldwide DJ de jour last year, with the release of his album Endtroducing, led to the dissolution of Solesides and the birth of Quannum Projects. The record label was born in 1997, and this summer saw the release of Spectrum, one of this year's most innovative and varied hip hop albums.
‘For us, Quannum has been expansion,‘ explains Xcel. ’Solesides was really insular, and we only really worked with ourselves. Quannum is about expanding, reaching
Frisco kids: Quannum
out and working with a whole lot of people: Jurassic 5. Company Flow, Souls Of Mischief, Divine Styler and the like. It's an expansion in terms of vision as well as the music.’
The live show that will visit our shores seems set to be a schizophrenic treble bill: ‘We have a Latyrx set and then a Blackalicious set and then we do something all together at the end and that's our Quannum thing,’ Xcel reveals. There’s also the addition of several other vocalists and DJs in an attempt to get over the collaborative spirit of the Quannum album.
Their press boasts over one million records sold between them since the label's inception. At the question of whether this negates any claim to be 'underground', Xcel is untypically reticent. 'We don't like to get into labels; we just like to make good solid hip hop music. We try not to get caught up with whatever kind of classifications people want to put on us.’
Regardless of how their music is classified, they indulge Scottish hip hop fans with no less than three dates this month. visiting Dundee and Aberdeen as well as Glasgow.
Xcel will be able to indulge one of his great passions during his extended Scottish stay: record buying. 'I am an intense record buyer,’ he reveals. 'At instore appearances, we get to dig through the record bins. I just need time to do my thing.’ (Mark Robertson)
I'm, ' O
indisputable and concrete, something we can riff off of.’
This philosophy of interpretation can, at times, land the group in hot water with audiences, due to the fact that one man's interpretation is another man's jazz meandering. Back to Herrema: 'Live, anything goes. I don't think we've rehearsed for a live show ever. We get the musicians together, everybody knows the songs in their own way from listening to the records, so we just all jump out there and see what happens and, y'know, sometimes we go way off the map.’
Fortunately, the group's faith in improvisation tends to pay off, resulting in shows that remind you just
ROCK PREVIEW Royal Trux Edinburgh: Studio 24, Sun 12 Dec
Royal Trux are a rock 'n' roll band, pure and simple. Their last two albums, Accelerator and Veterans of Disorder are chock full of muscular riffs, croaky vocals and lyrics reliant on the two words that have littered choruses since rock 'n' roll time began - ‘wanna' and
Riff and ready: Royal Trux
‘gonna‘. For Jennifer Herrema, who along with Neil Hagerty forms the core of the group, this simplicity is the key to the Royal Trux live sound. 'I think that live performance defines rock 'n' roll. It isn't like the pop experience, which is more like recreating something verbatim — the rock 'n' roll experience is all about interpreting something. And that is only possible because it's all based on something
why you love music in the first place. Royal Trux take the pared down, dumb-ass rock they've committed to vinyl and drag it through a hedge backwards, kicking and screaming, until each and every song becomes a hymn to the rock aesthetic. Royal Trux, then, aren't ground-breaking innovators and they won’t wow you with technical wizardry; instead, they offer a distillation of all that is good in the world of rock ‘n' roll.
HIP HOP PREVIEW
The Unspoken Heard Edinburgh: The Venue, Sat 4 Dec.
In the commercial rap world of playas, bitches, pimps, hos, gangstas and self- declared bad-assed muthas, it is refreshing to hear someone speak eloquently and with positivity about hip hop music. Also, it appears that the networks of distribution for underground music span oceans. On the release of only their third vinyl adventure, The Unspoken Heard will make the journey across the Atlantic from the Bronx to Edinburgh to illustrate their lyrical skills and show how hip hop is done, New York-style.
The Unspoken Heard is a collective of MCs, producers and poets who claim to be ’dedicated to the creativity of expression’. That is, making innovative hip hop laced with positive but realistic messages and imagery. They debuted with an EP: ‘Cosmology' and have followed it up with a double-A side single 'Better’, both of which did well in US underground hip hop cirlces. It was their most recent release that finally gave them exposure in the UK. ’Jamboree’ is a old-style party hip hop tune where everyone gets their hands on the mic. It received rave reviews in much of the British music press and has stirred attention in their live set- up.
The live line-up is headed by MCs Asheru and Blue Black. 'Asheru is the sail that keeps the ship moving, I'm the wheel that keeps the ship on course,’ declares Blue Black. ’The idea of Unspoken Heard live is to have as many dope artists on stage at the one time as possible,’ he says. A vast number of hip hop artists have graced the stage with the Heard including rappers from New York's Rawkus label. One face that sadly won’t make the trip over to Europe is Blue Black. 'I have commitments with my internet business that mean I can’t come over,’ he explains. ’l’m trying to develop our own distribution for the records, we're trying to diversify and I'm trying to support our label (Seven Heads) with things other than music. If we can put our music on an MP3 on the internet where we get money each time it goes out, then our dependency on local distribution will decrease.‘
Their dedication to the cause is considerable: ’l’ve been doing this since I was thirteen years old and I'm 31 now,’ laughs Blue Black. And with an album and a return visit scheduled for next year, the word appears to be spreading at last. (Mark Robertson)
Express yourself: The Unspoken Heard
2-16 Dec 1999 THEIR?“