HIP HOP Mark B and Blade

’In the last few years the only people who have really blown me away in terms of music are Oasis. That “Wonderwall” track just did something to me,’ says Blade.’ An unexpected declaration from the vitriolic veteran of British rap, who’s out and about in support of his latest opus, The Unknown, a collaboration with Mark B, British hip hop producer of repute and head of UK hip hop label Jazz Fudge.

Between his odd staccatto delivery and militaristic soundbites it is difficult to work out whether Blade is extracting the Michael or not. ’I don’t actually listen to that much hip hop. How can I put it, if you play football for a living it must be boring to go home and play football in your garden again. Getting away from hip hop is an important thing, I conciously go out of my way to not listen to much because I don’t want to be influenced by it.’

Like his heroes Bruce Lee and Jimi Hendrix, Blade doesn’t try and ’throw a punchline in every line.' His magic is more fluid, lodging its cyclical structure deep in the cortex making The Unknown the best British hip hop album since Roots Manuva's debut Brand New, Second Hand.

An Armenian born in Iran, Blade found himself exiled in South London after his parents, who’d sent him to school in Britain, could no longer support him after an Islamic revolution in Iran. Menial jobs and a passion for all things old skool rap sustained him through those difficult times, but it was his seminal 1993 subscription only album The Lion Goes From Strength To Strength that really put him on the map. In those days he was clearly influenced by the like of Rakim and KRS-1, but of late, Blade’s main squeezes tend to verge on the comic book.

Mark B and Blade know the Hampden Roar

’My main influences now are people who have nothing to do with music— Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger -— Terminator Crikey! But my main influence has to be Maradonna Eh? Did I hear correctly? Undaunted he carries on: ’He’s just so fluent on the ball he has no particular shape he just takes the shape of any container.’ OK, anyone else? ’My son, I watch him and I see things the things he does. Kids just don’t care, but still they achieve, its unbelievable how they do that.’

A warrior from the leftfield in every sense its very difficult not to admire this burning Blade. (Paul Dale)

The highly moveable Richard Thomson

FOLK/ROCK Richard Thompson

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