Tag Archives: Mike Allen

The Boss – A Tribute To Mike Allen

mike allen

I was saddened to hear about the passing yesterday of UK radio legend Mike Allen, whom many were aware had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when it became public knowledge in 2012.

If you know your UK Hip-Hop history then you will already understand why this man and his 80s shows on London’s Capital Radio were so important to so many, with Allen undoubtedly influencing subsequent British radio giants such as Dave Pearce and Tim Westwood.

I was introduced to Mike Allen (aka The Boss) in the mid-80s by a childhood friend of mine, Johann, who used to ‘borrow’ his older brother’s tapes of the legendary radio show and bring them into school. I’d discovered Hip-Hop some years earlier as a wide-eyed seven-year-old, hearing Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s “The Message” in 1982, and had largely fed my Hip-Hop appetite with the early Streetsounds “Electro” compilations, but checking out Mike Allen opened up my young ears to a whole new world of music.

Growing-up in Milton Keynes, some fifty miles north of London, I had neither the finances or the freedom at the time as a Hip-Hop hungry pre-teen to make the journey into the Big Smoke to visit places like Soho’s infamous Groove Records. I was also too far away from the capital city to be able to tune into the London-based pirate stations of the time that were playing Hip-Hop. But thanks to Mike and his impeccable musical tastes, I could keep up-to-date with the latest fresh sounds simply by plugging some headphones into my dad’s stereo-system, engaging in some creative radio aerial positioning, and pressing play-
and-record on a blank cassette.

I can vividly recall hearing so many brilliant records for the first time on Mike Allen’s Friday / Saturday night shows, including personal favourites such as MC Chill’s “Bust This Rhyme”, Ice-T’s “Dog’N The Wax” and Schoolly D’s “Saturday Night”. I also remember the excitement of playing a newly recorded Mike Allen tape throughout the weekend, waiting to return to school on a Monday to either discuss the latest releases with friends or boast about what you’d heard if they hadn’t managed to catch the show for any reason.

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Aside from the actual music, part of the show’s brilliance was down to Mike himself, whose warm, traditionally authoritative style of radio-hosting endeared him to listeners and guest artists alike.

Allen might have looked and sounded like your school geography teacher, but his interest in Hip-Hop and passion for the music he was playing could clearly be heard across the airwaves. At times, Mike sounded just as excited to be introducing his loyal Allen’s Army to a new record as we were to be hearing it.

80s favourite DJ Cheese of Profile Records / “Coast To Coast” fame recalled his memories of appearing on Capital Radio with Mike during an interview I did with him in 2013:

“When we were on Mike Allen’s show that was the first time someone had really given me full access to do what I wanted to do at a radio station. That was huge to me back then. Plus, it was big to me to meet Mike Allen. I mean, at the time I didn’t realise exactly how big he was in the UK until after we’d left the station and people were telling me more about him and what he was doing at the time with his radio show. But even before that, I was still excited to meet Mike because that was the first time I’d ever deejay-ed live on a radio station. So I was excited about being given that opportunity. Then when we were on air and I started to see the phonelines lighting-up and saw the amount of people that were calling in, that was another mind-blowing experience for me. Those moments on Mike Allen’s show were some of my best moments in Hip-Hop.”

Mike Allen wasn’t the first person to bring Hip-Hop to the UK. Neither was he the first person to play Hip-Hop on British radio. But what Mike Allen did do was provide a then underground musical phenomenon with a mainstream radio platform, helping Hip-Hop to spread further and faster across the country than it might have done without those important hours of exposure on London weekend radio.

I’m sure he didn’t know it at the time, but whilst Mike was tucked away in a Capital Radio studio playing the latest Just-Ice record, he was also leaving a lasting impact on a generation of listeners, helping to shape our personal Hip- Hop histories, introducing us to artists that would influence our lives and creating his own legacy that would be remembered and treasured by many years later.

Personally, I will forever be grateful for the part Mike Allen played in those early days of my own Hip-Hop journey, entertaining and educating me in equal measures.

Mr. Allen, I salute you – may you rest in peace.

Ryan Proctor

1986 Mike Allen interview with DJ Cheese & Word Of Mouth.

Old To The New Q&A – DJ Cheese (Part One)

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Born in West Virginia but raised in the New Jersey of the 1970s, a young Robert Cheese discovered Hip-Hop early, combining his love of the new culture with his already-established passion for music to begin turning out local parties as DJ Cheese around the same time as the 1980s rolled around.

By the time the new decade had reached its mid-way point, Cheese had firmly established his name in the world of Hip-Hop. Having won 1984’s New Music Seminar deejay battle, Cheese then teamed-up with New Jersey emcee duo Word Of Mouth to release 1985’s classic “King Kut” single on Duke Bootee’s Beauty And The Beat imprint, before being signed to then powerhouse rap label Profile Records and going on to win the 1986 DMC World Championships with a ground-breaking routine that would have a profound impact on the way many deejays viewed their two turntables.

Following the release of their speaker-busting 1986 single “Coast To Coast”, label wrangles, money issues and the lure of the street life prevented the crew from building on their strong musical foundations, with Cheese becoming involved in the drug game and spending the following years in and out of prison, largely detached from the artform he once played such a big part in.

Having now put his past troubles behind him, DJ Cheese has returned to his first love of Hip-Hop, keen to reclaim the respect and admiration he once received from both fans and peers alike.

In the first instalment of this two-part interview, the man who once shocked the world with his deejay skills discusses working with Sugarhill Records affiliate Duke Bootee, meeting Run DMC in the early-80s and appearing on Mike Allen’s legendary London-based Capital Radio Hip-Hop show during his first visit to the UK.

What was your introduction to Hip-Hop?

“Well my initial introduction to the music was hearing early emcees like the Cold Crush Brothers, Treacherous Three, the Fearless Four and then “Rapper’s Delight” came out. I was living in New Jersey already by this time. So there were tapes being passed around of freestyles and that’s really how I got wind of the music. When I heard those tapes I knew that Hip-Hop was going to be something big.”

What initially interested you in becoming a DJ?

“It was really through listening to the radio and hearing what the deejays on there were doing. That was really where my interest started. The first deejay that really caught my interest was Frankie Crocker on WBLS. This was before I heard Hip-Hop and started to get those tapes I mentioned, but I was already listening to Frankie Crocker on the radio. People often ask me that question and I guess it kinda shocks them when I say Frankie was a big influence on me (laughs).”

They’re probably expecting you to say someone like a Grandmaster Flash or a Jazzy Jay…

“No doubt (laughs). It wasn’t necessarily that I wanted to be like Frankie Crocker, it was more about the fact that he was on the radio playing all the hot new music at the time. I mean, at that time Parliament Funkadelic were blowing-up and I was a huge fan of theirs and I’d hear Frankie playing their music and it just grabbed my interest.”

When did you get your first turntable set-up?

“Well, I didn’t actually get my first set-up when I first started deejay-ing. I was rockin’ on someone else’s equipment who was also trying to learn at the same time as me. It was a guy from my neighbourhood called Brian Cox. I guess I was more of a fast learner than he was so then it got to the point where he just enjoyed watching me practice. He was like, ‘You can use my stuff anytime just as long as you’re down with me’ and I was like, ‘Bet!’. So it was around 1980 when I actually got my first set. Before that I was rockin’ with Brian Cox, John Brown and this guy from a crew called Sound On Sound who’s name was Carl Burnett. I already had it in my mind then that I wanted to be a Hip-Hop deejay and it was at that time that I really started to learn about Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Jazzy Jay and guys like that. I started out on Technics SL-D1s and then upgraded to 1200s real quick. I mean, you had to try and keep up back then with the new equipment because everthing in Hip-Hop was moving so fast. We’d see stuff that other deejays had and be like, ‘Yo! We’ve gotta get that.'”

What was the New Jersey Hip-Hop scene like back then?

“Well, living in Jersey we’re only like maybe twenty, twenty-five minutes away from New York. So everything New York were doing back then, we were doing. We copied the whole style. So there was nothing too different between New York and Jersey. I mean, we had the graffiti, the break-dancing, freestyling, the battles, we were really doing the same thing they were doing in New York. I mean, I was still too young to travel to New York myself at the time. But in New Jersey we had people like the True Brothers from Asbury, there were a couple of guys from Plainfield coming up like Ken Doo. As far as deejays we had DJ Sky, who was further north and closer to New York than I was, but at that time there really weren’t too many deejays who were known to me. I always remembered Sky because his name always stood-out to me.”

Were there any particular battles back then that you remember?

“I mean, there were so many battles back then and everybody was doing them. We used to have battles at the Falcon Casino in Jersey. But like I said, we were basically doing everything that New York was doing so almost every party we had there was a battle between crews with emcees and deejays. But there were so many battles back then that it’s hard to really think back to any particular ones that stoodout.”

What type of records were you playing at your parties?

“I would always play a variety of music and what the people wanted to hear. But I would play a lot of breakbeats. I mean, at my parties people definitely partied but then you’d also have a lot of people who would just stand around and watch me. I would have my own show that I would put on that would catch their attention. I was deejay-ing with the handcuffs back then, using the blindfold, spinning around, scratching with my sneakers, so all that stuff really caught people’s attention.”

So a lot of what was seen in your winning DMC routine in 1986 were tricks that you’d been using for years before?

“Yeah, exactly”.

So at that time in the early-80s would artists from New York regularly come to perform in New Jersey?

“Yeah, New York was definitely coming to Jersey back then. I remember seeing Stetsasonic before they came out on record here in Jersey. That was actually the first group I did see when I was young. Stetsasonic were out performing at a school in East Orange and even back then they had the whole live band thing with the drum machine. That was definitely cool to see how they were rockin’ at that time. I remember seeing the Force MCs before they became the Force MDs, they used to be over performing in Jersey. The Cold Crush Brothers came over to Jersey to rock a few times as well.”

Were those artists who came from New York treated respectfully by upcoming New Jersey artists or was there an element of competition involved as well?

“There was definitely a respect thing. I mean, you did have people in Jersey who did feel that they were better than the artists coming from New York but for the most part they were definitely welcomed over here.”

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So how did you hook-up with the Word Of Mouth emcees KMC and Ali-G?

“That happened when I met up with Ed Fletcher and this is where the story really gets interesting (laughs). Ed was also known as Duke Bootee and I’m sure you’re familiar with who he is. Ed was a ghost-writer for Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five. He wrote for “The Message”, “New York New York”, “Survival (Message II)” and also produced and rapped on those records. I guess because he was a little older than those guys and because of his look he didn’t really fit into the group. But it was Ed who brought me and Word Of Mouth together, as he managed us both and Word Of Mouth were from Elizabeth and I was from Plainfield. Now as I said, Ed at that time was involved with the Sugarhill label and Sylvia Robinson which was based in Jersey. I mean, the first rap record that came out “Rapper’s Delight” really came from New Jersey and that’s not something that New York ever really gives New Jersey its props for. But Ed introduced me to Word Of Mouth with the intention of putting a group together. I heard them and thought they were hot at the time. We definitely sounded good together so I knew we could do something. At the time Duke Bootee was the man from all the hit records he’d had out and I was so young back then. So I was really just following his idea to put us together as a group.”

Was 1985’s “King Kut” the first track you recorded together with Word Of Mouth?

“Yeah, that was the first track we recorded together. The name King Kut had been given to me by the True Brothers from Asbury who I used to deejay for back in the day. Back then, Hip-Hop was all about the deejay and we were still in that era where the deejay was the main focus of a crew. So that’s the reason why we went that route and made “King Kut” a deejay record.”

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“King Kut” initially came out on Duke Bootee’s independent Beauty And The Beat label and really took off – were you expecting that single to become so big?

“Nah, I was surprised by it. I definitely wasn’t expecting the record to be as big as it was. I mean, I had hopes for it to be that big but I was definitely surprised when it happened. I believe it was actually bigger than even we thought it was back then, but after Ed started robbing us for our royalties and everything, I had no idea of really knowing exactly how big that record was. To this day, I couldn’t tell you how much that record even sold. I mean, at the time we made that record I was still in high-school and in the era I came up in Hip-Hop wasn’t about money, it was about the art, doing shows and having fun. So at the time I was just happy to have a record out. The money aspect came later when one of the guys in Word Of Mouth felt that something wasn’t right because at the time they weren’t really seeing any money and I was seeing a little bit of money. So that’s when we started looking into it and realised that the label had been robbing us. Before that we didn’t really know that the record had been making money like that.”

How did the crew end-up getting signed to Profile Records?

“Profile originally wanted to sue us for the samples that I used in “King Kut” which were from Run DMC’s “Jam Master Jay”. But then after they actually listened to the song they realised it was a hot record and decided that they wanted to sign us instead. So Profile brought the record from Beauty And The Beat and gave us a deal for another single. Then they told us that if that second single did well they’d let us do an album. I mean, “King Kut” was definitely getting out there on Beauty And The Beat but Profile really took that single around the world.”

It must have been a good feeling to get signed to a label like Profile at that time considering they were already working with some big Hip-Hop artists…

“Oh yeah, that was real big because Profile back then were like what Def Jam became in the 90s. For me to see my music and my name on that label was huge for me. I mean, we were on the same label as Run DMC!”

Which was ironic considering they namechecked you a couple of years before on their 1983 single “Here We Go (Live At The Funhouse)”…

“Yeah, I opened up for Run DMC in 1983 at The Ritz in Jersey and I was onstage doing my routine. The crowd were going bonkers. From what I was told, Run came out of his dressing room first and he came downstairs and was watching. By the end of my routine all three of them were standing on the side of the stage and from what I understood they never ever used to come out of their dressing rooms to watch someone perform back then. But they came out because they heard the crowd and they wanted to know who was onstage. I remember Whodini were there as well and some other groups. I was onstage rockin’ and then when I looked up Run DMC were stood there watching me. That was the night I learnt that Run was a deejay before he was an emcee when he used to be with Kurtis Blow. So he was giving me his story on deejay-ing and I took a couple of pictures with them. Then from there they put my name in their “Here We Go” single.”

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Was Jam Master Jay a hero of yours?

“When Jam Master Jay came into the game he was just always so cool with it. That’s what I liked about him. I took some of his style as far as the way he had his equipment with the flight cases and the GLI mixer. Seeing Jay with that GLI is what made me get that mixer as well. Later on I actually had a chance to work on Run DMC’s “Raising Hell” album when I came back from Europe. I was approached at the airport to go straight to the studio but I’d just come back off a two month tour and I was tired so I said I couldn’t do it.”

What did they want you to do on the album?

“I don’t know what they actually wanted me to do on there. I just knew that I was scheduled to work with them when I got back but I didn’t know that they wanted me to go straight from the airport. I mean, I wanted to do it but I was just too beat from the tour. I was just mentally exhausted.”

You became known for having your turntables next to each other rather than having the mixer in the middle – where there any technical reasons why you decided to do that?

“The reason I put the turntables side-by-side was because back then Hip-Hop was all about being creative and having your own style. So I just decided to put the turntables next to each other to standout. I mean, I started out with the mixer in the middle and the turntables on either side, but then I just made a decision to put the turntables next to each other because I hadn’t seen anyone doing it at that time.”

How would you describe your scratching style back then because to me you always sounded very clean and precise compared to some other deejays at the time who weren’t quite so refined…

“Back then, I’d have to give credit for that to Duke Bootee. One thing I could say about him is that when we were doing a record, everything we were doing was live and he had me approaching everything I did in the studio like we really were in a band. So I had to do my cuts over and over until they were really on-point. Duke was something of a perfectionist in the studio so he definitely helped keep me sharp on that. Even today, when I do mixes and blends I’ll still do them over and over until they’re on-point.”

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What was your involvement in some of the other records to come out on Beauty And The Beat like Z-3 MC’s’ “Triple Threat” and Point Blank MC’s’ “What The Party Needs”?

“It was really the same role I had with Word Of Mouth. I was the deejay on those records doing all of the scratching. I also did the production on Point Blank MC’s. I’ve probably got about twenty-five records under my belt I was involved in that came out that people are only really now starting to pick up on as I wasn’t given proper credit on a lot of them.”

Do you have any personal favourites out of the records you worked on?

“Yeah, “King Kut” and “Coast To Coast” obviously. The record I did for Triple Threat MC’s and also the Fats Comet “King Of The Beat” record I did with Keith LeBlanc from Sugar Hill. The Masterdon Committee’s “Get Off My Tip” on Profile is another favourite and also K-Rob’s “I’m A Homeboy”. What a lot of people actually don’t know about “Coast To Coast” is that that record was created and recorded while we were touring Europe and over in the UK in 1986. “King Kut” had been out for awhile and we were out on tour but Profile wanted a second single from us. The deal was that if the second single we dropped did well, which it did, then they were going to give us an album deal. At the time we realised this guy was robbing us and that was when we walked away from the label and the music. We didn’t even really think about the larger label we were signed to in terms of Beauty And The Beat being under Profile and seeing if we could work with them without Duke. We were just so young and we were kept in the dark about everything in terms of the business, so we really didn’t have any access to Profile because it wasn’t us who’d been dealing with them.”

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You mentioned K-Rob’s “I’m A Homeboy” which is still one of my favourite singles from the 80s to this day…

“That was Duke Bootee’s work. See, what happened is, once Profile ran with “King Kut” and then “Coast To Coast” did so well, they basically appointed Duke to be like an A&R and get involved in some other projects that I guess were on the shelf at the time to see what he could do with them. So they gave him K-Rob and he put his touch on it and he brought me on that particular record. But again it was all about the money with him.”

Were you and Word Of Mouth performing regularly in New York around this time?

“We did all the famous spots in New York except for The Rooftop and The Fever. We performed in New York quite a few times. We performed at the Latin Quarter. I think for me though the biggest spot we performed in was The Roxy. That was actually the first time I saw Slick Rick because he was in a talent show there. He won the talent show doing “La-Di-Da-Di” before he ever recorded it with Doug E. Fresh. I can even remember the way Slick Rick was dressed with the long trench coat on and Kangol hat. He had some shades on at the time and wasn’t wearing the patch yet. I mean, there’s actually nothing wrong with Slick Rick’s eye. He’s just cock-eyed and started wearing the patch as a gimmick and it definitely worked for him. I remember LL Cool J was there as well. It was a good night. But that was a big deal for me to be up in the Roxy at that time seeing all the break-dancing and everything.”

“King Kut” was a big record in the UK and you visited here in the mid-80s – were you surprised to see such a vibrant Hip-Hop scene in London when you toured?

“The very first trip to the UK was exciting for me and it was definitely an experience I’ll never forget. I was surprised by the amount of people that knew about me over there. I mean, being young at the time and still in high-school, the furthest I’d ever been before was to New York City. Then to go almost to the other side of the world and have so many people knowing about me was incredible. I mean, we were getting so many articles and interviews, people were approaching me telling me how much they loved the music and wanting to take pictures with me, it was just mind-blowing. Hip-Hop was just so big out there. Plus, what y’all were doing at that time, with the graffiti and the break-dancing, we weren’t doing back home like that anymore. It was like going back into time for me being in the UK in 1986 because y’all were still in that era of Hip-Hop that nobody ever wanted to let go. It was like “Wild Style” all over again (laughs). I tell people all the time that I’ve always respected the UK because they respect the culture of Hip-Hop more than the US does. I loved it over there back then.”

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You were also featured on Mike Allen’s Capital Radio Hip-Hop show – what are you memories of that experience?

“When we were on Mike Allen’s show that was the first time someone had really given me full access to do what I wanted to do at a radio station. That was huge to me back then. Plus, it was big to me to meet Mike Allen. I mean, at the time I didn’t realise exactly how big he was in the UK back then until after we’d left the station and people were telling me more about him and what he was doing at the time with his radio show. But even before that, I was still excited to meet Mike because that was the first time I’d ever deejay-ed live on a radio station. So I was excited about being given that opportunity. Then when we were on air and I started to see the phonelines lighting-up and saw the amount of people that were calling in, that was another mind-blowing experience for me. Those moments on Mike Allen’s show were some of my best moments in Hip-Hop. I remember when we were being interviewed on the show I really didn’t have that much to say because I was this young, shy dude at the time.”

What do you recall about headlining both of London’s UK Fresh ’86 shows at Wembley with Word Of Mouth alongside other artists like Mantronix, Roxanne Shante, Just-Ice etc.?

“That was another highlight of my career to be able to perform with all the artists that were on that line-up like Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa. It’s crazy because back then I couldn’t remember people like Jazzy Jay being there, but then when I see the pictures I’m like, ‘Aw man, I didn’t realise Jazzy Jay was there. I didn’t realise Howie Tee was there.’ There were just so many well-known artists that performed on that bill that at the time I didn’t even know were there (laughs). I do remember Lovebug Starski being there though because I had an issue with him during soundcheck. He didn’t want me onstage while he was doing his soundcheck which I didn’t have a problem with as I was only sitting on my equipment at the time, but it was the way that he said it to me. I was only a little dude back then and some of the members of the Furious Five snapped out on Lovebug Starski. The police had to get involved but thankfully nobody got locked up. At the end of the night, Starski had police officers outside watching his door as he was scared for his life afterwards. I mean, we’re friends on Facebook and that now and sometimes I’ll remind him of that time and he’ll just laugh.”

Lovebug Starski was riding high in the UK pop charts at that time with “Amityville” so he was probably playing that rock-star role to the fullest (laughs)…

“That’s exactly what he was doing. Lovebug Starski was definitely acting like he was the star of the show at that time (laughs).”

Ryan Proctor

Check out Part Two of this interview here.

Audio of 1986 DJ Cheese / Word Of Mouth / Duke Bootee interview on London’s Capital Radio with Mike Allen.

Old To The New Q&A – Marc Mac (Visioneers)

London-based producer Marc Mac has made a career out of drawing on a variety of influences in order to leave an indelible mark on a number of musical genres, from jungle to Hip-Hop. As a member of pioneering drum & bass outfit 4hero the UK studio wizard received a Mercury Music Prize nomination for the group’s 1998 album “Two Pages”, a ground-breaking project which further cemented Mac’s reputation as a master of defying categorisation.

Mac returned to his roots in 2006 with the release of the brilliant Visioneers album “Dirty Old Hip-Hop”, which found the producer utilising a talented band of musicians to create true-school soundscapes that captured the essence of golden-era beats and rhymes whilst still retaining a fresh appeal.

With the recently released sophomore Visioneers album “Hipology”, Mac has once again joined forces with his sonic allies to craft music that succeeds in its mission to fill its creative grooves with the spirit of the many influences that make up the album’s cover collage, including everything from classic Hip-Hop record labels to Spike Lee movies and iconic 80s toys.

Here, Marc Mac gives some insight into why a small selection of the many artists, events and logos featured on the “Hipology” cover had such an impact on his life.

Seminal 1983 Hip-Hop flick “Wild Style”:

“If you were to think of what would be in an essential Hip-Hop tool-kit, I always think that “Wild Style” would have to be a part of that kit. Back in the day it was almost like you had to have seen that movie if you wanted to be in the crew. To me that film really showed the roots of the culture and it brought all the elements of the culture together, showing the emcees, the graffiti artists on the trains, the dancers, the deejays, it really showed the blueprint of what Hip-Hop was about. At the time in London I was surrounded by sound-system culture and for me I was aspiring to be a part of one of those sound-systems in some way, but watching “Wild Style” definitely helped me draw some parallels between what was happening in the film with the music and the graffiti and what some people were doing in the UK at that time. Plus, the actual phrase “Wild Style” has kind of carried on throughout my life in my music, because the wild style concept in graffiti was about taking the art to a different place and really putting your individual stamp on what you were doing, which is something that I’ve always tried to do with my music in terms of approaching things differently and from a new angle that people might not expect.”

Early-80s arcade game Defender:

“People sometimes talk about an album or a film being a backdrop to a period in their life, but back in the 80s it was the sound of Defender for me (laughs). My parents worked at a youth centre so I used to have the priviledge of watching the new games getting wheeled in. But at the time I was almost too small to see the screens of these huge arcade machines once they were set-up, so it was really the noises and sounds that came from the games that I remember most from that time. I used to stand next to the machines and hear the noises and wonder what was happening on the screen, and then I’d see the hands of the older guys who were playing them just constantly moving really fast (laughs). But the memories of that particular game really stayed with me, being in the youth centre, watching people play those games, the older kids would have the boombox set-up playing some electro, and then the sounds from Defender would almost be blending into the music.”

Every 80s b-boy’s favourite item of clothing the Goose jacket:

“That was the one item of clothing you could never have (laughs). Everyone had that one thing they really wanted that was just too expensive and your parents wouldn’t get it for you. For me, that one thing was a Goose jacket. It was just out of reach. I used to see pictures of people wearing them in magazines and on album covers, but they were just too expensive for me to ever get one back then. There were a few people around my area who had them, some of the older kids on the estate, they had the chains and the Goose jackets, but they were just on some different runnings, man.”

Host of Capital Radio’s original 80s Hip-Hop show Mike Allen:

“Mike Allen is a hero. I remember back in the day you could either climb all over your room to put the aerial in the right place so you could pick up a pirate radio station, or you could legally pick up Mike Allen’s show on Capital Radio and still get the real deal as far as the music was concerned. Mike was getting on a lot of stuff early and really introduced a lot of electro and Hip-Hop artists to listeners in the UK. Plus, he had that voice that sounded like a teacher you had at school(laughs). But I heard a lot of stuff for the first time on Mike Allen, sat there with a tape running trying to edit out the adverts when they came on (laughs). As much as people talk about deejays like Tim Westwood and others who played Hip-Hop here in the UK, it was important that we had Mike Allen at that time in the 80s on a legal radio station because he would play everything, from East Coast to West Coast, so it showed you that there was good music coming from everywhere.”

Monumental London Hip-Hop event UK Fresh ’86:

“There’s a little story to that one. That show was at Wembley and back then we knew all the tricks of the trade to get into all the events. At Wembley the trick was to kick the side doors dead centre and they’d go inwards and then fly back towards you and open out (laughs). I remember when UK Fresh was on, one of the older guys kicked the doors and we all just ran in behind each other. Back then we were all small enough to get lost in the crowd quickly so we didn’t get caught (laughs). I think I’d told my parents I’d gone to the shops or something and there I was at this huge Hip-Hop concert. I remember it seemed really high-up and I was looking down onto the stage, but I can remember seeing Captain Rock who killed it and the World Class Wreckin’ Cru as well. I don’t think a concert like that could really happen again today, but having all those huge artists of the time together in once place back then was serious.”

Former London-based pirate radio station Kiss FM:

“Kiss sort of lost me a bit when they made the transition to being a legal station. I preferred it when they were a pirate because it really was radical radio, which is why I put the old logo on the album cover. But for me, Kiss FM really helped you to grow your record collection, because listening to the different shows you were able to join the dots between what was happening in Hip-Hop at the time and the jazz and funk records that some of those samples were coming from. You might listen to a Westwood show and he’d be playing Hip-Hop, and then you’d listen to someone like a Trevor Nelson who’d play some wicked funk sets, which were nothing like the type of music he plays now (laughs). So listening to that original line-up of deejays on Kiss really helped you make those connections between the differents styles of music they were playing, particularly with the breaks and the whole James Brown era of sampling that was happening then. I mean, you couldn’t really have grown-up in London during that time listening to pirate radio and not listened to Kiss and I don’t really think the importance of Kiss as a pirate station is fully appreciated. If you were there at that time, then you know, but otherwise I don’t think it’s fully understood what Kiss meant to the music scene in its early days.”

The mighty Juice Crew’s original recording home Cold Chillin’ Records:

“I’m glad you picked the Cold Chillin’ logo because out of all the other record label logos included on the album cover Cold Chillin’ was probably the most important label of its era. Marley Marl, Masta Ace, Roxanne Shante, Kool G. Rap, Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan, the amount of talent on that label was ridiculous. But aside from the actual artists, it was the sound of Cold Chillin’ that was equally important to me. The label had a trademark sound, just that funky, dirty feel to the beats and samples, like the vinyl had been recycled (laughs). It had a lot to do with the sound the SP 1200 gives you, but when you listened to some of those incredible records from Big Daddy Kane and Kool G. Rap, they just felt like they’d been done in one take and the whole vibe on a lot of those albums was just magical. It’s hard to pick favourites out of everything they put out, but MC Shan’s “Down By Law” album was always one that stood-out for me as there was a lot happening musically on that one. Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo’s “It’s A Demo” was a classic and I always really liked Roxanne Shante’s stuff and the way she approached her rhymes with her don’t-test-me attitude. The whole Cold Chillin’ sound just defined an era for me.”

Native Tongue low-end legends A Tribe Called Quest:

“I mean, what can you really say about A Tribe Called Quest that hasn’t been said before? For me, Tribe were important because they were the first group who really brought together all the musical elements I loved and shaped them into one sound. From the jazz samples to the way they looped their beats to the chemistry between Q-Tip and Phife, they were just Hip-Hop all-rounders to me. What was clever about Tribe, particularly on their first album, was that they’d use familiar drum breaks that people knew and then drop a sample on top which hadn’t really been used before. I was already collecting jazz and funk records, so when Tribe came out what they were doing musically really made a lot of sense to me and was something that I could relate to. Plus, listening to them pushed me deeper into wanting to know more about jazz and the artists they were sampling from.”

UK Hip-Hop pioneers London Posse:

“I always had a connection with London Posse as my partner Gus who I started Reinforced Records with was in a group Trouble Rap who were signed to Tim Westwood’s Justice label at the same time as London Posse were in the late-80s so there were times I’d be in the studio when they were recording. But I also knew them from when I used to have a sound-system at Notting Hill Carnival where all the emcees in London would get on the set as it was one of the first sounds to play only Hip-Hop at carnival. But the main reason I was always such a big fan of Rodney P and Bionic was because they really brought that London vibe to their music. At the time so many people were doing the yankee accent thing here in the UK and they were really the first to say we’re going to do this Hip-Hop stuff our way and they really made it work. I remember seeing them at gigs and they wouldn’t be able to get past the first track they were performing as people would be going crazy and they’d have to rewind the same tune about seven or eight times (laughs). But I really do have a huge amount of respect for London Posse for what they did in terms of putting the UK style of emcee-ing on the map.”

The late, great J Dilla:

“To me, Dilla is my favourite Hip-Hop producer. The feel in his music that he brought with him out of Detroit spread to influence people in New York, Philly, here in the UK, it really spread out across the whole Hip-Hop world and had a huge impact that can be heard today. As a producer myself, what he was doing with things like time-stretching was incredible to hear. I mean, he just went from making classic to classic with everyone from A Tribe Called Quest to his own stuff with Slum Village and then on to Common. I literally could sit and listen to Dilla beat-tapes all day long and “Donuts” is definitely one of my favourite albums of all-time. Listening to what he was doing just before he passed, getting into using synths more and that style, you could really hear him evolving and it felt like there was still so much more to come. Dilla really was a producer’s producer.”

Ryan Proctor

“Hipology” is out now on BBE Records.

Visioneers ft. Baron & TRAC – “Back In Time” (BBE Records / 2012)

Thoughts On Uncle Mike – Waxer

DiscoScratch.Co.UK’s Waxer speaks on the importance of former Capital Radio legend Mike Allen, the collection of Mike’s records etc recently obtained by Brighton’s Mex, and the plans to put together a tribute package to help support the 80s UK radio pioneer as he battles ill health – Allen’s Army is still on manoeuvres!