I was recently asked to play at a night called Classic Material, run by Chris Read and Nick Armitage. The idea for this is to give each month over to a year from Hip Hop’s past and only play tracks released during it. DJ Format did ’87 (entirely on 45’s!), Andy Smith – ’88 and I was given 1989. ’89 was a special year for me as it was the year I moved away from my home and parents and started studying in London, a city I’ve remained in for more than half my life now.
It was also a year rich in musical delights with the beginnings of gangster rap taking over Hip Hop and the emergence of De La Soul‘s Daisy Age with their incredible ‘3 Feet High & Rising’ album. Actually possibly my top three all-time favourite Hip Hop albums were released in ’89, the aforementioned ‘3 Feet High…’, the Beastie Boys‘ ‘Paul’s Boutique’ and the Jungle Brothers‘ ‘Done By The Forces of Nature’.
The Beasties’ album was critically mauled at the time but has undergone a reappraisal since and is now hailed as the classic it is but the Jungle Brothers’ record is still only really feted by Hip Hop heads in the know. It’s their strongest record with as much inventiveness as the De La album if not quite the wackiness of Prince Paul‘s production. In it you can hear the whole blueprint for the Native Tongues movement that was beginning to emerge but also a precursor to Deee-Lite‘s ‘Groove Is In The Heart’ – which would be the anthem of 1990 – Towa Tei was even involved in aspects of the record. On the west coast the Dust Brothers were in their most high profile period with Tone Loc, Young MC and the production of the Beastie’ record. The whole NWA/Ruthless Records camp was basking in the glory of ’88’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and surrounding releases like the D.O.C‘s ‘No One Can Do It Better’ album.
Hip House and the general speeding up of Hip Hop was the order of the day with a lot of UK only remixes of licensed US tracks having this edge to them. Alongside this you had the Stone Roses’ debut album and the whole Maddchester scene as well as the fallout from the acid house excess of the previous year making it’s mark on both the charts and surrounding music genres. S’Express made their best records and Tim Burton‘s first Batman was the film of the summer, complete with soundtrack by Prince.
Whilst all this was going on I was doing my Foundation course in Art and Design in Reigate and used the screen printing facilities to make some custom T-shirts for myself and others featuring De La Soul surrounded by psychedelic lettering I drew. It’s with this design that I want to illustrate the mix I put together for Classic Material, done completely on vinyl – what a pain that was after using Serato for 5 years!
Elsewhere J Saul Kane was starting his own journey with the first Depth Charge releases on DC Recordings but that comes to fruition about five years down the line.