I grew up in the late seventies and had my youth as the son of an Irish ‘immigrant’ who could tell me first-hand about the generous British accommodation policy in the 60’s when he arrived – ‘No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish’. The order of priority changed depending who was telling it, except the dog I guess. We settled in Reading and I went to a comprehensive school and got on with it. A good Roman Catholic School – it’s an immigrant thing.
I was lucky to be selected for a new scheme the school was running and now I was going to 3 schools, mine and 2 other local comprehensive schools – this would change things forever.
I’m a Packman...
... Eat everything I can.
I headed to Meadway school – a school that was only 5 mins walk from where I lived and didn’t really get why I never went there in the first place. When I got into the main hall it was rowdy and there was strange music playing and a dance to accompany it – what the fuck is that? It was the first time I saw breaking, poppin', emceeing, and this hypnotic music that was my introduction to Hip-Hop. The genre that dominated my life at the time was Electro. The track, I’m the Packman, by The Jonzon Crew was simply astounding to me, I had never heard anything like this before, my families influence on music was zero so I was agnostic until I heard this gem from the producer Bobby Robinson. Imagine when I found out that Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel were going to be in my town – it was the ‘Work Party Tour’ in 1983, I went and that was it – I was hooked and 36 years later still am.
There were classic tracks made every year by Captain Rock, Al Naafiysh, The Jonzon Crew, Soul Sonic Force, Newcleus, K-9 Corp all on the marvellous Electro series on Morgan Khans label – Street Sounds. Let’s just summarize the ‘early years’ from 1982-1986 as my birth era culminating in U.K. Fresh ’86 which brought some incredible acts to the U.K. I managed to see so many legends during U.K. fresh including The World Class Wreckin Crew, Africa Bambataa, Mantronix and Hashim – not the mention D.J. Cheese.
These were my breakin' days as turntables were out of sight aged 15 so I used to hang out breaking and poppin around Southcote in Reading with my crew of the day, lino, the lot.
I took Hip-Hop everywhere and eventually setup a studio in the house I had just bought working 90 hours a week at McDonalds to pay for it, immigrant work ethic you know? After some time when money was less tight I revamped the setup and built my own PC from the case up customizing every aspect with the best tech of the day right down to the Silver content in the thermal paste – I was a geek’s geek.
The renaissance era was to begin after moving out of my house and into a huge flat above a supermarket in Farnborough with a good and like -minded friend, allowing us both the opportunity to really get stuck in. Together we formed Math Corporation as a working Hip Hop studio under the pseudonyms of Gravity & Fourier. Let’s just say for 5 years straight we produced over 500 tracks, lives sessions, and spent at least 20 hours a day at the desk crafting the unique style. We recorded an entrance theme for a world kick boxing champion, cuts from a DMC UK champion, and also recorded Iceberg Slim who supported DMX on a UK tour. We also worked with a lot of real street talent from Reading, Farnborough, London and Derby. We had a blast and have many, many tales to tell, but I’ll leave them for another time.
I got married in NYC in 2014 in City Hall and met Grandmaster Caz on Hush Tours where I was described as ‘The Learned One’ I even remembered all my poppin' moves and floor work to pop and break in a group home in the South Bronx – I was classically trained in Old School Hip Hop.
Now the scene is as alive as ever and I still go to ‘Jams’ – Heavy Metal Kings, JMT, and even Q-Bert in the last year alone. My studio now contains a nice analogue rack with an Akai S6000, DAT, Cassette, Mini Disc, SL1200’S, and a QFO turntable for battle cutting, and a raft of Plugins to use with my MPC Renaissance and Ableton/Cubase. Plenty Mics, and literally a Ton of vinyl.
I think I may be a Packman. I still sample everything I can.